Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Today is November 24th. Exactly one month ago, it was October 24th. Exactly one month ago, Dave and I signed consents for the surgeon to try one more thing. It was about this time of night. It was the last thing they could try. They needed to put an extra cannula in her left groin to try and get more blood out. The doctor told us the biggest risk was that her leg would be permanently swollen. The doctor casually mentioned that wouldn't be that big of a problem IF she survived. Those words were like a slap in the face. We knew she was sick. We knew it wasn't good. But did he need to say that?

They wouldn't let us be in there with her. There wasn't room. They needed to concentrate. I didn't want to leave our girl. She was so tiny. We went down the hall to the room they set up for us. And we waited. We waited for them to come tell us the worse thing a parent could ever hear...

Its been one month since we were there. How is it possible that we were at the hospital with our girl one month ago fighting for her life? How is it possible that she has been gone for a month?

I keep busy- or so it seems to me. I mostly wonder around without any real focus or purpose. I remember once when I was in elementary school a teacher asked a student, "what were you thinking?" He said, "nothing." She said, "you are always thinking something. Unless you are asleep, your mind is never off." Well, I have to say, I disagree. I seriously think that my mind has just been shutting off. There are times when I am seriously thinking nothing. I am scared to think. Right now the thoughts that come are frightening.

The first two weeks after Elle died, I didn't really think about our time in the hospital. It was easy for me to think about our happy healthy girl. Then I went through a time when I couldn't think about her at all. My head just wouldn't go there. Now, when my mind starts going, it's all the bad stuff. It's the hospital. It's the tubes, the machines, the oozing, the swelling, the discoloration. It's the look in the doctor's eyes when he told us she would not survive. It's leaving her unrecognizable body on a big white hospital bed- all by herself. It's the bags of blood, the hospital band on her wrist, her 6 month picture taped to the heart monitor screen. It's the look on the ECMO tech's face when she squeezed more saline into Ellie's small body to keep her alive while our families said goodbye. It's the look on my Dad's and brother's face when they first walked in the room and say her destroyed body. It's her cold, stiff, unidentifiable make-up covered face in her small white casket.

Strangely, I don't see these images as a moving pictures. I don't see them as they played out in front of me. I see them as still images. Some of them I see as if I was standing on the other side of the room. I don't even know how to explain it. It's like I saw pictures of a child dying and I am recalling them. But these are my memories, my nightmare.

Fortunately, or maybe not, I guess I haven't decided yet, but I don't remember some parts of that day. I don't remember walking back into Ellie's room after I said I wanted to hold her one more time. I don't remember calling my mom and telling her to come back to the hospital to say good-bye. I don't remember them taking out her breathing tube. I just remember what her mouth looked like after it was out. When I think about Ellie I do not see her face.

In two hours, it will be Thanksgiving. It should have been Ellie's first. In five hours, it will be exactly one month since the doctor looked at us and said "I'm sorry." I wonder how long it will be before this feels real. I wonder how long it will be before I am not scared to go to bed. One year ago, Ellie was all snug and safe in my belly. Her feet were surely lodged under my ribs. I want that back. Not this nightmare. I wonder, how? How did this happen to us?


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