|The Lord is our strength!|
We rounded the corner to Christopher's hospital room, and I saw her. Her smiling brown eyes and sweet smile welcomed us back. Her name was Sara, and we had been roommates with her a couple of times before. Her short 18 months of life had been filled with cancer. Her family would visit her on nights and weekends. She was the youngest of 7 or 8 siblings (I can't remember, but I know it was a lot!), and her parents only had one car. Her mom cared for the other children during the day while her father worked. Mom couldn't visit during the day because her hands were full of children, and she had no transportation. That meant that Sara was often left alone with her cancer. Unfortunately, at 18 months she was old enough to know she was alone, and that she was scared.
Sara did what all babies do when they're hurting, lonely, and scared. She cried. I tried to console her as best I could. I, of course, was not allowed to pick her up. Although that is what she really wanted, to be held. Instead, I would play soothing music and talk to her. We would play with her collection of rattles, stuffed animals, and toys. Sometimes I would turn cartoons on the television for her to look at. She was still too young to really follow it, but the movement, sounds, and colors seemed to distract her.
Sara spent a lot of time out at the nurse's station. They would fix her up in one of the red Radio Flyer wagons that they had on the 9th floor for the children to ride around in. Sometimes she would spend the whole day out there with them. She would watch them scurry about preparing medications, attending to patients, and reading doctor's orders. The nurses were so amazing with her. They cared for her like she was one of their own. They would hold her as they worked or rock her back and forth in the little red wagon. It seemed to satisfy her and diminish her fears.
Come to find out, Sara and Christopher seemed to always show up at the hospital around the same time. The nurses told me that if Sara was admitted, they knew it wouldn't be long before Christopher showed up on the 9th floor or vice versa. They seemed to be compatible roommates, so if we were there at the same time, they would put us in a room together.
We spent so much time in the hospital with her that she began to recognize me when I would come into the room. She would always greet me with her big, beautiful, smiling, brown eyes. My heart would melt every time. She was so sweet and so sick.
When you spend so much time in such close quarters with these little ones, you can't help but become attached. Every time Christopher was admitted I would always ask the nurse as I got off the elevator if little Sara was already there waiting for us. If she wasn't, I knew it wouldn't be long before she joined us.
On one such occasion as the elevator doors closed behind me, I knew something was different. Our nurse had lost her smile. She had a very somber look on her face, and there were tears in her eyes. She told me that Sara wouldn't be here this time...or ever. She had died.
As the words came out of her mouth, it felt like she had just shot me. Even though I knew that Sara had been sick with cancer, I was still in an absolute state of shock. She was only 18 months old. How could that be? 18 month old babies aren't supposed to have cancer, and they're most certainly not supposed to die. The whole thing seemed like a bad dream! This couldn't possibly really be happening.
Then I found out that it wasn't just a bad dream. It was a nightmare. As I began to ask what had happened, I got the sad details. Did she die at home with her family, or was she here? Please tell me that she didn't die alone! The nurse explained that she had died at the hospital, and that one of the nurses had been holding her when she died. I was relieved to hear that the nurse had been there to help soothe her in her last moments, but I was met with horror at the answer to my next question. Was her death quick, painless, peaceful? The answer was a resounding NO! The nurse went on to explain that little Sara had been crying a lot that day. One of the nurses had picked her up to comfort her, and when she did Sara began hemorrhaging internally. Sara vomited blood everywhere, and despite their best efforts to save her she died quickly.
The nurse who had been covered in Sara's blood was devastated. It had been such a terrible scene, and so the nurse was put on leave in order to have some time to deal with the intense trauma she had experienced. I couldn't imagine EVER coming back after something like that, but our nurse told me that Sara's nurse would be back in a week or so. She said that her nurse was devastated but glad that she had been there to hold Sara in her final moments.
The whole thing made my head hurt and my stomach sick. I had a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that Sara had died and in such a horrible way. My thoughts went to her parents. They must be overwhelmed with grief and sadness. My heart ached for their pain.
Hearing of Sara's death made me hold Christopher even tighter. Would he be next? They had been roommates at the hospital. Would they be "roommates" in heaven? I had to stop thinking these thoughts. I couldn't allow myself to be overwhelmed by questions I couldn't answer anyway. Christopher needed me to be strong for him, and I was not going to disappoint him.
Special Note: I would like to dedicate this blog to the memory of a little angel named Sara. No more cancer. No more tears. Jesus is holding her now.
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you can pray like this: