Fall. Such a beautiful time of year. I love the crispness in the air. The breathtaking colors of the leaves. The warm glow of the autumn sky. For so long these images of fall took me straight back to high school and memories of shlepping along with the band and football games.
That memory has been replaced. Now that crisp air and breathtaking colors conjure a much different memory. One of fear, hope, hospitals and grief.
It was a beautiful November day when I first learned we were going to be blessed with our Fourth child. Initially we were overwhelmed. Four children and I hadn’t been in the baby business in 6 years. A surprise blessing you could say.
Another beautiful November, one year later, our Beautiful Madeline was here. Four months and four surgeries. Finally, she was home, we were beyond thrilled. In the blink of an eye our thrill turned to fear. With one turn of my back I heard her gasping for air and turned to see her sweet face struggling and blue. In a blur, 911 was called. She was rushed to the ER, then promptly to the OR. Doctors took turns holding the tiniest of tubes to keep her airway from completely closing. By nothing short of a miracle, a tracheostomy was successfully done, a mere 5 weeks after open heart surgery. I was numb with fear, hope and unconditional love.
For the remainder of that beautiful fall, I watched the leaves and sky turn golden from the side of a hospital crib. I could not feel the warmth of the crisp air. My senses were overwhelmed by the continous beeping of monitors. My eyes not able to take in the beauty of the foliage for they were fixated on the numbers the monitors were screaming. Fight songs playing through my head were replaced with pleading prayers for healing.
From this hospital room, I watched the trees grow bare and then droop with snow.
Finally, a December morning and with a staff of home nurses Madeline came home…we were again, beyond thrilled. Again, our thrill turned to fear when two weeks later she began vomiting. A routine follow up became a night in the ICU and more surgery. Pleading prayers for healing turned to begging God for mercy and strength.
It was Baby Girls First Thanksgiving and Christmas and her stocking was to be hung on her hospital crib decorated with Red Velvet bows. Madeline rang in the New Year in a Pediatric Rehabilitation Hospital. Again… we pleaded God for strength to bring her home.
God heard our prayers…our Little Irish Lass amazed us all and finally came home.
Winter turned to Spring and much to our delight, Madeline was with us to done her Easter finery and stare in wonder at the brightly colored easter eggs. We had gotten over the hump, we just knew it.
Spring to summer…many doctors appointment, several near misses… but she was home. Baby Girl was a fighter, one tough cookie! Feisty, you could say.
Imagine our euphoric delight on July 4th. We had made it! One Year!!! Red velvet cupcakes and sparklers all around. We even got to go to the beach….Baby Girl got to her dip her toes in the ocean and frolic in the sand.
Roller coaster. Death defying roller coaster ride…a concise description of the year of emotions. But hey, we were taking that last smooth turn for all it was worth.
Summer turned to fall…and preparations began for diving into the beautiful fall, renewing our senses with that crisp air and golden sky and rejoicing in our life…away from hospitals. October was pumpkin patches and Halloween costumes. Our Madeline was a perfectly adorable Bumble Bee. She stared in amazement at the festive activity and barrage of pictures. Pinch me…I was dreaming…bring on the Holiday fun.
A beautiful November morning, Madeline lets out a scream…911 is called…here we go again. Our joy now turns to horror…absolute horror. Pinch me, I must be dreaming… a NIGHTMARE!!! Again…we pray…our pleading prayers…turn to begging… to hysteria.
Our tears flow and wrap our body in a pain so raw you can’t believe this is real. On this November morning, with a clear blue sky, Our Sweet Madeline took her last breath. Again I prayed…Please God, this can’t be real…it was. It must be a nightmare…no… it’s your new life.
A week later on a beautiful November morning, with golden leaves and clear blue sky…Our Sweet Madeline was laid to rest.
My new fall memory…her brothers, wearing blue blazers and white gloves, carrying her tiny casket up to her burial site. She was laid to rest under a tree, ripe with fall foliage, under a warm autumn sky.
Two years have now passed…slow and full of pain. A golden, warm fall day. Beautiful and painful. Trees heavy with golden leaves in a gilded sky. I pray for strength…for me…to find a new way and for healing…for our broken hearts.
I still plead and pray…Dear God, keep my Baby Girl in your care, safe in your heavenly arms…until she can be in mine…on a beautiful November morning, in a warm gilded sky.