That morning

As you can imagine, this was a difficult post to write, I’ve gone back and forth about whether or not to post it. It deals with the morning David died and it’s raw. Raw and emotional and I thought it best to say so, upfront, just in case you’re not up to shouldering some of the hurt. Because there’s a lot of hurt.

It had been a long night. Ever since he had aspirated the blood on Saturday morning, he had been having episodes of decreased oxygenation and increased levels of CO2.

His lungs were no longer working properly.

There had been talk of the oscillator, but they had tried to hold off as long as possible. By 6am, they couldn’t wait any longer. There was no choice left but to put him on life support.

At that point, I knew with the utmost certainty that I would lose my Capt Snuggles.

I just didn’t know it would be within the next 6 hours.

The oscillator is a horrible apparatus, it is a piston based machine that creates constant motion. It caused David’s entire body to vibrate non-stop. It was a jarring presence in the peaceful atmosphere I tried so hard to hold on to.

By 8:30am he was having some drops in blood pressure and heart-rate, something he’d been doing sporadically. They needed to place an arterial line and start support meds for his heart. Everyone was very calm, business as usual.

I hadn’t left to take a shower the day before, so I left to go to the RMH for a quick shower and maybe a bite to eat. I’d only gotten 2 hours of sleep – I needed a boost for the day ahead.

At 9:10, just as I was getting ready to leave the RMH, one of the nurses called and said the words I wasn’t prepared for “I think you need to come back, now.”

I ran.

I dodged through the people in the concourse, I swept past the guards stationed in front of the elevators – by now they no longer asked for proof that I was allowed up – and I’m sure with my wild-eyed, frantic appearance – they knew I needed to hurry through.

I tried to catch my breath in the elevator, I was scared and alone. I knew I may have to face this all by myself – my husband was an hour and a half away. I took a deep breath and walked into the throng of people that had gathered outside our room.

I knew when I saw our transplant coordinator, this was it.

She offered to call my husband and I let her, I knew I couldn’t find the words to tell him he needed to be here, now.

I watched as they worked over him, the images are so firmly etched in my head that I see them whenever I close my eyes. I’d seen them bag him before, but never with the urgency I saw at that moment. The Attending doctor pulled me into the hallway to talk. Ironically this is the same Attending that admitted us, all those months ago. We hadn’t seen him since.

He explained to me that there comes a time to decide. To differentiate between doing things for him and doing things to him. We were no longer doing things for him. I understood and all I could say was, My husband’s not here, can we hang on until he arrives?

Then he coded.

His heart stopped. I replay the words over and over again in my head, his heart stopped and then suddenly, with an increased frenetic pace, the Attending began chest compressions. Again and again and again, I wanted to shout Enough! Enough already! Please stop! But I didn’t. I let them continue, his Daddy wasn’t there and I couldn’t let him go by myself.

Some how, they brought him back. Not David, not really, not my Capt Snuggles. I think he took flight the minute his heart stopped.  But they kick-started his heart and kept blowing air into his lungs until his Daddy arrived.

Which he did shortly, by now it was almost 11am. The doctors gathered and ushered us into a small conference room. They said everything I already knew. I looked at each one of them telling me all these things and it didn’t matter.

It didn’t matter that they all loved him, because I’m sure that they did. It didn’t matter that they did the best they could, because I know that they tried. It didn’t matter that they thought I was a good mother, because I still couldn’t change the outcome. None of what they said mattered.

All I could think of was that in a few minutes I would be allowed to finally hold my son and it would be the last time, and it wouldn’t be enough.

It would never be enough.

We returned to the room. They brought in a rocking chair and I held him. I held him while that awful oscillator vibrated and vibrated and vibrated and finally, I told my Hub to get the nurse – I was ready, I wanted, needed them to turn off that awful machine, just so I could hold him in peace.

They came. The drips keeping his heart pumping were stopped. That awful machine was turned off and they removed the breathing tube from his nose. I was finally able to look at my sweet boys’ face without the tape and tubes.

He was finally free of it all.

And I held him.

I held him when the Attending came in to listen for his heartbeat. I held him when the Attending called out 12:15. I held him while they left us alone and I cried. I cried for all the hurt and pain that he had endured. I cried for all the lost hope and the pure senselessness of the whole situation. I cried for the boy that would never grow old and I cried for the emptiness and brokenness that would haunt me for the rest of my days.

I cried until I thought I was empty and then I cried some more, just like a cut that starts to clot, but if you bump it, it starts to bleed again.

I thought that I may never stop bleeding.

Finally, I laid David back on the bed and I covered him with his blanket. Our Chaperone came in and asked if I would like to help her bathe him.

And I did.

Before we bathed him, we took imprints of his feet and hands, both on a heart shaped mold and on paper. I trimmed a lock of his hair to keep tucked away.

Then we washed all traces of blood and tears away from Capt Snuggles. We rubbed baby lotion on his arms and legs and his sweet face, just like he was getting ready for sleep. We dressed him and wrapped him in his blanket.

I bent down and kissed his forehead, more tears than I ever thought possible, streaming down my face.

I had to leave, it was more than time. It may very well be the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. To put one foot in front of the other and walk out of that hospital room. To walk out and leave my Capt Snuggles behind.

To walk out and leave my heart behind.

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , , | 40 Comments

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40 thoughts on “That morning

  1. Patty

    Many of us have been praying that if and when that time came, you would have strength – and you did. More than most of us can imagine ever having to deal with. You have done it with grace. I continue to pray for you, for strength to face one day at a time.

  2. I don’t have words but wanted to acknowledge this post. I am touched and heartbroken for you and your family. You honored this moment with the same honesty and grace that you honored his life.


  3. Kristie

    Thank you for sharing your story, your life with us. Please know that you and your family are in the thoughts and prayers of so many. My prayer is that the Lord will hold you and comfort you in His loving arms, and bring you strength that you could never find on your own. Have faith that you will see your precious boy again in Heaven.

  4. jen

    I also don’t have the words, but do want to thank you for sharing this post. My heart aches for you and your family.

  5. It is important work that you are doing now, getting out those memories and committing them to paper, now the memory is preserved and you can work on healing. Hugs for your heart.

  6. I’m praying for you and your family.

  7. Amy, thank you for sharing this. You are so brave. Sending you love and light, hugs and prayers.

  8. Thank you again for sharing the deepest darkest moment of pain. I feel a lump in the pit of my stomach and can only imagine holding him in those last moments, washing him, knowing it was over. I honour you for your ability to share and I am honoured to know you

    hugs Michelle

  9. Wendy Grace Rolf

    I miss you. I miss David.
    You express yourself better than any author I have read. Please write for us… a book would be a great gift for us and perhaps you. Just a thought..

  10. Amy, thank you for sharing this. Writing this must have been unspeakably painful. You and David have been, and always will be, an inspiration to many people.
    I send you love, hugs, and strength.


  11. Kerry

    I am a freelance writer, I write for a living. I ghostwrite for many many people – if you ever feel that writing a book would be the path that you want to take I will be more than happy to help you get this done. No, not as a client – but as a mom who cannot possibly fathom the strength that you have. Please let me know if you ever need my help – this is one thing that I can do.

  12. mooney=mc2

    Oh Amy. I have no idea what to say. Please know that I will always remember Captain Snuggles, for the rest of my life I will remember his story. Thank you for sharing with us.


  13. Amy…. Thank you for sharing… There are no words for me at this moment… I want to give you a hug, and just be there for you… You’re always in my thoughts. xo

  14. Elisha

    I too have held my baby boy as he died. We too did not want him to suffer for our needs. I wish you peace during this time of sorrow. I am so sorry for your loss. Those words do not make things better. They only let you know that others care.

  15. I cannot even imagine. I’m so sorry for you, for your family. Please know that you have someone on Maui praying for you all and sending you love. xoxo

  16. There simply are no words. Just know that we’re still out here praying and crying with you.

  17. Wow! Thank you for putting your heart where we can all see. That must have been hard, but I think (at least for me) it closed the doors on some questions. Things you had written about. You had the strength to allow your babe to leave without wires and plenty of wings. {{{{HUGS}}}}}

  18. carrie

    My heart just breaks for you….no mama (or daddy) should ever have to go through this. I really don’t even have the proper words, but just know that I am thinking of you and your sweet boy, and praying for all of you.

  19. I’m crying.

    It’s not at all the same thing, but I was taking care of an orphan baby in Africa over a couple of weeks and I was there when he died too. I had to carry his body back to the orphanage. I cried for months.

    Thank you for sharing this and letting us in.

  20. james hillis

    Hello to all that have followed my wife’s and David’s story on this blog. I think maybe I should maybe say a few words myself. Your support has greatly helped my wife through this awful time. The only thing i really remember about David passing is getting to the hospital and the first words my wife said are HE CODED. My heart fell to the floor. I know this is it. It is Nate all over again and I haven’t gotten over that yet. How can I cope? I just want to crawl into a hole and hide. But I can’t. I have to hold it together, I can’t break down. My wife and kids will need me to be strong. I CAN’T break down. My wife right now sits at the table with her computer sometimes on but sometimes not. But she sits there and I know she is dying inside and I can do nothing for her and it is killing me. I deal with things different than her, I have to be very active I don’t have time to break. They all need me right now so I try to find things to do so I don’t crash. To be honest I steal a few minutes at work in the bathroom to just let some go where no one can see me and no one knows but I have to let some go or explode. We have 3 other boys that need me to be strong and watch over all of us and I do this with great pride. Amy will start to function again I am sure but her heart will not be the same and all I can do is be here for her wish, I could do more. Well I need to go, starting to let a little tear slip by. Again thanks all of you for what you have done for my wife. She is my world. On a brighter note I get to start on her bath room tomorrow, hope she likes it. I LOVE YOU DAVID

  21. Joy

    We will remember you, and the grace and strength with which you have loved your Captain Snuggles. I hope that peace finds you now and in the days ahead…

  22. Jennifer

    Thank you so much for being brave enough to share your story. There are just no words to comfort you during this time, but again, I hope you can find some release in getting your words out there. And yes, we are continuing to read and feel for you and your family.

  23. I had now words to express my feelings until I scrolled through all the comments. I’ve read each one since I have found you…
    I can across James’ up above, and I want to thank you also. My heart has been with your family since I first found you. James, you are a very strong man, and I am happy you to have opened up a bit. I can not imagine the grief or heartbrake your family has lived, but I want to say. I read every word you both wrote above, and my all the noises in my home seemed miles away. As if I were by a sea-side reading a story getting lost in it. At this moment in your writing I brokedown shaking “I think he took flight the minute his heart stopped.” You have strength I have never seen before. When I read your words I hang on to the very last one in each post. I will be cleaning, working on class work, cooking dinner, and can “hear” the words you wrote that I read just that morning. I do not know what your voice sounds like, but I can “hear” you all the same. You have touched my life as a woman, and as a mother; you have touched my heart. I will be along side you in words, thoughts, and prayers as long as you allow. ((Hugs)) for both you and James alike.

  24. James and Amy, as I sit here in tears, I can only imagine what you are going through. My children were born (mostly) healthy. Maybe they had some issues and stopped breathing a time or two – the images of those moments are burned into my mind. A decade later they still scare me and upset me.
    I have no words. I have nothing but love for you both.
    Nothing will replace Nathan or David. No amount of time will make the loss any “less” for you.
    I wish you both the best and I hope and pray that you will be able to grieve in your own way, while still being able to function.


  25. Amy,
    Thanks for sharing this part of you. I will continue to pray that you have the strength to face each day.

  26. Thank you for sharing this, it’s hard to know what to say but you have done your baby justice and he is so so lucky to have you as his Mom. Love to you –

  27. I read your post shortly after it was available. It’s taken me this long to be able to respond. I hurt for you. I hurt for your husband. Hold onto each other. Everyone handles pain differently but in the end we’re all the same – just trying to find the strength to move forward. You are an amazing woman. I mean that. I have known just a few in my life and although you and I will probably never meet, you and your precious son have made a forever impression on me. I know everything has a purpose. There is a reason for everything that happens. Sometimes we get to know what that purpose was. Sometimes we don’t. I do know that David’s life, as short as it was, has made a huge impact on this world and just like throwing a pebble in a pond, the ripples are still being felt.

  28. There really are no words to say. I’m so sorry, and you are in my thoughts.

  29. I am here. I hear you. I see your beautiful boy.

    Thank you for sharing yourself and your family with us.

  30. sharon

    I missed reading this post on the day it was posted because I couldn’t get to my e-mail.

    The tears are streaming down my face but I am glad you felt able to write about David’s final moments with you, harrowing though it must have been. You are one strong loving Mama who did everything possible for that oh so precious little boy. The ‘if only’-s are so unfair.


  31. Shelley

    Sobbing reading all of this. I didn’t know anything had happened to your beautiful boy until now. I read it all, every detail your wrote. My heart just breaks for you and your family. YOu are a very strong woman. David did have a purpose and it sucks that he had to live through Hell to make his purpose known. But I agree with your pastor, he has touched many lives and a I know that doesn’t bring your Capt. Snuggles back, but his life was an example to so many that read about. A life that can be so fragile and so many things that we take for granted, he made us realize those things. I grieve for you, I pray for you, and wonder why it had to be you and your baby? You are in my thoughts and prayers and I hope you continue to write your thoughts and experiences down. You are strong and brave for sharing this life story and a I thank you and I hurt for you. God Bless

  32. i am so sorry for your loss. i am left speechless, my heart is aching and i too hurt for you. lifting you in prayer for strength, hope and peace.

  33. Katie

    I’m so sorry for this terrible pain you and your family are experiencing. I’m in tears just reading this. I pray you find some peace, as your son did that morning.

  34. Brett Schumacher

    I really don’t know what to say…..but I guess many of us all feel the same way. At a loss of words, and no one can imagine your pain. But thank you for sharing–this blog is filled with so much more emotion than words convey…….sending warm thoughts, prayers, and love to you and your family.

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  36. I am so sorry for your loss. I found you through Cathy’s Voice Blog. My heart and prayers are with your family.

  37. oh Amy, there are just no words. I am so sorry. So very, very sorry. I wish that I could hug you, cry with you, pray with you…sit with you. My heart breaks for you.

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  39. I have gone through a similar experience with my best friend Grace who was battling cancer at the age of 16. I know how every single time the phone rang your heart would drop and you would be so scared that something happened. How hard it was to leave the hospital just to go home and shower or eat bc you didn’t want to leave their side.
    She passed away in 2007 and I cannot believe how well you explained how I cried (like a cut that clots, but then bleeds again when it gets bumped). I know its not the same as losing a child, but she was the closest thing I had to a sister. I know you think about him every single day as I think about her.
    I know both of them are in heaven- free of tubes, free of IV’s, free of doctors and nurses waking them up every hour to do tests and vitals. They’re finally free and happy.

    Thank you for sharing your story with all of us. ❤

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