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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Echo of My Little One

My daughter is now 4 and a half.  There is not a day that goes by where I am not astounded by her presence.  I am astounded that she is the less-than-2 pounder that fought so desperately to get and stay here.  I am as fascinated by her life as I am saddened by her sister's death. 

Almost a month ago now, my 7 year old had an asthma attack that landed him in a long ER visit.  As is the custom, the triage nurses put him on the monitors to chart his breathing and oxygen levels.  At first I didn't pay attention, but my son accidental (maybe) disconnected himself from the monitor and the alarm started beeping wildly.  From the second that all to familiar sound filled the room, I was riveted to the screen.  Not out of an obsessive need to follow my son's progress, I knew he had disconnected himself.  But that sound.  THAT sound. The ringing of that loud shrill alarm immediately transported me over the space and time of  almost 5 years to that quiet shadowy NICU where I would sit in an old brown rocking chair transfixed on the sounds, colors and flashes of that black TV like screen that sought to tell me whether my littlest one would live or die.



I can smell the antiseptics and hand sanitizer.  I know the exact pitch of the alarms, I can see the incubator that housed my little one who was so small it always took a minute to locate her when I first arrived.  She was no bigger than a banana, but she was a mover  - so much so that the NICU staff had to strap her to an elevated bed board.  I would first try to spy out her little stuffed turtle that always rested by her ear, or on her shoulder.  When I found that turtle, I would find my little one all taped and wired up with things coming out of her nose, head and hands. Those cords creeped from her body and spiraled up from the incubator's corner to spill out into the room like a malnourished octopus.  With the cords came the beeping.

The memory of it all causes a shiver that starts from the middle of my gut and radiates out until it hits me at my shoulders.  I feel like I ate a bucket of ice, or someone dragged their already raggedy fingernails across the length of a rough black board.  It's creepy. 

There was nothing creepy about those moments as I lived them.  Every second of those thousands of moments made up my reality at the time.  A reality that frankly kicked my ass - but I made it through in one piece as they say.  It wasn't on my own accord.  My "one piece" was being  held together by antidepressants, therapy, lots of prayer and concerned attention of family and friends.

When I have those flashbacks that capture me like Dorothy's tornado, I feel slightly freaked out. My little one is so HERE now that I find it unbelievable that such a short time ago she was a blink away from not being.  Truth be told, I was a blink away from not being. 

My little one is so here. She came out of the womb swinging a sparkly purse and matching shoes.  I knew she was her own when she snubbed a pair of low bright Red Chuck Taylor for pink and white cross trainers with just the slightest hint of bling.

Today on our way to the mall, in an effort to grab some quiet, I told my kids that I had a stomach ache.  My middle man - Q asked me, "Mom, can people die from illness?"
 "Yes.  Yes they can."  I replied simply.  On topics like death I let him direct the course of the conversation.  I waited for his response.
But it wasn't Q who spoke next.  It was Noelle.  With an understated sadness she stated, "My sister died." I didn't respond.  I didn't turn my head or peek in the rear view.  She was stating for the first time what she understood about her sister.   Although I kept my eyes on the road,  I could feel the exchange between my three children.  Jon, my oldest (the first to tell her about her sister), turned to her and sighed softly "Yes Noelle, we know."  I could feel Q nod in agreement behind me and we all sat at the red light silent. I peeked, Noelle was looking off towards the window, her curly hair vibrating in sync with our car's rough idle.  I could look at her forever.  Noelle is tangled in my soul in a way no other human is. We shared and lost so much together.

I still have another little one.  Although it has been close to 5 years, her little shadow follows Noelle about. There are times when I catch a glimpse like when Noelle puts her cheek on mine and whispers an achingly genuine, "Have a good sleep mommy." I imagine two kisses. From my heart I hear an echo.

17 comments:

  1. Simply beautiful Carla. (from Sharon Z)

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  2. It is a beautiful post, both the writing and the story.

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  3. Thanks Sharon

    Thanks GetReal

    I am always amazed at how simple things can be so profound.

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  4. CJ I know that feeling ohh to well the Hospital gives me a sensation that I can't shake...
    Big Hugs and may you continue to document your journey of grief...

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  5. Thanks Mary. My experience with my twin pregnancy was a milestone for me. Even though it has been several years, it still saddens yet teaches me. Writing about it is how I honor the daughter I lost. Thanks for the comment!

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  6. Reading with tears in my eyes. The children who live in our hearts are as present in our lives as the ones we still hold in our arms. And as much as that aches, there is beauty in their constant presence. Thank you for sharing so beautifully...

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  7. I fought to hard to finish this post amidst tears. It's so sad but at the same time, you wrote it with beauty, love eternal, passion and heavy heart. Writing about it will help you overcome the loss bit live by the beautiful memories.
    Following from MBC.
    http://life-reflexions.blogspot.com/

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  8. Oh this is so beautiful. I'm so glad you stopped by my blog so that I could come here and read this. Every word of it resonates with me. You tell this story so beautifully yet I'm so sorry that it is a story you have to tell. I can only imagine what it feels like to come up on 5 years. The memories are probably as close as they are far away. Sending you strength and moments of peace and you head towards those tough days.

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  9. CJ...chills and tears. That's really all I should say, but you move me to more. You have a way with those words that are usually so hard to pin down. In your pieces there is life, smiles, pain, sadness...and you can do it in such a small space. You are truly gifted, my friend!

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  10. Your writing is eloquent.I have goose bumps and tears as I read your story. You have such strength.
    I am a new follower from MBC.
    If you get a chance stop by http://momsinvent.blogspot.com/

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  11. I am following now CJ.

    Great topic too. From my viewpoint you are a terrific Mom. Be proud, mate.

    Margot’s Magic Carpet
    Kids Books With a WOW Factor!
    http://perfectmagiccarpet.blogspot.com/

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  12. Glad your boy is now fine. A fearful and horrible experience for both of you - but it ended well.

    Good and loving Moms like you deserve happy endings, mate!!

    Margot’s Magic Carpet
    Kids Books With a WOW Factor!
    http://perfectmagiccarpet.blogspot.com/

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  13. wow. YOU are a wonderful writer! I was so moved by this post. Beyond moved, inspired! Found you from MBC and now following! Hope you'll swing by and return the favor! http://www.mammatown.blogspot.com

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  14. You are a beautiful writer!

    Julie
    www.sospouse.blogspot.com

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  15. Wow. So powerful...both the truth of your post and the way in which it was crafted.

    I realize that we don't know one another, but I would hug you right now if I could.

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  16. CJ, your writing is riveting. Amazing. The smell of hand-sanitizer - such a small detail, but it totally brings the hospital back to me.

    Beautiful girl!!

    xop

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  17. you've been honoured with The Versatile Blogger Award. Please visit my link below to check it out.
    http://life-reflexions.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete