When Esmé was in that first Pediatric ICU stay, another child was brought in to the room across the hall. When she arrived I watched her rolled in to the room, looking so much like Ezzy did a few days before. She was tiny, not more than four or five months old. And like Ezzy she came in on the big beds they only use for infants when they are ventilated and cannot move…Her body looked so small and dark against the big white bed. So lonely and still.
That day Ezzy went into surgery. While I anxiously paced between Ezzy’s room and the bathroom and the vending machines, I passed this child’s family huddled in the halls waiting until they could enter the room.
After surgery we spent much of the night rocking Ezzy to comfort her. At some point in the wee hours the baby across the hall died.
We listened to her family cry all night long.
It so easily could have been us.
Before having Ezzy I did not know of many instances of babies and children who did not live. I don’t think many people do, because, frankly, it is something that no one wants to talk about. It seems too cruel, too impossible to be. But since having Ezzy I have become so attuned to the loss of children…I suppose part of it is that the circles we roll in now include so many children who defy the odds in so many ways, children who touch this world for fleeting days, months, years. I know too many people who have lost their precious children in the last two years. The words “my friend lost her daughter/son today” roll too easily off my tongue.
And I often find myself wondering how I have been the lucky one. Why me?
I think that this question is too hard to ponder on a daily basis for most people. We don’t ponder questions like this because when we take the time to look at our precious gifts and really see how fragile, how fleeting all of it is, it just stops you in your tracks. It can be paralyzing. Its part of why a cannot do much else in the world other than be Ezzy’s mom. For this reason we only think of it when we don’t have a choice, when it smacks you in the face: That baby across the hall looks so much like your baby. Somehow your baby lives…and the other one does not.
But today, in honor of the little baby across the hall, in honor of all of Ezzy’s friends who took flight this year, please take a moment to think about it. Let that thought take you to the place that is paralyzing…and then let it carry you beyond, to the place where you are flooded with the good fortune of knowing all the children you know or have known. As I said last month when Ezzy lost her beautiful friend La, please, today count your blessings, soften your words, let them eat ice cream, read an extra book, and don’t hold back on the kisses.