The memories of today are a blur. I think my brain is protecting my heart. I don’t remember that morning except that she wasn’t feeling well…and that it slowly went downhill at home.
I don’t remember what time her regularly scheduled oncology appointment was that day a year ago, but I think it was earlier than normal. I do know that by the time we got to clinic, the inevitable was only minutes away, yet it took forever for them to come in to break the news they KNEW I already knew. They came in together as a team and they didn’t have to say anything because the look on their faces said it all. Those two who loved her so fiercely. Who cared for her for YEARS had to now tell me it was all to begin again. Only worse. And far away. And risky. And scary. But wait! We had to get her stable first. Fluids. Pain medication. She’s sleeping…that’s good. I’m calm, I think. Because I already knew. We’ve done this before, we can do it again. Bring it…I will fight you face to face, cancer, you will not win.
Now we’re going to the hospital to be admitted. A “medical transport” for precaution. No need yet for an ambulance. No emergency here. A beloved nurse is waiting for us when we get there. Kate starts acting really, really strange and the rest fades away.
I know I was wheeled in bed with her to the PICU. I know I sang. I pray she heard me. I pray she felt me.
Chaos. Doctors. Nurses. Everywhere. More than I’ve ever seen in one place before. It’s cold and it’s unforgiving and I’m breathless for answers but first….just get her white count down. First…just stabilize her. Wait, stabilize her? She was just feeling off this morning and now she’s in the PICU and we’re being kicked out for sterile procedures, stabilization and….and what?
She doesn’t know. She’s intubated and being kept asleep. For how long? We don’t know. “Until…” they say. Until what, we aren’t sure.
I don’t know where her clothes have gone, but I find a plug and I ask to have her white noise sounds turned on. I switch it to ocean. No one can hear it over the beeps, the rushing and the commotion, but I know it’s on. Oh I pray she knows it’s on. There’s a stack of books I’ll read later. Her favorites. I’ll come back. I’ll be back I tell her. I’ll come back and I’ll read to you so you can hear my voice.
Mommy & Daddy will just get some sleep in the other room while they work. I don’t remember what they said. I don’t know if they told us how bad things were. I know doctors who weren’t normally there that late were still there…and I remember wondering why. There’s a nurse from the HEM/ONC floor, whose name I only remember because it’s written on a sticky note strapped to her diaper bag still…with her number on it. But I’ll never forget her face.
“Kate’s in good hands.” She says. I believe her because I know who is working on her. “We’ll come get you when you can see her and move your things into the room with her. Talk to her. Tell her you’re there. She can hear you.”
Okay baby. I love you. Mommy’s right here. You’re so brave and I love you so much. Good night baby, mommy will be back…I kiss her nose and her toe, and ask if I can cover up her foot because it’s cold.
Then I go off to sleep…and the clock ticks toward a new day.