Monday, June 25, 2012
I've avoided it for years, the building, the people, the memories. I was there Sunday as I have been the last few Sundays. I've been uncomfortable, wary and guarded. I still am.
I didn't know why, until then. Sunday morning the memories came flooding back of a small dying child. I was flipping through my Bible and found the bookmark that announced the death of my grandson.
The cause of his death was listed as viral encephalitis. I've written of Isaiah before but never in depth, I wouldn't let myself go there. I wouldn't allow myself to remember, to feel, to experience the intense feelings that surrounded those months and the tiny child whose destiny was the grave.
I've written the facts, but not of the excruciating feelings. I keep those feelings locked tightly away in a box that's filed in the deepest recesses of my brain, I keep that box far from my heart lest it once again be pierced.
But today is different. I'll write of the experience, of the decisions, of the ultimate fate of the perfectly beautiful angel.
I knew when Isaiah was a few days old that he was sick, very sick. He slept way too much, even for a newborn. And I had this feeling, this really bad feeling in my gut that he was extremely sick.
My daughter, Karli, took him to the doctor several times. They diagnosed him as a sleepy newborn. She took him to the ER and again was told he was a sleepy newborn. Little did we know at the time that those misdiagnosis' were critical in the life and death of Isaiah.
Karli took him to another doctor who witnessed seizures. Isaiah was immediately taken to the children's hospital in Portland. There was a team of incredible doctors assigned to his case and test after test was done.
He was finally diagnosed with Herpes Encephalitis. The Herpes virus can kill newborns, Herpes killed our newborn. Karli contracted it from her then husband but she had no symptoms. It was passed on to Isaiah. Had he been accurately diagnosed in the beginning, he might still be with us today. I wish I had pushed more, I wish I had been more proactive. I can't help but feel his death is my fault. I knew, I knew, there was a problem.
After many meetings with the specialists at the hospital, and many treatments, there was one final meeting with his team of doctors. I avoided that gathering of the medical minds. I knew what they were going to tell us.
Isaiah was brought home to my house and put in hospice care. His brain had been destroyed by the virus. He was going to die. We had to wait and we had to watch.
My daughter made the decision to end his life support. His feeding tube was removed, all medications, except those to keep him comfortable, were stopped. We watched the chubby little cherub grow frail and emaciated. We watched as he starved to death. We dabbed his little lips with cold water. We tried to keep him comfortable. We passed him from person to person, he was never laid down, he was never alone.
It took 12 days after his nourishment was stopped for him to die. Those were the longest 12 days of our lives. We prayed for his death, for his suffering to end, for our suffering to end. We waited, we watched and we prayed.
We were sitting at the dinner table when Isaiah's soul left this earth. Karli took the stethoscope and listened for a heartbeat, there was none. We called his doctor, his wonderful doctor, and she came to our house. Our pastor and his wife came as well and we all waited for the men with the black van to come take our child away.
While we were waiting we passed the lifeless baby around, we each held him, kissed him and told him how much we loved him. When the men arrived Karli carefully strapped him into his car seat after she had wrapped him in his blanket. That night was the beginning of a journey none of us wanted to be on, but we had no choice.
Sunday as I looked at the bookmark it dawned on me why I had avoided church, or at least one of the reasons I had avoided it for nearly 8 years. The building reminded me of Isaiah. We had taken him to every service with us. We had his beautiful memorial service in that building. We said our final goodbye to him there.
Sitting in church I read the verse my daughter had chosen for him, for his bookmark and for his headstone and I cried.