Sunday, July 18: Update

I heard Heidi’s tears from the other room tonight and asked her what was wrong. She came around the corner red-eyed and said she missed Mommy. I held her while she explained that she keeps seeing things that belong to Tiffany, and they make her sad. These seven weeks are taking their toll and even the strongest are showing the weaknesses in their armor.

Heidi has always been our valiant family warrior. She is fiercely loyal and burns for her family. She abhors strife in her family. She’s very protective. When she was small enough to be in a high chair, I’d come up behind Tiffany, growl and bear hug her. Heidi would provide the soundtrack yelling all manner of protests for me to leave Mommy alone! When she walks she bobs her head from side to side. She makes me smile.

Heidi also internalizes her feelings. Heidi is most like Tiffany emotionally. She is easy stung and takes things personally. She is eager to please and make peace. The last thing she wants to be is a burden to her family. And this is why we watch her so closely right now. When we were still at Medical City, Heidi went home with Grandpa and Grandma one night. I found out the following morning Heidi was discovered in the middle of the night crying by herself. When I asked her why she hadn’t gotten anyone, she said she didn’t want to wake anybody up. Heidi thinks of herself last. So we’re working extra hard with her to draw out what she’s feeling so we can grieve with her.

It is hard for me to watch my six and eight year old daughters deal with such a maturing event. They love their little sister and miss her much. My heart hurts for them.

Some more healing will come in a week when we bring Claire home. Both girls are helping us prepare her room and space. They are eager for us all to be under the same roof again. It’s not the cure all, but it will be a much needed salve.

Claire still has some work to do before she’s homeward bound. We’ve been working in getting her feeds to a normal schedule and had a setback today. She lost her dinner – and then some – tonight after finishing her last feed. We suspect the amounts are too large for a single feeding and overtax her little stomach. We will moderate tomorrow and hope she does better.

Otherwise, Claire continues to show signs of increased awareness. Her malice toward the hospital grows every day, and she looks forward to the time she escapes to the outside each day for her walk. We’ve started encouraging he with tales of finally going home. That usually calms her down.

The week ahead will be busy. It’s the last full week before discharge. We have a lot to accomplish both here at home and at the hospital. More family comes in on Tuesday. Our friends have been brilliant the past few days bridging the gap until in-house guests arrive.

Thank you for your prayers and support. They continue to sustain us.

Saturday, July 17: Update

My mom left this morning, picked up at 7:15 AM and on the plane home by 9:00 AM. We made it a late night last night finally getting to bed at 2:00 AM. We said our goodbyes, made tentative plans for her return and turned in. I woke up to a tearful Autumn. Aside from the emotional trauma of the past seven weeks, Autumn is always crushed when her Nana leaves. She was morose all day and frequently commented that she misses her Nana.

So do we. My mom and my sister Emily were the first responder family members down here, 19 hours after I pulled Claire out of the pool. Just thinking back on when they arrived is surreal. I’ve tried to explain what it felt like when I came around the corner and saw them both walking down the Medical City hall, luggage in tow. I can’t. I was overwhelmed. All I could do was hug my mom and cry.

My mom hasn’t stopped hugging me since she got here. She’s taken care of Autumn and Heidi, making sure they were distracted, entertained, fed and loved. She’s stayed with Claire, battling insomnia, sometimes due to Claire, other times because her body and mind wouldn’t let her sleep. She talked with both Tiffany and me into the wee hours of many mornings. She’s cried with us. She been strong for us. She’s broken down for us and with us (which has been frequent).

While I never wanted to put it to the test, I always knew that should tragedy strike, my family would be champions for us: my mom has been our family’s heartbeat, present and strong when others could not be here. What little joy we can take from this situation comes from how quickly our family rallied around us and with such fervor. And the rally came with their own sacrifices. I was exposed to the joy that comes from being married to your best friend from my parents. They’ve fought for each other for the last 30 years. The elapsed time since May 31 has marked the longest time they’ve been apart. Tiffany and I can’t imagine being separated for long because we crave being together so much. I know it was the same for my parents. They gave us an incredible gift amidst our grief. It was one big sacrifice for their broken children.

This is far from over. But my mom was here to help get us started. She picked us up so we could walk again. We just hope and pray that the next time we see her, we’ll have done the same for Claire, and we’ll be able to walk her into Nana’s arms.

See you soon Nana. We love you.