Sunday, September 28, 2008

Visiting Lilly

On Friday Jonathan and I went to UAB to visit with Wes, Amanda and Lilly. Other than her scar, she looked absolutely healthy and very beautiful. Amanda laughed about how she had one of our babies with all that hair. After Wes, Jonathan and I enjoyed lunch out, I got to snuggle with Lilly because by then she was only connected to her portable heart monitor. They said she had gone "wireless." She was sweet, and I loved holding her while trying to suppress the feelings of "oh, I need another little baby." We had a great visit with them and it was wonderful to see them and Lilly after the trying (to say the least) 10 days they had been through. Wes just kept saying they feel so blessed. They are. The circumstances of Lilly's early arrival, diagnosis and surgery had the very hand of God all over them. But I was blessed on Friday as well...

I had not been back to UAB hospital since the night we last packed my dad in the car after a long day of pricks, prods and doctor's visits. I had decided we would take our own wheelchair, actually my grandmother's, which was way too small for my dad's height. I was so tired of waiting for guest services wheelchairs and the people who pushed them. So I pushed him...for his last blood tests where they couldn't even find a place to draw anymore, to his last visit with the chemo oncologist, who will remain nameless because I have nothing good to say about her right now. Looking back I know Dad was dying already, that very day. He was very sleepy and was just showing some signs that I chose to ignore. That doctor wanted to admit him and fill him up with fluids and then send him home for hospice care. She did not seem to appreciate my questions that day, or when I informed her that we would not be admitting my dad, but keeping his appointment with Dr. Jahraus, his radiologist. Dad and Dr. Jahraus had formed a special relationship. A year earlier Dr. Jahraus had lost his own father to brain cancer. He had been through it, and was right there in it with us. Dad was a person to Dr. Jahraus, not just a patient. When he came in the exam room I could feel a peace come over my dad, and the doctor cried as he told us to take Dad home and get my brother home as soon as possible. In the span of two hours, one doctor wanted to admit him and send him home on hospice for "two to six months." Dr. Jahraus wanted us to get him home, so we could get him Home. We are forever grateful for his care over Dad and for showing us how to start letting him go.

So all last week as I prepared myself to return to UAB, I prayed and prayed for Lilly, Wes, Amanda. I so wanted to see them and for it not to be at all about my own pain. I thought about the time I spent there with Dad. There are good memories from that hospital. During our first visit, I had to step up and make things happen because they did not have dad scheduled for a CAT scan, which the surgeon had to have that afternoon. Dad was so scared and tired and he wanted to just try another day. We stayed. As we waited to get the CAT scan, for a little while Dad rested with his head in my lap. Sweet talks I shared with Dad. The way I was the only one that could get him up and walking when the nurses told him to get up and walk. The time the two young and beautiful female doctors came in and peered over at my sweet sleeping baby while their posture showed their obvious discomfort and they looked like they had no clue what to do with a baby. A patient? Sure. A baby? No way. We thought that was funny. My dad was so proud, and Miles spent a lot of time with us at the hospital. I am so thankful for that. Dad called him "Smiles." To give Mom a short break one day, Miles and I went up to stay with Dad and I trimmed his mustache and we listened to music and all took a nap. I smile about these memories, but even still, to me UAB represented only loss. Until Lilly.

Walking through those halls, the very halls where I pushed my dad on that last day, was so hard. Standing to wait on the elevator where Dad, Mom and I waited on our very first visit there, as people passed by oohing and aahhing over a five month old Miles was very hard. And what doctor do you think I spied in the hallway? The one we loved? No. The chemo oncologist. My body tensed and I couldn't not stare at her. I felt numb. A little sick. And I had to walk away to hide my tears.

But then I met Lilly and hugged Wes and listened as Amanda recounted their story. And as I held sweet little Lilly, I realized that now UAB can mean life to me. New, precious young life. And holding her there, in the same place that I held my dad's frail hands, was such a blessing to me. In fact, I'm sure I was more blessed by our visit with them than they were. So, Wes and Amanda, thank you for sharing Lilly with us on Friday. We love you all.


The Khans said...

I am so glad to hear you were blessed by your return to UAB on various levels. You always have such great words to share on your experiences. May God continue to heal your wounds from that time.

Amanda G. said...

wow. Thanks for sharing that. I'm sitting here catching up on blogs since Lilly and I aren't at church this morning. Now I'm crying. :)

I hadn't thought about your emotional connection to UAB. I know that was a hard trip for you to make. It reminds me a little of something my mom told me long ago.

I was born at St. Vincent's in b'ham, but my dad didn't want me to be born there. His dad had died there almost 20 years before I was born. To him St. Vincent's meant death...until i was born.

The first night Lilly was at UAB she was put in the RNICU. It's located in the old Hillman hospital building. That night I found out that is where my dad was born...67 years earlier. I must admit I was a little afraid that life/death cycle might play out, but thankfully it turned out to be life.

Thank you for sharing your dad's LIFE with us. :)