Hospitals and milkshakes

Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

You’ve been sick since Thursday, Kate. Your fever has peaked at 104.6. Mommy and I sit and watch you rest on the couch. And at night we sit beside your bed and watch you try to sleep.

Yesterday your doctor sent you to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. The fever had been with you for 5 days. They were concerned about dehydration and not quite sure what was causing the fever.

You can still see that you were a 30 week preemie. Your fragile features. Offset by your spunk. The strength that sustained you through your early months of life. When tubes breathed for you. When they double wrapped you to keep you from arching your back and tearing your medical attachments free.

Almost 4 years ago Mommy and I were awakened in an empty waiting room at Vandy. 4:30am. The pastor who sat with Mommy was gone. The off duty doctor who stayed late to hold Mommy’s hand until I could get there was gone. You weren’t breathing. RSV that time. A young doctor woke us up gently and said:

“We’re doing everything we can to make her comfortable.”

A nurse took us to you. They had attached things to your head. And Mommy and I crumbled.

But Kate, you are so strong. The doctors shook their heads and tried not to smile in disbelief as you fought. You are so strong. We see it every day now. And those are only hard memories that set the stage for what you will become someday. There’s something great life in for you.

So, 4 years later, back in the hospital with you, down those same halls, we sat under flourescent lights. Mommy and I talked while you sat in her lap. We talked about hospitals and sick kids. I admitted to her that I feel a sense of peace when I’m back in the hospital. Almost like home. It’s hard to explain.

A parade of doctors came again. A battery of tests.

Finally a simple diagnosis.

“She has an aggressive virus. Let’s get her some fluids and she’ll be fine in a few days.”

You asked to see your brother and sister, Kate. Then you asked to go to Target. Our girl was coming around.

You’re going to be fine. It won’t be long before our free-spirited, spunky little girl is back. The one who dresses herself like this. And makes this face when asked to smile for a picture:

So many people prayed for you yesterday. Nana and Papaw came to the hospital. Grandma and Grandfather kept you, Max. Izzy, everyone in town volunteered to keep you.

We stopped for milkshakes on the way home. The fear of the last few hours behind us. Suddenly. That’s how life happens.

We watched you sleep until late last night in your own bed. No overnight hospital stay this time.

As we fell asleep Mommy whispered in my direction:

“Life’s not easy, is it?”

I’m not sure if she was talking to me. I whispered back though: “no.”

As I drifted to sleep I felt an overwhelming comfort. Kate, you are so strong. And just like with your brother and big sister, I learn so much from you.

I’m learning that our kids teach us so much more than we teach them. God blesses us in this way.

I love you,

– Daddy