It is so hard to even begin this post, but I feel the need to share. Mostly because it’s something I think about repeatedly day in and day out. Sometimes 1500 times a day. Sometimes once a day. But I can’t get it out of my head. And if I’ve learned anything it’s that the best way to get something out of my head is to write it down. So here goes…
Wednesday, September 6th we decided to take Kendal back in to the hospital. Her skin was getting more and more grey, she was sleeping most of the day, and her swelling was getting worse. We had decided when we learned Kendal was terminal that we would be more comfortable having her pass away in the hospital opposed to home. For our sake and for Kenedi and Teagan’s sake. And Kendal didn’t mind. As long as we were there with all her favorite things, she was comfortable. So we checked in late Wednesday night and the other girls stayed nearby at a hotel with my mom.
Kendal did well overnight and since Aaron just started a new job, he went to work that Thursday morning. His job was very understanding and after some morning meetings, Aaron returned to the hospital around noon. Kendal spent most of the day sleeping or cuddling with us, watching TV, or lying with her sisters. We kept her hooked up to the O2 monitor so we could evaluate her easily. And as the day went on, it was heartbreaking to see her O2 continue to decline.
A friend had scheduled a photographer (who is also a friend of ours) to come to the hospital that evening to take some final photos of us with Kendal and the girls. She arrived late afternoon and got some amazing – difficult – shots. Since it was getting late, we had Teagan and Kenedi give Kendal a kiss goodbye and head back to the hotel. We unhooked Kendal from the O2 monitor because her stats continued to fall causing it to alarm.
Aaron was sitting in the chair holding Kendal and I was on the couch. We were chatting with our friend about the photos and about life in general when Aaron shouted out to me “I don’t think she’s breathing”. Or something along those lines. Now thinking back I don’t know what it was, but I remember the panic and pain in his voice and I ran over and put my hands on Kendal and began to experience the worst 2 minutes of my life.
No one tells you what it’s like to watch your child die. The noises they make that you can never unhear. The moment they stop breathing you can never unlive. You can never unsee. Going into it, you know it’s going to be awful, but you can never fully imagine it. I remember thinking it was going to be peaceful, and in a way, it was. But it was also horrifying. Something straight from a nightmare. Aaron and I sat there crying as Kendal gasped for her last breaths. And then it was over. Her fight was done.
Aaron and I sat there alone for a few minutes crying and hugging her. We eventually called our friend back and she took some final photos of us and Kendal. I didn’t think I would want them or ever look at them, but I actually look at them often. We had taken her NG tube out and she looked so peaceful.
The rest of the night was a bit of a blur filled with hugs with doctors and nurses and more tears than I can even count.
Every moment of that last day runs through my head over and over and over. I feel so guilty for leaving Kendal’s side while she was napping to take a shower that day. I feel guilty for even setting her down that entire day. I should have known and just held her more. I should have told her how much I loved her repeatedly all day long.
I feel so guilty that I didn’t do more to save her. That I didn’t beg her to stay with me longer. I wake up in cold sweats sometimes in the middle of the night after nightmares of those final minutes. Nightmares where I’ve fought with the nurses and gave Kendal oxygen and CPR. Sometimes I even save her in my dreams and wake up crying thinking I could have and should have. I think about how scared she must have been in those final moments when she couldn’t catch her breath and that she probably didn’t understand what was happening. And I wonder if she knew we were there and if she knew we did everything we could.
I am so mad at the memories of those final moments. I hate that they haunt me every day and I wish I could forget them. But on the other hand, I am so grateful that I was there. That we were there with her. That she didn’t struggle too long. That we could hug and kiss her and tell her it was okay (even though it most definitely was NOT okay that she was dying) and that we loved her so much. The reality is, as a parent, you are not supposed to sit there and hold your child as they die. And dealing with that aftermath is difficult. And I’m still dealing and most likely will be dealing with it forever.
A wife who loses a husband is called a widow
A husband who loses a wife is called a widower
A child who loses his parents is called an orphan
There is no word for a parent who loses a child
That’s how awful the loss is