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To the Baby in the Room Across the PICU Hall

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Dear baby,

I don’t know your name.

I don’t know why you were here in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). I don’t know how long you were there.

I know only that today you became an angel.

Your room is dark now. Your beautiful pictures and the decorations on your door are gone.

I hope you’re running and laughing and playing up in heaven tonight, free of tubes and wires and beeps and pokes and all the things hooked up to you in your tiny crib.

Yesterday morning you started having troubles. Your room was a hive of activity, and that code light, that damn red code light, was lit up above your door as doctors and x-ray machines and surgical teams moved efficiently in and out. My eye caught that of your nurse, and my tears welled up. Because she’s our nurse too. And I knew that look on her face. I knew the look on your momma’s face too, as she leaned against the nurses desk watching and feeling helpless. All I could do was pray.

When I left to go home, you seemed stable. I knew our nurse/your nurse was busy in your room doing the amazing work only she can do to keep chaotic little bodies as stable as possible. Last night when she got off her shift, she texted me that it’d been a rough day and that she missed coming to our room. I texted her back that it was OK. I knew she was right where she needed to be — taking care of you. And I know she gave it her all. I know she poured every last ounce of anything she had left into you all day.

I hope you’re able to look down now and see her and know what an amazing person you had taking care of you. I saw your beautiful pictures. You were a smiling, happy baby. Surely you knew the love this staff gave you. I hope you watch over all of them as they continue having hard days and continue coming in and doing what they do with smiles on their faces, even if those smiles are hiding tears sometimes.

Today I came back and realized your room was clean.

You were gone.

I tried to tell myself you just got transferred somewhere. Maybe you had to go down to the CICU or maybe they flew you to Chicago.

But see, I know that’s not the reality of life in the ICU.

I know what that code light means.

I don’t know why today was your time. I don’t know why two years ago, when my daughter was in the room right next to yours and her code light was going off and going off and going off for so many long hours, it wasn’t her time. I don’t understand why some babies make it and some babies don’t.

I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that here in the ICU, as much as it sometimes feels like a weird microcosm of “home,” it also feels like the hardest place in the world to live. Because while many miracles and successes happen here, just as often there isn’t a happy ending.

What I want to tell you is that you earning your angel wings was not in vain.

You made an impact with your little life.

You made an impact on me, and I don’t even know you. I hope I can at least find out your name.

Because of that dark room, with its absence of a teeny crib and beautiful pictures of your adorable smile, I will hug my babies tighter. I will grab onto life a little harder. I will complain a lot less. I will smile more often, I will forgive more easily, and I will not take one single minute of life for granted.

I wanted to be sad today, but not quite like this. I was feeling sorry for myself, sorry for my own girl who was lying in the room across the hall from you. I dropped her sisters off at school, and I was sad that I had to say goodbye to them and couldn’t tell them when I’d see them again. Maybe in two days or maybe a week. I passed my little girl’s classroom, and I started to cry as I realized she should have been sitting there at the yellow table, brow furrowed in concentration as she worked on her letters and numbers. She should be going on her first field trip tomorrow to the horse farm. She’s been so excited for that trip. It hurts to think of how devastated she will be when she finds out she missed it.

But now I think of all the firsts you will miss. So I will try my best to not focus on the things my daughter’s missed and instead be overjoyed for the things she has experienced.

young child in hospital bed with oxygen tube

Dear baby, you weren’t here long, but you made a difference.

Your smile was beautiful and I will likely never forget it.

Fly high, sweet baby girl.

This post originally appeared on Terra Talking.

Originally published: May 17, 2015
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