In my last blog I wrote about our little Margareth (Maggy). And now I must write that she is with Jesus.
We were able to bring her home from the hospital on the morning of Christmas Eve. I spoke with the doctor and explained the set-up of our home. I told him that we were well equipped to administer her meds through her IV port and that we had all the equipment we needed. So, he allowed her to come home for Christmas.
We arrived back home mid-morning and got her settled in our own hospital ward right next to the Christmas tree. We had the oxygen concentrator ready, along with a suction pump and nebulizer. She settled in and was breathing well, with her oxygen sats in the mid 90’s. She actually seemed stronger and better than we had seen her to that point.
Because of the extensive amount of care she required, we had to establish a printed schedule of feeding, oral meds, IV meds and nebulizations. I spent much of the afternoon making that schedule and administering meds.
Our normal Christmas Eve tradition is to eat snacks and watch the movie, The Nativity Story. We had just settled in and pressed play at around 8:55, when Wanda said, “Daryl, she’s not breathing!”
For the next 35 minutes, Katie Riley, our staff nurse, and I did CPR. Let me just say that I could not have had a better partner than Katie. She was professional, composed and very methodical and precise. We worked together well with me doing respirations while she did compressions until I was exhausted. Then we switched without missing a beat.
Twice Maggy began breathing again, but her breaths were shallow and did not continue for more than a few cycles before she stopped again. At times she had a heartbeat, so we stopped compressions. But her heart would gradually slow, get weaker and then stop, so we would resume compressions.
But at 9:30 she had no heartbeat and we could not get her to breath. In my heart, I knew she was gone, so we stopped CPR.
I have found myself in similar situations to this numerous times in the last six years. When you are in the midst of the crisis, adrenaline carries you. You go into a machine like mode of breathing and compressions. You focus on what you have to do. And then, when it is over, you are suddenly overwhelmed as the emotions that were put on hold suddenly come flooding in all at once. And that is exactly what happened.
We hugged and wept together. We all loved little Maggy, and we had hoped that she could survive until she got stronger and received heart surgery. So we grieved and grieved deeply. And, after a while, I slipped away to be alone.
I walked to the far side of our outside steps, sat on the floor and laid my head on one of the steps. And I sobbed. I cried so hard I could barely breath. Because, in addition to grieving the loss of a precious baby, I also had a huge weight of guilt. If I had not talked the doctor into sending her home for Christmas, Maggy might still be alive.
Wanda found me like that. And as she tried to comfort me, I unloaded all that guilt on her. And, at one point, I told her, “I don’t know if I can spring back from this. I don’t think I can keep doing this.” And I really was not sure that I could.
The next few hours are a blur of visitors, telephone calls, a casket delivery and arrangements discussed. I called our social worker, who told us how to proceed. Maggy’s body was prepared and placed in the casket next to our Christmas tree. And, in the middle of it all, we comforted one another.
At about 1:00 am on Christmas morning I walked over to our doctor’s home with Maggy’s file that he needed to complete her death certificate. Dr. Augusto had never met or examined Maggy, because she came to us late in the evening and was hospitalized the next morning. And when she was discharged he was away visiting family for Christmas Eve. So this was his first chance to see her records.
He spent a few minutes reading her medical file and then looked at me. He told me, “Daryl, she was a very sick little girl who was not going to live. You know that don’t you? There was nothing you could do to save her.” When I began to cry he said, “It was good she died in your home with your family instead of in the hospital.”
As I walked back to our house, I felt that God had given me what I needed to make it until morning. I finally laid down to a fitful sleep at around 2:00 am.
The next morning at 7:00 am, Jeremiah, Joel, Andi, Stevie and I walked to the graveyard and dug her grave. Dale showed up and lent a hand as well. We then returned to the house, cleaned up and had a brief service for Maggy. I read of the birth of Jesus from Luke 2 and spoke about how the birth of one baby gave us hope during the death of another. In reality, the only reason that we have any hope at all is because of that one baby that was born in Bethlehem, and because if his death 33 years later. A couple of other spoke as well, then we said our goodbyes.
We had a small procession of people who walked to the graveside, and some of our neighbors saw and joined us. I said a few words and prayed, and we lowered her tiny casket and filled in the grave. And then we returned home.
I knew that we needed to salvage what was left of Christmas for the kids, so when I arrived back home I loudly announced, “The funeral is over! It is time for Christmas!” We signed in with our daughters, Carissa and Taryn via Skype, and they participated from Uganda. I shared the story of Simeon with the kids, and we then opened presents.
In spite of our grief, we had a good time together. The children loved their presents, and there was laughter, photos, and hugs. We then enjoyed a huge lunch together. I believe that the children will have pleasant memories of the day, even in the midst of the painful goodbye.During this time, I have felt God’s presence, even during the darkest moments. I don’t know what to call it, except His smile. I know this is the life to which He has called us. I know that He loves these children, including Maddy, far more than we ever could. And I also know that He is pleased when we love them, as well. So, we keep moving forward.
I have struggled somewhat since Christmas Eve. Call it a general sadness. In addition, whenever someone speaks in a urgent voice my heart rate escalates quickly in a panic. When falling to sleep, I often jerk awake suddenly, thinking that Maggy is still with us but she has stopped breathing. And I struggle with paranoia regarding the children’s health. I guess you might call it a mild case of PTSD.
Last night we made the decision to receive a three year old girl named Genesis into our home and family. She has severe cerebral palsy and cognitive delays that were caused, we believe, by meningitis.
I am truly proud of my family, which includes our interns, that is willing to step up again so soon after the very painful loss of little Maggy. Every one of them understands the importance of grieving, but they also understand it is important to keep serving and reaching in the midst of our pain. Each day they continue to humble and amaze me.
The courts will not be open to order the move until January 3rd. It will likely take a few days after that, due to the backlog of cases that will be waiting. She is currently in an orphanage that is not equipped to care for special needs, but, thankfully, I know it to be a safe place that cares well for its children. Please pray for little Genesis and for our family and team during the transition that lies ahead.
I wish I could tell you I have the answers to all our huge questions. I wish I could tell you that I am strong and stable. I wish I could say I do not continue to struggle with my own fears and pain. But I cannot. I am experiencing what I believe to be slight depression with lots of accompanying fatigue. I have not struggled like this since Thania’s very traumatic and sudden death in July 2013.
But I can tell you this: God is good, and He is my Sustainer. In my weakness, He is strong. So, for now, I will be weak and allow Him to be strong. And, together, we will advance and not retreat.
Happy New Year from Guate!
Daryl, Wanda and the Crew