Every Thursday I look back at a specific day and time that was spent with my daughter Matilda as she waited for, received, and recovered from a liver transplant. She was in the hospital for 72 days and we remained in NYC until she turned four months old.
November 2nd, 2012 - a moment
I wanted those last few hours with Matilda to be beautiful. I wanted the room to be filled with flowers, I wanted music playing, I wanted to read her stories, to hold her in my arms, and to soak up everything that she was.
That is what I wanted.
But the reality of the last few hours was kind of weird, awkward, and tense. No one knew what to say or how to act. Everyone was in their heads dealing with the situation on their own terms. Some joked around with us, trying to lift our mood. Some became quiet and pretended like it was just another day. Others kept asking us if we were okay. But the strangest person was the chaplain who came up to support us.
She meant well. She told us that she was new to the job. I guess that maybe she was in her forties. And for the next couple of hours, she watched our every move. I felt like I was on display. That I needed to prove to her that we were okay, that we were in good faith. And, I found myself comforting her as I explained everything that we had gone through with Matilda.
This simply wasn't the time for her to come introduce herself.
She stood there behind me in our tiny alcove, Bed 7. I felt her eyes penetrating the back of my head. I took a deep breath and reminded myself that this wasn't about her, this wasn't about anyone but Matilda. I reminded myself to ignore her. To not let it bother me that she was "learning a lot from us". I reminded myself to not think about the fact that she seemed to be enjoying the theatrics we were producing. I reminded myself that I was stronger that this.
Tyler fidgeted. He sat in the hall. I can remember him sitting in one of the nurses chairs casually twirling back and forth. His physical demeanor mirroring the tension that lived underneath. He wanted to tell the chaplain to leave us alone. He wanted to tell the social workers to stop pretending they knew what we needed. He wanted to cause a scene. But he didn't because he knew I wouldn't like it.
I just wanted some time alone with my baby. I wanted to sing her lullabies. I wanted to kiss her head. I wanted to tell her how wonderful life was and to hold on because I needed her. But that is not what it was like at all. It was time to go, they were ready for her, and I had not had a moment.
We walked down the hall, all the nurses chanting Matilda's theme song and dancing with delight. I smiled, I said goodbye, I waved, but I wanted to scream. I wanted to push pause. I was at the top of roller coster with nowhere to escape.
We rolled her down the hallway and I hadn't had a moment to say goodbye.