This time she said, “Don’t forget Irma.” Our good friends lost their two-day-old newborn yesterday.
“And God bless Irma,” I said.
“And her baby,” she added.
“And her baby.”
She pulled her pink kitty pillow closer. “Is Irma’s baby in heaven yet?”
I nodded. “He died last night, about the time you went to bed.”
“I know that,” she said. “But is he in heaven yet?”
“He is,” I answered. “How long do you think it takes?”
“About a week.”
I tucked her two favorite blankets around her. “So, where do you go for that week?”
She thought for a moment. “The waiting room. Like at the doctor.”
“Do I have to go back to the doctor?”
“Yes.” While I was at the hospital yesterday, Elizabeth had another seizure at school, this one much worse, adding four minutes of unresponsiveness to the old pattern of dizziness and inability to walk. She’d always been lucid through them before.
“Oh brother.” She sighed and closed her eyes.
She’s tired now, earlier than usual. We had to increase her medicines yet again and now must monitor her sleeping patterns in case the bigger doses make her too sluggish. But still, we have to increase the meds once more next week. Her body may no longer be responding to it.
I have known helplessness as long as I’ve known motherhood, my own first baby dying when I was 20 weeks pregnant. Then losing Elizabeth’s twin, a trauma that may have caused her brain damage.
How can we feel so desperate to protect our babies and yet be able to do so little?
She opened her eyes one more time. “It really doesn’t take a week?”
“Nope. Happens right away.”
“So Irma’s baby is already there?”
“Can he see us?”
“Can I tell him to take care of Finn?” Elizabeth’s fish has been sick for several weeks. “Fish do go to heaven, right?”
“I think so.”
“Do they have to wait a week?”
“Nope. Not fish either.”
She yawned and settled back into her pillow. “Good. I wouldn’t want to wait that long.”
Neither would I. And yet, we wait our lifetimes. Hopefully long ones. And hopefully ones where joy comes more often than loss, and fear is pushed away by faith.