Angelversary Year 3
Five years ago I sat with this beautiful little person on my lap waiting for her first Boston surgery with Dr. Foker and Dr. Jennings. It was supposed to be first thing in the AM so I was in her room bright and early soaking every bit of her sugary sweetness before the big moment. Then I was told it would be lunchtime. No worries, more anxiety for me but more snuggles. We watched a Baby Einstein on repeat complete in French and German for about 2 hours. She didn’t complain that she had been without food for hours. She just alternated dozing, snuggling and smiling. I never moved from the chair all day worried the OR team would come and whisk her away if I dared move for lunch. I was told at 3PM she was next and it would be soon. By 5 PM the surgeries on other children had taken too long and Lydia was cancelled. I met Dr. Foker for the first time that evening when they came to say she would be moved to another week when he was back in town.
He was a very tall man with large hands, large orthopedic shoes and a cane. He had a kind smile. He was apologetic that her surgery had been cancelled and I tried to keep my frustration at bay. This was The Guru to fix the smallest and most complex patients. My tiny little 8 pound 5 month old had been without food for 15 hrs and I was rather hungry myself. But she never felt hunger and thus never complained.
I’ve had so many “what if” moments in her life and this is one that will always stand out. I know Dr. Foker has helped countless children, but I can’t help but always wonder if our paths had never crossed and I just accepted my daughter would never eat or feel hunger. I try to view that day as an added gift that we had together, a long beautiful day of her on my chest that maybe never could have happened if I were home tending the needs of two other babies or if the OR nurses had whisked her away early that AM.
On March 1, we once again celebrated her “angelversary” – a phrase I don’t particularly like using but somehow makes the unbearable more easy to accept. Just as Liam grows in months, we no longer count the moments since she left us in days, weeks, months but now years. 3 whole years.
We went in that snowy March 1 Sunday going back to Children’s Mercy to do our annual luncheon at the Ronald McDonald room. Lydia is still there as her big grin is on the memorial quilt just as you walk in the ground floor. We’ve done pasta, tacos and this year brought in some cold weather comfort food with casseroles, green beans, rolls and pies. It seemed to be a hit with the approximate 50 or so people that came in. I know free food when you live in a hospital is always a day brightened so we were happy to serve again. I had my happy troop of volunteers made up of former NICU/PICU warriors as well. Big thanks to the Dwyer family, Jayla, Jessica, Beth, uncle Craig and all the junior helpers for making the day a success!
I always complete our day with a homemade angel food cake. It’s more for Clay and me as Wyatt has deemed this his worstess cake ever (except for my beet red frosting) and Ava mainly only ate the berry fruity topping.
And then last of all we have our lantern release. There is no photographic evidence of this moment as it was such a craptacular display. It was a complete and utter failure (rather symbolic of our entire Boston journey…) Ava threw a diva sized meltdown and fit because I cut her sharpie marker drawing on the lantern short. Then we waited a week until there was no snow and released it on a beautiful clear night in Trenton. It went directly into the nearest tree and burned. I yelled at Clay as if he could fly up the tree and release it. Just as I thought it was about to drop and take flight, it just hit the next branch and flamed out. It was spectacularly awful. I swear I could almost hear Holly snort with a chuckle from the Heavens. I’m sure she’s teaching Lydia to laugh at all my blunders.