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The common desire we all have is we want peace in our lives; physically and emotionally. Because of that desire, we tend to shy away from pain and suffering, yet sometimes shit happens and you find yourself in the middle of an emotional and physical nightmare. 

This was my experience a few months back. At the time, I realized how quickly the soul steps in, rallying to support you when you are shocked into a reality you can’t fathom.

As my daughter’s new boy was whisked off to another island in the Hawaiian archipelago, she was prone in a hospital bed with a huge incision across her lower abdomen and numb from the neck down. Even though she is an adult, my mother’s heart was lamenting the nature of her struggle and wished with all my being I could do SOMETHING. The only action I could take, from 3000 miles and an ocean away, was be with her energetically. 

Some call it prayer, some ask for God’s intervention. Me… I called on the power of my love and all the Universal energy available to us, to do whatever they could to help her. 

As Rob and I unpacked the car and I went about getting a flight for the next day to Hawaii, we were distracted with what was happening to the extreme. Given we could do nothing practical, we set about calming ourselves and putting things away, making some dinner and I googled; ‘bruised abdomen in newborn’. A futile endeavor… There was nothing. 

Have you ever found yourself going in circles, unable to settle and just moving for the sake of action of some kind? That was me for hours, while my phone pinged and rang with news from 6 pm to midnight… Every step of the way, we were informed about what was happening at the hospital. They were taking Jacob on the flight. Gunner was admitted. They were prepping him for surgery. He was in surgery. We would know what the next steps would be soon. All of us thinking he would be fine, while fearing there was something more in store for us… 

And then I got the worst text I’ve ever received in my life around 1:00 am which read, “SOS, he’s not going to make it”. 

In our little house, in the middle of absolutely no where an old grandma got news of her newest grandson’s impending death. I threw the phone on the couch and howled like a crippled animal, then crumpled on the floor. 

This couldn’t be happening. My beautiful daughter’s only desire for most of her life had been given to her. We were all elated as everything had progressed perfectly. Until that moment… Her dream of being a mother was being ripped away the same day it had been realized. 

Jacob had been waiting at the Kapiolani Children’s Hospital for news from the surgeons operating on Gunner. Once they opened his perfect little body up, the display of necrotic tissue in front of them was shocking in how extensive it was. There was no medical reason for what they saw but Gunner’s small intestine had twisted about two days before, cutting off blood flow to his intestine and killing the tissue. The damage was so extensive, the surgeon came out of the operating room to ask Gunner’s father what he wanted them to do. 

They could simply put the necrotic tissue back, close him up and make him comfortable OR cut the bad stuff out and stitch the ends to the outside of his body and make him comfortable. Either way, the necrosis was so bad they believed the infection had gone further into Gunner’s system and he would not survive. This is what my son in law was told. 

All at once, this perfect, much wanted, just born child, would die all in the same day. Jacob asked the surgeon to take out the dead tissue and make him comfortable…

Crying, all alone and in so much pain, Jacob called his wife to tell her the news. “Sarah, he’s not gonna make it.” Their boy would not live, but they would make him comfortable.

Then the surgeon could be heard through the phone, speaking with Jacob sitting in the waiting room, while Sarah was on the line. “The likelihood of life without his intestine is grim and anyway, usually this level of necrosis develops quickly into septic shock and we are unable to resolve that. Do you want us to keep him alive so Sarah can get here, or make him comfortable and let him die?” They offered no indication he had a chance of survival. Not one sliver of hope for these new parents. 

Sarah and Jacob discussed how they didn’t want to keep him alive for their sake; to soothe their own pain if that meant he would live a horrible life. Instead, they asked the surgeons to keep him alive until Sarah was able to hold him one more time. She wanted to say goodbye to her precious, delicious boy. Decision made, they ended the call. 

Then Sarah looked up to the nurse who was hovering over her and asked, “what am I supposed to do? My baby’s dying.” The nurse told her this, “You take one moment, one step, one thing at a time….“ 

So Sarah told her sister to help her get up and leave the hospital. She was going to get on the next plane to Oahu to be with her husband to say goodbye to Gunner. The staff at Maui Memorial said she couldn’t leave the hospital until she peed so she managed that and walked out of the hospital. Only a mere 12 hours post op, Sarah was in shock but determined. She had to get to her husband and son. 

Hannah, my youngest daughter, got her out of the hospital and my youngest son, Tyler, picked them up and brought his sisters to the oldest sibling, Chelsea’s house, where everyone was waiting for news. The whole family was gathered at Chelsea’s; husbands, wives, their littles and Sarah’s siblings.  

As Sarah came in, she was calm, in shock, clear as a bell, and strong as fuck, “I will keep going. I owe that to my son”. For years, Sarah struggled with addiction and our worst fear was she would relapse back into that nightmare, but her resolve indicated something different. She told them all she intended to use the memory of her son to rise above and told them all, with perfect clarity, “I can do hard things, so I will do this now.” 

At some point they called me and pleaded with me to get to Oahu. Sarah would need help, as would Jacob and they thought that was the best plan, so I scrambled to get my flight arranged and finished up packing. My heart was broken, my confusion overwhelming and the sense of unreality pervaded everything. This could not be happening. 

Sarah was afraid to go to sleep because she didn’t want to lose the support of the shock she was in, but given the state of her own body, she laid on the couch with Hannah, drifting in and out of sleep, murmuring this could break her husband. She thought she would lose him too. 

As morning approached on Maui, preparations for getting on a plane to Oahu began. Sarah began to take things out of the suitcase she’d packed for the birth… Any thing in there which was something for a long term stay; her toothbrush, baby blanket, even clothes, were all removed. ‘I’m going to bring home a dead baby, so I don’t need this shit. Then she and her two sisters got to the airport to get on the 6:00 am flight to Oahu.

Sarah refused the wheelchair and limped down the long terminal to the gate. 

(To be continued)

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