After all was said and done, after we signed some papers right after her time of death was logged, and after my daughter taken away from her mom’s arms for the last time; we simply left 2 Tower South. Four months invested in that dreadful hospital ended without a sound. There would be no formal checking out process. There would be no Welcome Desk volunteer to send us off. There would be no nurses to wish us luck. There would be no goodbyes. We just left…as if we were never there.
Our journey through Columbus Children’s Hospital 2-Tower South-Cardiology was finally over. For some reason, as we stood by those elevators to leave, I had to take one last look around. I had seen this view standing next to these elevators hundreds of times. I probably could have navigated my way through this maze in the dark. This hospital’s second floor had become such an immense part of my life over this past few months and I needed one last look to soak it all in.
When the doors opened, I entered the elevator and quickly turned around to face that empty waiting area. As we stepped inside, I was harshly and astutely reminded of the reason I was leaving this time. This place had been Hell for months, but it was my Hell. Everything seemed to freeze as I took one last look. In a weird way, while I hated this senseless and dreadful place, I still wanted a minute to record it permanently into my memory.
Children’s Hospital was as much entangled in our lives as it was Lindsay’s. This probably sounds ridiculous to anyone who has never been there, but that hospital bed was where most of our time with our daughter took place. It is essentially where she lived her short life. I wanted, and needed, a mental picture that would have to last forever and I only had one moment to snap it. While she didn’t say so, I think my wife couldn’t wait for that elevator door to close tightly in front of us. I think this was one of those moments I couldn’t share with anyone else. It was mine alone, if even for only a second.
I wish I was getting out of that elevator and onto the second floor one more time, rather than climbing in it one last time. I vividly remember how I felt the first time Lynn and I stepped out of those elevators holding a newborn baby. I remember seeing many other parents, seemingly alone and staring at us with hollow eyes. Now, I was the veteran looking out over all those poor rookies.
There would be no returning to visit Lindsay again. No more scrubbing in, no more worrying about a simple door’s shade, no more passing parents so confused they didn’t even realize how frightened they were. That strange emotional state – the sadness, the craziness, the noise, the lonesomeness, and all those insecure feelings – suddenly stopped. It was suddenly quiet. All that was left for us was to let an elevator door slide shut.
All used up, two quiet parents left for a home we had put on hold for four months with empty arms, empty hearts, and an empty gas tank.