The doctor finally arrived bedside and told us rather matter-of-factually, “We have done all we can for your daughter, but she is slipping away. We need to let her go.”
I am embarrassed to say that I had expected this outcome for quite some time, but my wife had not. Lynn was certain that our daughter would rally after her surgery, fully recover, and come home soon. She had been Lindsay’s constant cheerleader from day one. Then the doctor left us for the last time. Her part was over, and she was done with our daughter. She simply stepped out of our lives as abruptly as she had stepped into it four months ago. We will never know how the doctor came to this decision. I didn’t know the legality or regulations regarding “end of life” decisions or rules back in 1982. There was certainly no time to get a second opinion, even if that was an option.
After a long day by her side, as we watched her heart rate’s red line bouncing across the monitor’s screen, it finally leveled out and that flat tone spilled out the other side of her bed alarming everyone to the end. My daughter lost her fight on April 5, 1982, a cold and snowy Monday afternoon.
Just like that, four months were over. Our journey through Columbus Children’s Hospital was finally finished. As we boarded that familiar elevator one last time, and in those moments just before the door closed in front of me, I took one last look around the second floor which was 2-Tower South: Cardiology. We had spent most of our time with Lindsay in that hospital, and I needed to capture a memory that would have to last a lifetime.
There were several things that needed to be taken care of during that first week after she passed: find a funeral home, pick out a casket, arrange a church service, and buy a cemetery plot. But probably the hardest task was waiting for me and was just beyond my front door. I had to find the right words, courage, and compassion to tell two toddlers that their baby sister would not be coming home, ever. I’m not sure of the specific words I used to tell them about this day, but I remember trying hard to hold back any tears as to not scare them. Oh, they had a few questions, and some of them I didn’t have good answers to give them, but It went better than I thought it might.
I’m not sure we followed all the rules during this difficult and unexpected journey. I never found the manual, but I will tell you it is better navigated holding hands.
“I choose to believe Lindsay lived her entire life; God just gave her four months to do it.