Day of Freedom, Part 1


Kristy drew this lion on the window of Naomi’s hospital room. Aaron captured this sunset photograph.

It is going to take a few days, or maybe a few weeks, to write about Naomi’s discharge. It is hard to put into simple words such an event. Naomi’s transplant experience has made me realize why we humans tend to write books for therapy. In the blink of an eye, we experience so many emotions. In just one thought, a brief second, a flood of emotions are sparked. By writing these things out, I can fully see them, learn from them, re-experience the moment, and starting moving forward.

The day began with me saying goodbye to my Grandmother.  As usual after her visits, I helped her to curbside check-in, waited while they loaded her bags for her, hugged her tight, kissed her cheek and talked about when we hope to see her again.  Finally, I climbed into the vehicle to cry as I drove away.  She has always offered me unconditional love and support.  No matter what, I always know she will be there for me.  Now, she extended that love and support to my children for three weeks.

After taking my Grandmother to the airport, I went to Naomi’s room to see what the discharge plans were. It was not clear when she would be released, only that she would be signed out sometime that day. She was unhooked from her machine and we talked about how it was probably the last time she would have been on that machine.  She smiled and nodded her head, but I could see apprehension on her face.  At the time, I thought that maybe she was unsure if she would really be discharged, but in hindsight, she was processing things just like I was.  We were both having mixed emotions about leaving.  It meant that we could move forward and start her outpatient post-transplant treatment.  But after spending so much time in that room, it was difficult to move forward, too.  That moment passed.

Naomi got up and dressed and was bopping around fully of excitement.  She, Malakye and Lauryn were taking turns playing on the iPad as  I packed up the remaining things in her room: blankets, pillows, and books. I carefully packed her statue of Mary holding the Savior close to her chest. I stopped and thanked God that she has done as well as she has and prayed that He will allow me to continue to hold Naomi so close to my chest. I love that Naomi wants to cuddle all the time.

The children were laughing and getting loud.  I reminded them we needed to keep it more quiet.  The wagon I was loading with our things was right outside her door and as I put things into the wagon, their noise wafted into the hallway.  I thought that maybe their noise level would encourage the nurses to get us out of there sooner!

I boxed up the healing Willow Tree figurine from Nanny. I took a moment to thank God for my grandmother sacrificing her own life for three weeks to be with us. It was not always easy for her to be away from home. It was a difficult situation for all of us. The children did not always want to obey her. There were some brief communication issues that caused some times of frustration. On some days, my baby wanted me and only me, making Nanny feel useless to help.  At times, I needed help but did not want it.

Hospital restrictions had prohibited Caity from walking through the one door she most wanted to go through with me. Over the past 33 days, that door became a place of overwhelming emotion for me. It was the same door that later in the day became the source of freedom for Naomi, but as I walked through that door in the morning, I thought of Caity, and as I packed up the Willow Tree figure from Nanny, I again thought of that door, and Caity and my 75 year old Grandmother trying to calm her.  The door to the pediatric unit and the Willow Tree figurine from Nanny will forever be connected in my mind.  That door, throughout Naomi’s inpatient time period, was the source of Caitriona’s meltdowns. It was the place where I would pick up the phone, the nurse would see on the camera screen who was at the door, the lock would making a clicking sound when unlocked, and the light turn green letting me know I could come in. I would proceed through the door to go to Naomi’s room and the door would close behind me as the baby screamed for me. We did get smart and someone woul walk Cait in the stroller while I snuck through that door.  But still, she knew that door was the one I went through and would want to go to the bathroom often just to walk past that door.  Sometimes when I came back through the door, Caitriona would be happily playing and smiling. Other times, I could see by looking at Nanny’s face that Caitriona had been upset and wanting me the entire time I had been away. All these memories rushed through my brain in a moment when I picked up the Willow Tree figurine to pack it.

The last thing to pack was a plastic lion that I purchased at Target for $3.  Looking like Aslan from the Narnia series, it was perfect to watch over the lioness from the top of her entertainment center.  After tossing the lion into her clothing bag, I looked at the lion I had drawn on her window weeks earlier.  I had attempted to draw a lion one day in a moment of desperation when nothing else would work.  Little did I know at the time that my artwork would become a source of strength for us to look at when we needed courage to move on throughout the day.  Looking at the drawing, I realized that we would be leaving with what matters most, Naomi’s improving health, but that leaving would not be as easy one might expect.

8 thoughts on “Day of Freedom, Part 1

  1. I completely understand your feelings. I really do. Don’t be surprised if a week or two after you get home you get a huge wave of emotions. After talking to other parents whose children have gone through a major health crisis, I have found that it is common for us to be mostly strong when dealing with the crisis and put one foot in front of the other, but when it finally all settles down and we no longer “have” to be strong, it’s like our mind and body let go of all the stress and the held-back emotions come flooding out. I also had a near emotional melt-down the first time we went for a followup after my daughter’s surgery at her surgeon’s office next door to the hospital. It was like the emotions from our stay and all of the uncertainty came flooding back one more time. I just want you to know that if those emotions come, it is completely normal, and I think part of the healing process. You all have been through so much,and you have so much to be thankful for, but as you said, there are so many emotions and changes for you to process. Thank you for keeping us included on your journey. You will continue to be in my prayers.

      • As always, your post brings tears to my eyes. You have been through so much and have kept your strength. I will tell you again that I am as proud of you as I would be of my own daughter. You are an inspiration to us all. When you write your book, it will be an inspiration to anyone going through something similar who does not think they can do it. Your strength will become their strength. And of course Naomi, so young and yet so mature in the way she has handled everything. I would have gone stir crazy being cooped up in the same room for so long. God bless her.

      • You are a Blessing, Sue. Thank you. It has been a tough few weeks and I have not been very social. I apologize for not replying sooner.

    • Thank you, Mindy. You and your sweet girl have been on my mind throughout this entire situation. Your strength has been an inspiration for me.

  2. Pingback: Day of Freedom, Part 3 | Pride of Naomi

  3. Wonderful post however I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject?
    I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more.
    Bless you!

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