But I was in shock

Drawing

Jennings Elizabeth Mallette, self-portrait 2011

Jennings Elizabeth Mallette was born on Ash Wednesday, 1998.  Within minutes of her birth, her pediatrician knew things were not right and she was transferred to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas.  The next morning, my wife and I stood by her bedside as a cardiologist told us “Your daughter was born with a condition not compatible with life.”  Jennings begged to differ, and for the next 13 years lived in grace, beauty, and happiness that changed lives all around her.  For the first 3 years of her life she underwent 3 open heart surgeries and spent half of it in the hospital.  On her own, she developed a relationship with Jesus Christ that He was simply her Friend.  They walked and talked together.  I hope she will introduce me someday.

It’s a story I’d love to write someday, but at this point am sharing the below piece I wrote a couple of weeks after her interment as the shock wore off.

May 16, 2011.  I have dispassionately examined the third degree emotional burns over 95% of my body and felt nothing but that the wait for death wouldn’t be too long.

But I was in shock.

I’ve had my wife call me at the office and tell me an ambulance was in route to the house, but might not transport…but I should come anyway.

But I was in shock.

I’ve sat at as a slow, long freight train stood between me and my home listening to “The Front Row” on KUHT.

But I was in shock.

I have entered an ER and observed a huge EMT repeatedly crushing my daughter’s chest and simply watched the numbers on the monitor rise slowly while I held my wife, knowing he was unaware that CPR would be of little help with a two chambered heart.

But I was in shock.

I have seen a pediatrician perform a retinal response test on my stabilized daughter, then look sadly at a nurse nearby and slowly shake his head.

But I was in shock.

I’ve listened as the radiologist reported that the CT scan showed general diffusion of the lobes of the brain, but she might just sit up in the morning and ask for something to eat…all the while knowing better.

But I was in shock.

I’ve listened as an eminent neurologist at one of the world’s finest children’s hospitals said in the same paragraph that my daughter is already gone and that she might be just fine.

But I was in shock.

I’ve stood looking at the massive suture lines and huge fluid accumulations on my daughter’s head and wondered where the two powerful angels a parishioner had proclaimed watched over her the first time we ever took her to church.

But I was in shock.

I’ve listened as the last neurologist reported the same answer independently of the other three my wife ordered.

But I was in shock.

I’ve listened to my wife choke out “This is all I’ve done for 13 years!  What will I do now”  as she realized she’d just spent 13 years, 24/7 becoming the world’s foremost specialist in Jennings Elizabeth Mallette and the field had just ceased to exist.

But I was in shock.

I’ve told my wife that 11AM will be about right to shut off the ventilator and that I am ready.

But I was in shock.

I’ve listened to the LifeGift representative desperately plead for six more hours so they can be ready for the organ harvest and said “No, we cannot wait that long” while my daughter said in my heart “I can’t wait to share with ALL my friends.”

But I was in shock.

I’ve listened to the LifeGift representative return and say “How about 2 hours?” and my wife and I simultaneously and with a burst of joy say “YES!”

But I was in shock.

I’ve entered my daughters room to find it filled with seasoned medical professionals in tears…and they lose one every day.  But this was their Jennings.

But I was in shock.

I’ve crawled into a hospital bed a few minutes before the appointed hour and placed my cheek next to that warm, soft skin and sung “The Lord’s Prayer” almost flawlessly as I’d done so many times before she was to sleep.

But I was in shock.

I’ve stood with family, friends, ministers, and medical personal
singing all five verses of “I am the bread of life” as I watched the little two chambered heart that had sustained “Daddy’s Bestest Goo” faithfully for 13 years  forced slowly to a halt from a lack of oxygen.

But I was in shock.

I’ve stood in awe looking at Daddy’s Bestest Goo in a stunning 13 year old forever dress holding the little New Testament in her hands looking so radiantly beautiful and grown up my heart swelled with pride.

But I was in shock.

I’ve stood in front of that coffin and discussed space travel with one of the world’s foremost space scientists when I should have been spending every moment staring for the last time at the child I so desperately loved.

But I was in shock.

I’ve sung all verses of three hymns as hundreds of people approached the communion rail and saw many that I knew had not knelt at such a rail in years, if ever, and marveled at my daughter’s fruit of love and testimony of simple faith in her real Father.

But I was in shock.

I’ve stood in the warm sun of a beautiful day at East Memorial Gardens not far from my mom and dad and placed my hand on the warm metal box containing the earthly remains of my heart, then turned and walked away with my wife.

But I was in shock.

I’ve reviewed the preceding week and suddenly realized my daughter entered into sleep in Christ from her favorite place at home and that those two powerful angel’s had asked her if she were ready and she’d said “Yes” and willingly went with them without asking us.

But I was in shock.

I’ve stood on the low bridge at Ark Hwy 270 and the Cossatot River and watched the flowers we set free drift away on that crystal tide that flows past the throne of God.

But I was in shock.

I’ve sat in a chair next to my wife as my son and his cousin played gleefully in that river as flowers began to pass by in the solitude of God’s creation.

But I was in shock.

Now I sit in my office at home at write this.

I am no longer in shock.

I am now in pain beyond description as I realize I am unfortunately going to survive my 3rd degree emotional burns and will be in great pain for the rest of my life.

I’ve also realized that not to be able to bear it and move on would be an act of cowardice and shame in the light of her courage and love in the face of all that fate could throw at her.  So I am resolved not only to bear it, but to attempt to do so with the grace and dignity she demonstrated.

I’ve suddenly so wanted to vent, but finding only God to vent to realized that He’d answered the prayer I made at her birth that she was not my child but His, and that my only request was that she know she was loved and that she would always be happy.

So I can only offer Him thanks and look forward to the day my daughter takes my hand and says “Come’on Dad.  I want you to meet my Friend.”

Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace.

Amen.

What can one do in 13 years?

je

Be a radiantly beautiful baby.

Welcome a new millennium with a funny hat.

Welcome a new millennium with a funny hat.

Show your little brother what Halloween is about.

Show your little brother what Halloween is about.

Love your little brother

Love your little brother

REALLY love your little brother

REALLY love your little brother

IMG_1802

Love your little brother so much it’s almost hard to believe.

Be so constantly joyous as to infect your whole family and all near you.

Be so constantly joyous as to infect your whole family and all near you.

Radiate love at Easter

Radiate love at Easter

Be the most beautiful beach bunny on the beach.

Be the most beautiful beach bunny on the beach.

Love God's creation

Love God’s creation

Wrestle an alligator

Wrestle an alligator…and win.

Go to Disney World.

Go to Disney World.

Enjoy a snowfall in Texas

Enjoy a snowfall in Texas

Assume no log is too big to chop

Assume no log is too big to chop

Enjoy a crazy uncle

Enjoy a crazy uncle

Become a martial artist

Become a martial artist

Break a board with your bare hands

Break a board with your bare hands

Become an entrepreneur like your mother

Become an entrepreneur like your mother

Behold in wonder at the Grand Canyon

Behold in wonder at the Grand Canyon

See the Great Wall of China

See the Great Wall of China

Be loved, admired, and enriched by a great teacher

Be loved, admired, and enriched by a great teacher

Catch a fish

Catch a fish

Make friends everywhere you go

Make friends everywhere you go

Be very, very, very cool

Be very, very, very cool

Learn to ride a motor bike

Learn to ride a motor bike

Be happy and cheerful when others would complain

Be happy and cheerful when others would complain

Be achingly beautiful in death as you were in life.

Be achingly beautiful in death as you were in life.

 

JenStone

The caption on Jennings stone comes from the day we gathered at Texas Children’s Hospital to shut down her body, which she had not occupied since the day before.  Her little heart, which we’d worried over for 13 years continued to function perfectly.  As family, friends, clergy, and other gathered around the bed to sing “I am the Bread of Life” as the equipment was shut off, a friend of ours heard a voice ask “What is it like outside today?”  She responded “It’s bright, sunny, and beautiful.”  Then she realized no one near her had spoken.  She looked around, and then heard a clear, strong young voice say to her “Don’t cry, mom.  It’s PERFECT.”  She knew who the message was from and who it was for.  This is only one story.  There were more I will not relate at this time.  Jennings was wheeled out of the room to another where her kidneys were harvested.  They were transplanted to a young man and an young woman.  An official called us and said “This does not happen.  Our scale is 1-6 with 6 being a perfect match.  It almost never happens.  This time, BOTH transplants were 6.  I have never heard of this before!”

Why is it that I am not at all surprised?

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About malletteblog

If folks respond and push back, I will continue this blog. I do this to learn, not to teach. While I will defend my positions vigorously I will change them immediately upon evidence they are incorrect. This is how I learn, and I appreciate all efforts to help me not be a fool who learns only by experience.
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