Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Samuel's Last Hours

I'm staring at the computer screen, not knowing how to write this entry or if any of you will want to read it. But for my own sake, I need to record how Samuel passed away.

Bryan's step-mom, Kathy, his brother, Erik, and his sister, Marta, all arrived in town the night before Samuel died. All of us were able to spend some time at Samuel's bedside that night. Samuel was looking really bad at that point, and because his stats had dropped when we tried to clean his little face, he was looking worse -- crusty stuff on his lips, bloody tape on his face, etc. We weren't excited about the family seeing him like that. To our surprise, when we got back in after shift change, Samuel was all cleaned up. Kim, our night nurse, had done an amazing job creating a peacful ambiance in our little dock. I don't know how she managed to clean Samuel without him plummeting, but she did. The tape on his face was all clean, the blankets were all neatly tucked around him, the lights were dim, lullaby hymn music was playing softly, and his stuffed animals were all lotioned so that there was at least a presence of clean smells. It was a little blessing that felt really big. Again, I felt so cared for.

Erik and Marta took the night shift, and Kim promised to call me if Samuel even started to trend downward, so we could be sure we were there when he passed away. So, Bryan and I went to the sleep pod and climbed in one of the twin cots together like we had done for the last 8 nights. Though every night was cramped with both of us in one twin cot, we needed each other, and it was too sad to sleep in different beds when we were so burdened and broken.

We got up at 5:45 as usual and headed back to the CICU. It was the first morning I walked the long hallway to Samuel without knots in my stomach. Since Kim had promised a phonecall, I felt really peaceful that I was not going to walk into a panicky situation. When we got there, Samuel's stats were pretty similar to when we'd headed to bed, and Erik and Marta left to get some sleep. As they were leaving, Samuel's blood oxygenation began to go down, and I got the report on the latest blood gas -- quite poor.

A doctor and PA came in to talk to us and said that they were between a rock and a hard place -- Samuel couldn't sustain life with his current blood gas results, but they couldn't treat the problem either because he needed higher ventilation settings, and that put him at great risk for a hole in his lungs which he wouldn't survive. They told us that if we left during shift change, they could not guarantee he would still be alive when we came back.

So, we asked them to put Samuel in our arms. He stayed hooked up to all the machines (without them he would have survived only minutes) and medicines, and I held him. We sang many songs, prayed, told him how precious he was, and talked about God, Jesus, Heaven, and who was waiting for him there. At shift change, Kim came in and told Samuel goodbye and that she loved him, and our RT, Suzie, gave him a kiss and told him she loved him too. And then Richard came on for the day shift. I couldn't have asked for better people to be with us. Having Kim, who had really blessed us 3 nights in a row, be there to hand us Samuel and then dear Richard was what I had hoped and prayed for.

After about 40 minutes in my arms, Bryan got to hold Samuel for about an hour, and then I held him again for the last hour of his life. He got lots of love in those hours, and though it wasn't nearly enough to fill in the month of not being able to hold him, it was a deep blessing and a time we will treasure in our hearts for all of our days. We stayed with Samuel for a long time after he passed away, but it was so evident to me that he was gone -- that the baby before us was an empty shell and the true Samuel was alive and well, celebrating in Heaven with his Maker.

Richard and Mary Beth (another nurse we love) gently cleaned up Samuel's body and removed all the tape, lines, etc and dressed him. He had never worn clothes before, and it was strange to see him in them. When I looked at Samuel without all the tape on his face and tubes in his nose, etc, I saw just how sick he was and how uncomfortable he must have been. In those moments, it was easier to rejoice in his death because I could so clearly see how much better off he is now.

Though I did not want to lose my son, I am thankful for the way in which it came to pass. The Lord graciously allowed it to happen when we were there from the start of the decline on, when the two nurses I felt most at ease with were on duty, when it was quieter on the floor because it was early morning and then shift change -- with no other parents around, when it was dark and rainy out and Samuel didn't look so sick as in the light of the sun, and when Bryan and I could have extended time holding our precious baby. And, not least of all, the Lord spared us from having to decide whether or not to remove care. He took Samuel home before we had to cross that road, and for that I am truly grateful.

I don't know what to do with the fact that God answered all my little requests but did not answer my big one. I am thankful for His faithfulness in the small things, and I continue to trust that He is good and loving. He is my comfort in this new day without Samuel. But I don't know why God didn't save the day and heal my son. I will probably never know. What I do know is this: what God asks of me is my trust in Him, my continued faith, my obedience to Him, and my heart. He wants me to come to Him in the dark times and continue to proclaim His goodness (He IS good!), and He wants me to love Him. Those things I will seek to do with all my heart, but I know on some days it will be harder to do than on others. I know I can rest in His unchanging grace, and I know on the harder days, He can handle my sorrow, anger, and lack of faith. I will strive to authentically walk this road of grief before me and let God, who did not heal Samuel's heart, now heal mine.


  1. Thank you sharing that Kathryn. We continue to pray for you guys. I am so sorry you are going through this.

    Nate & Trish Hendon

  2. Kathryn, I remember when you and Jordan played mommy hours upon hours with your dolls and I would think--someday these girls will be wonderful mothers. And so you are. God has called you to this special place because He loves you and trusts you to let Him heal your heart and He will go great and mighty things through it. Love, Judy

  3. Thank you so much for sharing those special moments with us as well. I am so thankful for there being peace in those moments of darkness, for the kind nurses, and for that time with Samuel. I am praying for you all, and praying for healing of your heart. Thank you for being so transparent, and for teaching me even more about God through your time with Samuel.

  4. Kathryn and Bryan this blog is an Ebenezer Stone of your faith to pass on to the generations to come. Thank you for sharing your story of courage, grief and faith. You have encouraged me and my family. Blessed is he who mourns for he will be comforted.
    Love Lots, Lydia.

  5. Thank you for posting this, Kathryn. I am grateful that so much of your family was able to meet and spend time with Samuel. I am grateful for your kind, gentle nurses, who cared so well for Samuel and for you. I am grateful that you did not have to make heart-wrenching decisions at the end of Samuel's earthly life. I am grateful that it wasn't a panicked time but instead was calm, quiet, and peaceful. I am so grateful for the way in which God granted all of these requests.

    I am so sad that he did not grant your request for physical healing for Samuel. I don't understand why, but you're right--God is good. And he is God. How can we understand his ways?

    We will be praying for your dependence on his grace and goodness in the coming days, weeks, months, and years. We will be praying that he will heal your hearts, which have been forever changed and made more beautiful due to the blessing and heartbreak of Samuel's life.

  6. Kathryn,
    Thank you for sharing your tender heart with us so transparently. It is so evident that the Joy of the LORD is your strength and I'm sure that you will be able to continue to rest in that. Even as God gently cradles your healed son in His arms, He continues to carry you and Bryan, too, and I'm sure he is rejoicing in your choice (and it is a choice) to believe in His sovereignty and plan for you, no matter how difficult it is. You are a blessing to me and to countless others as well. I'm continuing to lift you up to our heavenly Father often throughout the day.
    Love, Aunt Coleen

  7. I have been reading your blog and praying for Samuel and your family. You have an amazing faith that I can only hope to one day have. I know God is going to use your Samuel is some great way to save many lives and at some point the how is going to come to you. I will continue to pray for your hearts I cannot imagine your pain.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing. Thank you for your testimony of faith. I believe Samuel has made more of an impact on the lives of others in the last four weeks than I have in the last 28 years. Grace and peace to the Apinis family. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

  9. Beautifully said, Kathryn. Thank you for sharing this with us. Samuel and his family have touched so many lives with this blog.

  10. Thanks for sharing this Kathryn. Your authenticity and honesty has really stirred my soul these past few weeks and today's post is no exception. Your words remind me that it is ok to wrestle, struggle, be angry in the midst of pain but also to trust in the Lord and rest in His grace and mercy. I am thankful that Samuel's final hours in this life were with you and Bryan in such a peaceful environment. I grieve with you over the loss of your precious boy and rejoice that he is with Christ.

  11. I have been trying for a day to find a way to tell you how deep my pain goes. The words won't come... but this verse came into my mind and it says so much.
    In talking about the body of Christ that we are a part of, Paul writes: If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 1 Corinthians 12:26
    My dear friends, we suffer with you at your great loss and we rejoice with you in the "small things" that God granted you.

  12. WOW! Your story is so powerful. Thank you for being willing to share every aspect of his sweet little life. I am greving right along with you as I read your words. Please know that you have prayer warriors praying for you and your family. I pray that God will be with you and mend your broken heart. I found your blog through Katy Peterson.

  13. Kathryn,
    What I hear when I read this last post is the surest testimony of how much a Daddy loves his little girl. Our loving Heavenly Father knew the outcome for Samuel, and because He knew He couldn't answer your BIG request, answered every single one of your little requests.
    In a time when your situation could be looked at as evidence that there isn't a God who cares, you have been given solid and lasting proof that He does indeed care.
    It is a soothing balm to my heart, and from what I read on your comments, so many others hearts, that Samuel's last hours were spent in you and Bryan's arms. How you can convey a lifetime of love and care in three hours is a mystery, but I know without question that Samuel knows how much he is loved.
    Please continue to post here. You and Bryan's words are so moving and we want to share in this journey with you. You are not alone.
    Allison Russell

  14. Thank you so much for posting this, and for your willingness to share this incredibly painful experience with the people who care so much for you. As I read through the blog posts, I see so many others who have been deeply touched in a way that defies comprehension. Your testimony of faith and trust in God has reignited my own, and I have no doubt it has led others to take their first steps toward seeking a relationship with our Heavenly Father. There are people who live their entire lives without making the impact that Samuel did in just four short weeks. I know that may be just a small comfort during this painful time, but I hope you and Bryan are able to claim it. Emily and I love you guys very much!


  15. Bryan and Kathryn,
    You don't know me but one of my best friends is Sarah Carroll. Through her I have been following your story the last few days. Though you are heart broken your tremendous faith has given you strength beyond your knowledge and mine. The whole time I was reading this update I praised God that you have each other to hold and to comfort. My thoughts and prayers are with you and Samuel. Peace be with you.

  16. Kathryn, I am aching for you, and I send my love. I have more thoughts and feelings that I can't put into words right now. But I wanted to let you know that you are still continuously in my thoughts and prayers.

  17. Thank you for your transparency in the midst of such pain. Jason and I prayed for you as we woke up this morning, not knowing how you wake up today...praying for our Lord to fill in the gaps of wondering how you now do today. I will join you in praying that the Lord would heal your hearts.

  18. Thank you for sharing your heart and emotions. You have shared such an amazing testimony of faith and trust and God's presence in your lives, is so evident. You have been an example to all of us reading and following alongside you. I will keep praying for peace and comfort.

  19. Not even pretending to have the words to say...just know that I am praying for you guys and humbled by your faith. Praying that Grace is enough for you in each moment...

  20. Jill Roberts directed me to your blog and have been following for the last couple of days. (Jill and I were friends in college.) I will continue to be praying for your family to have comfort in these coming days and weeks. Many Many sorry's would never suffice.

  21. Dear Kathryn and Bryan,
    I have been following Samuel's story for 2 weeks now, and I am so moved by your faith and your hope in God. Thank you for sharing so much and for being so open. I know that in times like these it is no easy thing to do, but this blog is a testimony of God's goodness. It has truly been an encouragement to my faith. I will always remember you both as my favorite High School teachers. I will continue to keep your family in my prayers. May God bless you and give you peace during this very difficult time.
    Love, Courtney Baker Williams

  22. Dear Kathryn and Bryan,
    I'm picturing Samuel in heaven and Caleb and Joel being very happy that their wonderful mom and dad are back home. Indeed, it's a beautiful picture.
    Our hearts are aching along with yours but it is a comfort knowing Samuel is at peace.
    Love and prayers,

  23. Dear Kathryn and Bryan,

    I have come to this page several times and attempted to write to you, but my words fail each time. I know my words are inadequate and can't ease any of the pain or sorrow in your hearts. However, the phrase "until we meet again" keeps coming to mind. Your life on earth will always have a void without your precious Samuel, but it is temporary. You will be reunited in the Glory and Splendor of Heaven with your son for all eternity. May you feel a peace in knowing your separation is but for awhile.

    I thank God that Samuel was in the arms of his parents ... surrounded with the purest of love during his passing. I look at this blog, all the people who have reached out to you, and wonder what other person could have reached so many and touched so many hearts than your precious son did in just 30 days! It is such a remarkable gift. His life had such a tremendous impact.

    As a parent ... my heart aches and I grieve deeply with you. As your cousin, my heart breaks knowing how much you have been through, and only imagining the sorrow filled days ahead. I rejoice that Samuel is in the arms of Jesus, healthy, and without pain.

    I will see you on Thursday!

    Much Love,

  24. Dear Kathryn and Bryan,

    I was so sorry when Cheryl told me of your loss. The first thing I said was their faith will carry them through these trying times. I don't know how to ease your pain, but I am truly renewed by your faith. And as you said, we may never know what plan God has in mind, but someone who doesn't know His power and glory may read your words and be changed by your story. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of you. Terri Ramsey

  25. I feel like I have been invited into the holy place. Thank you for sharing your self with us.Thank you for sharing the great life of Samuel. I am changed by having known him. I am so sorry that you have had to walk through this, grateful that God has carried you and will carry you through. Praying for a special touch from God for you over the days ahead.

  26. We are heartbroken for you guys but at the same time trust our God who is near to the brokenhearted and I know His presence will continue to be near to you both and your family! Steve & Bianca

  27. Kathryn and Bryan,

    You do not know me but I have been following your blog and praying for little Samuel and your family. I learned about Samuel and your family through Matt Gibson. I did not post a comment until now because I did not want to seem intrustive but know that many, many prayers were sent your way.

    I too, spent many days in the hospital this summer by a love one's bedside. My family was blessed with the kindness of many nurses and doctors. I am so glad you were blessed with this as well. And I am especially thankful each of you were able to old your son for as long as you did. I take comfort in knowing Samuel is at peace and I will continue to pray for your family during this difficult time.

    Nicole Galletta

  28. Kathryn, thank you for sharing these precious, tender, raw moments with us. As a Hospice nurse I have come to see many Holy moments in death. It is painful beyond words for those left here, but peaceeful for those that have gone home to be with Jesus. Please know we will continue to lift you and Bryan and the boys in prayer. Please continue to keep us updated so we will know exactly how to pray for you.

  29. Kathryn & Bryan,

    Our hearts are broken with yours as you mourn the loss of your sweet son. May the Lord richly bless you for how tenaciously you've clung to Him during this wretched time.

    I just happened to be researching a bunch of books on grief and loss for work today and I ran across a portion of scripture that jumped into my head as I read your post:

    Has God forgotten to be gracious?
    Has he slammed the door on his compassion?

    And I said, “This is my fate;
    the Most High has turned his hand against me.”

    But then I recall all you have done, O Lord;
    I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.

    They are constantly in my thoughts.
    I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.

    Psalm 77:9-12

    What mightiness indeed, that even death cannot separate those who love God! What a wonderful day it will be when you get to meet Samuel again, whole and well and happy!

    We'll continue to pray for you both and your dear little boys as you enter into this difficult time.

    Sarah & Nate Hinch

  30. From Caren and David Hoehner:

    Dear Kathryn, Bryan, Pat and boys,
    I'm so, so sorry- and am broken hearted for you. I'm thinking of and praying for your beautiful little boy, now in Jesus' arms. I can't imagine the pain and suffering Kathryn and Bryan and the boys and all of you are bearing. May Jesus meet you and carry you and sustain you this very moment.
    continuing to pray for you this prayer:
    O God of life, this night, O darken not to us thy light.
    O God of life, this night, close not thy gladness to our sight.
    Keep your people, Lord, in the arms of your embrace. Shelter them under your wings.
    Be their light in darkness. Be their hope in distress. Be their calm in anxiety.
    Be their strength in weakness. Be their comfort in pain. Be their song in the night.

  31. We are praying for the comfort only HE can provide!

    Larry & Elizabeth Pease

  32. My sister-in-law Deanna McIntyre forwarded to me your website on Samuel. I have been following it each day. You are a remarkable young couple with an awesome strength in the Lord. Continue to lean on Him and he will continue to strengthen and keep you.

    As we were working on our church prayer list this evening, we were reading your blog about Samuel. I felt this quote from Micheal Krog was something I needed to send to you. “Although the immediacy of God’s healing power is always supernaturally possible, there are times we must be content with God’s sustaining grace.” II Corinthians 12:9 reads: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

    You are in our thoughts and prayers. God bless and keep you!

    Alan and Judy Thomas

  33. Hold tight in knowing that one day when your work here on Earth is done, you will see your sweet little boy again, happy and healthy in the arms of Jesus.

  34. Dear Kathyrn and Bryan,
    There are no words to relieve the tremendous heartache and pain you are experiencing. Dale and I are truly sorry for your loss. May your faith in god and the love of your family and friends sustain you. You remain in our hearts and prayers.
    Dale and Cheryl Long

  35. Thank you for sharing. You remain in our prayers.

    Psalm 119:28

    My soul melts from heaviness; strengthen me according to Your word.

  36. Emily shared this on her site. I am so sorry and hope you are comforted by all the love you are surrounded by from family and friends.


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