Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thank you, Dr. Kim

Since Samuel passed away and Bryan and I have come home again, we have commented several times on the utter disconnect our life at the hospital has from our life at home. Bryan mentioned in an earlier post about the fear of forgetting parts of Samuel because his whole life existed away from our house and in a hospital. We don't have memories of Samuel here -- in his crib, in the glider, in the playroom, on the changing table. All of our time with Samuel was spent at Northside or Egleston, sitting in an ICU, surrounded by medical equipment, and more or less physically isolated from the people in our lives. While at Egleston, new people entered our lives in very significant ways. I can't think of another time in life where this has happened to me -- where in a short period of time, I gained an entire new world of existence -- a new dwelling place as well as a new community.

Bryan and I aren't really people who seek out new friendships. We enjoy the close friends we have and generally feel content with those relationships. We're both introverts and find that staying at home is usually preferable to going out. As a result, our circle of friendships and relationships stays pretty consistent. It rarely expands to include new faces. The month of August was therefore quite an anomaly in our lives. Not only did we meet some wonderful parents, we forged some bonds with nurses and doctors that I wouldn't have predicted. In truth, these bonds are more significant to me and Bryan than they are to the staff at Egleston. The doctors, nurses, and RT's see new patients every day, and all those patients (and their parents) eventually leave the hospital. So the changing faces in their world are a matter of normalcy.

But for me and Bryan, those doctors, nurses, and RT's are forever a part of our story. They are the people who saw Samuel every day, who cared for him, who knew him in some way. Only a handful of people in our life outside Egleston ever got to meet Samuel, much less spend any significant time with him. We are grateful for each person who did get to see and touch our sweet son, but the reality is very few people were able to do so. That fact makes all the Egleston folks more important to us.

Our life with Samuel was limited to two days in the NICU at Northside and 4 weeks in the CICU at Egleston. Once we left the CICU without Samuel, we left behind so much that tied us to him; we left behind almost all the tangible things that connected our lives to Samuel. That was hard to do. It took us a few days to realize it, but even harder than leaving behind the physical connections to Samuel was leaving behind all the people who knew us in the hospital. We walked away, cold turkey, from every person who cared for our baby boy, and every face we saw and depended on each day of Samuel's life. I don't think we realized the impact of that separation when Samuel died.

I was trying to explain it to Bryan on our walk yesterday, and the best I could come up with is that our life is a big puzzle, and all the pieces fit together and connect in some way. Our pasts link us to the present, and the edges of those puzzle pieces touch and connect. People and places from the past overlap into the present. But the puzzle piece that is Samuel's life doesn't rub up against the rest of our pieces. His piece is disconnected -- way over in the margins of the puzzle without any bordering pieces. He didn't live in our house, go to our church, know all the people in our lives, come to our small group, or ride in our car. Because of that, we feel the risk of his life being too removed from us and our daily thoughts.

I told Bryan that I was trying to find ways to create a web that links our "normal life" to Samuel's life. I want to have as many threads as possible that keep us tied to the time we spent at Samuel's side in Egleston. Thanks to facebook, I have "friended" a few people from our holy month of August. I found a couple of nurses, an RT, and a couple of fellow parents. For each of these connections, I am grateful. They give us a sense of continued contact with a world we left behind. And any time I hear from someone we met in the hospital, it is life-giving and refreshing -- a reminder that that life was real, that our time with Samuel was precious, that Samuel's life mattered, and that our presence was somehow noted. I can't explain it because I don't understand it myself, but the words of those we encountered at Egleston carry such weight and mean so much to us.

Today we received a real gift in this regard. Dr. Dennis Kim, one of the cardiologists we had numerous interactions with at Egleston, found our blog and commented on it. Apparently he spent some time today reading our blog and watching Samuel's service. I can't tell you how much this means to me. He said some truly kind and encouraging things, and I suspect I will revisit his words many times in the years to come. Once again, someone who didn't have to enter into our pain chose to do so and blessed us immeasurably in the process.

So, thank you, Dr. Kim, for taking the time to read our words and to watch the memorial service. I am deeply touched that you would choose to do such a thing, and I am humbled by your words. Thank you for writing to us. I can't explain what a gift that is and how healing it is to our hearts. Thank you, thank you.

And thank you, Lord, for little glimpses of Your work and continued redemption of our baby's life. And thank You for each strand of connection You grant us to sweet Samuel and the time we spent with Him in Egleston. Thank You.


  1. Bryan and Kathryn, it's easy for me to say, but don't worry about forgetting because I don't think that will happen, even though I understand that fear. We continue to pray for you two, your family, your healing process, your marriage, and we're thankful for you.

  2. Dear Family...I came to your blog through a new parents board I belong to. You don't know me and we'll likely never meet, but your story has touched me deeply. It's made me re-think my priorities in life and understand just how very blessed I am to have been able to bring my two babies home and do the very things you mention above. I admire your strength and your faith and from the bottom of my heart I pray for peace and healing. You will never forget your precious child...and I will never forget him either as he's touched my life in a very special way. God Bless You! Brandi Greene, Woodstock GA

  3. Kathryn,

    I've been thinking about this since you guys first started commenting about the care your nurse, Richard, showed you. Would it be okay for me to write him a note thanking him for his care for my friends? If so, just tell Bryan to shoot me an address or I can find it, but I didn't want to initiate that contact unless you guys said it was okay.

    By the way, I sent your blog address to a pediatric neuropsychiatrist in Vancouver for the very same reasons Dr. Kim mentioned. This doctor and his family were actually at NP for 6 years, but moved back to Vancouver last year and we are working with them to see if we can get a partner church going there. I thanked him for being a person of faith in a profession that can get all too clinical, and I wanted him to know through reading your words how much of an impact he can have upon the parents he encounters as he treats their children. He and his wife couldn't wait to read it.

  4. I believe you have described the 'disconnect' from the real world perfectly! Although our outcomes were different, it is impossible for anyone that wasn't there to fathom our experience inside the walls of Egleston... on the second floor... with all the doctors, nurses, beeps, voices, smells.... and that precious baby.
    I was (am) so afraid that our 'life' there will becomes such a distant memory and that those memories will fade that I copied and pasted our care page and blog entries into a Word document and made a book of it (literally took it to Kinkos and had it bound). As I edited the document, I was able to add in details that I just couldn't post for the public and added some personal details. I CHERISH this book!!!! Maybe one day you will find comfort in such a project... but only when you are ready to 'relive' those days.
    October marks two years ago that we were there, and if you can take any comfort or peace in this, please know that it is all still so vivid and real (I can remember it like it was yesterday, but the pain is MUCH easier to bear)... but in this respect, I cannot say that I have any idea of the pain your family is enduring.
    My heart breaks for you and your family and yall are in our prayers daily! Thank you for your faith and your devotion to Christ and His love. YOU are what give Christians a GREAT name in this world! God is using you in AMAZING ways! God bless you all!