I saw a child die today
This is not normal for me, even though I am around the hospital quite often. I usually see the after-effects, the families huddled with chaplains outside the ICU door, the funeral-wailing at the mortuary near the hospital entrance we use.
Today I was in newborn nursery with a set of allen-wrenches to adjust donated procedure tables to the right height. It was a process of moving babies, finding extra hands to lift, and mostly of waiting.
Arianna and her team were around another table, so I went to look as she bagged a baby to help breathing. She pulled the face-mask back for a second, and even a non-medical person like me could see there was no hope.
Mum was brought in and the reality explained to her. She cried, the team of 8 around her in a circle, surrounding her.
This is a team that hates defeat. The flat faces, in between anger and tears, built for fighting and not for giving up. Afterwards several sat silently, watching election results on the courtyard TV, trying to shake off the loss.
Vincent lingered in the doorway.
“This is the real work,” I told him.
“Anyone with enough training and skill can make a patient better. But standing beside a grieving mother as she says goodbye – real compassion – this is what makes Kijabe special. You are awesome. Thank you.”
I could see in his eyes that my words did not resonate. How could they, in that moment?
It is a terrible, sacred honor to make the call. To let go and put down the tools. To give comfort while your own heart is vaporized.
Too many of our beloved patients have gone in the recent months.
Blessing, Emmanuel, Joyce. . .long hours at the bedside, fighting for these precious ones, loving the mums. . .these are hard, hard blows.
Leteipa. . .I stroked his hair for a long time this afternoon, watching his labored breathing, his throat sucking inward at an unnatural manner. He is so sweet, and so, so sick.
Too many times this month Arianna has seen what I did today. Despite the new equipment, despite the moments of hope (Aneesa went home today!), this work can be hard and awful.
Today, pause for a minute and grieve with us, with our superhero mamas who are learning to let go, with the pediatric team, all those carrying heavy burdens.
*We do have so many reasons to be hopeful and joyful, more stories on that will come soon. . .