Why I am Saying Goodbye to my Family

After laboring for a good 5 hours with extreme upper cramping, an epidural that was doing nothing, and throwing up green stuff I knew something was wrong. I could feel it. Maybe it was all the doctors and specialists that quickly entered and exited my delivery room like they were running a marathon. Maybe it was the look on Peytons face when I threw blood up all over him. Maybe it was the anesthesiologists that were quietly whispering in the corner. Or it could have just been pure mother instinct already kicking in that this was going to be a very extraordinary delivery.        
My OBGYN told me hurriedly that they were doing a C-section. It was not a question. It was not a suggestion. It was, “this is happening.” I remember them putting the shield up under my neck so that I couldn’t see the birth. At that moment I turned to every nurse or doctor that was hovering over my belly and said, “Listen, if this is between me or my baby, choose my baby. Let me die, save him.” Looking back its surprising that this came to my mind, because I truly was so naïve and confused at how severe this whole thing was until I woke up 4 days later. It wouldn’t have changed anything, of course they were there to save both our lives, but I like to think that I had some say in the matter. Everything was so out of my hands at this point.

            After they pulled him out, they took him right away to monitor and help him breathe. Then they put him in an incubator.  They said that they needed to take him right up to the NICU and that Peyton should follow because I would need an emergency surgery. They wheeled him up to me, I put my hand in and said, “I love you. Be strong. You’re going to be okay.” Of course I didn’t know that either of us would be okay but when you are a mother, newly or seasoned, comforting your child is second nature.

            4 surgeries, time on a ventilator, an endoscopy, a trip to the ICU, and a million fevers later I woke up and the first thing I said to Peyton was, “Did I almost die?” Peyton, always being the optimist replied, “Well…you’re doing good now.” Every day I asked him, “But could I have died?” I could not wrap my head around the thought of leaving this earth so unexpectedly. I was preparing to become a mother for the second time, not making my way to heaven. In a way, coming close to death has made me step back and reassess my life. Lets be completely honest here though, it has also scared the hell out of me. The thought that I hadn’t even said I loved you to Samantha had me crying every day. Every single time she called or visited me in the hospital I didn’t want it to end, and I made sure she was next to me at all times.

            The other thing that I realized was that I hadn’t told my family how much I appreciated them. Had I thanked them for helping me move to Florida? Had I thanked them for being my constant support and love during all my challenging times as a teenager? And for goodness sakes had I mentioned to my husband that I had very strong feelings about what Preston should wear home from the hospital? I just wasn’t ready. There were so many things left unsaid.

            Are you ever ready to leave this world? People sadly die unexpectedly every day and their families grieve so woefully. Of course death will always be sad, and I am not invalidating anyone’s challenging time of repairing a broken heart from death, but if I were to spare my children and close family even just a little sadness by leaving them something, anything, I needed to.

            My big 16-hour surgery is in two weeks, ya’ll! I am so excited for it because it is the next step in my recovery. They will be removing the obstruction that has prevented me from eating for a year, reconnect and remove any lingering necrotic bowel, and then flip my intestine so that the beginning will be the end, and the end will be the beginning. This is so that I am better able to absorb nutrients in the future. This is a complex and rare case and one that many medical professionals have never even heard of. Luckily my surgeon is kind of a big deal, and she is very confident and capable of doing this, which puts me at ease, even just a little.

 My last appointment I was asking her numerous questions about the procedure, recovery expectations and possible side effects. I then looked at her seriously with tears pooling up and asked her the question she probably dreads. “Could I die?” Apparently she wasn’t too fazed because she exclaimed, “Oh, yeah!” To which I let them tears roll down like a rainstorm. 

            I went back home and opened my laptop. I am hopeful for this surgery and optimistic for the outcome, but I want to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. I started to draft goodbye letters to my children. One may ask, “How could you even write something like that?” But, to be honest, the words came naturally. Whether I had help from the Lord prompting me what I needed to tell them, or I just really had thought of things already, I won’t know. But I like to think that these letters will help them if I pass away.

            2-3 pages don’t really seem adequate to say all the things I need to say in a lifetime, but the most important things are included. I talked to Samantha about how thankful I was that she was who made me a mother. She has taught me so much more about patience, love and kindheartedness that no one could have prepared me for. I apologize to Preston for not being able to love him on this earthly life longer. I tell him that he can get to know me through my family, my pictures, blog posts and sincere prayer. I give both my children guidance for the future, advice on what to strive for in relationships, putting education first, and leaning on their Dad for comfort only a parent can give. Peyton’s was the hardest letter to write, as I feel like I had to provide the most consolation to him. I included memories and inside jokes that we have laughed at over the years, gratitude for loving my imperfections, and encouragement to have future loving relationships.

            I wrote these not to make them sad that I was gone but to give them something to remember me by, and to turn to if they ever needed answers or advice they couldn’t quite find the answers to. I wrote these so that they could have only a small bit of comfort if the worst-case scenario happened. I wrote these because I am a mother who will do anything in her power to continue to love her family more abundantly, genuinely and passionately.

            I hope they never have to read these letters. I am optimistic that all of the things written to them I will be able to tell them myself in spoken words in the future. I believe that they will always have me with them, but I can’t help wanting to have some control and influence in a situation that is so unknown and uncontrollable.

            So hold them babies tight, everyone. Tell them you are proud of them regularly and that if they ever make mistakes it's never too late to start over. Don’t forget your husbands, they need love, too. Often stated, often acted upon and often showed. The future is given to us, but it is never guaranteed. I hope when it’s my turn to leave this world (either in 2 weeks or in 50 years) my family will know how I felt about them entirely.

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