Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sandy Hook Tragedy

When I was working as a Pediatric ICU nurse, I really did enjoy my job.  That is... for the first 3 years.  I loved the science behind the equipment and the medication.  I loved the physical work of caring for the babies and young children - bathing them, diapering them, dressing them, brushing their hair & teeth, putting on lotion, etc.  I loved caring for the families and supporting them when I knew that it had been a particularly rough day.  People would talk about "caregiver strain" in relation to nurses who cared for critically ill patients, and I didn't really understand what they meant.  Don't get me wrong, I would be devastated when a patient that I had cared for passed away.  I went to the bathroom on more than one occasion and cried my eyes out for a child that had died too soon.  But, I could be strong for the parents and control my emotions.  I was a professional.  That was my job.

However, all of that changed on March 13th, 2005 when they placed my brand new baby boy in my arms.  My very own flesh and blood.  The tiny little person that I had desperately wanted and prayed for.  I knew, in that moment, that I was changed forever.  And I was.

When I went back to working part-time as a PICU nurse, I just wasn't as good at my job.  I could no longer suppress my emotions and be a strong professional.  I just couldn't.  Now, I would look at those parents' sad eyes and I had an idea of what they were feeling.  I had never had a critically ill child, of course, but I could imagine how I would feel if Clayton was the baby laying in that isolette, and it suddenly got infinitely harder to do my job.

The very worst was when I would have a patient with a birthday near Clayton's - a child his same age.  It was even worse if it was a little boy.  There were several times when that happened, and it was torture.  That situation made me keenly aware that my worst fears were someone else's reality.  It made me face the fact that, try as I may, I couldn't protect my precious baby boy from childhood cancers, or horrible respiratory infections, or diseases processes that require organ transplants.

I quit bedside nursing when Clayton was 2 1/2.  I have never been so relieved in my life.  It just felt like a giant bolder had been lifted from my shoulders when I clocked out for the last time.  I could go home to my healthy son and pretend like there weren't children just like him lying in hospital beds.

When I first heard the news of the school shooting on Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary, once again, my worst fears became some else's reality.  Once again, I am reminded that I can't protect my child from horrific circumstances.  There were two 7 year old little boys who lost their lives on an ordinary school day at a place where their parents were confident that they were safe.  There are two mothers who were pregnant when I was - who were right beside their sons for all of the same milestones that I have celebrated with Clayton.  We experienced similar events at similar times, I am certain.  We have the common bond of having sons that are the same age.  To think that their 7 year old boy won't be with them on Christmas morning is unfathomable. On Christmas morning, I will be thinking about the parents of Daniel Barden and Chase Kowalski.  I can only imagine how deep their pain will be...

Honestly, my first thought was, "I'm going to pull Drew out of preschool and homeschool Clayton full time."  Easy fix, right?  I'll just keep my babies home with me 24/7 and then I can protect them every waking moment.  Except that I can't.  It's a big, bad, ugly world out there, and if we live in fear, then Satan has won.

My second thought was, "I wonder what their parents said to them that morning at drop off?"  Did they quiz them for their spelling test or spend their time in the car chatting and laughing?  Was it a hurried morning where they were frazzeled and running late?  Lord, I hope not.  I hope that they got to say, " I love you" properly while looking straight into their child's eyes.  I hope that their little boy caught their eye just before they parted ways and held up his thumb, pointer finger, and pinky to sign "I love you" one last time.  I hope that their last memory was one of happiness and love.  God, let it be so.

I have lived through more shootings and terrorist attacks and wickedness than I can bear to recall.  But, this one has rocked me to my core.  This one has made me too scared to even think, "What if?"  I have never lost a child in tragic circumstances, but I can go to that dark place of imagining what it would be like.  I'm brokenhearted for those parents, and I can't shake the icky feeling that I have in the pit of my stomach.  I can't stop hugging my 7 year old boy and wishing that they could do they same.  I pray that they know the Lord and that He is comforting them.  I know that is the one and only way that I would be able to take my next breath, if I were in their shoes.


Brent Brewer said...

Sarah, I'm sure this was a difficult post for you to write. I know that the events of last week took a toll on a lot of peoples emotions, as they did mine. I can't fathom the depths of evil in one man's heart that would allow him to point a gun and pull the trigger with a 6 or 7 year old in his sight.

I've never commented on your blog, but I do read it, and wanted to share that I appreciate your post.