When I was younger, I had a cat named Bob. Bob was a beautiful longhaired black cat who was stupendously dim-witted and amazingly lovable. We actually went through a terrible few months when Bob was a half grown young thing because he was such a sweet tempered cat that he would never stand up for himself and we just so happened to also have a half grown red-freckled cowdog at this same time who loved Bob. She loved Bob so much that she would regularly drag him up and down our deck by his luxurious black fur. She would gnaw and drool into his ruff. She would pounce on his belly. And Bob would lay there and try to continue purring. As a result of this friendship, Bob did go through a fairly rag-tag looking half grown phase.
One day my Mom went out to feed the cats and came back in carrying Bob. We don't know exactly what happened to him, whether it was a snake bite or poison, but he was sick and weak and dehydrated. I kept him by my side all day and every ten minutes or so would feed him droppers of water. He was so weak and limp, but so happy to be near us all day. I thought he would recover in a few days.
In the evening, when I was feeding him another dropper of water, he suddenly went slack. His eyes went dim and his head flopped over. After a second, he looked back up and I continued feeding him water. It happened again. Then he started choking on the water. I was in my room alone with him and when he started choking I got so scared. I had no idea what was happening. I yelled for Mom. She came running in and I pushed Bob into her arms. He was starting to seize. I ran out of the room. I just couldn't stay and watch and not be able to do anything. I felt guilty. A few minutes later, Mom came out of the room without Bob. 'He died.' I was shocked. Just the day before he had been fine. How could such a loving little being just be gone?
When we were in the hospital with Ryann, we thought that we'd be walking out in the morning. When they started talking about tranferring us up to the ICU and then to the Omaha Children's Hospital, and we still thought that it just meant that we were in for a hard week, trying to manage schedules and vehicles so as not to leave Ryann alone in the hospital. We never thought that we would be walking out without her.
In the hospital, Jared and I took turns holding her. Although Ryann was unresponsive when we first arrived at the hospital, after she had massive amounts of fluid through her IV, she was generally alert even if she was oddly limp the entire night.
But the last time I held her it was different. I saw Bob. And I knew.
I hoped I was wrong. I prayed that I was being morbid. But I knew. And this time I was the Mom who had to hold her until the end. I was the one who had to watch my baby's eyes dim. I was terrified of what I knew was coming. Terrified that I wouldn't be able to make myself stay. Terrified that I would run out of the room because I wasn't strong enough to hold her until the end.
I wasn't strong enough, but I held her anyway. I was scared, but I tried to not panic. And when she passed out once again and the doctors asked me to hand Ryann to them and leave the room, I did. And I knew she was gone.
But I had been with her when she needed me. I held her hand and sang her songs and loved her.
|Ryann's Half-Birthday Party|
Photos by Aric Vyhmeister