Sunday, March 23, 2008

Live for today...

Saturday afternoon Chris, Calvin, and I started our drive to my Grandma's for Easter. Before we got out of Champaign I got a phone call from my mom. I couldn't make out all of her tear-stained words, but I understood that something bad had happened to my cousin, Heather. My mom asked me to call my Grandma to find out if it was true. Grandma said that Heather had passed away but she didn't know anything else. After a few phone calls I finally got through to her dad and was told that my Cousin had died and that her mom and family were at Carle. Chris raced to get me there.

Heather was 33 weeks pregnant with a baby boy. She had the name Brayden Chase picked out. Just last Sunday, she glowed at her baby shower when she was literally showered with baby gifts.

On Saturday, Heather and some girls including her boyfriend's stepmother came to Champaign to exchange some gifts and pick up a couple other things she wanted for the baby. She had lists and check boxes - much like how I shop as she made final purchases for the baby. As they were leaving Toys R Us, she started to complain of chest pain and upper back pain. They decided to take her to Carle immediately. They called her mom to have her come to the hospital from Arthur. Heather called her boyfriend, Devin, to ask him to come with her mom. The pains were getting worse. Just a few short minutes later as the pulled into the E.R. at Carle, Heather stopped breathing completely. The Dr's and nurses rushed to the car to try to recicitate her. They got her to a room in the e.r. and did an emergency c-section. The baby survived, but my beautiful cousin did not.

The tragic death of my cousin was hard to swallow. I immediately found her mother and family members at the hospital and was able to sit with Heather in her room for a long time. It may sound weird, but it was comforting to get some time... although I knew she was gone, and was getting colder, she wasn't in a casket and that made me feel like she knew I was there.

Although the baby went through shock from his mother's organs shutting down, he is doing well and now breathing on his own. There does not appear to be any significant damage and he is a healthy 5lbs. 8oz. He should be able to leave the NICU in a few weeks. In honor of the baby's mother they moderated the name Brayden Chase to Brayden Heath so that he can have part of his mom's name. I thought that was so special and sweet.

Heather and I were very close when we were younger. She was just a couple years younger than me and we spent a lot of time playing together - making fake food out of grass and serving it to Grandma or enjoying a fun shopping trip with her mom. Then, I moved to my dad's and they moved out of town. After some time, her parent's got divorced. That made it all the harder to keep in touch with her. We went our own ways in life but I often thought of her and prayed for her regularly.

Heather was an organ donor. Since her vital organs shutdown those wouldn't get to be donated but her eyes and other parts could be. This is something that Heather felt passionate about so her mother and boyfiend honored her wishes. The department that collected these parts were very patient with the family - never rushing them to leave the room - and waited until we had all said our final good-byes to do his work. We all held hands in the e.r. room around Heather's bed and prayed a short prayer and then one by one we said our good-byes. I'm not sure that I will ever forget the brief moment when I squeezed heather's hand and brushed her hair softly as I wispered to Heather how much I loved her and will miss her and asking her to watch over all of us but mostly her baby boy. Then, I left the room quickly, wiping away my tears, knowing that the next time I will see her will be in a casket and that wouldn't be the same.

I ask you to take the time today to make your wrong's right with loved ones or old friends. Don't go to bed angry at your husband. And do something special for a friend. Live for today because tomorrow may not come for someone you love.


Sarah D said...


No words....

How sad and just awful for your family.

Thanks for reminding us that sometimes the little things are just that and it really is the big things that matter.

You will all be in my thoughts.


Dawn said...

Powerful Post. I am thinking of you and the rest of Heather's family, especially her baby boy. Keep us posted, please.
Call if you need anything, much love across the highway.

Anonymous said...

Hi Christina. We have never met, but I have read your blog occasionally. I went to school with Rebekah (Diel) Gosnell.

I just wanted to let you know how your post truly touched me. Your family will be in my prayers!

OrdnerFam3 said...

I want you to know our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. Life is soo precious, we sometimes don't realize how quickly it can be over. If there is anything we can do for you, please let us know.


Christina said...

Special thanks for all of the thoughts and prayers.

Amanda M said...

I am so sorry to hear about this. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.