TODAY I WAS WITNESS TO A HORRIBLE EVENT
Please read that first, if you want to feel like you know what's going on.
It's been over six months since the incident occurred, now is the only time I've really felt comfortable recording my thoughts.
After my seeing Isabelle whisked away to the hospital I spiraled down into a dark contemplative place. For days I couldn't close my eyes without seeing that image of a helpless, bloodied, newborn baby, gasping desperately for breath. I didn't want to eat, I didn't want to work, I didn't know what to do. I was plagued by a deep remorseful sadness.
It may be worth mentioning that I do not put much stock in prayer. For me prayer doesn't help other people, its a way of making yourself feel good about things you have no power to change. "Those poor people, I should do something for them. I'm praying for them, good enough." For me this was not good enough. No amount of positive thoughts were going to rectify this situation; I needed action. It also didn't hurt that I had just penned these very thoughts into my life's philosophy guide and this seemed like the perfect time to not be a total hypocrite and put them into practice.
I wanted to do something for Isabelle's family, for her, but I didn't know what to do. After three days without sleep, the perfect action finally came to me; It was simple, yet meaningful. Society doesn't really have a go-to gift for outrageous personal tragedy, there's no sweet bread or bottled spirit that really springs to mind in instances like this. However, I figured the perfect gift for any family that had to spend long nights in the hospital was a big fuzzy blanket. I envisioned the biggest, fleeciest, fuzziest blanket that I could, something that you could get the whole family under and have a good cry.
At this time I had no information about how she was doing. This was also very frustrating, due to HIPPA laws they couldn't even tell me if she was alive or dead. I was at a loss, but at least now I had a plan.
It was on Mother's day that I went with my mom to find a blanket, and a suitable gift bag. With it I hand-wrote a very simple card that said in so many words: "You don't know who I am, but I was one of the people who helped call 911. I don't know what to do, but I wanted to do something. This blanket is not much, but please take it and know that you're not alone. That you have the support of your friends, family, and community."
I didn't want to intrude into a personal family moment, so together me and my mother dropped it off at the front desk of Children's hospital, asking it to be brought to Isabelle's room if she was still in the hospital. The front desk was very polite, they said they would deliver it. That was it. That was really all I could do. That was the first night I slept since the incident. Slowly life began to resume it's hectic pace, and the events I had witnessed fell into the background, like so many other horrifying stories.
I also baked a homemade cheesecake and delivered it, with a kind letter, to the PICU nursing team that was helping Isabelle. (If you or your loved one is ever in the hospital... bring your nurses food.)
Several days later I receive a call from work. "Grant, did you send a blanket to that baby's family?"
This caught me off guard because I had been careful not to mention where I worked, and the blanket was something I had done personally to deal with this ordeal. My company could have easily sent all manner of things to their room, and they hadn't.
"Well, a friend of their family wrote in to corporate and they are VERY impressed. This memo came down from the very top. They want to give you their top award for excellence in customer service. They want to write you up in the company newsletter, you're a hero."
This disgusted me a little. What had begun as a moment that no one would wish on anyone, was steadily turning into a PR moment for the corporation I worked for. I politely declined the article, and tried my best to be sure Isabelle's family wasn't dragged through anything else. The one upside of this was that her family had called over to my work and left us with the hospital passcode, so that we could get updates and information.
Later that day I called, and learned a great deal. Doctors believed that she had ruptured a blood vessel near her heart, which is a one-in-a-million event with no method of anticipating or predicting it. That from my counter to her journey to Children's hospital she had gone into full cardiac arrest, and was admitted to their PICU without a measurable heartbeat. She was kept on a ventilator and life support for several weeks and scans revealed that there was some brain damage, though the extent it was not likely to present itself until she was much older. There was some speculation that she would be somewhat clumsy because of it, but no one knew for sure.
For a while I called every day, I got updates; then every other day, then once a week. Finally life caught up and I so many other projects and concerns worked their way to the forefront. I concentrated on getting from one shift to another, on cementing in my relationships and possibly preparing for a family of my own.
Months later, I'm at work, selling auto parts and a bearded man walks up to my counter. "Are you Grant?" he asks.
"Yes?" I reply sort of puzzled.
"I am Isabelle's father." he says. "I just wanted to shake your hand... Thank you."
I was completely surprised, and to this day I don't think I have ever heard the words "Thank You" said in such an honest, and sincere way. I was touched. A moment later his wife walked in holding a beautiful, healthy baby girl with shining eyes and a little pink bow.
"Grant, this is Isabelle."
And again time stopped. I reached out, and her tiny, delicate hand grabbed my finger, and she smiled.