Kaycie called upon her Creator, ‘Number our days’—but Lord, my baby girl only had minutes…
Eighty-seven minutes she dwelt here before she entered the Kingdom of Heaven. Upon her arrival, Jesus held her up for all to see, and triumphantly announced, “It’s a girl.” The angels danced around the throne.
On the fifth floor of Memorial Hospital, in a dated room with pink floral wallpaper and a flickering fluorescent light, it was difficult to rejoice in Reagan’s heavenly coronation. Their hearts were hollow; evacuated of their contents and swept away like a crumbled soil levee.
The inevitability of this day could not diminish the agony of it. They had fought this outcome with every ounce of prayer and blind optimism they could muster; even throwing themselves at the mercy of the in utero surgeon. With all medical interventions exhausted, and prayers to heal unanswered, Kaycie clung to her motionless gray baby; swaddled in a purple quilt, with a white bow in her hair. The bed quaked from the rhythmic ripples of sobs that erupted every few breaths. Charley, broken but stoic, tenderly stroked his wife’s hair while she clutched their first born to her chest. They didn’t get to hold Reagan while she was still alive; only seeing her big blue eyes open for a second before she was whisked away. Kaycie longed desperately to see those eyes again.
‘Defects inconsistent with life’…I have to see it myself.
Kaycie gently placed Reagan in the cradled fold of her legs, hidden beneath the white, waffle weave blanket, and slowly began to unwrap the quilt. Charley reached for her hand.
“No,” she insisted, “I need to know…”
She wore a crisp white dress with delicate pink embroidery. Her left hand was crumpled from the inadequate amount of amniotic fluid. Her belly was distended; her external openings were smooth—nonexistent. The right leg was clubbed, and her left ankle and foot were missing. As horrific as these sights were, they gave Kaycie peace.
We did everything we could for you, sweet Reagan.
She re-swaddled her, and gingerly placed her in Charley’s arms. He melted into the chair by the bed, where slow warm tears crescendoed into violent convulsions. Kaycie, blinded again by her own water filled eyes, stretched her sore torso towards him to grasp his trembling leg. He fumbled for her hand to clutch in his.
There was a barely audible knock, followed by the doctor’s entrance. He somberly drank in the scene, and then sat on the foot of the bed.
He whispered, “I wish we could’ve done more for her, kiddos. Grieve however you need to so you can get better. You have a wonderful family, right down that hall...” choking back the lump in his throat, he pointed to the door, “…that’s ready to see you. Bask in the glory of the family that God did give you…let that love ease your pain. When you are ready, we can try again.”
He was interrupted by a hesitant tap on the door; it opened just enough for Maria, Kaycie’s mom, to show her face, swollen from crying.
“May we come in?”
Charley nodded to Kaycie, and she waved them in.
“I’ll check on you tomorrow Kiddo.” Dr. Turner excused himself and quietly closed the door behind him.
Charley gave Reagan to Maria and helped ease her into the chair. All their siblings trickled into the room, each holding Reagan. At four a.m., the nurse took her to the morgue. By four fifteen, Kaycie and Charley were passed out from exhaustion.
When the midmorning sun awoke her, Kaycie laid in bed, marinating in the numbness of grief from yesterday, mixed with anticipation of today. There’s so much to do.
Charley found a wheelchair, and they began to navigate the bleached corridors. The buzzer summoned the nurse, who recognized them from yesterday. She gave them a sympathetic smile as she led them in. She prepared them for what was next, and then pushed Kaycie into another room. As they approached the glass cube, the heavy emotion began to swell in her chest—then her eyes.
“Would you like to hold her, Mom?”
“Of course…” Kaycie beamed.
Even with the wires and beeping machines, she could almost hear the angels on high as Addison, born three brief minutes after Reagan, was placed in her gowned arms. The hot but happy tears began to warm her raw cheeks.
“Nice to finally meet you, little sister Addy. Welcome to day number two…”
~Psalm 90:12 NIV
Author’s note: I dedicate this to the Burge Family, whose unbreakable faith comforts and sustains them. The names of the characters in this story remain without anonymity, as a memorial to Reagan Dawn Burge, and to honor the survivors who love her, and carry on in the confirmed hope that they will one day see those blue eyes again.
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