The Blossoming Tree
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Today I came across some journal entries, originally written while in Franciscan Hospital. The sentiment in this entry holds true even today. The promise of rebirth and renewal; the promise of Spring.
After two weeks of constant bedside vigil in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, a reprieve was long overdue. Concerned nurses pointed out to us continually it was okay to take a break. They finally won out and were able to convince us to actually take a walk, to leave the unit and with it, our daughter. I pressed a paper with my cell number into the hand of the nurse manager. She assured me they would call immediately should something happen. Who would have thought there was need for such orchestration just to go and get a cup of coffee?
And walk we did, gingerly stepping away from our little girl’s hospital bed. Looking over my shoulder, I walked slowly as though testing each step. Walking on a pond of ice, listening for the cracks or other telltale signs the bottom is out to fall away. I let out a sigh of relief when it seemed secure and something solid was underfoot. Then without communicating, my pace quickened as did the beat of my heart when turning my back on the doors of the unit. Once passed, they began to close automatically. The telltale click of closure echoed in my ears. I stopped, breathed and summoning up strength, continued on.
The path to the cafeteria took us by a courtyard. The large palladium window in the corridor revealed a stark site. A large barren tree filled the view. This tree would become a focal point for me on these walks which were to become a daily routine.
While in the cafeteria we did receive a call. The doctors had arrived and a decision had been made. Today they would attempt to remove the tube that breathed life into our daughter’s lungs.
Racing back to the PICU, passing the barren tree, my eye caught site of a glimmer of white. A single bud stood out among the blackness. Without hesitation my heart declared, “Tori begins to bloom today.”
Once back to the unit a team began to assemble. Trauma specialists, respiratory technicians, pulmonary doctors, neurologists and a host of nurses coupled with residents and medical students gathered just outside of the room. I watched the Unit’s primary physician move to the middle of those assembled and begin to rundown the situation. The quarterback was calling the play. And like a well practiced team they all began to take their positions on the field. Each prepared to carryout their individual task, to work in unison towards the ultimate touchdown. Some were skeptical such a daring play would succeed. Others knew it could not fail.
Tori had a cheerleader. One persistent, dedicated young and optimistic nurse. Stacey. She was the ultimate pep rally. Just days prior she demonstrated to a less than impressed doctor why she knew Tori could be extabated. Much to his segrin, she climbed onto the hospital bed, strattled Tori and pointing to her throat, indicated the ever so slightly noticeable new movement. Hurray for our side as the doctor consented to try.
And so here we are, the home team getting ready for the big play. We stood on the sidelines barely breathing as we watched the carefully choreographed movements. Truthfully it was difficult to see exactly what was happening. In retrospect that is probably best. The team seemed to huddle even closer together creating a tight circle around the hospital bed. The respiratory technician with his hand on a switch, anxiously awaited his orders. And with the countdown, “1, 2, 3”, it was done. The tube was removed and all that remained was to see if Tori could finish out the play. The first indication of success was the burden that seemed to be lifted off of everyone’s shoulders. They somehow seemed taller. And while it did not mean that we had won or that the game was over, we were on our way.
My thoughts turned immediately to the single bud I witnessed earlier. I became obsessed with visualizing the transformation of that tree being a symbol of my daughter’s progress. And like the tree, she too would bloom. I desperately looked forward to spring. After prayers of thanks and tears of joy we returned to Tori’s bedside. The team faded away watching diligently from the sidelines ready to spring into action should something go astray. Thoughts returned to the tree, my miracle tree.
Light poured through the windows. A new day dawned and spring was in the air. The success of the extubation lightened our hearts. We felt renewed. The tree would tell me more. This time when we took a walk to the cafeteria we walked lighter, more certain of our path. As we rounded a corner I caught a glimpse of the tree. A lump caught in my throat as my initial assessment saw no difference in its appearance. As we neared the windows I could feel the heat of the sun through its glass and my eyes searched for more. And there, tucked around the side of the tree, I saw it. A cluster of buds had burst through. The tree was coming back to life. My spirits soared. But the moment was mine alone. I wasn’t ready to share this observation with anyone just yet. I held tight to my belief that this was an outward sign of renewal, of rebirth. A sign the dead of winter, the darkness of night, will eventually give way to spring and the gift of light.