Daya and I walked towards the lift with another family. Daya was in the pram. Their child was in a pram as well. They were side by side in the lift. I was going downstairs to collect pizzas for our nurses. I had a spring in my step. They were going to the park. Daya and I had just spent a lovely hour in the park. I was trying to ignore the fact that I wouldn’t be seeing the girls this weekend.
Me: you’re all matching (their coats were matching and the mother and daughter had matching trainers)
Her Mum: Yes. Yes. And she smiled at her daughter.
Daya: awwww cute.
Her Dad smiled and her mum looked at Daya and said ‘you’re cute too’.
The lift doors opened.
Me: how’s everything going? I saw you yesterday but I haven’t seen you in a while.
Dad: they told us yesterday there is nothing more they can do. The cancer has spread to her brain and now they will just offer us care to manage her pain.
Me: (I stopped in my tracks and was holding my breath.) Im so sorry. You’re wonderful parents and she’s is so lovely. (I stroked her little bald head). And together in the silence we, all three, started to cry in the reception of GOSH.
Her mum was crying. I started to cry.
I’m just so sorry. I’ve seen you come and go so many times and she’s so lovely. This is the worst thing any parent can go through. You’re wonderful parents. She’s amazing. I’m heartbroken.
I just hugged her mum and held her. And then I hugged him. And the tears kept coming.
They are going to have to face the worst possible parenting scenario soon. They will have conversations they never dreamed they would have. Life will weigh even more heavily upon them. Their broken hearts will be broken further. They will watch their child slip away until she takes her last breath. No one will wear the little matching coat or trainers any more.
They will have to go through the emotions and motions of losing a child. Our nurses will smile and laugh in front of Daya and then lovingly respond to this family’s needs in the same shift. They are heartbroken too. Nurses are like soldiers. They put duty before all else. Tonight we are asleep on the same ward with our babies. Mine is here watching her iPad and not going to sleep. She’s here because you helped to save a little girl’s life. Our little friend is going to slip away from us with every day that passes.
You aren’t born to die. That defies norms and expectations. You are born to live. Please, go do something this week that makes you feel alive. Go live your best life.