March 1, 2011, will likely be known as the worst day of my life. Two days earlier, my son Daniel woke up with a fever and respiratory distress, and within 36 hours, he was on a ventilator at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, California. That night, I was coming back into the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) after dinner when I heard, “CODE BLUE! TOWER 7!” blaring over the loudspeakers. I was plastered against the wall as doctors, nurses, and a crash cart raced into the unit.
I followed them down the corridor and found them in Daniel’s room. I remember the feeling of one of the hospital chaplains holding me tightly as I watched them attempt to revive him. The attending physician then told me quite tersely that she would be recommending he be put on ECMO (the heart-lung bypass machine) because it was a 50/50 chance of her being able to revive him again if he had another cardiac event.
I remember various things from the next four hours: being unable to stop vomiting from the sheer intensity of emotion, calling my former husband Jon and my twin brother Sean to come be with me at the hospital, signing the paperwork giving them permission to put Daniel on ECMO, intermittently sobbing and then wailing after my tear ducts dried out, and eventually the new attending physician coming to tell me that Daniel improved on his own and there would be no need for ECMO. One week later, he was off the ventilator. Three weeks after that horrible night, we walked out of the hospital with our son very much alive.
A few months ago, I was reflecting on that night and was smacked upside the head by the Holy Spirit. God’s Son died that day on the Cross. GOD WATCHED JESUS DIE. That realization gave me so much healing as I realized that God was there with me in that waiting room that night, understanding everything I was feeling.
God, thank you for choosing to let your Son die to bring healing to this world. Thank you for going through the pain of watching your Son die so that we might not be alone in our darkest hours as parents. Amen.