The Processional

I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was weeks and weeks ago, but still. Today it crossed my mind again.

25 nurses and staff lining the hall as a dead child was wheeled into her private room.

The child didn’t belong there. No child does, but still, that child didn’t belong there. Hurt, neglected, abused, whatever the word that would connote innocence to that child and the dark truths betrayed by a bruised body.

As that child took a last breath alone, the staff, just as I, found themselves looking for answers that would be too late for that child. But 25 people lined the hallway from a trauma room to a private room.

Processionals are for massive funerals, memorials, or commemorations where pomp and circumstance belong. Perhaps this is what that the child would have gotten crossing the graduation stage, or after winning a little league title, but not this way. Processionals suggest importance and glamour, as in a queen being crowned or a princess buried. Not children.

But this little one deserved this processional. 25 people who because of their sheer helplessness medically lined a hall to helpfully honor a child whose last breath could not be in vain. No, we lined the hall for a processional, guiding the way of a child to a legacy, a memory, and further a presence. The processional in this case was a sign not that something simply tragic happened, but that those 25 wouldn’t forget. This child was ours too at this time, and they received this one with utter dignity.

Their last breath took ours away. The negligence and lack of love before that last breath was dignified by people who knew that the child deserved that very something it lacked: love. In this case, we processed…down the hall, into the room, and into God’s arms.

A processional of tears, towards Gods outstretched arms, shouting its love for this child far stronger than the neglect could speak.

One step at a time, one step, one step, one step…tragedy seemed to win…until those processional steps.

Morning by Morning (9/15/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Ryan’s snuggliness lately, as he’s been coming to me a lot and hugging me, and in a special moment, hugged me with the first uninvited/unforced “I love you” I can remember. That’s awesome!
  2. The beautiful morning out in the park.  Sunshine and a light wind is quite nice and relaxing.
  3. Our new residents at St Lukes who are helping us at Texas Children’s.  They are a great group, both funny and engaged with our work with children and parents and families. It’s been a privilege to provide their orientation.
  4. The little boy whose hand I got to hold yesterday.  Ventilated and hurt from abuse, it was a gift to hold his hand for a short time. There are many words for the experience but it is a sacred one.

Morning by Morning (9/9/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. The weekly email I get from the Mash-Up Americans, which has been both challenging and encouraging about the diversity and resilience of people around our country.
  2. Hanging with Aiden and Ryan this afternoon!
  3. The way shade feels on a warm sunny day.
  4. Aidens joy playing baseball. We are at a tournament today and he loves being on the field and being with the other kids and coaches.  They won the first game 10-2!

Morning by Morning (9/8/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Our awesome neighborhood that is both quiet and full of kids, with lots of really great people. And it stayed dry enough in Harvey, and that counts for something too!
  2. The encouragement I received for my birthday two weeks ago but I am still loving.
  3. The continuing help of volunteers across the city cleaning up the flooded homes and caring deeply for displaced families.
  4. Our new CPE residents that will be serving at Texas Children’s.  They are a great group and I look forward to getting to know them well.
  5. Pics of Ryan sleeping!!

Morning by Morning (9/7/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Another gorgeous day with amazing fall weather.  What a beautiful set of days we are enjoying after last week!
  2. Seeing resilient and joyful kids around the hospital.  These little boys and girls are hope giving and inspiring.
  3. The smiling boy I met this morning, who has had a challenging couple years but is teach free and smiling full now!
  4. Time with Ryan in the mornings before I get to work!
  5. The Beads of Courage program for nurses and staff.

Morning by Morning (9/6/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Ryan sleeping through most of the nights now.  What a great gift it is to not have a child coming into our room!
  2. Norma Shreck, my boss in Spiritual Care who I find easy to talk to and love her sense of humor.  She also is so committed to supporting us as best she can and is willing to go out of the way for us. Having a positive relationship with a supervisor isn’t a given, and I am appreciative!
  3. A working car for my commute.  
  4. The walk to and from my car to work, which allows for calming, peaceful times and some good activity before and after work.
  5. The beautiful autumn weather we had today in Houston.  Breezy, not too humid, cool(er), and sunny- gorgeous day!

Morning by Morning (9/5/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Seeing all the TCH chaplains again this morning- it’s been two and a half weeks since we all have been in the same city!
  2. The great food I had yesterday at two different gatherings, including grilled sausage, cheeseburgers, potato salad, apple pie, and funfetti cake with simple icing! Yum! What a good day of good eats!
  3. Elana’s care for me this morning as I had a couple hours of feeling terrible and awful.  
  4. Ryan’s developing imagination through role plays!​ he’s so cute!

Morning by Morning (9/2/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Aiden!!! We have been on a journey during the last 5 years and they have all been worth it.  You are snugly, sweet, shy, intensely passionate about your preferences, and intensely stubborn too! You are a gift of a friend and a (step)son and I see God through you so often.  Happy birthday! (Although your birthday was yesterday and this post was accidentally made a draft so it’s getting out a day later!)
  2. Aiden playing ball!
  3. Aiden being big bro!
  4. Aiden being Aiden!

Morning by Morning (8/30/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Being home around family after a long week.
  2. Hearing Ryan’s invitation to play with him over and over, “Come on, daddy” 
  3. Seeing the glorious sun rising over Houston this morning!
  4. The relief brought by colleague chaplains at TCH yesterday that allowed me to go home.  Their navigation of waterlogged streets and leaving their families to help me is so appreciated. Thank you Pam and Naguib!
  5. The PICU nurses I served with who serve with humor and perspective in crisis.  I love getting to be a part of them.
  6. My father in law and his wife Ibi and the love and welcome they provide my family, especially as they rode out Harvey and needed a place real close for play.
  7. Living in Houston. It’s a great place that I call home, even with all this flooding chaos!

Morning by Morning (8/28/17)

Today, I am at the hospital riding out Hurricane Harvey while Houston gets inundated by water.  There are many things to be grateful for in the face of this devastating hurricane:

  1. Elana, Elana, Elana.  Her ability to watch Ryan while I am required to serve at Texas Children’s is humbling in the least.  She is covering me as she usually does and covering more than her fair share and loving on Ryan as a great mother while I work.  It’s not lost on me and while I am here I feel awful about not supporting her at home during this weather, but fundamentally I am grateful for her.  I love her!
  2. Praying with staff who are desperate for news of safety for their family and their homes.  During these prayers and times of gathering around the units, I find that there are people who are handling so much trauma, so much uncertainty, so much crisis during this time and yet emerging resilient.  Their strength and their love reflected in tears is beautiful inasmuch as the grief is heartbreaking.
  3. Assisting physicians do free writing as a way to manage their own stress and overwhelming emotions.  Today, I got to watch a physician lead his own fellow physicians into places of vulnerability, and it was a privilege to be there for support and encouragement and listening.
  4. The pictures of Ryan that Elana sends that sustain me with smiles and comfort.
  5. All the people and friends who have contacted me and sought out to send their prayers and thoughts my way.