Rain streams down the windows, but the kitchen of the Ronald McDonald House is warm. Its evening and the children who are out of the hospital on a pass are upstairs sleeping. I’m sitting at one of the pine tables with a few of the other parents, sipping a cup of tea. We are quiet with our thoughts. This morning at the hospital, while I sat with Nick in his room, I heard that a baby was rushed off the ward to ICU. I’ve just learned that little Morgan died today. She was the only child of a very young couple. A few weeks ago I spoke with her mother, a pretty girl with long dark hair. She told me her daughter was struggling.
Steps cause us to look up. Morgan’s mother and father shuffle in, looking dazed and pale. They fall into pulled out chairs at a table just inside the room, and sit there, not saying anything. I hear the refrigerators humming, the air moving through the vents, my own breathing. Both of my hands are wrapped around my now empty cup, my eyes cast downward – I don’t know what to do. A few glance at the couple but no one speaks or moves.
I’m amazed this young man and woman are here, not hiding upstairs in their room. There is courage in being in this room. All of us are almost strangers, thrown together, our sick kids a bond we share. Where is my courage? I get up, my mouth is dry as I walk over to Morgan’s mom and dad. I’ve never seen agony as in her eyes looking up at me. His mouth is a thin line, lips pressed tightly together, as if holding back his insides. I sit down, reach out and put my hand over her balled fist on the table. “I’m so very, very sorry.” Fat tears fall from her squeezed lids.
Behind me a chair scrapes the floor, and another, footsteps approach and soon everyone is gathered around Morgan’s family. The words begin to come. She talks. He talks. Haltingly they tell the story of their little girl’s last day of life on this earth. A box of tissue is passed around.
I lie in my cold bed trying to comprehend that children, mere babies die. If I were a house my foundation is cracked, the whole structure shifting, unstable and questionable. I raise my arm, fingers reaching for the ceiling, and ask, “Why?”
In the morning Morgan’s mother and father pack up and leave Vancouver without their baby. I’m thinking about the two of them as a couple with this terrible grief, losing the most precious thing in their union beside their love. Will their love be strong enough to carry them through? I hope so. FH (my husband) and I struggle. Always have – even when we had two healthy children.