“Lead kindly light amid encircling gloom; Lead thou me on! The night is dark, and I am far from home;Lead thou me on! Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see the distant scene. One step enough for me.” -John Henry Newman
I had an operator interrupt a phone conversation my husband was having to tell him our daughter was not out of the woods like the doctor had promised. That she was lost forever. We were nearly 1000 miles apart. No embraces, just tension over questions to which I had no answers. No, it had nothing to do with GSD. I don’t know if they gave her enough glucose. Was she comfortable? I didn’t know. I had not been allowed to stand by her side like before.
I called Dr. Crigler to tell him the news. After a pause he said it was the saddest news he had every heard. Last week from a wheel chair, recovering from a broken hip, he recalled that day and remarked as he respectfully bowed his head, “That was tragic.”
The autopsy confirmed it was Legionnaire’s disease (http://www.cdc.gov/legionella/patient_facts.htm). Not sure where it came from. It doesn’t matter now. Natalie was dead. October twenty-fourth would never be the same on my calendar.
Natalie’s Dad arrived by plane; the funeral was planned; we bought plot 257 in Section N at the cemetery. That is real estate we never wanted to own. Three papers across the country carried the news; Los Angeles Times, Marlborough Enterprise and the Midland Daily News.
My sister-in-law meticulously ironed the white smocked Polly Flinders gown Natalie had worn the day she was blessed and given a name. She wore it again as she lay in her small white casket tucked in with a tiny pink and white pieced quilt LInda and her friend had worked on far into the night. I had no idea how important that quilt would be over the years. It comforts me to know it is draped over her chest as she lies beneath the winer snow.
The wake was surreal. I felt like an actor doing and saying the things I was supposed to say. Young mothers didn’t want to come through the line. I was called over to accept their condolences. Most of my friends were still in college so their parents came to pay their respects. I couldn’t fathom how so many people got the word.
My Father and brothers were the Pall bears to a box so small it looked like I could have carried it myself. A child 1 year and 24 days old doesn’t require much to return to God. The man who blessed her to be well gave the sermon and my friend Linda gave the eulogy.
The station wagon that brought us to Michigan drove us home in silence. I remember nothing about that trip. Life goes on. Trite but true. God bless of everyone.
Lesson Learned: You can do what you must…one step in front of the last.