The mothers who share their stories in Healing Hearts describe a journey that most of us, thankfully, will never know – the rebuilding of life after the loss of a child. They share their stories with courage, honesty, and inspiration for us all.
They share why they have chosen to work or volunteer at the hospital that was not able to save their own child's life:
Marie C. Because we were never able to bring Jackson home, the only people who ever knew him are right here in this hospital. None of our family, none of our friends ever had a chance to know our baby. But Dr. Nikaidoh knew him and did everything he possibly could for him. The ICU nurses knew him and did everything they could. So when I walk into this building to help out—as difficult as it still can be—it’s a place of healing for me. The work I do is Jackson’s legacy to the children and
parents who will find help and solace here in the future.
Linda B. I work at this hospital because it helps me to be here. It helps me to be a better human being. There is so much love and happiness here, even at a place where tragedies are also occurring. I know how much a kind word, a caring smile meant to me when Raymond was dying and my own world was falling apart. It's my turn to offer that smile now, and I know that I’m making a difference in so many lives, helping so many people. I plan to stay here forever.
Shanna S. I love the fact that I speak of Ethan often at work, and my co-workers value his memory as if they had all known him personally. It is because of Ethan that I can do this job now, because of him that I've matured in my nursing career. I know exactly the type of home care my patients and their families need and. I will always put my best foot forward to care for those who have been entrusted to me. And when my own time comes to rest, I will take comfort in knowing that I lived my life through the small but powerful legacy of Ethan Shields.
Lynette D. Losing a child sets you apart from the rest of the world. That is not the way it is supposed to happen according to every dream we'd ever had, every image about the future that might have passed through our thoughts. On the other hand, having lost a child equips us to be one of the few who can comfort others walking that path. No one else knows what they are going through. But we do. When we say that we know their pain, that we understand, the newly grieving parent knows we mean it.
They share conversations they never imagined they would have:
Julie W. One day, we were all getting dressed to go to a wedding. Kimberly put on a frilly dress and her favorite multicolored tennis shoes. “You need to change those shoes,” I told her. “You don't wear tennis shoes to a wedding.” She put her hands on her hips. “I want you to know that when I get to heaven, Jesus will have a very big closet. And He does not care what you wear with tennis shoes!” I took a deep breath and tried to keep from crying. “Well,” I said, “I am not Jesus, and this is not heaven. Go change your shoes.” That was Kimberly—sassy with a lot more wisdom than any child her age should have.
Linda S. I remember one afternoon when AJ seemed really deep in thought as we were on our way to the grocery store. I asked him what he was thinking about. “Mama,” he said, “do you know where I’m going?” I told him I was pretty sure he was going to the grocery store. “No. Mama, I’m going to go see Jesus,” he said. “And I’m going to hug his neck and tell him ‘I love you to the sky.’” I almost wrecked the car. When I finally pulled over and stopped, I turned around to look at him. “Well, AJ, . . . if that’s what you think, are you nervous or afraid at all?” I asked. “Mama, don’t be silly!” he said. “Why would anyone be afraid to go see Jesus?”
And they share the ways in which their faith has framed their experience and even deepened as a result of their child's life and loss:
Liz E. When Brooke was alive and struggling, I just prayed my heart out for her, and I was absolutely sure God would answer my prayers in exactly the way I wanted them answered. The God I believed in back then just would not allow my daughter to die. But as God has helped me mature in my faith through the past twenty-plus years since I lost her, I’ve learned that no matter what I pray for, only God truly knows what’s for the best. Instead of trying to be in control of what God does, I need to be at peace with His decisions. Not that it’s easy! But God knows that too.
Karen E. More than one person has asked me this: "Given the never-ending struggles of Phillip’s life, did you ever wish he had just died at birth?" Can you imagine? Wishing my child had died at birth? Yes, we spent years of our lives in the hospital. Yes, coping with his medical problems strained our family relationships and finances. But I know that Phillip was created in God’s image exactly as he was supposed to be. Anyone who would ask such a question never allowed themselves to see the fullness of the gift of my son.
The inspirational stories of eight courageous mothers and the doctors with whom they share a special bond.
From the depths of grief.
To lives of joy and service.