This is an open letter to the men and women of the CHLA CTICU and, in turn, to every professional performing services at every pediatric ICU the world over.
We, all of human kind, have gifts and limitations. For instance, I am not gifted with math skills, adequate motor coordination, or impulse control (especially where it pertains to pie). My gift, however, is the use of words and a little humor. Tonight I speak for those like me in spirit whose gifts lie elsewhere in thanking You for your gifts, the gift of healing and the gift of hope.
Eight years ago this very night, I left my six day old son Liam in a Colorado NICU at 11:00 pm as the attending cut down his wrist to place a central line into his heart. The next morning, You, in flight gear, with reassuring smiles and kindness put my darling baby in a safety box on wheels and took him away. You don't know this, but I held back my tears until the elevator door closed behind You because I did not want You to feel any of my pain. Though knowing You as I now do, I'm sure You knew. You had offered the jumpseat in the plane to me or my husband Jim, but I was too damaged from my Csection to go or for Jim to leave me behind. We, had to wait a whole day to see Liam again, but You had him and he was safe with You.
The following day in LA, You were there, all around us. You made sure I had somewhere to pump and plenty to drink. You explained new information about our son's heart. You gave us the precious, precious hope, like oxygen to our own strangled hearts. You saved us, and then You saved Liam's life.
You told us jokes. You kept us calm. You answered all of our questions and made us better parents. You made no promises, but You did everything within your power to take Liam and his half heart down to the River Styx to plead our case to the ferry man. Then You came back with our son. You kept him alive after You tore his body apart to save it, and when we left You, we left with a living child who was destined to die until he met You. You know this is true. You knew how close he was, and yet You kept our hope and our child alive. You chased us away for our sanity and his safety, and You did everything right by Liam.
You gave us every day we've had since You came on May 5, 2003 to collect our child and offer us hope. You did this enormous thing just for us, and you do every day all year long for hundreds, and thousands of families all over the world. You don't just save lives. You save families. You save futures. You give your gift so effortlessly that I marvel at your grace and am humbled by your goodness. And, irony of irony, how You are humbled by the truth of it all! You blush, You shrug, You refuse your rightful due, but You, my heroes among angels, are beyond amazing and deserve my endless gratitude.
Every year, every spring around this time I make an effort to thank You, sometimes in photos or letters to the You that opened Liam's chest for the first of five times. To that You, Dr. Starnes, You'll never get rid of me, and I'll always be grateful and harassing you with my praise. You are my own personal Justin Beiber!
But the rest of You - You Dr. Bushman who put Liam under for the first of thirteen twilights, the first one being the most dangerous of them all. You, Dr. Badran, who comforted us when we needed it and motivated us to learn the map of our son's heart that we needed to navigate his future. You Dr. Moromisato who called from your home to check on our child. You, Dr. Takahashi who was so kind and reassuring when we needed to know we weren't out of our depth with our child and who reminded us that after all that mess, Liam was still a normal little baby that we could one day take home.
You, Mark, Judy, Kescia and Darcey and every nurse whose name time robbed from my memory, who kept Liam living even while his chest was still spread open for days. You the airflight nurse whose picture I have but whose name I can't recall. You, the respiratory and echo and radiology techs. You the people who brought me fluids to drink. You, Wendy Goodman, who got us into the Ronald McDonald House when we needed it.
You. You. You. Every last one of You made every day for the rest of Liam's life and every ounce of happiness he brings our family possible. You are the fountain of happiness that sits between Fountain and Sunset in a bizarre setting that can only be in close proximity to some funky junction to Heaven itself. You, even if you never laid eyes on Liam, for every other child You've saved, know that my words sixty million times over for every parent like me whose children have crossed your path from LA to Syndey and everywhere in between. We mean it, You rock!
For every child you lose, for every difficult day you have, remember Liam, remember how grateful we are, and know that even if he was gone tomorrow, we've had eight years that we would never have had with You. Remember that if you weren't there to help the ones who didn't make it, You couldn't have saved all of them that have. Remember that those parents who've lost their children are still grateful for the hour, day, week, month or years they had because of what only You could do for them.
You need to know that while You've seen us at our very worst, things get so much better, for MOST of us. You are not told that often enough. You never really get to see how close to normal we really do get, and it's all because of You! Please know how deep my gratitude runs and know that it is merely a reflection of your gift. You've put so much goodness, hope, and possibility into this world, and it is long overdue that some of it comes back to you.
Thank You, a million times, Thank You for my son.
Amanda Rose Adams
Mega-fan for Life