Sorry, this is such a blurry picture, it's before digital times and
is a picture of a picture.
He was the most beautiful baby I'd ever seen. He was born and within the week, he was rushed off to the Minneapolis Children's Hospital. He is my brother. My mother is a diabetic, and in those times, the doctors kept the diabetic patients in for about a week, so his first week was in the hospital he was born in, then off to Minneapolis Children's. He was born with a hole in his heart (the size of a dime) and a heart murmur.
I just finished reading "Broken and Blessed A Life Story" by Catherine Adamkiewicz. This was a really, really good book. I love the last chapter, the way it ends. I love why she named her blog what she named it. I love the details she listed. I went through my brother's death as a sister. It was good to hear her voice as a mother. It brought back so many things that I'd forgotten. Things that perfectly timed, I should remember. He is a Saint, after all, and this is his birthday. One of his feast days, the other being the day he went to Heaven.
Luke ended up having 5 surgeries. 3 major and 2 minor. (minor? How can anything be minor with a baby?) Eventually he was supposed to have open heart surgery around age 2. Already his little body was covered in scars from the surgeries from front to back. He was at the Children's hospital for 6 weeks. We got to know the nurses and the doctors. We had our favorites. Or I should say, my mom and dad did. They became family. They understood what no one else could at that time. We lived about 90 miles from the hospital, so my parents would wait til we came home from school and leave for the evenings. I was in charge of watching my little sister. (She was 3 at the time,I guess my brother was on his own, he was only a year younger than me) I cooked, cleaned, helped in any way I could. We were able to go see Luke on weekends. I remember one of my teachers calling my mom and asking if something was going on, because my grades had slipped. Ms. Snyder, she was actually one of my favorite teachers of all time!
Luke was Baptized on my 12th birthday, when he was 1 week old. I remember my grandma and grandpa coming over to visit me on my birthday, and my parents being at the hospital getting him baptized. I remember wanting to be there and not wanting to celebrate a dumb birthday when there were much more important things going on.
He pulled through it all. He had a teddy bear that had on a shirt that read "Little Tough Guy" so that is what we called him. Little tough guy, he pulled through every surgery. He fought. He was so beautiful. His life was full of pain, I'm sure. But, he finally pulled through and we were able to take him home!! He was around 7 weeks old. I remember that feeling of just relief, of finally being able to take him home. Of finally having him to ourselves. I remember my mom making us kids go out on Halloween, I think to have some normalcy. But it felt weird, I wanted to be home with him. I wanted to be there.
Then, on November 2nd, All Souls Day, early in the morning, he had a heart attack. My parents called an ambulance and my dad tried to administer CPR. I remember it being around 6am. My little sister was still sleeping, she missed it all. She was so little, she is also deaf, so she slept soundly through it. Thank goodness, it would have been hard for her to understand. Although, I remember her looking at his bassinet afterward, not understanding why he wasn't there. I stood on the front steps in my jammies waiting for the ambulance, while my dad tried to do CPR. My parents were crying and yelling "Come on Luke!" "You can make it!" "Breathe!!" I was crying, pacing and praying Hail Mary's nonstop.
First, the police got there and parked in front of our house and just sat there. I was hysterical at this point waving and yelling "This is the house!" What was he waiting for? I still have no idea what he was doing to this day. (one of those little details hard to forget) We lived in town, the ambulance could easily find us. The ambulance drove up and then the police officer raced in ahead of them and took over for my dad. The ambulance then took Luke away with my parents following. They weren't gone long, maybe a little over an hour. When they came home, my parents and we all just cried in the living room. It was the first time I saw my dad cry.
At the time, I couldn't understand why God didn't take me instead of an innocent little baby. Why did God let me live? I wanted to die. I would have died so my mom could have her baby. I felt this way for many years. I really believed God should have taken me instead. I'd already lived 12 years, why couldn't God just let Luke live and take me?
For years after, I remember every time my mom would leave, I would go in her room and take out Luke's box and smell all his clothes and blankets. For a long time, they smelled like him.
Luke's life had purpose. At the funeral, there were some women in the choir that between the 4 of them, had 12 babies that they had lost. Not one of them was able to have a funeral or service for their children. It just was not done in their time. They told my mom when they saw the little white casket coming down the isle, they were able to bury their babies with him. This was very comforting to my mom.
Because of Luke, The Minneapolis Children's Hospital made it mandatory for parents to learn CPR before leaving the hospital with their child. It was not my dad's fault, they just did not know how to administer CPR to a baby and the hospital realized how important this might be for future children.
Having had 4 c-sections, I have been blessed to have the opportunity to pick 3 of the birthdates of my children. Because of Luke, I chose this date 4 years ago when "Mary Hannah" was born. She was born on a special day. The feast day of a great little Saint. Along with the sadness, there is joy. Unending joy. Joy that is waiting for us.
Saint Luke, Pray for us.