Sunday, February 28, 2010
In Memory of Chloe Hazel Blevins
It felt like the progress of time split into two worlds. It forked one way into a future where Chloe still breathed, smiled, laughed, and recovered in a few days from a mild fever and stomach illness. Somehow, in that bewildering eddy where the universe tore in two, we ended up on the other fork, in which our boat docked ten minutes later at the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal, and hers landed upon the shores of death.
Katrina and I rushed her upstairs as soon as her breathing stopped. The boat sat in the dock for forty minutes while a flurry of medical personnel swarmed around her tiny body. We stood to the side and watched. I thought of the crowds of people waiting to board the ferry, thought of their irritation and ignorance, knew I would have been no different if I had been among them. The world should pause before the spectacle of tragedy. Any act unassociated with our catastrophe, a laugh, the honk of a horn, the boarding of a boat, the tying of a shoe, would’ve been terrible blasphemies in the face of our baby’s death.
A weak pulse emerged, and the EMTs immediately moved her to the ambulance. Katrina rode with the EMTs, and I followed behind. Cars pulled to the side and traffic lights froze. The ambulance quickly outpaced me, and I melded with the tired flow of traffic on I-5. I looked into the faceless eyes of thousands of red taillights stretching out along the freeway, and along with constant petitions to God, I spoke to them. I cried out to them, implored them, reasoned with them, my unknown and unknowing companions on that grim journey.
When I made it to the emergency room, a medical army surrounded Chloe. For the first time, a glow of hope touched the dark contours of the evening. We sat in a corner of the ER and listened, our hearts breaking and mending with the meandering course of the doctors’ deliberations. Have we lost the pulse? Can someone tell me if we’ve lost the pulse? No, we still have the pulse. We’ve lost the pulse. Pulse is back. Glucose, insulin, epinephrine, hope, fear, death, prayer, darkness, light.
There is one terrible moment that stands out like a shadow in a dark place. Mothers are perfectly attuned to their baby’s cry. Something happens after nine months of that baby floating in a fluid thrumming with the soft sounds of the mother’s voice. A bond is made and their voices become as one. A blind-folded mother will find their baby in the midst of a hurricane of squalling children. It’s an inexorable law. Chloe had been silent and comatose from the moment she stopped breathing in the car. As the horde of doctors scrambled about and hope diminished, a baby’s cry arose. It sounded just like Chloe. Katrina looked up with the eyes of a scared little girl and listened. “Chloe’s crying,” she said softly. We listened for a moment longer. “No, it’s coming from the other room,” I said. Hope made a swift descent from that point.
They wheeled her bed into the ICU, and let us come close to watch. A nurse continued to compress her little chest with a couple of fingers. The lead ER doctor knelt beside us with tears in her eyes and told us they were going to stop.
I love that little girl. Behind a curtain in a hospital room that I had never entered before and will never enter again, we held our baby and wept with a small crowd of family. A tube with a small streak of blood ran out her nose. A device used to attach a respirator was still clamped over her mouth, and she was wrapped in a thin hospital blanket. We took turns holding her. I sang to her the song I used to sing to Katrina’s belly when she was pregnant. I kissed her cold forehead.
During the two nights preceding Chloe’s death, she had slept very little. She cried and whined, and we spent the majority of those nights with her. I now know that time was a precious gift. At about 4AM Friday morning, as I spent my round with Chloe that night, I sat her on the ground and spent about ten minutes rolling her ball back and forth. It was pink, made of thin rubber, about the size of a cantaloupe. She was too tired to play for long, so I put her back to bed and listened to her soft pathetic cries on the monitor in our bedroom. We didn’t know that her heart was beginning to fail.
Her monitor has remained in our room, plugged in. Before we fall asleep at night, I still wait to hear a babble, a whine, a cry come through the speaker. The monitor has a row of tiny bulbs that light up when it registers noise in Chloe’s room. During a few of the nights that have followed her passing, I’ve seen those little red lights glow faintly, as if the monitor continues to follow Chloe and listens to the soft voices of those who died young.
I love being Chloe’s daddy—messy, time-consuming, exasperating, and idyllic. I loved to watch her sign, wave, clap, point into empty space, and blabber about nothing. I loved to hold her. I loved it when she would grab my collar to pull herself closer to me. I love her purity, her love, her everything.
She was a tiny despot. Chloe dictated when we slept, how we spent free time, where we went. She was the hub of our wheel, the hypotenuse of our triangle. She was silent in every family decision, but she determined the parameters of them all. I have never been happier. I don’t want the spare time that has been freed by her parting. I don’t want the extra sleep at night. I don’t want the money we’ll save. I don’t want the freedom of childless parents. I want my daughter. I want to press my lips into the soft depth of her cheek. I want to be a happy slave again, ruled not by the crack of a whip, but by the beam of a smile. The iron fist of a king will never wield more authority over me than the clapping of her chubby hands.
She still retains that power over my heart, where I will forever carry her. But there is much more that Katrina and I can hope for. The testimony of the living Christ also lives within our hearts. Because of him, we will be with our Chloe again. Because of him, “there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ. He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death.” (Mosiah 16:8-9)
There exists a language that contains the words that could adequately express my gratitude for the promise that we will reunite again with Chloe for eternity. I know Chloe speaks that language. It is the language of pure and perfect love. We will learn to speak it in all our conversation, read it in the eyes of those who love us, and write it with our smiles, our devotion, and our actions. Then we’ll be ready to greet Chloe in the tongue that she spoke in every moment of her life from birth to death.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Chloe Hazel Blevins' Funeral
Monday, February 8, 2010
It's a little blurry, but most of the pictures are when she's smiling! She likes to move when she's happy.
This white bear she got for Christmas and it took her a couple of weeks to be excited to play with it. I think she was intimidated by it's size, so this big brown bear was a huge step for her.
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