Saturday, December 17, 2011

when she calls, I answer

It's been like that since before she was born.

Irresistable. Compelling. Adrenaline-rushing.

My niece, Evalyn Grace, was born in June 2006, and when I got the call that she was coming, myself and a good friend boarded a plane in Nashville, Tennessee, and arrived in Austin as quickly as possible.

I can't walk through the Austin airport without remembering the moment we deplaned. I wanted to collapse, to kneel somewhere, to rewind and do it all over again. But I couldn't. We were running now to the exit to meet a friend of my sister's we didn't know.

He would take us to the hospital. To the neo-natal intensive care unit.

I don't remember much, except walking into the waiting room and seeing people, people with somber faces, tears, and people who wouldn't have been there unless something terrible was happening.

Something terrible was happening, did happen, and for many days Evalyn and my sister's lives were uncertain.

Evalyn would spend the first six weeks of her life in the NICU.

It was the first of many hospital visits and extended stays.

Some of these visits were fresh on my mind Thursday as I was driving to Austin to the children's hospital.

I'd gotten the text that drove me out of newsroom about an hour earlier: Evalyn was unresponsive, intubated and on her way in an amublance to the hospital. For some reason, this time felt different than her last couple hospital visits in recent months.

It felt like I needed to be there, and so I went.

Like the time we drove directly from the airport to the children's hospital after visiting home for the holidays. Or the time we left our house in the middle of the night to get her to the hospital. Or the time she was transported by helicopter. Or the time I got a speeding ticket trying to get there. Or the time the nurse overdosed her on medication. Or the time I yelled at a medical resident, and the times we've directed nursing care. The time we've hit the red button and the times the room has been flooded with medical personnel. The times we've eaten in Vanderbilt's food court and the times we've slept in a twin bed in an overflow room in their emergency department.

When she calls, I answer, and I'm not the only one.

There's a convergence of prayer and now that we all live within 40 miles of each other, there's usually more than one of us on the way.

Her's is an unresistable call.


Anonymous said...

Very sweet, she was born in 2006.

Life as I know it said...

I *heart* math.