It was sunny and gorgeous, like most days in Colorado, but it was January and a bitter cold front had brought in single digit temps overnight. Forecasters promised warmer days, but we wouldn’t see them for a while. The day had finally come for us to leave Children’s Hospital of Denver, a place our family had called home for an inordinate amount of time.
Months earlier when our son Noah was only 7 weeks old, we took him to an outpatient Neurology appointment, one that ended up turning into a 5.5 month hospital stay. Because we had been there so long, we accumulated some extra things, including gifts and well wishes from family, friends, and even strangers around the world.
My husband took a few bags out to the parking garage and the plan was for me to meet him out front after the car warmed up. An Arizona girl, I truly believe winter should be a destination, not a required season.
I bundled our son in a beautiful fisherman’s knit onesie and matching hat, and tiny soft blue Ugg’s sent from Australia, and then wrapped him in several blankets…my attempt to somehow stave off the cold. My husband is from South Dakota where it’s too cold to steal cars in the winter, so he came back up to the room to help with any loose items, leaving the car idling at the hospital entryway. The staff, nurses, and doctors on duty gave us final hugs as we made our way down the hall, grateful, yet wondering how we could finally be headed home.
I didn’t bother putting our then 7 month old son in his car seat as we headed across town. No. I held him tighter to my heart than a seatbelt ever could. We lived less than 5 miles from the hospital, and only had one stop before we got home…I knew nothing could hurt him.
We parked our car at the mortuary and made our way into the quiet lobby. A woman who knew we were coming met us there to receive Noah’s lifeless body. As we handed Noah over to her, my husband and I both collapsed in heaps on the ugly floral couches, grateful to the cushions for collecting tears and softening our guttural cries. We were going home, but Noah would not be coming with us.
To say I’m unconventional is an understatement. I’ve never been a fan of brands, labels, being boxed in, or being told what to do or how to do it. When our son was hospitalized for 5.5 months, I had to learn to live outside the box of traditional parenting. And when he died and the hospital told me his body would be put into the morgue and then transported to the crematorium by the mortuary’s staff, I said, “Ummm, no. My kids isn’t going to spend any time in a morgue. We’ll drop him off. Thanks.”
As you might imagine, no one had ever told the hospital such a thing. I mean, who walks out of a hospital with their dead person?
*This is a segment for a piece I’m submitting to a storytelling platform. I wanted to share it here with you first, because you’ve always been LOVE and SUPPORT like no others and putting this stuff out there gets scarier as I get closer to book proposal stage.