Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Life's "Little" Interruptions

My life was interrupted yesterday. I was all set to head to work when I got a call from my wife. She told me that she was not feeling well and was heading for the emergency room. She said not to worry but asked that I get there as soon as I could. So, I grabbed my briefcase, etc. and headed out.

By the time I got to the hospital, she was already in a room and was hooked up to a few machines and an IV. They had already started to run some tests to check her blood. After an hour or so, the doctor came in and told us that the test results were fine and it turned out that she was having a bad reaction to some medicine that she was taking to settle her stomach. This was certainly great news and I have to admit, being a “man of action,” I instinctively checked my watch to see how long before I could get back to my “regularly scheduled programming.”

Just then, a nurse rushed into the room and told us that we needed to move to another room quickly because they needed this one for a patient in critical condition that was on an ambulance in route. Moments after we settled in the new room, the PA began to blare “code blue” this and “code red” that. It all sounded like a foreign language to me but not to my wife, who quickly grew somber. She is a family practice doctor and she decoded the announcement and told me that the incoming critically ill patient was a small child, probably a baby. We said a quiet prayer…

Soon there was a storm of activity of rushing feet, urgent commands that nearly muffled the wailing of the mother of the child. However, almost as quickly, it was silent again—sort of an eerie hush. So I decided to leave our room to see what was happening. As I approached our old room, the curtain was pulled back just far enough for me to see him…a little baby boy no more than 6 months old laying on an oversized gurney. He just looked adorable laying there. He had the cutest little face with a small tuft of blond hair tumbling gently on his forehead. And, he looked so peaceful—almost as if he was sleeping—but he wasn’t…his day had been interrupted.

It’s been a long time since I have been this close to someone who was dead. And, I have never been this close to a death so quick and so young. It was really difficult to take it all in and I could not help but to think back to how my day started and the “interrupting” call that I received…and the one that the father of this little boy received. Like me, I am sure that he had a day planned with lots of “important” stuff too. Now, he had to come to terms with a painful loss, an interruption of life-changing proportion.

Over the years, I have been fond of reminding dads—rather “tongue in cheek”—that what makes you a dad is that you have kids. Otherwise, you’re just a guy. But I had not really thought about what it means to be a dad in this situation. How does one view his identity as a father in light of the death of his child, especially one so young? Does one wrestle with a sense that he is now a dad in name only? I don’t know.

But I do know a few things for sure. First, 6 months, 6 weeks, 6 days, 6 minutes and 6 seconds before this father received the call, he had hopes and dreams of many “firsts” to share with his son that will never happen. Second, I know first hand as a father that despite the joy and blessing that babies are, at times, they place demands on us and they often interrupt our sleep, our plans and our life. Finally, I know that this father, as he cradles his little guy in his arms for the very last time, will look into his son’s face and think…I would give just about anything for another chance to pardon his interruptions.


  1. Very sad, but great post. It reminds us that its easy to take for granted that our family members will always be there later today or tomorrow. Its easy to say, "we'll play later after I'm done working late" or "it hasn't really been THAT long since I visited my child." Due to death, distance or choice, moments with family and children can quickly slip by us and we'll never be able to get those times back. The costliest expense is missed opportunity and regret is a heavy burden to carry. This post helps us to remember to seize the day for tomorrow is never guaranteed.

  2. Roland,
    Got Yvette's Birthday card just today, and I have to tell you how poignant and sobering this message is. God Bless your work in calling guys and moms to be there, moment by moment, for their loved ones, and for their beloved.
    There's no other way to really be alive.

  3. Beautifully written and a stirring message. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

  4. Thanks for sharing, Roland. We must embrace every day and thank our blessings for being alive.

    Dana Glazer


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