Today is the ten year anniversary of the death of my daughter. Evey year I know its coming, but it still hits me like a hammer blow to the stomach. I would be lying if I didn’t say that it has gotten a little easier to deal with as the years have gone by, but easier is a very relative thing. I no longer spend the day crying. I can function reasonably well at work. I don’t have to fight the urge to get completely and utterly wasted. I do fight back the tears from time to time. I look at her picture periodically and wonder what she would look like today and what she would be.
I promised last month to share more of the story of my daughter, so here it is.
Hailey Thompson Swett was my first born. She is the daughter I never realized how much I wanted. She was my beautiful little girl and when she was three weeks old she developed a cough. As first time parents we were worried, but not overly so. My niece had been visiting and she had a little head cold so we figured Hailey had picked it up. When she started coughing we became more concerned and called the hospital. We were told to give her a little Dimetap and if she was still coughing to bring her to the doctor in the morning. Some time after midnight my wife woke me up. She was worried that the baby was looking pale, wouldn’t eat and was still coughing. I balked, but she insisted, so to the emergency room we went.
We lived in a small town with a good hospital. It was a weeknight and the emergency room was slow so we were admitted right away. We were not there long when the doctor told us they thought she had leukemia. We were stunned, but I had hope. The little I knew of leukemia was that it was deadly but could be dealt with. My knowledge was weak at best and mostly from television I admit, but I thought she would be okay with treatment and time. The hospital geneticist was called in and they confirmed things. Life Flight from Portland was called and a helicopter was sent. While we waited my parents and the doctors sat with my wife and I. The doctors explained how rare it was for her to have leukemia and they prepped us for the most likely outcome. The helicopter arrived just in time to pronounce her death.
The next few days were a blur. We made the arrangements for her burial while friends and family came to us doing everything they could to help us in our time of need. My wife and I got her name tattooed on us and we did our best to deal with our grief. We had a farewell ceremony a few days after her funeral. I spoke, sharing with everyone there that I did not want to mourns her death but celebrate her life. Most likely she had the disease the moment she was born and had been dying the entire time. We had twenty-four days with our baby girl and she did not suffer long. We were blessed with that time and I will forever be grateful for it.
Ten years later I live on the other side of the country. I cannot visit the grave of my little girl. I cannot lay flowers upon it and kneel in the grass by the stone the bares her name. Leaving her was the hardest part of moving to North Carolina.
I miss you my Hailey Bug.
Posted from WordPress for Android
- She Would Be Ten (ericswett.wordpress.com)
- Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Leukemia (everydayhealth.com)
- Grief and Sorrow (fromatowntoadown.wordpress.com)
- Getting a Handle on Fear After a Leukemia Diagnosis (everydayhealth.com)
- Helping Your Child Cope With a Leukemia Diagnosis (everydayhealth.com)
- Caregiving for a Loved One With Leukemia (everydayhealth.com)