Friday, May 31, 2013

Well Done Tatum, Well Done...

Ahh sweet Tatum.  Obedient and true to the end.  Lance and I and the kids had all been praying for her to be able to pass peacefully without pain.  My addition was that we all be together listening to sweet music holding her and loving her.  I wanted the kids to not be frightened and to feel comfortable holding and kissing on her.
She obediently waited for all of the end of year activities of school to finish up and to not conflict with a few other important things that were happening.  Then she was so peaceful and sweet this entire day.  The kids were all here and it was so peaceful and not scary.  On top of all of our requests, she truly went over and above and gave us an entire bonus day to just spend with her.  I was able to hold her almost the entire day, and not feel tired.  (Maybe I dozed a few times, but I was still holding her.)

We started off the day sending the kids up to their beds after our slumber party with Tatum.  Shortly after that the Nurse Practitioner from our Pediatricians office came by to check on us.  Tatum had been awake all night and we just really wanted her to be able to rest comfortably.  She helped us feel so much comfort as she expressed her feelings about what she felt Tatum was feeling.  We decided to give her a little extra of one of her seizure meds to see if that would help her to settle down and rest and to not resist what her body was trying to do.  Then she helped us to clean up Tatum's tube sight that had been leaking fluid.  After she left Lance and I sat with Tatum for the next few hours just holding her and enjoying her.  This was such bonus time because I was so sure that she would pass the night before.

About mid morning I got a text from a neighbor saying that she had left something on our porch.  This is what we found:
A sketch of our beautiful Tatum right before she got sick.  She captured perfectly the sweet sparkle in her eyes and just her quiet calmness.  We were all stunned by the likeness and the beauty and the complete accuracy.  The photo that she used was one that Tatum was wearing my favorite outfit when she was that age.  She wore it a lot!  She was so inspired to drop it off today.  Words can't express our thanks.

Later in the morning our Pediatrician called to check on us, as he was out of town.  Then a little later one of the ladies from his office called.  She was my "Therapist" when Trevin was sick so many years ago.   It just had a calming influence to know that they were thinking of us and praying for us.
Tatum was finally able to rest.  I was holding her and kissing her and smelling her.  I am sure I was driving her crazy.  I wasn't sure if we had minutes or hours or days or weeks left with her , so I was trying to soak it all in.  I really wanted to just memorize her smell, her feel in my arms, every inch of her.
Once she seemed like she was settled for a bit I decided that I would take a half hour and take a shower since I hadn't showered the day before.  We all feel better after a shower right?  I put on a comfortable skirt and a cardigan because I knew I would be ushering my sweet elect daughter to the other side.  I wanted to be dressed appropriately to be in the presence of her and her welcoming committee of other elect angels.  Then I brought out a towel so we could give Tatum a bath.  As I was getting things ready I realized this would be the last time that I would be able to care for her sweet little body.  Oh how I love that body, even though it was so broken, it is still how I know her.  My heart was just sick as we lifted her to the towel to see all of the horrible things that this disease had done to her body.  It was so nice to be able to clean her up and get her in fresh jammies and a fresh diaper and blanket, and change her g tube dressings.  I washed her hair and her face and her hands and feet.  I have said it a hundred times, but it has been such an honor to care for this sweet little angel.  
We took her sat monitor off and just checked her off and on throughout the day.  All day she was satting at mid to upper nineties with NO suctioning.  I did not understand how.  She had always seemed so fragile, until now.  This girl had a lot of fight in her.  Walker style, as Hayden would say "like a boss"!   One part of me really wanted her to be able to rest and go be with the family on the other side but I was certainly enjoying this sacred time with her.  I know that it was one of  her many gifts to all of us, namely me.
Overall this was a quiet day, with just a few visitors.   About 4:00 I noticed that her breathing was getting shorter and faster.  When I checked her sats she was still in the mid to upper 80's.  She is simply amazing.  It was comforting to me to know that she was not being deprived of oxygen.  Your first instinct as a parent would be to want to just turn up her oxygen level but that would just prolong her agony.  Even though her breathing was getting a little more choppy she was still really peaceful.  I just kept loving her and talking to her and telling her that everything was OK.  At about 5:15 I noticed that her breathing had become a little shallow and less frequent.  I called to Lance to gather the kids if they wanted to be there with her.  We all gathered around and  held her hands and kissed her and told her we loved her and she quietly took a few more breaths and then just stopped breathing.  It was really so peaceful.  No struggle at the end.  Our sweet Tatum can now rest.  No seizures, no swelling, no fevers, no g-tube, no oxygen, no more pokes.  She is free to move.  So much relief for her.  So much sadness for us.  Our kids have been so brave during all of this.  When I look into their eyes my heart aches to know their anguish at losing someone that they have loved so dearly.  Like their baby sister they have been champs and demonstrated such strength and grace through it all.
We sat with her for another half hour and then we made a few phone calls and sent a few text messages to let people know.  Then we called the mortuary to come around 7pm.  I was so happy that she would not have to have an autopsy or be in the morgue at the hospital.
We sat with her and loved her and took turns holding her.  It was so nice to hold her sweet little body close to mine without her pillow between us.
 Luckily someone came and dropped off some food to us or we may have starved or forgotten to eat all together.  People are kind and wise.  The nurse practitioner came to our home again to check on us.  Again, can you understand why I love these people?  The mortician showed up right after that.  We all visited for a bit and then we prepared to say our final goodbyes.  This is where the heartache begins again.  There is that initial shock of this has really happened.  Then you start to feel a little numb and you don't feel the reality as much (the Comforter)  and then you have to just hand your baby over.  In reality I had never even been away from Tates for more than a few hours straight in her entire life.  My mind and my heart were not sure how to process this.
The mortician brought a regular van so that the neighbors didn't have to see a hearse, and let me add she didn't have to ride in one, casue that's creepy, right?   He waited outside while we said our goodbyes to her mortal body.  We all kissed her and then I changed her diaper for the last time and wrapped her up nice and Lance and I walked her out to the van.  We put her on the stretcher and he wrapped her in a blanket and buckled her in and then quietly drove off with the focus of my life for the past year.  I cannot even explain the emptiness that has since filled my heart.  I know that I will survive this and that my life will carry on, but there will forever be a whole in my heart where this little sweetheart is supposed to be.

Last picture with all of the kids, minus Trevin of course.  Maybe if you look closely you could see him?
 A sisters bond is something special...
 Now I am just avoiding sleep because having done this before, I know that if I actually fall asleep I will have weird dreams and then I will have to wake up and have to retell my brain and my heart that Tatum is gone.  No more hum of the oxygen concentrator no more beeps of her sat monitor or her feeding pump.  No more changing diapers or cute little baby laundry.  The ache of this reality is so raw.  I do not know how people could possibly do this without the incredible knowledge that we have been given that we all live again.  That we see each other again, that this life is not the end.  I know that Tatum is sad to leave us, but thrilled to see others that have gone before her.  We mourn here on earth while in the spirit world there is pure joy and rejoicing.  The joy at seeing her sweet brother who had a similar mortal experience must be something very special.  Only he can fully understand her experience.  What a comfort to know they are together.   I am so happy for her.  I hope they are up and ready to go.  To be watching over our family is no easy task, which is why I assume we need two on the task:)
Tatum has taught our family so much.  We will never forget her gentle sweet tender spirit.  Her unwavering strength will forever be an inspiration.   Good night you spiritual giant.  Well done sweet daughter, well done.  We love you Tater Bug!


  1. In our hearts and prayers - from one heart broken mommy to another ♥ We will continue to pray for comfort and peace.

    The Eatons ♥

  2. Sending all my love to your sweet family! My god bless over you all and give you the strength you need during this time! Heather you inspire me to be a better person, your strength and sweet spirt are amazing! I'm so sorry for your heartache, darn these trials we are given here on earth! She is so lucky to have you as a mother. I love you sweet lady!

  3. At the cost of seeming like a complete stalker, I will write this note :).
    I was given your blog address to read today by a dear co-worker who said it would inspire and uplift. Since putting my 3 little girls to bed (late of course so we could play), I have stayed up reading your blog from the beginning. This was the last post I read and I have to admit, although I have never met you or your family and I do not know you personally, I wept. My heart hurt for you and your family, and although I know the resurrection is real and a complete gift, my heart is sad for the moment right now. I appreciate your persistence in keeping your blog, your journal, your history of these last 3 months for each of us to read. This is a treasure. It allows me to slow down and appreciate each moment with my babies. Thank you for sharing this most personal journey so that I may improve my life and appreciate each day with a new perspective. I can only imagine the reunion of your sweet children! May you be able to feel them near as you are dealing with Tatum's passing.

  4. I am glad she was able to have a peaceful end to mortality, and that the peace and comfort enveloped all of you also. I am sorry what this transition she has made means for those of you here still waiting, though. I wish I had some great things to say, but I don't and I am sad. It brings back so many feelings. I am very glad that she can be treated with full respect as you prepare for her burial. I know that there were some very sacred moments I shared with my daughter after she died, but before we had to leave her mortal body. I think that is the special part of the experience is that we are given an opportunity to feel things that we need to be able to endure. I am so grateful you had the extra time you had asked for, and I hope it is a blessing to you to help carry you. I hate the "let me know if you need anything" but always feel at a loss of what I can do. So I'll just keep praying, and hope I can feel directed to whatever it is I might be able to do, if anything. I am proud of Tatum, and I am full of sorrow for you guys, too. Grief is hard. I know you can do hard things, but it's just hard. I will probably be up all night, so if you need to message someone I'll watch my iPad so you know you're not alone. I do hope at some point you'll be able to sleep some, though. We love the Walker family (I know it sounds sappy, but...) and I think somehow it's not a coincidence we met your family before Dominic died and that we've shared some things in common in our experiences. I hope somehow we can help.

  5. Heather,

    My heart is absolutely breaking for you right now. I don't know why this is hitting me so hard. I think it's because Tatum was such a sweet spirit. Every time I was around her I just felt happy. I am so sad for you to have lost her presence in your life. But I am so glad she is no longer in pain, that she can now be the Tatum she is supposed to be. She can run, walk, talk, move with all the freedom in the world. What a perfect soul to have had in your life, even for such an incredibly short amount of time. I am so glad she went peacefully with all the love your family has surrounding her. What an INCREDIBLE family to be a part of. I know, I KNOW, she is looking down on you all right now with so much love and gratitude.

    I am praying for you. I have said two since I read this post. I wish there was more I could do.

    I love you

    Thank you for allowing me to be in Tatum's life. Even if it was just a smidgeon. I will never forget her.

    Tanika Rice.

  6. Hi Heather, you don't know me but I've been following Tatum's story for a while. I pray for comfort and strength during this difficult time for your family. What a blessing that Tatum was able to go in peace with her family at her side.

  7. i wish I had words to take away the pain. Just know we are here, praying, and will continue to do so. Tatum beyond served her mission in the most valiant and beautiful way. Praying your family can find the moments of peace and feel the comfort from their sweet angel sister and brother. (((Hugs)))

  8. I'm glad you got the chance to do everything you possibly could do for Tatum in this life, that you got to hold her and change her and manage her feedings etc. We'll be praying for you and your family.

  9. Tears are running freely! What a beautiful time you were able to have. Priceless! Oh how we love you and are praying for you!!! Our hearts are aching with you...Well done Tatum, Well done!

  10. Heather,
    I am so sorry to hear about Tatum, and you are and you're family are so amazing! As I've read over the last post I can feel how much she was loved. I am so lucky that I was able to meet her! What an amazing little angel.
    My prayers are with you!

  11. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing and giving God glory.

  12. Heather, your sweet baby's life has touched so many people for good, including my son. This morning he read to me the text message Halea sent out to her friends, telling them about her sister's passing. It touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. Her knowledge and testimony of eternal families is powerful, I am so grateful she is sharing it with others. My prayers continue to be with your family.

  13. Heather and Lance, my heart aches for all of you. Thank you for sharing Tatum with all of us and allowing us to see what a special, sweet spirit she exemplified to all. She was truely a special daughter and sister that will be missed. Love to all of you! Keri Beardall and Family

  14. Heather and Family
    Heather as I have worked with you at the hospital I want you to know that you have that same spirit about you. I ache for you and the love you have for Tatum. My love to you and this hard task your family has been asked to do. Prayers go to each one of your and the braveness your family has showen.

  15. Heather,
    My heart breaks for you! I know you probably don't know me but my husband and I lost our baby 3 1/2 years ago. Melanie was the one that came with us after we had her but we came to a couple support groups. You are such an amazing lady and I appreciate so much your strength and kindness giving support to angel families like us! You and your sweet family are our prayers!

  16. Heather, I just stumbled onto your blog through someone else's blog. I'd never heard Tatum's whole story before and I feel like I could just feel the purity and beauty of her little spirit through reading her story. Thank you for sharing her beautiful life so openly and for being so honest about your own feelings through it all. It has been a help to me and has touched me deeply. I'm sitting here crying but it's those bittersweet tears you have when you encounter something so beautiful and yet sad--similar to how I felt about losing our daughter. I'm so sorry for your loss and yet so grateful for the spirit I feel reading about your beautiful girl. Thank you again.