Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The first time I heard about Columbus was in February. My casework supervisor mentioned a foster child who was in the hospital with neuroblastoma. He had been in isolation since November. I just wanted him to know that someone cared, someone was worried about him, someone thought about him while he was alone in the hospital.

His doctors knew he needed a bone marrow transplant, but he would need someone with him 24/7. Without a family to turn to, they were not willing to do the transplant.

Raelene has a daughter who spent an entire year in the same unit as Columbus battling the same disease. When she heard about his dilemma, she got busy. A pool of volunteers from all walks of life committed to sitting with Columbus while he recovered, so he received the transplant.

The first time I met Columbus, he was so, so sick. All he could do was cry and sleep. Everything hurt him, even holding him, which is what he wanted. Sometimes all I could do was hold his hand while he slept.

Being with him was like watching a dead man rise. Every time I visited, he was better, although still in pain and so upset during any procedures, especially redressing his main line/heart catheter. He wanted to sit on my lap to read, to watch tv--he just wanted to be touched without pain. We did get to play basketball and he loved me giving me "coffee." How did he know how much I like coffee?

The last time I held Columbus was the day before he went home. He wanted to be held up to the window so he could see anyone and everyone outside and wave to them. While I was holding him, he noticed my nose piercing for the first time. His eyes got big and he asked what it was. Before I could explain to him what is was, he said, "Is that your line?" He thought is was my med line just like his heart catheter. He looked around and found a flower sign made out of sticky foam. Plucking a petal, he put it over my "wound" saying, "There. That makes it better."

When we played basketball, he ran to get the ball and stopped suddenly. "I'm running! I'm running!" Pretty wobbly and not real fast, but this four-year-old was running for the first time in months and it made his day. He kissed me good-bye (a first) instead of being sad when I left--because he was so excited to be getting out of that room the next day.

Not long after Columbus went home with his foster family, he got sick again. I visited him on Sunday, but he wasn't there. His body was, but he was already running with the angels.

Monday, June 25
Dear Friends of Columbus,
The doctor called me at 5 p.m. and told me that Columbus died at 4:07 p.m. He was a special little boy loved by many people who were not related to him by blood but connected through the heart as we cherished him and loved him through our Heavenly Father. He changed my life in that I saw someone faced with great obstacles besides his cancer and he still had a smile, a laugh and a hug for me.

Thank you all for investing so much time and love into this sweet, dimpled four year old. I am comforted in knowing that he is in a much better place and not suffering anymore and I will see him again in Heaven.


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Heidi Renee June 26, 2007 at 12:42 PM  

how does that not tear your heart out?

thank you for being there for him and giving him some light.

Patchouli June 26, 2007 at 2:46 PM  

There were so many who held Columbus and gave him light--and I know that everyone will say that the light he gave back was brighter.

It does, it does tear--but he is RUNNING without pain...and that is the best healing of all.

Milly June 26, 2007 at 3:55 PM  

No words.

wilsonian June 26, 2007 at 7:58 PM  

yep. no words, just tears.

NoVA Dad June 27, 2007 at 4:24 PM  

Building on Milly and Wilsonian: no words, just tears, and a smile for the joy that you and so many others gave him.

Kansas Bob July 2, 2007 at 6:41 AM  

"he is RUNNING without pain"