Expressions of Healing
Music Composed by Kendra P. Burton
Copyright © 1996 – 2001 Kendra P. Burton
Expressions of Healing is a collection of songs I wrote to express the feelings I experienced as a mother of twins, one having many medical difficulties. It has been a journey of happiness as well as sorrow. While there have been times of heartache and deep despair, there were also moments of faith and hope. Through this fragile little one we have learned lessons of kindness, gratitude, and unselfish love. I hope that anyone facing great loss and disappointment from life’s experiences may receive some comfort and hope through relating to the feelings expressed in these songs.
The Gift of Life
“What’s this?” My husband asked as I showed him the ultrasound photograph. “This circle is a little head and this other circle is another head.” “Two?” he said with amazement. After the initial surprise, our anticipation was full of excitement at what a gift new life is. I try to capture the wonder and joy of discovering we would be having twins. Would they be boys, or girls, or one of each?
The second ultrasound, six weeks later near the end of summer, determined we were going to have girls. However, there were “complications.” The black and white ultrasound looked surreal and it was hard to make out the images and believe what was happening. One of the babies had a life threatening condition called hydrocephalus, “water on the brain”, which would become more severe with each passing month of pregnancy. Time stood still. The deepest sadness filled my heart and descended around all of us. What started out to be a sunny day suddenly seemed blurry through my eyes. How could this be happening to one so fragile, so tiny, yet unborn?
As I spent nearly three months confined to bed by the doctor, my mind kept wandering thinking about the babies’ future. I watched out the window as summer skies turned to swirling leaves in the crisp autumn air. “Trick-or-treaters” on the door step seemed miles in the distance. My husband brought home some turkey from the family Thanksgiving dinner and I was nearly too weak to eat it. The unending days led to winter snows. We asked a myriad of questions to a multitude of medical experts. The outlook was seriously grim. At this point I was instructed to do whatever possible to ensure the life of the healthy twin because the other one probably would not survive the birth. Each day that passed increased the health of one twin and decreased the hope for the other. All I could do was pray and endure the endless waiting.
On the Edge
The twins were born a few weeks before Christmas. Cheerful carols echoed everywhere and became a strange contrast to the turmoil taking place in our lives. Sarah was healthy and stayed at the birth hospital while Rachel had to be taken immediately by ambulance to a children’s hospital. As I lay in the recovery room, thinking I may never see her again, I reached through the opening in the incubator to touch her little body. When her father stroked her tiny hand she turned and looked directly into his eyes, clenching his finger with all her might, and seemed to be pleading for help to keep her alive. In the following days and months she had surgeries for shunt implants in her skull (to drain excess brain fluid), a mal-rotated bowel, cleft palate, and an implanted feeding tube into her stomach. She was also hospitalized for many pneumonias, seizures, and RSV, an often fatal respiratory virus. Day after day she lay in the hospital enclosed by massive amounts of technological equipment, with tubes, needles, and wires in her head, throat, nose, arms, chest and toes.
The day came for her to leave the hospital. With only a few hours of training in CPR, heart/respiration monitor, oxygen tank, oximeter, nebulizer, medications, and tube feeding, we were thrust into the responsibility of a round-the-clock “critical care unit” at home. At one point both babies required medical equipment when the healthy twin, Sarah, stopped breathing. She was resuscitated and taken by ambulance to the hospital and returned home several days later attached to a breathing and heart monitor. Even though the three older children were also very distressed, they diligently helped to maintain the relentless schedule. There were days when it seemed we were living in a nightmare, hoping to wake up from a bad dream to find things would be better. When would we ever rest? Our lives were on the edge and we were desperately holding on.
In Mother’s Arms
One night things had calmed down momentarily and I was rocking both babies to sleep. Often the twins would wake each other up and it was impossible, along with everything else that was going on, to get them to go to sleep at the same time. I held them in my arms and sang the old familiar tunes. Then a melody came into my mind and I continued humming it and committing the note patterns to memory until they fell asleep. In the morning I added more music to the melody and recalled sweet visions of their tiny faces and a rare moment of peaceful slumber.
Her color was pale. Her lips were blue. Her breath was shallow. How would we save her? Could she endure the pain? The ambulance. The helicopter. Parents, her brother and sisters stood with tear-stained faces as sirens blared, lights strobed. She must be taken. Would she return? This song represents the many, many times paramedics came and whisked our daughter away as we prayed she would be saved once again. The rhythm of the music changes as loved ones become painfully aware of their own heavily beating hearts. Then the song fades as she flies away by helicopter in the cold night air to a hospital far beyond our sight.
As spring came there were small rays of sunshine, new rose buds appearing, a gentle rain. Somehow the “fog” began to lift a little. There still would be many challenges but even small progress was savored as major accomplishments. Though Rachel could not speak, she communicated through her beautiful radiant smile which gave us hope. Hope is a blessing. Hope is healing. The winter was passing and through the bright spring air came a glimmer of… hope.
The twins were four months old. Clothed in beautiful fluffy white dresses, they were taken to church for the first time to their special blessing day. Cheerful voices filled the air. The smiling faces of visiting friends and relatives greeted us with words of encouragement. There would be many trying days to come but today was a bright, sunny day. After months of dark winter and doubt, it was good to be out, to feel the energy, to have our spirits renewed.
Time, devotion, care and concern. How could people be so generous, so loving? For months they came with food, stories, gifts, help and love. Our compassionate neighbors, friends and relatives became a source of motivation and strength. These angels in human form helped us see through the dark times. Through the life of a very fragile child, we also came to know wonderful people who provided support, health care, and counseling. Gratitude and appreciation overwhelmed us as all of these people enriched our lives with their sweet kindness.
A New Dawn
Sometimes we also felt there were angels watching over us sent from our Father In Heaven, giving us courage to carry on when the road ahead was filled with such despair. Gradually our ability to cope increased and we gained the strength to move on. Our understanding increased as we comprehended things from a new perspective and reached a new normal. We began again to see beauty in the world around us, joy in the smallest things. We do not know how much time on Earth our fragile little one has, so we seek to live with love and appreciation for the time she is here with us. Now, as part of this heartfelt journey of healing, it is possible to look forward with gratitude for the opportunity of each new dawn.
Copyright © 1996 Kendra P. Burton
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