THE BLOG

That Snow Patrol Song

03/18/2015 03:56 pm ET | Updated May 18, 2015


 

It's amazing how a piece of music can take you in a place so totally and completely that it's as if you are physically back in that moment again. Those songs carry with them the weight of remembered feelings and can emotionally kidnap you at the most inopportune times.

For me, this song, "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol, is one of those songs.

It was a cold January morning in 2007 when my one-month-old daughter, Claire, went into heart failure. I had rushed her to the doctor because she was looking grey and lethargic. The next thing I knew we were in an ambulance en route to the children's hospital with the sirens screaming and a panicked feeling in the air.  As the drive progressed the paramedic became increasingly concerned and within minutes he made the decision to divert to the nearest hospital instead. I watched Claire cry and scream for 20 minutes as the doctors struggled to place an IV in her feeble veins. It was torture to not be able to help my child, to not be able to hold her, to touch her. I was powerless to do anything but watch her agony. The eventual diagnosis was idiopathic cardiomyopathy, (cardiomyopathy means that her heart muscle wasn't squeezing as hard as it should and idiopathic meaning they didn't know why) but at the time all they knew was that Claire's heart wasn't pumping the way it should and she was dying. It was bad. They told me she would need a heart transplant because her tiny heart was too badly damaged to repair. The doctors put her on all kinds of medication to keep her going and it seemed to help. They managed to stabilize her but they didn't know what to expect in the long term.

Children's Hospital Jan 2007 Children's Hospital Jan 2007

In the 11 days Claire was in the cardiac intensive care unit, I went home once for three hours to shower and get some things together. My mom flew in to watch my son so I devoted all my time to my daughter's bedside. If I had to go to the cafeteria or the bathroom, I called a nurse to hold Claire. I wanted her loved and held all the time. I lay with her sleeping on my bare skin, letting her feel the warmth of my body, the beating of my heart, and the strength of my spirit.

The CICU was really only a large room with curtains to provide privacy. I would sit in our tented room and listen to the sounds of the area beyond, especially the radio at the nurses station a few feet away. On a long afternoon with my beautiful baby girl asleep on my shoulder, the song "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol came on and I listened as I gazed at my child.

 

We'll do it all, everything on our own

We don't need anything or anyone

If I lay here if I just lay here

Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

I don't quite know, how to say how I feel

Those three words are said too much

They're not enough, if I lay here if I just lay here

Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Forget what we're told before we get too old

Show me a garden that's bursting into life

Let's waste time chasing cars around our heads

I need your grace to remind me to find my own

If I lay here if I just lay here

Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Forget what we're told before we get too old

Show me a garden that's bursting into life

All that I am, all that I ever was

Is here in your perfect eyes, they're all I can see

I don't know where, confused about how as well

Just know that these things will never change for us at all

If I lay here if I just lay here

Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

~

If I could just loose myself with her in that room, if I could just block out the awful reality that waited beyond the curtains, if I could just cherish her and protect her and smell the wonderful baby smell of her hair then I could lose myself in that moment and pretend everything is alright.

"If I lay here if I just lay here, would you lie with me and just forget the world?"

Is it possible that I might get to keep my little girl? Could I pretend that she might grow up into a laughing happy child? Might I allow myself to imagine her with long hair flowing and strong legs pumping as she ran? Dare I let myself fantasize about the amazing person she might become? I didn't even know her, this beautiful child of mine. We were just beginning to learn about each other when suddenly, it would appear, I might lose her.

"All that I am, all that I ever was, is here in your perfect eyes. They're all I can see."

I was shattered.

~~~

Claire was 6 weeks old when she smiled her first ever smile.  The doctor who earned her smile seemed unimpressed with this momentous occasion, but I was overjoyed. Something about that smile broke the chains of fear that had been pulled tight around my heart. In that moment I knew I would see her grow up. She would survive. She would thrive. She would be a force to be reckoned with.

And she is.

Now here we are, eight years later and Claire is the picture of health. Not only did she not require a heart transplant but a year after our CICU experience she was taken off medication all together. Her heart has completely recovered and she is a strong, astounding and incredible little girl. OK, maybe she gets away with more than she should on a day to day basis. When I should be disciplining her for some infraction, instead, I see that vulnerable baby girl in my arms on that quiet winter afternoon. I remember the weight of her body as she lay on my chest, the delicate line of lashes on her lids, the perfect curl of her ears and the soft brush of hair on her head. This child was given to me as a gift, twice, and that's something that's never lost on me.

So when I hear this song -- every time -- I remember exactly that day when my daughter and I were just two souls getting to know each other and trying to forget the world outside.

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