It wasn’t but hours after the unexpected homecoming of our precious daughter, Susie, that we began to notice the presence of angels in the kitchen. Susie, the first born of our triplets, went home to be with the Lord on September 29th, 2002. She was just 22 months old. She had a brief bout of pneumonia that quickly and suddenly claimed her life. Susie’s death left us all struggling for answers.
Born at just over 27 weeks, our triplets were a miraculous story of survival. Susie, in particular, had numerous breathing difficulties that ultimately led to a tracheotomy and ventilator dependence. She was hospitalized for 10 months, 8 of which were spent in ICU, prior to coming home. Caring for Susie at home had its challenges, but we embraced it with great joy. Watching our precious children get to know each other again and watching them grow together was an enormous blessing.
Despite the challenges and a rough start Susie grew into a beautiful bright toddler. She was the happiest little girl you’d ever want to meet. The living room of our home was Susie’s bedroom. It provided easy access for the nursing staff and suppliers. Susie always greeted everyone with a big HI when they walked through the front door. She talked with the most charming southern drawl. We chased her around the house with all her equipment. She was as energetic as her siblings, Katie and Eddie. Slowly, with God’s grace, Susie began to heal.
The summer of 2002 was filled with lots of new adventures for us all, and especially Susie. We were able to enjoy simple pleasures like trips to the park, the pool, eating out, shopping, going to grandma’s house and much more. Susie’s favorite song was Itsy Bitsy Spider. Showing off Susie’s spider was her ice breaker. Whenever she met someone new, it was the first thing she’d show them. Susie was almost completely off her oxygen and off the ventilator nearly 22 hours a day when she suddenly became ill in mid September 2002.
In the hours following Susie’s homegoing we began to notice that Katie was fixating on the upper corner of our kitchen ceiling. This was something she’d never done before. Not only was she staring, but singing, talking and carrying on a conversation. At first, I didn’t think much of it, but it was always the exact same place every time. Then one day while I was feeding her, she began laughing and singing again. When she began to do Itsy Bitsy Spider to the ceiling, the exact same way that Susie did, I knew Katie had new friends. When asked where Susie was, Katie pointed to the spot in the kitchen corner. There were angels in the kitchen!
Since the beginning we have kept a few pictures of Susie in plastic frames down low where Katie and Eddie could reach them. They often pick up her picture, kiss it and carry it around. In the days following Susie’s homegoing, Eddie would often lay her picture on the floor of the living room where her crib once stood. Today, Katie and Eddie bring us the pictures and ask us “who’s that?” At first my husband and I were heart broken at the thought that they’d truly forgotten, until we realized “who’s that” didn’t mean they’d really forgotten, but was rather “tell me the story I love to hear so that I don’t forget! ”
Just the other day, Eddie was talking to Susie’s picture. As he called her by name, he shared his prized trains with her, tucking them in and out behind her picture, all the while continuing to talk to her. It was precious and heart warming.
Almost a year later, although much less frequent, we are comforted to know that our Lord allows angels in the kitchen. Perhaps in some small way, this is God’s way of comforting not only Katie and Eddie, but Mommy, Daddy and big sister Becky too!