I Remember Lexi (Penny Rader)

2006 was a grandchildren bonanza for me. Two grandbabies were born days apart in June and one more arrived mid-September. There was definitely a lot of joy that year. There was also fear. And sorrow.

One day, while witnessing my daughter Kathy's sonogram, we received some frightening news. Lexi would be born with a rare disability. Her femur bones were missing. We drew some deep breaths and bombarded heaven with prayers, certain we could get through this. Then Lexi arrived two months early. It didn't look good. Her lungs weren't fully developed. I can't find the words to explain how scared I was, we all were. My dh was in Houston because a grandson had been born four days earlier. I had to ask him to come home because we didn't know how long we'd have Lexi with us.

Lexi was a scrapper. She hung in there and fought for her life. When she was a few weeks old she was sent to Children's Mercy hospital in Kansas City. She had to have a tracheostomy to help her breathe. I can't thank the staff of Children's Mercy and the Ronald McDonald Houses enough for all they did for us while we were in KC. Lexi was finally able to return to Wesley hospital here in Wichita about a month later. I forget how many times she battled pneumonia. It became a routine for me to go to the hospital after work and read or sing softly to her for a while. I always kept a bag packed just in case we'd have to make another trip to KC.

That little girl had spunk. She had her favorites among the staff. She'd pretend to be asleep when a doctor she wasn't fond of came into the room. I've been told she also pulled the same stunt when they came in for physical therapy. After they left her room she'd open one eye and look around.

She came home from the hospital the end of November. My daughter's living room became Lexi Central. Her ventilator was pretty noisy. Home health nurses were on hand nearly round the clock. She made another trip or two back to hospital because of pneumonia. Because she had survived those first scary days I fully expected my little sweetie to keep chugging along. I was looking forward to watching her grow and amaze us all. Then, on December 11, minutes after I had gotten up to get ready for work, the phone rang. It was Kathy, asking me to come to the hospital. She told me Lexi had died. I couldn't wrap my brain around that. Sometimes I still can't.

She'd be four now. I look at Liam and Jessalyn, the other grandbabies born that year, and wonder what Lexi'd be like now. I'm sure she's giving the good Lord a great deal of pleasure and joy. I picture her laughing and running and keeping Him on his toes.

Something positive did come out of our loss. My daughter and Lexi's daddy formed a foundation in memory of Lexi. It's called Lexi's LAMB. We provide toys and activities for children in the hospital. On Christmas Eve we deliver presents in person to the children who are unable to go home. This year we'll also be giving small care packages to the parents. Just a few small things we hope will make their hospital stay a bit easier.

Till we meet again, Lexi girl. I just want you to know how much you were loved and how grateful I am for the five months we had with you. I miss you like crazy, punkin. I still haven't completely unpacked that bag.

12 comments:

Melissa Robbins said...

Oh Penny! Hand me a box of tissues! My son, Duncan visited Children's Mercy four times. The staff is wonderful there. Lexi Lamb is a great idea. Duncan received a blanket, a stuffed frog, and other items from a cardiac group. Stuff like this means so much to the kids.

P.L. Parker said...

My heart is breaking for you, your family and the baby. Lexi Lamb - a wonderful idea.

Penny Rader said...

Oh my, Melissa. You are certainly well acquainted with Children's Mercy. I hope those visits are behind you.

Penny Rader said...

Thank you, P.L. It's hard to believe four years have passed. I do wish I'd had a picture taken with her.

Jill James said...

Oh, must rush for Kleenex box. What a brave struggle for your little one. And what a wonderful thing to take that sad time and make something wonderful out of it. Merry Christmas!

Starla Kaye said...

Your sweet granddaughter will forever be remembered by you, her family, and the children who benefit from the foundation created in her honor.

Penny Rader said...

Thanks for visiting, Jill. Lexi was indeed a brave girl. I hope you have a Merry Christmas.

Penny Rader said...

Thank you, Starla! I'm looking forward to seeing the expressions on the faces of the children. Last Christmas, there was a sweet little girl, maybe 10 or so, who asked if she could give us a hug. She gave wonderful hugs.

Reese Mobley said...

My mother in law always said it was better to accept one than to have to give one back. I guess she was right. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Lisa Anne said...

Penny, this story touch my heart. I lost two babies of mine after months of fighting and I just lost my MIL. I know how much it hurts to lose such a treasure like Lexi. I think Lexi LAMB is a wonderful idea. me and my husband, buy toys, then donate them to our church for parents who can't afford a lot of gifts for their children... Huggs Lisa

Louise Behiel said...

Penny I can't imagine the pain of your loss. But your family took a tragedy and made something good come from it. As I wipe the tears from my cheeks, please know how grateful I am to you for sharing your story. god Bless all of you

Katherine Pritchett said...

Penny, I can't imagine such heartbreak. Thankful you could bring something positive out of your loss. I have to go grab tissues now.