Andie Daisley is there in the most difficult times, sometimes ushering in the beginning of the grieving process with families and children after a death. It’s his job.
As a Child Life Specialist at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, Daisley helps sick children or children of sick family members understand, treat, and feel comfortable with illness, injury, and sometimes death.
COVID-19 has changed Daisley’s job. While based in the pediatric emergency department, she and her other teammates are now often called to an adult floor to help a family begin to cope with how COVID-19 took their loved one.
Never before has the same diagnosis and scenario played out over and over again for Daisley.
“There is no greater honor than being in this sacred space with someone,” Daisley said, acknowledging that these moments often contain both beauty and loss.
“It’s so devastating, and if I could change that for these kids and families I work with, I would,” she added.
This fall, as she sat with a family grappling with the death of a family member from the virus, their words hit her hard.
“Tell everyone COVID is real.”
The phrase swirled around in Daisley’s head again and again, and towards the end of her shift during a break, she opened her Notes app on her phone.
Daisley never wrote poetry, only songs.
But that night after his shift, the words flowed. She wrote the story she had experienced time and time again with COVID-19, families saying goodbye. Children who lose their parents, their grandparents, their loved ones.
“It’s everybody’s story right now,” Daisley said.
The resulting poem felt like a release after months of emotional ups and downs and burnout for Daisley and her fellow caregivers.
“I want to shout from the rooftops what happened, but there’s nothing I want to talk less about at the same time,” Daisley said. “It’s those two realities that are hard to hold.”
Below is Andie Daisley’s full poem.
How to prepare a child to see
their parent for the last time?
This tube does that,
this tube does that.
It will look different than before.
You can walk closely.
You can stay away.
You can change your mind.
I’m here with you. Say the word.
You can always change your mind.
“Will he hear me?” – He could.
“Is he going to answer me? – He won’t.
I look through a window while you cry.
I know that moan. This is THE moan.
It is the moaning of understanding that what has been will never be again. It was once, no longer.
I wish I could win.
I wish I could turn back your clock.
My clock. Our clock. The world clock.
I wish I could heal you with my thoughts,
but instead, I will keep thinking about it.
I’m so sorry, kid.
I’m so sorry you’re here.
You shouldn’t be here.
We shouldn’t be here.
Why are we here?
“I will miss you, dad.
Do not forget us.
I love you.”
We practically ran to the waiting room.
You ran when we got there.
Outside. Out. In the night.
I don’t blame you.
Anything to get out of this space.
This space made of broken hearts and dying breaths. Of chimes and tangled cords,
all say the same thing – that’s it.
Run, weary soul. To run.
Run in the fresh air.
Let the cold hit your face.
Sadness will follow
but don’t let that stop you.
You won’t outrun the waves,
but you can keep up. To run.
“How can I support you tonight?”
I ask your family.
“Just tell everyone that Covid is real”,
Count to three.
Dry your eyes.
Go for it.
Another clock is waiting for you.