When Your Teen Daughter Clings to Life

China was readmitted to South Suburban Hospital after having been released. The fear of losing her bonded our family. Many a night, the nurses came in the room to probe their needles deep into her flesh. No matter how hard they tried, the blood that flowed through her tiny veins no longer surfaced.

There she lay in a hopeless, lifeless state. The blood that dried up in her veins now filtered through her urine. The catheter bag hanging from the tubes bore a deep flush of redness. Her struggle to end it all weighed heavy on her mind. As her temperature rose to 108 degrees, she cried out: “Mommy, I don’t care anymore. So many things wrong with me—bumps under my neck and arms, sores on my back, I’m falling apart. I don’t care if I never get out. Just let me die here. Mommy, I’m serious.”

I wanted no part of this defeat—I felt she had to go on fighting. We’d come too far to throw away the years. My thoughts questioned, Has she finally had enough of the suffering and struggle? Is she ready to give up?

Death Feels Pervasive

The next week was breathtaking. One day, at about 1:15 p.m., I got the call to come to the hospital. Seeing no light, I hit the panic button and called Craig, who worked only a few blocks away. When I finally arrived, my heart skipped a beat. Motionless, I stood glancing at the sign that read Intensive Care Unit.

As his eyebrows raised and lips sagged down, I realized the sadness Craig felt. He was huddled over her, his head hung low, peering down upon her fragile body. The whole room was filled with a scent of sickness. While I held back the tears, I watched the machines pump life into her tiny body. As each doctor conjured up his own prognosis, survival turned into a relationship with death.

Death felt so pervasive that the priest came and gave the last rites. As he leaned over the bed and lowered his head, he prayed, “. . . His holy oil and great goodness of mercy, may God . . .”

Motherly Love

By the time the priest had left, my heart was torn into a million pieces. My world crushed before my eyes. I became terrified and saddened. I shook my head and rubbed my tongue against the roof of my mouth.

As I continued to grasp the soggy, crumpled-up tissue in my hand, I thought, That’s a lie. My baby angel has not left.

With my head spinning, I gaped down at her lifeless body. There would be no goodbyes, only hellos. While I looked helplessly at my little angel, I geared my mind and heart into a mode of motherly love.

I reached over and took the covers to pull back, cuddled her in my arms, and rested her against my bosom.

‘Wake up!’

“My little angel, you’re sleeping so heavily. Time to wake! Wake up now. I carried you those nine months while you kicked inside,” I whispered in her precious ear.

I tickled her tiny chin, stroked her soft, baby-fine hair that had grown back after chemo, and pressed her cheek to mine. “Don’t you feel my heart pounding? I’m giving you life. I love you, and I want you to come home,” I said, sobbing.

As I continued to quietly weep, my voice got shaky. “Remember, you promised you wouldn’t leave me,” I whispered. “I know Mommy hasn’t done everything right in life. I wanted so badly to safeguard you from this disease. I’m so sorry. Forgive me, my angel.” I apologized over and over while I cried, holding her hands in mine.

I’d become a total wreck seeing my baby lying lifelessly. I wrapped my arms around that frail body and pulled her into a hug. She felt like nothing but skin and bone. But she was my skin-and-bone baby child, and I caressed her with my body.

And She Did

What happened next was shockingly and gratifyingly amazing!

Her voice sounded like a cry of the dead. She inhaled a deep breath and proclaimed the words, “Oh, no, not the water! The water is too cold—take me back, take me back! Mommy said it’s not time to come home!”

She then shook her head as though her body became afloat. Slowly her eyes opened and she murmured, “Whoa, whoa, what happened? Where was I? Mommy, why are those people up there laughing at me?”

I darn near froze right then and there. The reality set in, and it was all I could do to curl up and sob.

My Lord and Savior brought her back to me, I thought.


Excerpted from Not a Blueprint: It’s the Shoeprints That Matter: Norstrom, Nina: 9781939371478: Amazon.com: Books

For more about Nina, visit www.ninanorstrom.com.


Nina Norstrom

Nina Norstrom is the author of Not a Blueprint: It’s the Shoe Prints That Matter ─ A Journey Through Toxic Relationships. This author grew up in a small suburban town outside Chicago, Illinois. She received her bachelor’s degree from Concordia University. She has an extensive work history in the public sector, in the field of management. Additionally, she taught in the school system. She started journal writing to help find solace. The book, Not a Blueprint: It’s the Shoe Prints that Matter, ─ A Journey Through Toxic Relationships, is a representation of her growth and signifies a milestone in her recovery from toxic relationships, to the transition of non-toxicity. She is a passionate champion for many noteworthy causes, including those battling toxic relationships. In her quest to reach out, it's through her role in volunteering and being a participant in various walk-a-thons that she demonstrates a passion in giving. When not reading or writing, Nina can be found mountain climbing, taking long walks in a park or alongside a beach, sitting at a concert, supporting an author at a book event, traveling, and jumping in to exert her energy by doing volunteer work at a variety of venues. You can connect with Nina on her website www.ninanorstrom.com

More Articles Written by Nina