Miss Caroline seemed to have a preoccupation with the ceiling. Sometimes there was a clear reason for her to be looking up; the fluorescent lights in the kitchen were soothing to her and always managed to help when she was upset. Other times, we would just be sitting around the living room, rocking her back and forth, and she, very often, would look up. I don’t think it was reflexive; she was very capable of following faces with her eyes and tracking things as they moved across her visual field. There was usually plenty of activity in our house to look at, especially when she was awake and everyone vied to take a picture or talk to her or stare into her deep eyes. Still, she would look up.
I like to think that there was a reason.
That her angels were with her and she was looking up at them.
Of course, I will never know during my time on this earth if this is true, but this is what I believe.
When I found out about Caroline’s diagnosis, I started reading. I read family stories and research articles, and then moved on to books. I started searching for evidence that heaven is real and that children have a special place there. I have always believed in God, but the doubts creep in when your child is facing a fatal diagnosis and you can’t imagine why God would allow it. This mother needed to know that her baby would be okay. One book in particular really resonated with me. It is called Touching Heaven: Real Stories of Children, Life, and Eternity, by Leanne Hadley. In some ways it was a difficult read; it is written by a children’s hospital chaplain about her experiences with dying children. However, I walked away from this book with some comfort that Caroline wouldn’t be scared when she left this world, and I don’t think she was.
Another book that I read about heaven was Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, by Eben Alexander, M.D. The scientist in me was drawn to this account by someone who should be the biggest skeptic of heaven there is. In the book, he describes his near death experience while fighting bacterial meningitis in a coma. He argues that there is no way that what he experienced had anything to do with his brain, as it had essentially shut down due to the attack it was facing.
These books gave me some support and comfort, but I think the answer had been with me all along. I have to think that there is a point to all this. That there is a higher power and that souls are real and eternal. Through my journey with Caroline, I saw the way that she inspired so many people. I was upset that I would not get the time that I expected with my little girl, but she did more in 58 days than some people do in 58 years. Her lifetime was short but fulfilling. She showed me God’s grace. I miss her so much, but I think she is happy and playing in the sunshine in heaven.
It is now my turn to tell her story and continue the work that my amazing little girl started. I will look up, the way Caroline taught me.