My brother's experience in the hospital in comparison to the life of a candle.
Major Writing Project
26 February 2019
"Small, warm, and fragile," said my dad wiping his face.
I watched the nurses decorate my brother with wires and tubes from the tips of his toes to his head. My fourteen-year-old self, was a spectator in the middle of chaos. On one side, my father's eyes filled with tears as we watched my brother being put in an incubator. On the other side, my mother, filled with desperation, shook her head. "I am sorry for not fighting more to keep you inside my womb. Fight, my precious warrior," she said and took my father's hand.
My brother, Stephan, was born five months premature weighing one pound and seven ounces. Due to his fragile state, Stephan had to stay in the hospital another five months, until he could breathe and eat without the help of monitors and feeding tubes. Along his journey in the hospital, my family and I overcame many hardships.
A candle is a representation of our lives. The flame represents the trials of life. The candle represents the time passing by as the flame grows and illuminates the room. The flame shines bright, differing in size while warming its surroundings. Although the flame symbolizes trials, it also points to the warmth and light we gain through those trials.
On September 25, 2015, I was walking into my brother's hospital room when the nurse began to take off his feeding tube. My eyes grew big as I rushed next to his bedside and asked why she was doing that. The nurse smiled and explained that my brother was going to start breastfeeding. Stephan was learning to breathe on his own without the support of the oxygen tank. His progress meant he was on track to be discharged by the end of September. In this instant, having a little brother became reality. I was soon going to be able to hold him tight and choose all his outfits. In fact, on the weekends my parents began to shop for clothes, socks, and diaper bags. The flame of my candle grew big, illuminating the room with hope and joy.
Not all trials bring us joy; some defeat us in order to teach us a lesson. With candles, the heat of the flame vaporizes the wax until it turns into ash. Therefore, a flame has a double purpose in life just like the different trials in our lives. The flame can either make the candle looks like a tall, fragile, inanimate object or shine bright, giving it a purpose. On the other hand, trials can defeat us in order to test our strength and give us a new perspective. In other words, the glass is always full.
The phone rang in the middle of the night. My mother jumped out of bed and answered it. She began to get dressed while the nurse explained that my brother's rib cage was broken. The nurse was asking for a consent form to raise his oxygen level, which meant an additional tube. Upon our arrival at the hospital, the chief nurse explained that a new attendee was taking care of Stephan and flipped him over the wrong way. The broken rib cage meant stronger oxygen levels that threaten his eyesight in the long run.
As I sat listening to the nurse explain to my mother that an error from her attendee could cost my brother's life, I felt defeated. My hope was diminished. I thought, "How is it that they do not realize the fragile state of my brother? How can they be so ignorant to not realize he must be handled with care? Why would God do this to my family?" I could not understand how we were back to square one.
I was supposed to hold my brother tight on September 30, 2015, his discharge day. However, that day kept getting farther away. The next day, when I arrived at the hospital from school, my extended family was in the waiting room. My grandmother explained that the oxygen levels were affecting my brother's sight and he had to go into surgery. Stephan was not strong enough to undergo a surgery, especially with his broken rib cage. It felt as if the flame was melting the candle at a rapid pace. The probability of my brother's life was very low. His recovery meant another month in the hospital full of stress and cries of help. The bad news did not make me cry or get angry; I was in shock. I felt empty as if God was never listening to my long prayers of help.
As with every candle, there is always a bright flame before it burns out. On October 14, 2015, Stephan was discharged. We were finally able to bring him home! Before we left, the nurses took several pictures of my brother, celebrating his graduation from the neonatal intensive care unit. Stephan looked like a ball in the middle of a football field. The car seat was so big he occupied only a fraction of it. The fact that we were going home was so unbelievable we stopped to take pictures of him next to the cafe where I would buy granola bars and a caramel macchiato every afternoon. The employees were so pleased to finally see the brother I so excitedly talked about every time I waited for my receipt. The whole ride home we talked about who would change his diaper, make his food, sing to him, and all the responsibilities that come with a baby brother. Upon our arrival, the white walled, empty house filled with warmth and joy. The flame of my candle grew big, illuminating the whole room, making my family unite in the peaceful state of mind my brother had given us. For the first time, I gave Stephan a big, warm, strong hug.