September 4 2014. Thursday. This day two years ago turned out to be the worst day of our lives. We started as we did the last 6 days making our way from Ronald McDonald house to CHLA. Megan still in her wheelchair. We go through the regular morning nurse switch and begin the day as if it were like any other, that was spent in a hospital.
Today would turn out to be the day. They wanted to ween Luca off his life support to see if his heart was able to withstand functioning on its own. We knew we couldn’t keep him on life support forever. His vitals looked as if he would be able to function on his own so the surgeons would be able to perform now his 3rd heart surgery. Everyone including the doctors and us felt that was the best decision at this point. As I said before I always thought that he would defy all odds and someday have a healthy heart and even play soccer despite doctors thoughts. I was a little naive and very optimistic. Even though we knew of the severity of Luca’s heart condition there’s no way to prepare for losing a child.
The morning time came and went and it was the early afternoon. The surgeon was there and ready to perform the surgery is Luca’s ICU suite. Our one request was that if things were not looking good and Luca was not going to survive then we wanted to be able to hold him while he was still alive. Initially they wanted to do the surgery in an operating room but if Luca’s heart and lungs failed in there, we wouldn’t have been able to hold him. We hadn’t been able to pick him up and just hold him and if he was going to pass away we wanted him to know we were with him. The doctor said she would do whatever she could to accommodate our request so they did the surgery in his suite while we sat outside the door.
The surgery was estimated to take about an hour. Before the doctor went back she said if she came back out then things most likely weren’t going well. So we wait in the hallway with no view of Luca as I held onto Megan, still in her wheelchair as we prayed. All the emotions and thoughts played in my head and hoping the doctor didn’t walk out until surgery was completed. She walked out 30 minutes into the surgery and explained to us things were looking decent at first and then his heart had started to crash again. The doctor said “his pressures are dropping quickly were clearing out now to get you in. We will get him in your arms before he goes. I’m so sorry.”
It was at this moment we knew we were going to lose our little boy. Obviously we began to break down and I push Megan from the hallway into the room. Inside the room they were working on disconnecting all of the wires and tubes from his body and face so we could hold him as he peacefully passed away. Doctors and nurses exit to give us our personal time and space as they put Luca into Megan’s arms still trying to pull off the last tubes from his body. Throughout the entire week Megan would sing to Luca and once in her arms she sang the song that she sung to him everyday. “Jesus loves me.”
“Jesus loves me this I know, For the bible tells me so, little ones to him belong, they are weak but he is strong.”
Like he did so many times before when he heard our voices he would open his eyes and look at us and then slowly shut them. He did the same again. This time just happened to be the last time. While all of this was happening the nurses went and got our family to join us. They were all waiting in the same room I was pulled into when I was told Luca was the sickest child in the hospital.
Luca passed away shortly after 3pm and we sat there for hours just holding onto him. He wasn’t in anymore pain.
Our day at the hospital ended with a paperwork and having to arrange funeral plans. Luca would need to be flown back to Maryland where he would be buried. We left the hospital that night without our sweet little boy. We then had to go to the Ronald McDonald house and pack our stuff to check out. The ride home was silent. And then to return home where we had Luca’s room set up for him. We sat in his room and were only left with what could have been. A few of Megan’s friend met us at the house as they all sat on the bed and held each other.
Our dog, Diesel, had been staying at my aunts house this week. When we left the hospital my aunt and uncle went to pick him up and bring him back home. He runs into the house and jumps into our laps. The worst day of our lives ended and the next day, weeks, months, and now years would bring all new challenges.
The next day the Galaxy had a game against Colorado, in which they won 6-0. In the first minute of the game the Colorado goalkeeper got a red card and we played with a man advantage. For me it was a sign that Luca was already watching over us. We ended the season as MLS Cup Champions and the “First to Five” championships in the league.
Thank you AJ and Megan for sharing your journey with us. I was at last nights game and watched as the first thing AJ did at the end of the game was to go and get Noelle. The power of that moment was not lost on me and with your beautiful daughter in your arms and the Luca band with your captains duty, it was a poignant moment!