"Our Little Trooper"

"Our Little Trooper"
"Let me live, that I may praise you!" Psalm 119:175

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Miracle #10: Rowan goes to Heaven!

On this New Year's Eve, as we move from one year to the next...here is the story of Rowan moving from this world to the next.  Again, this post is a little late, and obviously out of order...and as
difficult as it is to relive (as I have in my head a hundred times or more), it still deserves to be told. 

Rowan's last 24 hours on Earth...

After his sudden cardiac arrest and then Rowan being successfully placed on ECMO (heart-lung bypass) in that emergency surgery on the evening of December 13th, it felt like the world was standing still.  All of my memories in those next moments are more like snapshots...isolated images that I was able to comprehend...one at a time, not all together.  Here are some of those memories:

I remember walking back in to his ICU room as the surgeons left.  To just look at his body, you would have thought he was already gone.  The ECMO machine was forcing blood through his body, doing the work of the heart and oxygenating the blood, doing the work of the lungs.  But see, your chest doesn't rise and fall the same when the machine is doing all that work for you via ECMO.  There is no way to prepare yourself for that.  I had to just hold his hand, kiss his lips, look at the monitors every once in a while, and trust that he was indeed still alive.

The next thing I remember was watching as the nurses got down on their hands and knees to clean up all the blood from the floor.  All I could think of was how selfless they were.  They had work to catch up on, charting to do, they hadn't had a break in hours...but they didn't want me to have to look down and see all the blood on the floor.  They did this for me.  I cried as I watched them.

The next 12 hours or so, I either held his hand while crying and praying next to his bed, or climbed into his bed and cried and prayed over his tired body.  A dear friend from high school back in Ohio, who now lives in the Seattle area, left work to come up to the hospital to be with me, so I wouldn't be alone.  Thank you Dave.  It must have been awful, standing in that room, watching Rowan and I.  I'm not sure we spoke more than a dozen words the entire 8 hours or so that you stayed with me.  You simply hugged me, handed me my tea whenever I needed a drink, rubbed my back when I cried, and just stood silently nearby when you didn't know what else to do.  I can't thank you enough for your presence.  Truly.  I cannot think of a worse situation, but you handled it with such dignity and compassion.

Throughout the day, it became evident that Rowan was not going to pull through.  These details and the photos explaining how and why we knew...I am not ready to share.  At least not yet.  But once the doctors told me, I asked them to please keep Rowan going until Brian, Zoe and Ian arrived, which would be sometime after midnight.  They graciously and respectfully did so.

After that meeting, I told the nurse to please notify both floors of the Cancer Care Unit as well as the rest of the ICU nurses and staff, and let everyone know that the family would be arriving after midnight, but until then, they were all welcome to come say goodbye to Rowan in his room.  It was like a beautiful funeral procession or visitation service.  For hours on end, one by one, or 2 by 2, nurses and doctors from all the floors Rowan had stayed in the previous 5 1/2 months, came in to say goodbye to Rowan, tell me how much he meant to them, hug me, pray with me, play music for him, share their favorite memory of Rowan, laugh with me a little, and cry with me a lot.  It was surreal, but so special.  Again and again, I heard them say that they had never been so touched or so changed by one patient.  They said that the entire hospital was different because of him, and you could literally feel that.  These nurses and doctors had been Rowan and I's family for nearly 6 months straight...they treated him like their own son...not just while caring for him... but also while losing him.

While we waited for the Brian and the kids to arrive, some very special nurses helped me clean Rowan up.  We played worship music on Rowan's IPad.  They bathed him.  I put lotion on him, new socks, his favorite pink Calvin Klein underwear, gave him his favorite green frog wubby, his angel friend's stuffed animals, and covered him with new blankets.  These photos remind me of the woman washing Jesus feet, or Jesus washing the disciples feet.  I will never forget the way they cared for him.  It was so sacred, so tender.  It meant the world to me.  It always will.  Thank you Raina, Kate and Larry. 

*Raina, I hope and pray you and Camy specifically, know the difference you made on our journey.  We did way more laughing than crying with you two while Rowan was in ICU.  You may have bathed him in your tears here, but I will also never forget the moments of hilarity we all shared together.  You two became true friends.  Not just to Rowan, but to me.  I miss those nights, and will cherish those memories always.*

One of them was not even on duty.  He came up on his night off when he heard Rowan wasn't going to pull through.  He stayed with me for the next 8 hours or more, until after the family arrived and he could be there to hug Brian and the kids and pray with us all.  'Above and beyond the call of duty' does not begin to describe his selfless act.  His presence in that room, saved my sanity.  His prayers...saved our entire family's.  Thank you Larry. 

*Larry, Thank you, not only for being a great nurse, but more so for what you bring to the families going through these unbelievably tough circumstances.  Your bravery and honesty did more for our family's souls than any modern medicine could ever do for Rowan's body.  We are better for having met you, even if it had to be under these circumstances.*

The next 2 hours was just our family saying goodbye.  Each of us spent time whispering in Rowan's ear.  We held each other up when one of us was about to fall.  We cried, oh how we cried.  I have never experienced such a heavy sadness in my life, and I don't think I ever will again.  But when I look at these photos, I also see more love than can be described in words.

The nurses helped us create the final keepsakes.  Child Life, had done a few earlier in the day.  The tender, loving care with which this staff operates under such unbelievably tough circumstances, is to be commended.  They were honorable, respectful, thoughtful, and reverant about it all.  The difference that makes, is hard to describe, but so appreciated.  In the darkest of moments, we have some sweet memories, because of this staff.


When the time came, the doctors reentered the room and started removing Rowan from all life saving equipment.  We climbed in to bed with him.  Within seconds, he was gone.  2:11 am, December 15th, 2016.  Words cannot describe those final moments, so I will not try.  I only leave you with this photo...

...and the promise, that we all knew without a shadow of a doubt, Rowan was instantly at peace.  He trusted God with all his heart.  He was never scared.  He ran willingly into Jesus' arms.  He was healed.  He was whole. Yes he was gone (from us)...but he was finally home (with Jesus).

We know that this was Rowan's Miracle #10.


  1. We r so sorry for ur loss. May God take ur pain away. God bless you and your family.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this. Iits almost midnight here in California and I wanted to check on my Rowan one last time before this year is over. I'm sad, heartbroken but also feeling a sense of peace that he is no longer suffering. I can't imagine the pain your family is going through and those doctors and nurses are amazing. I don't know how they do it. But thank god for people like them. Happy new year to all of you. And please know that Rowan's work is still being done even after he's gone. He's still touching our lives and you too for sharing this! Happy new year and god bless your family!

  3. Rowan is my little hero. Rowan gave me the will to live when all I wanted was to curl up and die. I decided to let nature take it's course, I threw all my pills in the trash,(enough for ten days). I had followed Rowan since Jalene died, and totally loved him. I bought a white prayer cross and went to MCH S A, at the nurses station a young lady made a phone call and asked to follow her. I was amazed to see Carrie open the door and invite me in. Meeting Rowan in person, seeing how he treasured the cross, and his knowledge about God and Jesus made me realize life is precious. It's God's timeline NOT mine. Till we meet again sweet Rowan, please visit mom's dreams.

  4. I want to thank you so much Mrs Windham for sharing Rowan with the world! He was a very inspiring and amazing little boy!

  5. You are an incredible, amazing woman. If I were in Rowan's condition, I could only pray that you were at my side. I thank God for you.

  6. Thank you for writing this.We all know it was not easy for you but it is a tribute to Rowan and the nurses, Doctors and friends who gathered around you and your family. Remember that its not goodbye but "until we see you again".

  7. Wow Carrie. Thank you so much for sharing Rowan's miracle #10. You will forever be an inspiration to me. I could never be as strong as you are. I will never ever forget Rowan. He touched my life so deeply. He taught me lesson after lesson. I am a better person because I followed his story. His story that you so selflessly shared. I pray that it brought more people to Christ. I'm sure it did. Little Rowan did great works down here. Now he runs with Angels. God bless you. Forever in my prayers.

  8. I love you all so much. Thank you for sharing his precious life with us. Rowan's faith was inspiring. He will live on in us forever.

  9. Carrie, you are such a strong person. I cried the whole time. Bless you and your family. You had an amazing little boy who I will always remember. He touched my life.

  10. Thank you for sharing this, Carrie. I have thought about you and Rowan, Brian, Zoe, and Ian often. You are a very special family. I consider myself lucky to have spent time with Rowan. I will remember him as one of my favorites.

  11. I didn't get to see you in the hospital when Rowan died, but I was blessed to have taken care of him when I could see you two share stories. He looked so happy and hopeful when you spoke of his visions and his friends. He lived on a higher plane than the rest of us and he spread that peace and love and faith to the people around him. I don't worry for him now, but I know you must miss him so terribly. My love to you all.
    Genevieve RN