We got up super early this morning in order to get to Children’s Hospital for Namine’s MRI.

I woke Namine up at 4:00 this morning. She couldn’t eat anything prior to her MRI, but she could have clear liquids until 4:30. She got ready to go quickly enough, and only complained once about not being able to eat. She understood the importance of today, and trusted that it was for the best.

Namine has had many a scan on her heart, the most recent — prior to today — being an echocardiogram. Unfortunately, an echo only has so much clarity. Even though Namine has been doing well since the third stage in her heart repair was completed, her cardiologist still doesn’t have as clear a picture of her heart as he’d like… which leads us to today.

Because the MRI will take several hours, and because it’s unreasonable (in my opinion) to require an eight-year-old to hold perfectly still for that long, they were going to sedate her.

In the past, prior to being sedated, Namine has taken what the nurses call “goofy juice” — versed. She refused it this time, preferring instead to remain lucid until she absolutely had to be put to sleep.

Both Jessica and I walked down with Namine as the nurse pushed her bed to just outside the Imaging room, but only one of us was allowed inside. Namine asked me to come in and see her off to sleep, and asked that Jessica be there when she wakes up.

Namine had her choice of smells for the anesthetic mask, and she initially chose cotton candy. The anesthesiologist suggested bubble gum, but Namine shot that right down.

Before the mask even touched her face, Namine started making gagging noises. I thought her nerves were getting the best of her, so I sat her up and the nurse handed me a bucket. Namine took a few deep breaths, then sighed at me with exasperation. “I’m not going to throw up, Daddy! It was the smell of the cotton candy.” Namine was given a couple more choices, and she chose orange.

As the anesthesiologist put the mask over Namine’s face, Namine held tightly onto my hand. “Daddy.” Her voice was muffled by the mask.

I leaned in close. “I’m here, baby love.”

“Don’t leave until I’m asleep.”

“I won’t. I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere.”

“I love you.” Her eyes started to close. She forced them open, watching me. Making sure I wasn’t leaving? No, I think she trusted my word. I think she just didn’t want to lose sight of me.

The medicine she was breathing in finally overpowered her, and she lost her grip on the little plush Superman she’d held in her other hand. But still she held fast onto my hand.

“She’s asleep,” the anesthesiologist told me. I could see that for myself, but the context was clear. Leave, so we can do our job. Goodbyes never get any easier. I leaned in one more time and kissed my daughter on the cheek. I pried my hand from her grip, and left the room.

This post is part of the timeline: Heart Repair – an ongoing story on this site. View the timeline for more context on this post.