A Tribute to My Angel, Leslie Helena

Robin Ammerman

On 9/27/87 Leslie Helena Ammerman was born! She was the love of our life, our true joy. She was sick a lot with upper respiratory infections, ear infections, etc. At age 5 she was diagnosed with Asthma. At age 7 1/2 we were well on our way to having her disease under control and leading a "normal" life.

On April 25, 1997 the word as I knew it came to a complete halt. Leslie was fine that day, her peak flow was the highest it ever was (a crystal ball to parents with asthmatics), she was happy and had gone swimming with me while her brother took a swim lesson. At 9:00 we tucked her in. At 10:20 PM I heard her cough. I had checked on her at 10:00 PM. I went to see what was wrong and she was gasping for air and lips blue! I roused my husband and the nightmare started in full swing. The ambulance came, the were not ALS so they could only transport, we had to meet the ALS before we could have access to the drug epinephrine. We arrived at our small hospital emergency room not an hour after the nightmare began. As I looked through the small window to the hallway where the doctors and nurses were I saw my pediatricians in a frantic rush to save her. It seemed like an eternity before they would let us see her. Her Doctors literally pounded the walls and cried in frustration at not being able to find out what was causing the problem and they could not help her. They had no explanation, except for possible anaphylactic reaction to an unknown substance. What a diagnosis.

They transferred her to a major teaching hospital via mediflight. We had to drive the 1 hr 15 minutes because there was no room for us on the flight. A friend drove us, we were in no condition to do this. When we arrived there was no improvement. She laid there so still, eyes closed, as if sleeping, a peaceful expression on her face. I knew then, she was taken from me in a heartbeat. I prayed for a miracle. Take me, not her. It was not to be done. The pediatric ICU Md asked me what our evaluation of the situation was and I said "You're going to ask us when to pull the plug." He said, yes, we do not have hope. I said, please, keep her body alive long enough for her brother and family to come and say goodbye. We also want to donate her organs. If family don't get here in time, save the organs. She wanted that.

It has been almost 18 months since that day and while I don't cry everyday, my heart and sole are truly aching. We just "celebrated" her 11th birthday. I bought a cake with "Happy Birthday, Leslie" on it and my friend and I light 11 candles and we sang happy birthday. I bought a balloon and attached it to her headstone. Her little brother turned 6 just 5 days before her 11th birthday. He is so aware of her absence. He misses her so much. We talk about her everyday and we have good memories.

She wanted to be a doctor when she grew up so that she could find a cure for Asthma. No, asthma did not kill her, but it did not help the situation either.

She had so much life in her. So much she wanted to do. So much I wanted to see her do....her first date, her graduation from highschool, her prom, college life, grandchildren. I will never be a maternal grandmother.

She was the sweetest child I had ever known. All through her illnesses she never gave us a hard time about the numerous medicines she had to take. She followed her routine and even helped teach other children how to do meds. I am the director of an asthma support group and she was often my demonstrator with asthma aids. She was not ashamed of her disease, she totally accepted it.

There were over 300 people at her viewing and funeral. We live in a very small town. What a tribute to a small angel that had only lived 9 1/2 years. How proud I was that she was my daughter. She had touched so many people.

My son now has asthma. Am I scared that he may have a sudden allergic reaction to "an unknown substance"? You bet I am. However, life goes on and we must act a "normal" as possible. He has had 2 hospitalizations in the past year and I really do not know how I have managed to get through them.

I am very angry. I direct most of my anger at God. I lost both of my parents by age 16. All my grandparents are gone and it is only me and my 2 brothers and my husband and his large family. I never in a million years thought that I would lose my daughter. Death has not mercy. It comes out of the blue sometimes and plucks the flowers right in their prime and we as parents are left to pick up the pieces.

Organ donation did help. Just knowing 5 people are now living that would not have and that if she had to die let other live, at least makes some of it a little bearable.

Life will go on for me, my husband and my son. I have 2 stepchildren who are also deeply affected by this death. Our families have gotten closer to each other and the petty bickering has stopped in my husband's family. I appreciate every day that I have with my son and my family more and more. I am much more careful at being tolerant with my son and with others. I try to be slow to anger and more laid back. I have many regrets of things I wish I had done, said or did not say or do. But, I know that my angel is in heaven and will be there to bring me across, just like my mom did for her. Does this make me feel any better? NO! I should be the one raising her! Not God or my mother.

I will go on with life, but I have learned to say "No, I cannot do that" and I devote a lot more of my time to my family. Some day we will all know the answers to why?, but by that time, we won't care, because we will all be in God's Light and our questions will seem very insignificant. I wait impatiently for my day. I have no desire to speed my day of reunion with my daughter along, but I do so truly miss her.

Children are a gift from God, and if we think about it, he does not give us any guarantees of how long we will have them. They are his, and when they are ready to come back to Him, they will go, no matter what we on earth want.

I love her, I honor her, and I mourn her every day. God bless you, Leslie Helena Ammerman, 9/27/87 to 8/25/97.

Robin Ammerman

You can send email to Robin at: [email protected]
mail welcome

anniversary date 04-25-97
date of post 10-14-98

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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW