There are times in your life, that someone has such a profound influence on you, that even after many years of distance that your heart aches to the point of near explosion when you hear of their death.
I had such a person. However I didn't realize how important his mere existence, out there, somewhere, was to me. There is a comfort knowing that they are still there. Dr. Whiteside was that person.
I met him 16 years ago.
Before today I would have said our time spent together was a blur. Too many things occupied my attention. But upon opening my browser and his picture smiling at me with the headline "Wichita Doctor Killed in a Hit and Run" my heart sank, and memories flooded back, flowing along with my tears.
I suddenly heard his voice, his Irish accented voice, teasing me. Telling me that he knew what part of Ireland my kin was from because of my blonde hair, blue eyes and freckles. I remember his patience with me, the hurt teen girl. What I remember most of all is him standing with me as my son died in my arms.
Dr. Whiteside was my first son, Getty, NICU doctor.
His smile every morning, as I read to my son, always brought with it a lifting of spirits in the twilighted room. When the surgeons, and specialists ignored me, and talked to my parents, he was there to talk to me directly. Even though I was 18, he saw me as the mother, as I indeed was. He never eyed the muti religious sacerments that my friends and family left on the bassinet with disdain.
He brought my son out of death many times. Even nicknamed him the cat. He was always the realist, but with a smile. He could easily comfort you while telling you that the time had come to let him die.
Dear Dr. Whiteside, I hope you get to meet my son again. And thank you, thank you I don't know if I could have made it through the most difficult time in my life without you.