Dear Tracheostomy: It’s Over.

This is a goodbye letter I wrote to my son’s trach on the day he was decannulated.

Dear Tracheostomy,

When we met 1275 days ago, it was on one of the worst days of my life. Our fragile two-month-old baby, born with a neuromuscular condition, was having respiratory failure. The doctors told us you were the answer to his problems. I had mixed feelings about you. Yes, you were our only way of saving our son’s life, but you scared me. I wasn’t sure whether I was cut out for this challenging relationship, but it needed to happen. You became our choice when we had no other choices.

The first time I touched you, my hands shook uncontrollably. You look harmless enough – like a white plastic dragonfly – but the stares you get from others reminded me constantly of just how mysterious and intimidating you can be. Over the years, you were both life sustaining and life threatening. You provided a route for our son to breathe, but when he got sick and things got messy and junky, you could stop that breath too. Knowing how dangerous you could be, we always had to watch closely to guard our son against harm.

We will always appreciate what you gave him – time to grow strong. But now, it’s time for us to part ways. Really, it’s not you; it’s him. He is able to breathe without you; he has a voice without you. No longer the weak, quiet baby you first met, he is boisterous, loud and electric – in many ways, a typical three-year-old boy. You kept him silent for so long, but now our home rings with his laughter.

Today, I watched the separation – his quick shock as you left. We breathed a sigh of relief when you departed. He cried for just a moment because he didn’t know he could live without you, but seconds later, he recovered. Before long, he won’t even remember you. You will just be a small scar from a distant past.

His future without you is a little scary, but as always, we will do our best. Everything has its season, they say. Your season with him has ended.

November 2, 2011 – April 30, 2015

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Charisse Montgomery is the author of the Super Safe Kids series of books and safety tools. These tools engage children, parents, and their families in improving safety and advocacy in the hospital, the community and the home. A former educator, Charisse Montgomery has earned bachelor's and master's degrees in English, along with a master's degree in Educational Psychology, with research focused on informing and empowering parents of medically fragile children. She completed a graduate certificate in Patient Advocacy and serves on the Board at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital.

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