This is a hard week. First I lost a friend from work who went into the hospital with possible pneumonia and then died from blood clots. He’d had a heart attack about one year ago. Now, at age 57, he was gone. Just like that…gotta deal with it! It has been a very sad week at work, but at least people are posting remembrances on Facebook pages…the sentiments and occasional humor help. He was a good man.
Then I got a text message from my sister about my former brother-in-law, her first husband and the father of her two children. She forwarded a message from his current ex-wife (yes, recently divorced a second time) saying something about trying to take him off the sedation meds, but it not working. He was in a coma. What???
It seems that about a week and a half ago he had surgery for hand numbness and back problems when something went wrong. The carotid artery had been “nicked” during surgery. It was repaired and he went home, only to have it burst open a few days later. By the time the ambulance got there, he was unconscious with major blood loss and was flown to
Oh, geez, that brings it all gushing back…seeing my son, unconscious, in a hospital bed, with machines all hooked up and beeping…talking to him, stroking his hair, trying to determine if he was still with us or if this was all an exercise in futility. Watching my oldest daughter talking to him, begging him to stay with us, to come back. Tape, tubes. Feeling repulsed by the way his left hand was swelling up with fluid. Beep, beep, beep, whoosh…beep, beep, beep, whoosh…all day long, all night long. Sickening sounds.
Bill just stood beside Andrew and held his good hand. Becca sat there, staring blankly. Jayney was taking charge, talking to Andrew the most. I kept thinking, “Goddamnit… goddamnit… goddamnit.” The doctor coming in and giving us a grave prognosis. Something about waiting 24 hours, doing more tests, praying for a miracle. Bill and I watched as he checked Andrew’s eyes, which were totally unresponsive.
I don’t know what Bill was thinking, but I was thinking, “He’s gone. He is not coming back. Why do they make us wait 24 more hours?” I had to force myself to be patient, to not react. Let everyone have time. We all need time. I can’t back-track on time and fix it, I thought, so stay in the present. What was done, was done! Be here for my kids, my ex-husband. I felt I knew, but they didn’t yet…let them all have time to absorb it, accept it. My fiancé was there with me. My family and Bill’s family were gathering, some coming into the Intensive Care Unit to stand vigil with us, some waiting out in the lobby. Some felt they needed to see Andrew; others couldn't bear to look but wanted to support us. At one time there must have been 20 people out there, waiting. I am sure images haunted the ones that did come and look.
This stuff is all going on now with my ex-brother-in-law. His ex-wife is sitting there with him in a hospital, listening to the machines work. My niece and nephew are not there. They don’t really want to see their father like that, all hooked up to machines in a coma. I can’t say that I blame them, yet I worry that maybe they should be there. Is it better, in the long run, to avoid this stuff or to deal with it? I don’t know the answer. I do know that with every day that passes, I remember less of the hospital and more of the boy and man my son was…more of the good stuff. I keep processing it, over and over. I go to the support group, I talk about him, I write down my feelings and let it all hang out. I try to comfort my girls and my ex and my fiancé and his son. I think that is the healthiest way for me to deal with it.
I am going to football games, but it’s hard…I feel him there. It was weird, watching a kickoff. As the kicker measured off his steps and placed the ball, I saw Andrew doing that same task. I took all the steps along with him as I watched his games. He did it so many times, exactly the same way, pacing off the distance, stepping sideways a couple of steps, then pausing. Hand up, running toward the ball and kicking off…okay, that was hard to watch. It was, and it wasn’t. I have to smile about that kind of memory. It’s good. These players don’t even realize they are stepping in my son’s footsteps on that same field…but he is there, enjoying the game. His spirit is there and I hope they glean some inspiration from him.