I followed that gurney down all of those long hallways. I saw tubes. I knew what they were doing….breathing for him. And, I was just trying to hold on……
The nurse led us to the cath lab waiting area, where I had spent the better part of my Thursday morning while he had the stent placed. And, we sat….and waited.
Finally, the nurse came to get me and had us meet them on the 4th floor, building E. I couldn’t even walk in there….. The CCU doctor looked at me with sad eyes and told me to go home, take my medicine and get some rest. I remember in that moment telling him I didn’t take medicine. That seemed like an odd thing….but a reminder of something I always said to Dad that I wouldn’t take all that shit he does. This was especially the case if he was arguing about food and whether organic was any good or not. I told him to leave me alone and he could eat his hot dogs, because I knew I couldn’t stop that.
I stood in the hall for a moment and then walked in his room. I remember feeling so defeated. What had I done to him? What was going to happen now? I was scared. I looked him in the eyes and told him I was so sorry. I kept saying it. I told him I loved him. I asked him over and over if he knew I loved him and he would nod yes every time. I felt so helpless. I was suppose to take care of him, not let this happen. But, I couldn’t say stop when I should have……
The next two days were draining but I was there. I made sure Alice saw him because she was the only thing that could light his face. I would sit and hold his hand. I asked him by Sunday night if it was ok if I went to work on Monday and he nodded yes. He had the most impeccable work ethic of anyone I knew and I knew he would not want me to miss work because of him. I told him I would be back in the morning before work. He nodded yes. He couldn’t even hug me because his hands were tied down.
Monday I saw him in the morning and then came back after work. I was so excited because I got a call that he was extubated today. He was able to breathe with the mask. I was so happy to see him on Monday evening. I sat with him for a while. I went home thinking that he would be ok and that all was going to get better, even if it took a long time.
10:30pm…..my cell phone rang. I thought, “who the hell is calling this late from an unknown number.” Then the house phone rang……I saw the caller ID. My heart dropped. The CCU doctor was calling me to tell that his breathing was labored and I should come. He was adamant that I do not drive. I ran…… I ran to the neighbors to ask them to take Alice. I could barely breath myself. I was terrified. We got to the building and Cary let me out. I ran…. “oh God, oh God” was all I said as I sped through the waiting area outside of CCU, which would become my bedroom for the night. I got to his room.
All he said to me was, “My time is short.” I was so lost……. I talked to the doctor and the nurse. I came back and he asked, “Do they think I’m going to die?” I quickly replied, “You’re the one that said your time was short.” I sat there….holding his hand. I was not ready to let go. I waited in the hall for a moment and asked Cary, “Is this it?” and he said, “yes.” I didn’t know what to feel anymore.
As I sat there, I asked Dad if he was scared and he said, “no.” I asked him if mom was there or his parents were there and he shook his head no. At some point in the middle of the night, he asked for paper and pen. It took me 3 days to realize what he had drawn. All the information I had was when he drew it, I asked if the “A” was for Alice and if it was my Alice or his Alice and he looked at me and said “your Alice.” He wanted to make sure that she had the cash that was left in the drawer of his dresser.
At one point in the middle of the night, he made a circular motion with his right index finger and said “light.” I again asked if my mom was there or his mom and he shook his head no. I asked if Jesus was there and he shook his head “yes.” Somehow I found some comfort in that. I mean I hope when I die Jesus is standing there waiting for me too….of course I want my family there as well.
I sat all night sometimes in the waiting room and sometimes just holding his hand. I sat there a lot when morning came. Then the nurse shift happened….and there was Amber.
She was like an angel. All of my questions that I tried to get an answer to in the middle of the night that I felt were being evaded were going to be answered. I had tried to talk to the night nurse about the light and what would happen when he does pass. I gave her the card to the medical center where he was being donated. She couldn’t read the card but didn’t offer any words of encouragement that she would take care of it. I think she may have been overwhelmed with my ramblings.
So, Amber, who always had a smile, was there. That morning was so busy. Doctors coming in and going. Our wonderful neighbor who kept Alice came by and even sent the doctor that she works for to check on him. The nephrologist came by. Not my favorite one, Dr. Thompson but his associate, who we have met before. He seemed quite confused as to the situation and didn’t understand why were were stopping medications and the oxygen. Then in the midst of everything my phone rings…. It was Carroll’s mom, Bitsy. Like an angel that dropped out of the sky…..there she was.
She showed up. Jen had been wonderful to pick Alice up at 6:30 in the morning from the neighbor and then bring to the hospital. I think somewhere in there I had tried to explain to Alice that Grandpa wasn’t doing well and wouldn’t be coming home….or at least I thought I was saying those things.