My first semester at EKU was about to start. I had started to read a textbook for a class I was looking forward to after Cy left to take his daughter to his mom’s. My head was pounding like crazy that day, and K had tried to cheer me up by letting me wear her Burger King crown. My phone had been in one spot for hours, and without any missed calls I had a voicemail. Service at home had been so unreliable and spotty, after several attempts I gave up listening to the voicemail on my cellphone and ended up calling it from our landline. I had to listen to the message several times because it was too unbelievable.
Mom was in the ICU (when and why was she sent to the hospital) and upon returning the call I learned that she had a high likelihood of not making it an hour. They needed to know if they should put her on life support and start dialysis – the only possibility to save her. I said yes, though I’d promised her that I’d never allow her to be hooked up to machines. Frantic calls to my sister and husband were made. I remember that Cy had just gotten to his mom’s and gotten K ready to pick pears. He still made it to the hospital pretty quickly.
When we were allowed to see her at first, it seemed like she was still there. She was weak, but she still felt like her. Most of the night is a blur now – I remember sitting in the waiting room, eating Taco Bell. We were there for hours, and that’s all I remember of waiting. What’s most vivid is being taken into ICU again, and holding her hand with that feeling that she wasn’t there anymore. She seemed gone. Her color had turned green, she was cold. She seemed empty. A shell. The doctor said that she would most likely not make it to morning, even hooked up to the machine. My sister and I looked at each other.
We needed to be there when she died. She couldn’t be alone. Still, it’s not easy knowing that you told the doctor to give up. You had them give up, you had them take the only link to life away. On one hand I know that she didn’t want to be hooked up to machines to begin with, so there’s guilt for being selfish and trying to hang on to her… but on the other and I will always feel horrible for the decision to unhook her.
Two friends came to support me. Amber and Jerry stood behind me with their hands on my shoulders. Cy sat squeezing my hand as I squeezed hers. I squeezed it so hard that it bruised prior to her actual death. Transformers was on the tv – a movie she’d always wanted to see and I’ll never be able to watch. The one image that sticks out in my head from the next day, when we went to clean out her room, was the pile of oranges she’d been saving for Cy because she knew he loved them. There they sat, waiting for me to come and get them for him. God, I miss her.
Time doesn’t make the passing of a loved one heal. That’s a lie. What it does instead is to make you deal with it better, I guess. Each day you push it back a little more, just for that wave to hit again and feel like it’s crushing you again. I look at my boys, and wish they could feel her hugs. She’d love them so very much, and it’s unfair that they never got to meet her. I so wish things were different.