Dreaming

Another nights sleep – another dream about Sarah.

Last night I was sitting in her hospital room – it was exactly as it was in reality.

The smell of antiseptic. The beeping of the life support system. The striped curtain sectioning off the metal hospital bed where she laid completely covered in wires. Tubes in her arms. Tubes down her throat. Tubes pumping bags and bags of magical hopeful fluids – whispering the wish that she would open her eyes. Whispering the wish that she could be healed. Whispering the wish we were all going to be ok.

Sarah

And in that dream just like in reality I sat next to her starring at her – piercing her with my focus and my energy as a scream raged inside of my head….

“Wake up Sarah! Wake up Sarah! Fu&^%$# Dammit Wake up Sarah!.”

Her chest rose – her chest fell – and in that moment – that precious breath was the center of my entire existence. The entire world could fall away for all I cared because in that room and in that moment —- the only thing that fu*&^% mattered was the quiet dull hum of Sarah’s exhales.

Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock.

Exhale, Inhale, Exhale, Inhale.

Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep…..

And in the dream I felt the urgency – that same fu&^*% urgency we all felt within those first few days – those first critical days when we quietly knew and yet never said out loud how vital it was that she showed any sign of life.

That it meant life or death.

As God as my witness I pray that no one ever has to experience that level of anxiety.

 

HoldingHands

For there is no greater anxiety than being forced to wait, and to sit still, and to not scream, and to not punch someone, and to not grab every doctor by their stupid white coat and scream into their face that they have to tell you what the hell is happening!!!

There is no greater anger than staring at a person you love wanting to shake them as hard as you can to force them to wake up and live.

Wake up, wake up, wake up!!!!!

You watch and you wait and you plead with God. You get down on your hands and knees and you beg him. You would give anything he asks of you just please God, please God, Please God do not let her die!!!!!

Sara

And as we all swam in the pool of gray between life and death – we refused to let our minds go to the dark place – the silent question we all were asking ourselves…the small whisper everyone pretended not to hear …..

Could this really be it?

There’s no way she’s gonna die. There’s no way. There’s no way. There’s no way.

“She’s such a fighter.” “She’s too damn stubborn to let this get her down.” “God wouldn’t do this.”

Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock.

Exhale, Inhale, Exhale, Inhale.

Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep.

One of us went home. Another one showed up. The hospital door rotated and we all tried to stay as calm as possible. Exchanging information. Eating turkey and cheese. Waiting for updates. Piercing her face with our stares. Whispering all the things we were dying to say into her ears. Forcing ourselves to believe that she could hear us.

“Sarah honey we are right here. You are safe and you are strong and you are going to be ok. Please don’t be scared honey. We need you to come back to us. We need you here. You cant leave us here without you. I love you. I love you. I love you.”

———————————-

And the sun rose every morning promising new hope.

“We are hopefully optimistic” – the doctors would say.

And we all clung our fingernails into those words for dear life.

Hope.
Hope.
Hope.

Her heartbeat would rise as I sang “You are My Sunshine” – certainly that meant she could hear us. She moved her arm once almost three inches – she was trying to show us she was going to be ok. I could hold her swollen hand – chipped french manicure and all – proving to me that she was still right there – there’s no way she could just be “gone.

As soon as she comes out of this I am going to tell her how pissed I am at her for making me worry like this – —- and we are both quitting with the Parliament Lights! When she wakes up I am going to kill her.

I would imagine what her recovery was going to be like. How I would be there every step of Sara2the way as she got better. How I would bring US Weekly’s to read her and play Britney Spears on the IPOD full blast. How I was going to be the same domineering persistent friend I always was. How I was going push her like hell through her rehab treatments. How I was not moving on without her and I sure as hell wasn’t going to stop visiting that hospital everyday until she walked out of there holding my hand.

Flash

We are in the car together last spring. She drove the sweetest little Red Mini. The windows were down as we sped down the highway with Jason Mraz blaring. She is scatting along with him grandiosely gesturing with every word. Sarah loved music. She’s doing body rolls in the driver seat now and I am laughing hysterically at the sight of it all.

Flash.

Its day three now as the doctors finally find us in the waiting room…..

The brain swelling is not reducing the way that it should. They were hoping for more of a response by now. They are adding things – changing things – testing things.

Beat. Beat. Beat.

My heart is beating right out of my chest.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

But she’s right in front of me.

Sunrise. Sunset. Sunrise. Sunset.

——-

That little question is getting louder…


Could this really be it?

We watch as they glue little electrodes to her head. We watch as they add more needles to her arms. We watch as doctor after doctor after doctor pushes on her chest. As they force her eyelids open and shine light into them. We stare at her eyes. Her frozen still eyes – searching for some small sign of life.


Sarah can you hear me?

They scream it in her ear. Every hour. On the hour. The shifts change. The faces change. The medicines change.

And in Sarah nothing changes.

Theres nothing in her eyes

Theres no movement in her body.

Simply the sound of her breath.

Exhale, Inhale, Exhale, Inhale.

As the days go on my anger increases. The tension in the hospital room grows. My patience for others – especially the answerless doctors begins to decrease – right along with the hope. You can feel the question getting louder in the room. Minute by minute the question is getting louder – its so loud now that it is beginning to turn into a statement.

The brain is beginning to prepare itself.

The thought finally cannot be avoided.

This might actually be it.

But the world around me keeps spinning – and that is unavoidable – for the world always Sarah3continues to spin – with or without us. It’s a humbling fact of life.

My boss comes into my office asking where my appointment report is – I think about catapulting across my desk and ringing his f-ing neck. Facebook statuses continue updating…

“John Doe is devastated about the football game loss”

I think about commenting…

 

“You stupid asshole your game means f-ing nothing – NOTHING.”

People are late to appointments and stressed about the bills and the trash going out. People are talking about their days. People are living there lives as I sit there numb …..secretly hating them all ….wondering how they can be so shallow and how meaningless all of the stupid trivialities of life really are and what a flipping waste all of that worry is.

Im smart enough to recognize I must me in the “anger” phase of grief.

And there are many epiphanies – they are rushing over me like a tidal wave every minute – they are drowning me – they are consuming my every thought.

This is reality. We. Really. Die. Life. Is. Short.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep

I feel it rushing from underneath me.

Flash

It is my wedding and we are sitting down to dinner. Sarah was not my maid of honor. A fun fact she never quite forgave me for – yet forgave enough to ask me to be hers. We were in process of planning her upcoming wedding the day her liver failed.

But back at my wedding dinner Sarah refused to be silenced – maid of honor or not she was going to speak – because she had something to say. And if you know Sarah you know one thing – do not stand between her and something she has her mind set on – because come hell or high water she is going to do it.

Her speech was based on Sex in The City — our mutual love — our great love.

The two of us held that show on somewhat of a pedestal for three reasons:

1. The Fashion – Hello Manolo!!!!

2. The Men (Sarah and I are in a constant battle of Big vs. Aiden)

3. Because never before had anything so well depicted the importance and beauty of girlfriends. Men may never truly understand a woman’s need for the bond that can only be formed between two women – and the impermeable nature of that bond – much to their dismay.

For I have never understood how any woman could survive in this world without the love, the intimacy, and the support that only a girlfriend can provide.

Sex In The City did it best – showing the greater world that the sisterhood of understanding between girls is at times the purest form of unconditional love and showcasing the absolute freedom that comes with being loved for exactly who you are.

Something Sarah always made me feel – – –

That I was lovable by simply being me. That everything I felt, or did, or needed was perfectly ok – because I was perfect just as I was. That I was enough.

And in that speech she needed to share that. She needed to share with the world the love she had for me. She needed to share her happiness in my happiness. For she actually shared in my feelings.

And in that room everyone could feel what she felt….all ten pages of it.

Flash.

===========

Its been eight days and there are no changes.

The doctors stand in circles outside of her room whispering. They can see us out of the corners of their eyes – sitting in silence – stretching our ears out – reaching to hear any tiny tidbit of what is going to happen. We are EXHAUSTED. We have been swimming in the gray for as long as we can handle. We have been sitting in the space between life and death for as long as we can take. We have been waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

And nothing has changed.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

They are starting to know the things that we don’t. They are beginning to know the truth about what is coming. They see the desperation in our eyes – I am positive they can feel the anxiety filling the room.

And so finally – – – they reach for the last resorts and final options – all the things that will give us answers.

For Sarah that meant a bolt in her brain.

A procedure so visually brutal and incredibly barbaric that you can’t help but recognize the scientific fragility of our bodies. They were inserting a bolt into her brain that would tell us the pressure of the swelling that has taken place. The bolt would let us know for certain if her body was here but her brain was not. The bolt would tell us why nothing has changed. Why she hasn’t woken up. Whether or not we are all going to be ok.

And 24 hours later the question was answered.

The answer was right in front of us.

This was really it.

The swelling – what doctors saw on the CAT scan – what doctors once believed was a temporary and possibly reversal obstacle turned out to be the opposite – the swelling was not swelling at all.

Massive. Irreversible. Permanent. Brain Damage.

The words swam around in my mind for a few minutes – just long enough for every drop of oxygen to leave my lungs.

Cant. Breathe. Cant. Breathe.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

Beat. Beat. Beat. Beat.

Mind is flying – running – racing.

Questions we run from. Questions we cannot bear to face. Questions we work to avoid every single day….

If your body is here and your brain is not – is your soul inside your brain? If your body is here and your brain is dead – as in your brain cannot process what is going on around you – as in your brain cannot command your body to function in any way – where are you? Did Sarah leave the minute her brain swelling damaged her brain? If the brain is simply an organ – is the person the brain? Heart still beats. Kidney that still works – so much so that it could be given to someone else to stay alive. So life is in the brain?

The questions are exploding by the second.

Flash.

I am six years old and my cousins and I are climbing around on my uncle’s truck bed in the driveway.

My cousin Gregory starts it….

“Do you know what happens to you when you die?”

“No.”

“You are gone forever. You never come back.”

Chills roll through my body. I intrinsically find this to be a very scary thought. Organically – even at age six – this doesn’t make any sense.

“Where do you go?”

Pause.

“Nowhere.”

“Who goes with you??

Pause.

“You go alone.”

Panic.

Flash.

That was the beginning of a question that went on for many years – a question that rolled around in my head as I tried to find sleep for much of my childhood. A question that had the power to overwhelm me with fear in seconds. It was a question I learned at an early age to try and avoid.

What is this world? What is this world? What is this world? Where do we go when we die?

Panic

Life goes on….. we grow up…… and we somehow manage to become so swept up in this crazy life that we learn how to quiet down that question completely. We focus on the world we are living in so intensely and become so engulfed in our lives and the moment right in front of us that we completely forget to remember….

We are going to die. This does not last forever. And most importantly — We are not in control.

And if I was not in control that meant that there was nothing I could do to avoid pain. That meant that there was nothing I could do to avoid losing things I loved, loosing things I needed, or losing control completely. And the resistance to that concept caused me a great deal of hurt on and off for more years of my life than I care to admit.

I. Could. Build. A. Fortress.

A house where we all were safe. A place where things could be counted on. People that would never leave. A web of safety from the pain.

Until – in a flash – the fortress came crashing down……

Flash.

The phone rings.

Christina this is Kevin….

There are words…..many many words.

Not much time….meeting with the team of doctors in the morning…..taking her off of life support…..only her parents in the room….making her comfortable…..letting her go.

Letting her go. Letting her go. Letting her go.

Tonight is likely the last chance you have to come and say goodbye.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

The worst night of my life.

Pick up my son. Sign him out of childcare. Make dinner. Watch him play the video game.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

I cant.

Face it.

I cant go.

Shannon calls.

I think you will really regret it if you don’t go.

But thats not how I can say goodbye.

And so I didn’t.

I couldn’t bare it. I couldn’t bare holding that swollen hand and looking into her face one last time that way. I couldn’t face the tubes, and the bolt, and the electrodes, and the metal hospital bed. I couldn’t bare looking into those still eyes and telling my best friend in the entire world goodbye – FOREVER.

Habi is crashing cars in his bedroom.

I pick up his warm tiny body and carry him into the car.

I drop him off at his dads house.

I drag myself back up the stairs to my empty apartment.

I fall into my bed.

And I let it all fall out.

And a horrific and remarkable thing happened in that bedroom that night.

I let it go…..

The wailing. The sobbing. The twisting myself inside of my sheets as every ounce of my entire body ached – killed – as every single nerve in my body screamed for dear life.

Flash.

It is a warm fall day and orange and yellow leaves have began to fall throughout St. Louis. Sarah stopped by my house to drink wine on the back porch of the patio that my husband and I shared. I am sitting in the worn down brown wicker chair watching in glee as Sarah and Habi engage in a game of tag.

She is running up and down the hill as Habi races to catch her. They both are squealing with laughter as she wraps her self around him and they roll onto the ground.

Again, Again, Again.

The running and the laughter goes on for what seems like an eternity.

Her giggle. My son. Pure joy.

Flash.

The darkness envelops me in the bedroom as I sweat and shake and sob. I am trembling against the pillow as the image of Sarah running after Habi plays on repeat over and over and over again in my mind…

Dancing to the music. Unwrapping my moving boxes. Swirling in her turquoise blue dress at our favorite bar. Her throwing a bloody mary on a boy (wearing a white linen suite non the less) I was dating because she was so protective of me. Laying in my bed talking about our marriages…laying in bed crying about my divorce. Playing with the dogs in the rain. Chugging beers on our college campus in the snowstorm. Running around the track as we vowed to loose five pounds. Sitting in my office two days before she was gone listening to music for a video montage. The feeling of her long blonde hair between my fingers as we hugged to say goodbye that night.

Flash.

I am biting into my pillow now as I touch down into a place of pain so deep it seems within that moment as though there is no way out of it.

Make this go away. Make this go away. Make this go away.

I am smothered by the grief – I am terrified I may never find the light again – In this moment it feels as though there is no way out of it. Claustrophobia. Must make it stop.

God please nooooooooo……please not Sarahhhhhhhhhh

And in that moment…in the absolute rock bottom of grief and pain and hurt….the most incredible feeling washed over me.

Let goooooooooooooooooo…………………………

And for once in my life I listened.

And like the waves of the ocean it overcame me. And for the very first time in my life I stopped the swimming against the current. I let it take me. Wave in. Wave out. Go with it. Move with it.

Accept it.

I was not afraid of the pain. I was not afraid of the loss. I was not afraid of facing it.

And in the exact moment that I stopped resisting an enormous strength rushed over me.

And from that strength grew a tiny seed in my mind.

We are all going to be ok.

Wave in.

And this pain is a part of life.

Wave out.

Let the pain take you

Wave in.

Because no matter what happens

Wave out.

Everything is going to be ok.

Wave in.
BBBBBBBBBBBBBEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP.

And by the time I woke up —–

She was gone.

And this was really it.

And I accepted her death.

I accepted death.

Because we are not in control.

Flash

 

Back in my dream we are sitting in her hospital room – it was exactly as it was in reality.

The smell of antiseptic. The beeping of the life support system. The striped curtain sectioning off the metal hospital bed where she laid completely covered in wires. Tubes in her arms. Tubes down her throat. Tubes pumping bags and bags of magical hopeful fluids – whispering the wish that she would open her eyes. Whispering the wish that she could be healed. Whispering the wish we were all going to be ok.

And in the dream I am holding her hand – piercing her with my face. And suddenly her arm moves – wrapping my arm within hers as she pulls me in to spoon her. I am laying with our hands intertwined with my chest against her back listening to the sounds of her breathing. She smiles as we both fall off to sleep – entangled in each others arms.

We are both going to be ok.

Exhale.

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