Ok, here goes nothin'...
Yesterday was the six year anniversary of my sister's death. That one event was a catalyst for me in so many ways. One way was to start writing and I did that by writing about the seven days after she died. A month or so ago I had this idea that I should post here an excerpt of the book on the anniversary of her death as it falls on a Tuesday this year too. Well I got busy and things got in the way (mostly fear) so the day came and went and I played it safe and did nothing. I have felt such a sense of unease the days leading up to Tuesday the 13th and now the day after that I know I have to post something if I am ever going to find peace.
Please understand this is a work in progress, six years now, and I am confident that the time for me to finish it is near. Thank you for taking the time to listen to my story.
In Love and Light,
Seven Days (working title)
The crying was truly heart wrenching. The kind of crying that comes from the deepest inner part of you that is only reached during times like this. Uncontrollable sobs and tears pouring form ones heart and soul. It spoke of love, sorrow and peace all at the same time.
Ah Michelle. We touched her, kissed her even clung to her as her body grew cold and started to change color, from blue to grey and then white. She was truly gone. It was evident that the once bright, happy, full of life little girl was no longer in her body. She had gone back to where she came from. Gone back to that place of peace, wholeness and purity that she had briefly abandoned while was visiting us here during our lifetime.
That moment that she passed seemed to be the easiest part of Michelle’s life. It was even simpler than her birth. If you knew Michelle you know that easy and simple are now words that would be used to describe her life.
If you have ever witnessed a birth you truly understand the word miracle. One moment there is just those in the room and within the next minute there is breathing, living, human being, a person, a soul to be attached to you until death. Death is the same miracle. In one breath the person is with you living breathing, no matter what their condition is and then they are gone in the time it takes to take the next breath. Gone and never to return, never to interact with or talk to again. Birth and Death are truly both miracles. Michelle’s life (the in between part of her birth and death) proved to be a miracle in itself.
Many people had spent that last day with Michelle. There were the people that loved her and those who loved and wanted to support my parents. It must have seemed strange to the others in the CCU (Critical Care Unit). The bouts of tears mixed with the bouts of laughter would have seemed strange to me too, in an area that was set aside for death. We reminisced about how funny and eccentric she had been and of all the funny little and big things she would do. For instance, when she learned to make the letter L with her hand and put it on her forehead and always knew the appropriate time to us it. Or like when she would get on a food kick and only eat refried beans or bologna (not my favorite phase, bologna breath is not pretty) for months at a time.
So many things made Michelle happy such as a “surprise”, what she knew to be presents that were just for her and she received daily from family or friends. Everyone knew that when you visited my parent’s home you were to bring a “surprise” for her. You could say it was an unspoken law, which believe it or not she could and would enforce. She loved to watch her favorite T.V. shows like “Barney” or “Family Matters”, and just laugh and sing (in her own way) for hours at a time.
Just as many things pissed her off, if not more. Not bringing her a surprise would bring on a very sad pouty face and then endless nagging for the entire visit to remind you to bring her something next time. And of course if you dared tell her no she would run you down with her wheelchair, no questions asked.
The nurse, who had come in every five minutes to turn down her respirator in small increments, also joined into the casual conversation and asks my dad if all the girls in the room were his. You see most of my female cousins were there so there were about six of us. The joking went on about how hard girls were to raise and the nurse talked about how he had four boys. All this chit-chat went on as we were waiting for my sister to take her last breath. That was just what kind of day it was.
Reluctantly my parents and family slowly left Michelle’s room not wanting it to be the end. Knowing that once we left it would be final and we would never see her again. Hesitating, slowly we left the CCU and went to a small waiting area near the main corridor. I was so difficult to walk away and leave her there. We didn’t know what to do or where to go. I noticed that my cousin Renee had quietly and discreetly closed the door to Michelle’s room when the last person left as if to just let her rest in peace and have privacy. I thought what a thoughtful and sensitive thing to do. I would have never thought of that being so important and it was.
Immediately I went into automatic drive and began making a mental to do list of all of the things I needed to do for the funeral. That was my survival mode which I seemed to maintain until after we laid her to rest. While everyone was talking in hushed tones in the waiting room I was in my own world of “get er done”.
After we had adjourned to the hall, the nurse came out and said she needed a signature from one of my parents, so my dad dazed went back in to the CCU and again I watched Renee’s silent support as she followed him, just in case she was needed. Through the door way I could see my father sitting at the desk in the nurse’s station trying to focus on what the nurse was asking him to do. After he finished the paperwork, I heard my father ask the nurse what was going to happen to my sister’s body and the nurse said that she needed to remove the IV’s and monitors before the body was moved “downstairs” (the morgue). He looked at her with fresh tears in his eyes and as much control as he could muster and said ‘please be gentle with her as you remove them’. The nurse started to cry and hugged him and told him that she would be gentle. It was as if she had been holding back her emotions during the last couple of days and then finally couldn’t anymore.
To Be Continued…