Monday, June 21, 2010
walking her out...
You might think this is a sad story. It's not really, in fact when you add up the moments, it's a rich story full of memories and poignant moments. Thank you Atway Auntie for letting me be there.
Thursday we got word that our auntie wasn't doing so well, our niece said "I'm worried about Auntie Eileen she's just not looking good"
Friday morning I got a phone call that she had been taken to the ER in our little town and was enroute to a nearby larger town where she could get more detailed care...
We stayed with her for several hours and she seemed to be stirring around so we tried to make her more comfortable. We weren't too pleased with the nurse by the way, I do respect the work of nurses the world 'round, really, I do! Nurses have the thankless job of dealing with humanity at it's most base level, and they have the distasteful job of witnessing us at our most unappealing moments...humans are a messy business you know? Well this nurse was a crisp curt practical type, showed absolutely no visible hint of human kindness; we all communicated our dislike of her mannerisms to each other without uttering a word and wouldn't you know it? This bright little woman picked up on it and explained to a few of us that this wasn't her usual floor, she's usually an ICU nurse - ahhhhh! the light went on! ICU nurses aren't used to having to deal with patients that talk and respond. HELLO.I did commend our little nurse on her competence and focus and we went on from there.
Finally, we all kissed Auntie and said good night, we hugged each other and took the long drive home.
I went to work the next day, casually texting Son #2 to see how his mama faired through the night. "She's not doing well, she suffered cardiac arrest this morning at 5:00" OMG are you kidding me? I called my brother and we headed out to go back to the hospital.
We got there and to all intents and purposes we believed that our little Auntie had left us at 5:00 that morning. Oh, her body was functioning...all machines hooked up to continue the physical manifestation of being alive, but if you looked closely you could see she wasn't in there...the doctor came in to talk to us all and he shared the nuts and bolts of Auntie's condition and he said to us "she suffered cardiac arrest this morning, she was gone for twenty two minutes (TWENTY TWO MINUTES???? SHE IS GONE...) he went on to explain some more factors and shared what he was going to do to help her.
We visited with her one at a time, then my brother and cousin took a quick ride to go pick up "Son's" partner and then we heard it "Code blue ICU room ___" we all looked at each other and said "is that US?" Yes it was.
Those of us remaining all ran to her room, we wanted just one glimpse of her on this side I guess. The code team was working not at a feverish but at a competent consistent level, calling out doses of drugs to each other, and the other technical phrases one uses in such a case. My niece and I, although we were not able to sing fully began humming to Auntie...we knew the song we meant to sing, it just wouldn't come out - we stood there with tears streaming down our faces humming to her, we'd all told her it's okay, just go, and we looked at her other son standing there - do you want them to keep on? Finally they stopped...
We went up to her and continued to sing. Auntie's one son returned with my brother and we all gathered around her as her "light" went out. There's only one way to describe it...you could see the light leaving her kind of like a time lapse when you see the sun setting...I encouraged the sons and nieces and nephews to speak to her as she left, somehow I just know she could still hear them. They all said their "I love you's" and it was a moment I'll never forget.
My brother lead us all in another song and we left her side to go gather in the waiting room.
Thank you Auntie for letting us walk you to the Gate.