It is about a 45 minute car ride from my home to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital without traffic. The appointment was for 9:00 AM and I knew everyone was waiting on my arrival. I contemplated not making the appointment then perhaps it would all go away and the situation would just fix itself if enough time passed. Perhaps they were all wrong and this was a premature decision.
I could not even believe that I was called upon to be part of this decision and requested to attend!
Driving that morning the years flipped like pages, images from the very beginning played in my head. I tried to recall any birthday we celebrated together and remembered only one when I received the only birthday gift I could ever recall. I pressed my memory hard searching for anything positive I could grab hold of. The bad memories were trying to surface and as I have done for so many years I suppressed them. I was a master of suppression. It was in the survival packet that I called upon frequently in order to maintain my life in a good place.
I hit traffic and massive construction and I thought perhaps this delay was fate. I prayed for strength for myself to be able to minister in the hours ahead of me.
I was a few minutes late as I walked into the room. All eyes were on me, eyes filled with tears ready to brim over. I greeted each person with my eyes avoiding the vision I did not want to see, the reason why I was there early that Monday Morning.
I heard muffled sobs coming from the corner of the room. My older sister by 16 months was falling apart before my very eyes. She was the reason I told myself why I showed up there that day. My sister is not much older than me and I have always felt the need to take care of her. She asked me to be with her through all of this and made me promise I would beside her. I grabbed her, held her and felt her body convulse in involuntary jerky motions. I knew this was going to be extremely difficult for her today since it was her son’s 17th birthday, my only godson and nephew. This was not where we ever thought we would be on his 17th birthday. My sister had big birthday plans for him and wanted to be with him for his driving test scheduled for that morning.
I asked myself why it had to happen this way and on this particular day in time.
The nurse came in and asked us if we were ready. Ready I wanted to scream, who is EVER ready for this! We asked for a few more minutes.
My sister clung to me as we watched the others quietly approach the hospital bed whispering their Good Byes. Person after person wiping their tear stained eyes upon exiting the room.
All had exited the room leaving my sister and me among a few other family members. Now it was our turn to say our Good Byes. I let go of my sister’s hand and motioned for her to go up by herself. She grabbed hold of my hand and jerked me to my feet to accompany her. My sister stroked and kissed his face sobbing his name, a name that had not passed my lips like it was passing through hers. Daddy, Daddy she sobbed and sobbed. She pulled me close to her this time taking charge of me. Her eyes directed me to say my own Good Byes.
What happened next was involuntary. I leaned over my father and whispered to him. I touched his face, kissed his forehead and whispered I love you Daddy.
The nurse came in asked us to step out so she could undo all the life support equipment.
We were allowed back in the room to be with him as he took his last breaths. My sister and the rest took turns approaching the bed speaking in low tones. I kept eye on the heart and BP monitors winding down like a clock going out of commission.
One last time I went to my father’s side. I recited some prayers, Bible Verses, the 23rd Psalm in his right ear. I told him I would see him when I see him. I prayed with him for salvation and eternal life.
I do not know what took place those last few moments only God knows and one day I will know. I kissed him Good Bye for now.
He breathed on his own for almost an hour and a half. It was painful to watch someone struggling with each breath.
After he was pronounced dead, one by one people came in and said so many things to him. People that I had never met or vaguely knew. People that knew my biological father obvious to me in ways I never knew him in. I filed that to deal with at another time.
I focused my attention on my sister. I stayed with her for quite awhile and helped her make some Birthday plans for her 17 year old son.
I was driving up the NJ Turnpike in the hustle and bustle of North Jersey traffic, business as usual numb, dazed and probably in shock. I looked around and all I could see was life going on as usual.
I wanted to scream so loud “ I just watched my father Die” can the world just take a pause for a second! I realized that I most likely was not the only one driving that day that had just experienced a tragedy. I thought to myself how many do we meet every day that have a smile on their face all the while dealing with a broken heart quietly.
To be contd…