The first word that comes to mind is: Why?

Posted: January 2, 2011 in Uncategorized

Friday morning the phone rang.  Which is unusual because even though it was close to a holiday – it was a work day.  So to get a call that early meant that it was something important.  It was.

The tone of my mom’s voice was the first flag of  “uh oh”.  Her voice wavered like it did when she was trying really hard not to cry or freak out.  Kim (my cousin), she informed me, went into cardiac arrest earlier and was on her way to the University hospital in Madison.

Madison.  About an hour from me – over two for her.  But there wasn’t a lot of information and she just wanted to let me know; that my Aunt and Uncle were on their way and that she and my Dad were headed out shortly to join them.   She would keep me updated.

That shocked, foggy feeling hit.  Should I go? Should I wait?  I didn’t want to bombard her with questions because she didn’t know.  So I went back to my computer and tried to work.  Tried being the operative word; my mind would wander, wondering the when, what, how and why’s of it all.  Most of all: why Kim?

Thankfully my Mom called to tell me that my Aunt and Uncle were there and I was able to transfer communication and find out more:  She’d been in cardiac arrest for a while before they got her there and things didn’t look good.  I sat there in shock, staring at my computer and looking at numbers and emails that my brain refused to comprehend.  The WHY of it all still screaming around my brain.

Then the deal making kicked in as I waited for a conference call to come to a close.  The same deals I’ve tried to make before.  They start out small, with requests of  being a better person if I could just have this one boon.  Finally spiraling down to asking for a trade – her for me.   I tried reasoning with whoever the fuck is in charge:  listing out all the reasons why I would be a better candidate for this.

I know this was fucked up. How could I, without consulting my family, sit there and come up with this deal and not think of them.  But I wasn’t thinking of them.  I was thinking of her.  She is my cousin and growing up, she was like a sister to me.  If put under oath, each of us could have told some stories that would have gotten us in a shitload of trouble with the law, and even more trouble with our parents.

She was two years younger than I.  My brothers age.  My husband’s age.  She has three children and two grandchildren.  A wonderful husband who adores her.  A brother who, along with the rest of their family, suffered the loss of their mother.  He needed her.  They all did.   It’s not that I don’t think I wouldn’t be missed – it was a pure knee-jerk reaction:  they are suffering and I need to do whatever I could to stop it without considering any consequences.

In the meantime, I’m being asked questions that I had to have repeated and I’m sure the people on the call thought I was just being apathetic or eager to start my New Year’s celebrating when all I wanted to do is get the fuck off the phone and get to the hospital.

At the end of the conference call, my mom called – a quick chat:  it didn’t look good.  I assured her that I would be there as soon as I could.  Our team was granted an early send off and I thought I could make it to that.

I was wrong.

I couldn’t do anything productive.  I tried.  I would open documents and look around and suddenly wonder what I was doing because my mind had wandered to some old memory involving her or wondering what was going on in the hospital.  I didn’t say anything to anyone at work.  My boss was on vacation and by the time I realized that waiting another 90 minutes would be pointless, her boss was off-line.  So I closed up shop and got on the road to the hospital.

I drive fast.  Always have. Leadfoot Annie my dad would call me with a mixture of pride and warning.  I drove to Madison daring anyone from any county to pull my ass over.  My fear of the unknown had latched onto anger of  being stopped.  I didn’t drive like I was some maniac, and I didn’t get over 90 mph.  I found that when there were cars around – I did whatever I safely could to get out of the pack.  I was on a mission and had no clue what or where the other drivers were going and didn’t care.  I waved to people who got out of my way, cursed at those who slowed me up.

Got lost in Madison (thanks for nothing Google Maps) and found my way thanks to my Blackberry and a few helpful people (thank you Mr. Mail Carrier and Random Cross-walk Lady).  Met up with my Mom and up to the Cardiac ICU.  As soon as I saw her, part of me stopped.   The young part of me that had the most memories; of make up and hair styling, of the time I was trimming her hair and her boyfriend called as I was getting ready to cut and she jumped up giving her a crooked cut right at her cowlick that made it stick up for a couple of weeks until it grew out.  Of me stumbling to her bed, drunk, too drunk to drive, thinking I was pushing her toward the wall, when I was actually pushing her out of bed (or so she says). 

This was the girl I played tea party with.  We played Barbies and dolls and school and found out that the stairs in her mom’s apartment were GREAT for sliding down on a piece of cardboard (thankfully we all got a turn or three before her mom realized what we were doing).  Her mom used to watch my brother and I.  I remember standing in the kitchen with my cousin, helping her mom make a cake and each of us were holding an egg;  I dropped mine – she didn’t.

I was the uncoordinated one. The klutz.  I was tall and awkward a giant compared to her and her mom.    We had fights and disagreements – when we got to the age of boyfriends I recall her absolutely hating one of my boyfriends.  He was a jerk she’d told me, he was no good.  She was right.

She could say things to me that no one else could.  Some tried and realized quickly that it was an inside family thing and that they had overstepped their boundaries.  Kim could call me out on my bullshit just as I could for her.  I loved her.  All of her and she loved me. I know this.  She knows it.

Nurses came in and out.  Doctors stopped by for assessments – staying and making sure that any questions were answered.  In between this I sat with family or in her room, staring at her monitors, willing her to wake up.  Asking her to wake up.  Begging her to wake up.  I threatened to tell everyone my side of certain stories and set records straight if she didn’t wake up.  I held her hand, stroked her forehead.  I pleaded with any deity that would take up the cause and just let her wake up and get better and go on.

Looking around at tear-stained faces and red eyes and feeling little pieces of my heart break off, while the younger part of me stood outside the room, refusing to go on.  Denial had taken up residence.   Some family had to go home, others took wandering in and out, checking things.  Praying, I’m sure, like I was that this time when they walked in she would be showing signs of improvement.  Or better yet, that she’d have some miracle episode and would be sitting up in bed, wondering just what in the hell all this carrying on was for.

To top it off, my mom hasn’t been in the best of health and the only reason my dad went home to take care of things there was because I promised (PROMISED) to watch her because she would get dizzy spells after sitting for a long time.  Fine. I could handle that.  And I did, right until 2 am when she came back from taking a nap and promptly fell asleep in one of the chairs.  Kipp (cousin) and I joked around, making comments about her sawing wood and both tried to get her to go back and get more rest.  She ignored us.

So I told her I was going to get some sleep.  I knew Kipp needed it but he wouldn’t.  He was waiting for his sister to wake up.  I went and found an empty waiting room and got comfortable.  As comfortable as one can when people were passing down the hallway in various gaits.  The walkers were easy to ignore, the runners were not.   But finally I got to sleep, only to be woken up by my mom’s voice saying “Oh there she is”  I lifted my head and saw my mom, in a wheelchair being pushed by a nurse.

The weariness was gone as the nurse explained that my mom stumbled getting up and twisted her ankle.  We got her on one of the couches, ankle propped up with ice packs and she was already dozing off as the nurse explained where the emergency room was.  The joke was, if she was going to fall somewhere and get hurt, she’d picked a great place to do it.  After a couple of adjustments, my mom was comfortable enough to fall asleep and start her trade mark “not-snoring” snore.  I retreated to the waiting area across the hall where it wasn’t as bad.  But I kept waking up.  If she and I were here, who was with Kim?

Around 4:30 I helped her to the ladies room and said she needed to be seen and she agreed (thankfully) and we started the long ride to the emergency room.  She made me promise that after I’d checked her in I would go back upstairs.  I did that with the full intention of sending down someone to check on her.    I sent Kipp who came back and reported that she was in a bed “resting” we joked that it must be nurse code for snoring.

The rest of the day was a rollercoaster ride that is too exhausting right now to go into.  In the end she was declared clinically dead and now, now I’m left in this fog wondering why.

But isn’t that the question on everyones mind when they lose a loved one?



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