Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Life is full of inexplicable and meaningful events. Some things change us on such a deep level, that although it is impossible to describe the difference, we are forever elementally changed. My older sister, Becky, died in a tragic car accident in August of 2005. I will never be able to describe the change, but I can describe the event: 

The cold air penetrated every cell in my body. I was almost surprised that the liquid in the IV bags was not frozen solid. The cold didn’t matter, though, because Becky’s hand was still warm in mine. I wanted nothing to do with the warm drinks or trips to get some fresh air. All I wanted to do was hold on.
The nurse came in to check the life support machines. Her eyes had seen tragedy like this before and were perceptive of the needs of everyone in the room. After seeing the bluish tint to my lips and my shivering figure, she brought me a warm blanket. I wrapped the white blanket (which was oddly familiar) around my shoulders and continued holding on to my big sis. Memories and regrets flew spasmodically through my head as all sense of time drowned in shock and grief. At some point, I compromised to sit in the big chair at the foot of the bed and pile more blankets on my freezing body. As my body temperature rose, my exhaustion finally registered with my brain. It was, after-all, almost 7:30a.m. and I had not slept – let alone let my thoughts stop racing. My eye lids took on a life or their own; closing against my will. I slipped into a dreamless unconsciousness, lulled by the unnatural rhythm of Becky’s assisted breath.
I was reaching for the snooze button before I realized that the loud beeping was not my alarm clock. My eyes rocketed open just in time to see a pair of pastel scrubs run past me. I stood up and started to walk toward the bed, but a calm, practiced voice said, “Sweetheart, we need to ask ya’ll to leave the room for a minute,” For some strange reason—such as breakfast—only my grandfather and I were in the room. We walked out the door before I thought to protest. My feet hit the hard shinning tile floor as an echoing and unnaturally calm voice come over the intercom: “Code Blue. Code BLUE.” The world started to spin wildly around, my mom and brother-in-law dashed down the hall as if the voice had called their names. Not yet comprehending exactly what was going on, I said: “You can’t go in there; they ask us to leave.” Realization slapped me with a harsh hand as my mother’s voice filled my ears, “They aren’t coding her? They are not!”
My memory turns into spurts of voices, faces, and uneven rhythms of space and time. My mind filled with the same repeating thoughts, “She crashed. She’s really gone. Gone…gone.” All words were lost on me: I could not think. Tears: pain overflowing the bounds of shocked eyes, voices too calm for the situation, and a small waiting room. Tissue boxes, hands begging for companions, sudden anger, fighting, empty echoing bathroom, cold, cold water.