As usual, a lot has happened since we last met. More than a lot, actually. Life changing things. December in and of itself was one of the most life-changing months of my life on so many levels–extremely negative and extremely positive. To start, I lost someone. And as I lost her, I gained someone. That’s the simple version.
It was Christmas morning, and my mum popped in to my bedroom far too early with eyes full of tears again. She was going to the hospital to see her and asked if I’d like to come along. Of course, yes. I would never pass down the opportunity, especially when things had been so bad. I showered quickly, gathered my laptop and a good book, and we left to go to downtown Saint Louis on that beautiful, blue day.
I navigate our way to the waiting room, walking quickly in my high heeled boots to see everyone gathered. Katie has her roll of toilet paper instead of Kleenexes. Tammy has brought along Grandma’s peanut butter and chocolate cookies that she had made a few days before. Cathy is texting. Larry and Gary are chatting. Avis is to the side. Grandpa is there, and I give him a hug. We sit there, chatting because there’s nothing else to do. I send a couple texts along as Merry Christmas.
I’m sorry, I’m shaking.
The doctor runs in. He’s so young; it’s probably why he’s here on Christmas morning. He asks for Grandpa to come now, and Cathy and my mum run to follow. Avis runs out. Katie and I and the men are left in the waiting room. I can’t remember it. I don’t know who came back. But my feet are walking too slowly behind Katie. I’m entering the room. I can see her feet, but Tammy says we may not want to move forward. I can’t. I can’t move. I can’t cry. I can’t breathe. I can’t move. Katie is falling into me, sobbing. I hold her as tightly as possible, wrapping my arms around her and holding on to her for dear life as my knees start to tremble. She’s crying into my sweater. And it takes me minutes before I’m crying too. I hold on to her like a life-vessel; make me cry. Please. I can’t handle this all. What do you do? What do any of us do?
I don’t remember how I got back to the waiting room. But I sat there in the corner chair completely still, staring straight forward, tears still pooling in my eyes but otherwise overly calm. They’re all still in there. I can’t be. I just can’t. I can’t. I pull away to my bag to find my mobile.
“I’m sorry Marshall. It’s over. It’s all over.”
“I’m so sorry.”
I pull out the book that I had brought along ‘A Great and Terrible Beauty’, and I rip out the flyleaf containing my name and number should the book get lost. With the school pencil still left in my bag, I start to write. I write everything. I tell her how it’s beautiful out. That it’s her favourite day of the year. I tell her that I can’t feel so I left them cry for me. I stare out of that waiting room window and just write down everything that I possibly can and ignore all of the voices around me.
I try to ignore the doctor saying that she’s trying to breathe as a reflex even though she’s gone. We say not to recessitate. Her mind is gone, and she’s told us too many times not to let her be like that. I’m suddenly pulling all of these neurological facts out of my silly stupid brain because I’m such a cognitive psych nerd. We tell them to give up.
And she finally does at noon.
We leave. We go back home, and I tell my mum that I’m driving and don’t give her any other option.
We leave without her. How do we do that? How can we just leave with one person missing?
Christmas is at our house. All of the family is there, and we spend a good deal of time just telling stories about her. Remembering. Crying over the presents that she got us and wrapped two days before when Katie, Shelly, and I were over to help her. We laugh, too. Everything.
And finally, I’m in the corner of the living room, eating that cookie that she made for me and had wrapped along with a fifty dollar bill and Christmas orange, and I’m crying and smiling up at the ceiling because I have so much hope that things can be okay.
I lost one of the most meaningful people in my life that day.
I’m sorry. I’m shaking too much.
This will be continued at another point. I’ll tell you how I gained someone at the same time.