Tuesday, November 03, 2009


My brother was driving down to be with mom on Friday, 9/11. She was mad that he was not attending Grandma Blanche's services but we didn't want her to be alone down there. Mel's sister and daughter had driven back Wednesday to help take care of her services so my cousin (kelly) drove over from Tennessee to sit with mom for a few days.

I was planning to drive down on Sunday and spend a few days. I really thought that it would come down to helping mom make the decision to take him off life support so I didn't know how long that would go on.

I woke up Friday morning and had a sense of urgency. I needed to hit the road "right now". I called my cousin (karen) who said she would ride with me (the sister of the cousin who was already there) and made arrangements with Gab and his parents to help with the kids. I was in Indiana at the time for a training so I actually had to drive two hours home, repack my backpack and hit the road. It took just around 8 hours to get there. I arrived at about 6pm.

at the ICU, you can only be in the room at certain times and for only half hour increments. I went right in at 6 and told Mel I was there and we missed him and the kids wanted him to come home. He was so frail and had tubes coming out everywhere, he would have HATED that. He had a male nurse named Forrest and he talked just like Forrest Gump but he was very sincere and caring. When our time was up, I told Mel "we have to go now, we'll be back in two hours".

we went to eat and at 8:00pm we went back in. His monitors were all over the place like his blood pressure was not stable at all. The doctor came in and told us that he was "very ill" that any ONE thing he had going wrong with him would put him in the ICU but he had several very serious things happening at once. He did not feel there was anything left to do. At 8:30 I had to leave so I held his hand and told him we couldn't come back tonight but we would see him first thing in the morning. I went to the waiting room where my brother was sleeping and my cousin was on her cell phone. My mom stayed (they let spouses spend an extra 15 minutes). Within moments of sitting down we heard over the intercom "Code Blue: Level 4" and seconds after that my mother comes running out screaming and sobbing for us to "come quick". My brother jumped up and I ran out (no shoes) and she tried to get back into the ICU but the nurses held her back and told her she could not be back there. She just cried and screamed at them that she was supposed to go get her kids, they ushered us into a family room near the door.

A woman came into the room with us who was with another family in ICU and she identified herself as a pastor and offered to pray with us. As she prayed my mom sobbed how "she can't live without him" and "where was Jesus when I asked him to make Mel better?" She does not even remember this portion of the event at all.
A doctor came into the room and kneeled down to us. She said "we got a heartbeat" and my mom jumped with hope. "But...to be frank...it's the medicine keep him alive at this point and when the medicine gets through his system he will likely code again". They escorted us in to his room again.
Mel's two sisters and one daughter were driving down (they had waited until after Grandma Blanche's services to hit the road) so they were about an hour away at this point. We hoped they could make it in time to say their good byes.

We were in the room maybe five minutes when he coded again. Again we were led to the family room. Forrest came in and said "he is likely going to die now, do you want to be in the room when it happens?" and we followed him back to Mel's room. There were about 6 other people in the room.  A large man performing CPR on his fragile body and a doctor pushing medicine into a mainline at his neck. Other people reading off stats and doing counts. It was chaos. My brother held my mom and I turned my back and looked at the wall because watching his body jumping up and and down was more than I could stand. My mom cried to him "don't leave me" and the doctor kept looking at her for permission to stop. My mom just wanted him to live. 

I thought, okay, I am in a fucking movie and his ghost is floating somewhere in this room.  He is watching all this unfold and I should see something. I concentrated on the ceiling and tried and tried to see ..something...but nothing.

Finally my brother who is very stoic and restrained cries and says firmly "MOM, tell them to stop" she replies "i just want him back" and Bryan says "HE'S HAD ENOUGH, WE'VE ALL HAD ENOUGH" so she whimpers "i don't want him to suffer anymore" and the doctor stopped pushing meds and the guy stopped performing cpr and everyone stepped back and we all just watched the monitors go to zero and flat line. I was still looking so close for some sign...a shadow, fuzzy shape, glow of light, nothing. Just a yellowing frail body with tubes sticking out.

My mom threw herself on his body and sobbed. Mel's sisters and daughter arrived about half an hour later. It took mom a couple of hours to be able to leave his body and go to the hotel but we did get her some xanax and made her take two. No one slept much that night and the 8 hour drive home the next day was a blur. Mom rode with Bryan, and Sandy and her boyfriend drove mom's car back. Family friends Donna and Richard had driven Judy and Debbie and I was with Karen in my truck. Convoy. We stopped at a great family buffet for dinner and we all felt "mel would have loved this, the food was good but he would have loved having so many family together even more".


Julia said...

This left me crying as I read the last post in the series. He obviously was a great man in your life.

princess slea said...

that is why i warned everyone in the first of the death posts, i didn't want to bum anyone out but after reading all the past posts, realized how much i had forgotten

i didn't want to completely lose this memory but for obvious reason can't keep it close to the surface so i thought i'd keep it safe here.