17 May 23
As she turns 23 today, I think back to that day in November when her life changed forever. Our paths swerved into uncharted territory. With all the time that has passed, it still feels like it was just yesterday. As a fledgling writer, I take down anything and everything. Scrolling through a notebook, I came across some scribbles I had put down many years ago just after the accident that changed our lives. Today, on her birthday, a we celebrate life and the precious gift that she is, I want to share this memory with you.
Memory starts here:
“From love to loss.
What a week it had been! I’m sure as you probably say this to yourself, you had a long week at work where really in truth, you were ready to call it quits after the first hour back on Monday. But realizing you had bills that need to be paid and a lifestyle that needed to be maintained, you stuck with it because that is the order of life. You live. Work. And play. But after the week I had … WOW. Sleepless nights on uncomfortable waiting room couches, prayer groups to help strengthen us as well as heal her. And endless talk with doctors – some using technical jargon and looking at us like we understood, and some using words that helped us understand the gravity of what exactly has happened.
I was at work when I received the call. My phone had been going off like crazy and when I looked at the Caller ID it showed that my Mom was calling me. I didn’t think much of it because she usually called me during the day to find out how my day was going and to remind me of something I had to do. But that day in November was different. A very different call at that. When my sister finally got a hold of me, everything in my being changed when I heard the news. My baby sister was in cardiac arrest and they were still working on reviving her.
“She has significant brain damage”, the doctor said. After a CT scan, he recommended that we pull her off all support and let her go. To be exact, he said, “with the extent of damage and swelling the scan is showing, if she was a 55 year old patient, I would recommend that you take her off all support and let her go. The fact that she is 18 makes this even harder because my recommendation still stands”. WHAT.THE.FUCK. Who was this man being judge and jury on a life that had barely lived? That had barely experienced what life was like as an adult? Who was this man before us trying to recommend a death sentence when it went against everything he took an oath to do?!
She went in to get her wisdom teeth taken out and while she was under (possibly 10 minutes into the procedure), she went into cardiac arrest. She had no pulse for about 20 – 30 minutes. My baby sister lay dead for 20 – 30 minutes while they did all they could to get the faintest of pulse in her limp and lifeless body. Due to the length of time she went without oxygen, before they even did any scans, it was certain that she had suffered some brain damage but it was unknown to what extent. And even once they did the scans, it was undetermined as to just how much damage there was. It would be something that they would need to assess once she had woken up. But how long would that be? As a result of being without air for long, they had to literally put her on ice once they had revived her for 36 hours because they couldn’t let all that blood rush back into her brain for it was unknown what kind of damage she had sustained. As a result, she was induced into a coma but after day five, which they told us she would wake up, she didn’t. We asked questions and wanted answers but they could not give us any. All they could say was that “it is up to her when she wakes up now. We have done all we can but now we sit and wait”. It was no longer just an induced coma. She was in a coma and there was nothing that we could do about.
No matter how many times they tried to rouse her awake, it was impossible. This was my baby sister lying there. In my head, I kept on repeating to myself, “It is not supposed to be like this. She is supposed to be healthy, living life and enjoying it to the fullest”. The tears wouldn’t stop coming and every time someone touched me I cried even harder. What was God trying to show us with this young life? Was she an example to us that life is precious and that we should live life to the utmost full? What was the reason behind this sudden event that ricocheted us into an existence of utter chaos, turmoil and uncertainty?
In that moment, as we watched the clocks go by and we met with the doctors, we felt helpless. All we had was our prayers to our Lord, God. We clung to them for dear life and prayed that he bring her back to us as she was or even in a better state.
It was one month to the 10th anniversary of my Dad’s death and I felt paralyzed in my thoughts and being. This couldn’t be it for her”.
Memory ends here.
We celebrate 23 with so much love and gratitude because life could have taken a different route five years ago. Life … such a precious gift never to be squandered and left to the follies of others. We need to seize the moments we have with both hands. We need to live each day like tomorrow is not promised. We need to love as hard as we can every day and tell people exactly what they mean to us. Don’t waste time on things that don’t matter to you because you will never get that time back.... N. xo