xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Yeah. Good Times.: Today is April 3rd

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Today is April 3rd

9 years ago today I took BART into San Francisco to visit my brother, who had been in the hospital with advanced melanoma for almost 2 months. I had been there pretty much every day during that time and had gotten used to the routine of either riding BART or driving into the city every morning.

I had been the last one to leave the day before. They had moved him from a private room and back into the ICU, where he had spent a number of weeks previously. At some point they'd decided that he was doing better, so he was moved out of the ICU and into a room across the hall, but things were starting to get bad again, so he was once again wheeled across the floor and into an ICU room.

It was probably sepsis, we were told, and we thought we were in a waiting stage, so my parents had gotten back on the road to drive back to LA where they were still living at the time. I had stayed behind after they and my sister-in-law had left for the day, and my brother was put under sedation, presumably to let him get some rest so his body could recover some from this latest downturn. That afternoon I had sat by his bed and read to him from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, which he had asked me to do while he had still been conscious. I talked to him a little bit, about our childhood and about some loose ends in our relationship that needed some tying up. He was under sedation and I don't know if he was able to hear anything; but at one point I know that I saw his eyebrows move as if to acknowledge me. Or maybe that was just what I had hoped I was seeing.

The next morning I walked into the same room and it was like he had shrunk. He was smaller in the bed than he had been the day before; like it was swallowing him up. Next to his bed was his best friend Larry, whom we had known since Junior High, some 20 years before. Larry was standing there watching the monitors and he told me that he had been there for a few hours. He was watching as my brother's blood pressure slowly went down.

We stood there for a while, discussing what to do. I don't remember the specifics now, 9 years later. I called my sister-in-law on my cell phone and said "You need to get here now." She didn't ask or argue, she just hung up. The nurse turned down the monitor that was beeping incessantly, and the room was very calm, while Larry and I just stood there, watching. It was actually kind of a nice moment, despite the purpose for it.

Suddenly my sister-in-law burst into the room and everything became very chaotic. She climbed onto the bed, on top of him, and started screaming and crying. "Jill, call your Dad." She ordered. "I promised your Dad I would call him if he wasn't here at the end." So, I called my parents, who were in their car somewhere along the grapevine, and told my Dad that if he had anything to say, now was the time; and I held my phone up to my brother's ear while my Dad talked.

I don't really remember the next few minutes, I just remember chaos. I remember my sister-in-law shrieking "is he gone?" I remember the nurse turning off the monitor. I remember having to call my parents back because when I looked back at my phone my Dad wasn't there anymore.

I don't remember leaving the hospital. I know there was a gathering at my brother's house with my parents and a bunch of his friends, but I don't remember that, either. I remember calling my husband and he came into the city to get me but I don't remember riding over the bridge to go back home. I remember going home that night and an infant Child 1 pulled himself into a standing position for the first time.  It's funny, the things you remember.

(This is the post I wrote last year on this day. It's shorter.)