Saturday, June 10th, 2017
Disclaimer: This is my point of view of the days leading up to my aunt's death. In this post and in future posts, I am leaving out many of the reactions, experiences and thoughts of my family members that were there in the hospital with us. I believe that their point of view is there's alone to share and I want to respect their privacy when it comes to reliving these moments - whether publicly or privately.
Old habits die hard. The death of my aunt provided an opportunity to be more vulnerable and allow myself to feel the pain instead of pushing it down and yet I feel myself falling into similar patterns. Much like a pressure cooker, eventually its all gotta come back out. Unfortunately for me, this usually comes in the form of an accident. Falling down the stairs, gripping a hot rack straight from the oven, tripping going up the stairs, pinching my fingers in our keys, the sewer wagon rolling over my finger, etc. I guess it's socially more acceptable to be upset about physical pain than emotional pain, especially after this amount of time has passed. But even more so for me, I hate the attention so shoving it down to greater depths inside is easier than expressing it outside.
All of this to say that it has been on my mind to continue writing about my aunt but I didn't really want to go there. To remember. To feel. But today I am pulled to write so I might as well grab it while it's here before it gets yanked away again.
This post is about the next day in the hospital, June 10th, 2017.
I tossed and turned into the early morning on Saturday. I finally popped awake at about 3AM and my mom called soon after. It was time. Time to say goodbye. My mom asked me to drive very carefully.
I kissed Phoebe and hopped in the car.
I made it to the highway but as soon as my brain started churning and processing where I was going and what I was doing, I burst into tears. On the dark highway with very few cars, except for a few semi trucks, I sobbed. Hard. I cried for my aunt. I cried for us. And even with her poor odds, I still didn't believe it would end like this. I pleaded.
Eventually, I made it to the hospital. The valet was closed for the night so I found my way to visitor parking. I had to go through the ER entrance this time and shook as I zoomed through the metal detector and check-in station. I was a bit disoriented but they pointed toward the elevators that would take me to the critical care floor. Once there, I ran to her room and my uncle and mom were waiting for me.
A doctor I've never seen before was explaining what was going on. She wasn't improving. It could certainly be her last day.
We continued to rub her feet, squeeze her hands and whisper things to her while the nurses did their work around us.
A few hours later, my aunt from Seattle arrived and a little after that, my aunt from Denver called saying she was on her way to the hospital from the airport.
My aunt waited. She waited for her family. She got more love and foot rubs. We hoped and chatted. Marveled at her beautiful blue toenail polish. Giggled about old memories and swooned over her beautifully plucked eyebrows and shiny braided hair.
Her very close friends (thank you Wendy and Bill) showed up with treats for everyone and a hand squeeze and whisper in her ear.
As the day rolled on the room was buzzing with more and more hospital staff. I think they were all vaguely aware of us but most of their faces showed strict determination and monitoring of information. We bonded with a few nurses who took time to explain numbers, medicine and procedure. Some last resort attempts to get her numbers changing in the right direction were made so we communicated our hopefulness to family and friends and made arrangements for a friend to bring us dinner the next day.
Come dinner time on this day the nurses waved us out to do some work in private and for us to grab dinner before settling in for the night.
My uncle and I stayed for a few more hours and my two aunts and mom stayed at the hospital to be with my aunt and rest in the family quiet room. I drove my uncle to their condo and made my way back home to attempt a better night sleep.
For those of you wondering, sweet Phoebe was cared for by my amazing roommate the whole day (on my friend's birthday no less!). I got periodic texts of their fun adventures on a hike in Nashville and cozy sun naps. She was a very happy pup! Not many people would drop everything to care for your dog (especially when they had lovely out of town birthday plans that they cancelled to be available for you) but my friend did that for me and I will always remember that. One less thing for me to think about. More time for me to be with my aunt. In the midst of chaos, one thing was going right.
June 11th will have to be for another day. Thinking of my aunt's gorgeous blue toenails (of all things) made writing this post especially hard. It reminded of me of what my uncle uttered in no dramatic way whatsoever (but landed on me hard nonetheless) - staring at her felt like a life interrupted. She was here one minute and stuck in this hospital bed the next. Frozen. Stopped in time.