A male nurse arrives. He tells us that he will be leading us to the room where they have placed our son. We will have some time to be with him. He will answer any questions. We start walking… going through double doors after double doors. The corridor is cold and drab. Gurneys are lined up against walls. Medical equipment litters the hallways. It feels as if we are walking into a basement. I find out later, we were. We get to this small room. How many others have sat here, I wonder. It’s a room full of broken dreams, stolen lives. It is flooded with tears of so many loved ones, unanswered questions lingering through the musty air, clinging to the drab walls. There are a couple chairs, a side table with literature, a box of Kleenex, a fake plant. Inside the room, there is a window. I don’t want to walk inside. Instead, I peek in. Through the window I see a pink blanket. It’s one of those rough feeling waffle type blankets. They remind me of the times I was in for surgery and the nurse would bring me a warm blanket. They weren’t pink though. They have been a beige color. Does pink symbolize something? Do they think that pink is calming, approachable, comforting? Why pink???
I don’t think I could go in. I start to shake. My daughter has already gone in to say her goodbyes. “I don’t want to go in” I tell her. “I can’t do it” “You have to, mom.” You’ll regret it if you don’t.” People are all around me, but I don’t see them. I hear cries. I feel a darkness surrounding me. ok…I go in. There he is. My beautiful son…my baby…my first born…my teacher. Teacher?? Yes. For 31 years. He taught me to love without hesitation. He taught me to belly laugh, to play in the rain. He taught me unconditional, unending love. He taught me what it felt like to be deprived of sleep, yet not to want to sleep because I worried he would stop breathing. He taught me to agonize over a simple cold, to fight off bullies and to slay the bogey monster. My teacher was gone and left me with one more lesson. The lesson of unimaginable pain.
I place my hand on his face. He looked the same. He still had the mouth shield in his mouth. They couldn’t remove. Coroner had to. I want to yank it out. My husband stops me. What are they going to do, I ask, kick me out!!! He holds my hand. I turn my gaze back to my son. I lay my head on his chest. I rub his leg, I bury my face into his chest. He feels cold, hard, but he looks like he is sleeping. I talk to him. I tell him how much I love him and I am blessed to know how much he loved me. I tell him to visit me…I tell him I will talk about him to his niece and nephew. I will tell them what a great laugh he had and how much he loved them and how he wanted to teach them sports. I tell him how much I will miss him. I laugh and ask what he thought about this stupid pink blanket. I HATE PINK WAFFLE BLANKETS! My other brother walks in. Him and my sister in law are holding up my mom. She can’t walk. I hear that god awful sound again. The sound of pain, disbelief, anger, sorrow trying to disguise itself as a cry.
I sit her down. “MY JOEY!! OH MY JOEY!! GOD TAKE ME!! I’VE LIVED MY LIFE!! WHY MY JOEY!” I grasp her face. I try to soothe her…console her. I tell her to go see him. She can’t, she says. I smile at her and tell her that he is still here. I gesture to the window “That is just a body that carried his love, his soul, his passion, his love for us.” He is still here, mom, I tell her. All along, I was trying to convince myself.
The corner is taking longer than usual, the nurse tell me. “He should have been here by now. My shift is over but don’t worry, I’ll stay here. You should start having your family say they final goodbyes.” I tell him I don’t want an autopsy. There is no reason and nothing will change the fact that he is gone. I am told that by law, it has to be performed. “Your son was a young, healthy man. It is necessary.” ” OK” I say…I get up…i wander back and forth for a bit. My husband is making the necessary phone calls..his family…my boss…my best friend. My ex husband is talking to the donor center. My mom’s sisters are consoling her. She tells them to look at how brave I am. Relatives I haven’t seen in ages start arriving. I don’t want them here but I don’t want to hurt their feelings. I glance at the nurse. He gives me a nod. I walk back into the room. I tell everyone they have 2 minutes. After five minutes, I ask everyone to leave the room. I want to be alone with him. I feel eyes on me. They are scared for me. I don’t care. I just want everyone to go away!!! I want them to leave me alone with him….forever
I tell him goodbye and that we need to leave now. I straighten up the stupid pink blanket around him. I tuck him into it as if he was a newborn. I turn and leave. My legs feel like lead. My body is dragging. I feel guilt that I left him. Later, I understand why we couldn’t stay. Our bodies start to change very quickly once the life is stolen from them.
Doesn’t matter. I am angered that I felt rushed. I am angry that the coroner took so long!! I am MAD that I had to leave him. I am pissed that I had to share my last moments with him with all these people. stealing moments from me. Yet, I don’t want them to leave my side. I need them to take some pain from me and take it on themselves. I hear someone laugh…I should be happy someone broke the tension…but I am angry that they stole that from me too! The first sign on life…a laugh..how dare they!!
I am SO MAD…PINK BLANKET??!!! REALLY!!!?? YOU WRAPPED MY SON IN A PINK F**N BLANKET!!?? I HATE PINK WAFFLE LIKE BLANKETS!!