Earlier this week, I received some really devastating news. The little boy of a friend and coworker of mine was involved in a terrible accident on Sunday and, as a result, ended up on life support. On Monday evening, his parents made the difficult decision to pull the plug and he passed away cradled in their arms. He was just 3 months older than Mason.
I’ve been so shaken up since I heard, unable to imagine what this mother must be going through. I’ve been picturing her sitting next to his bedside, stroking his hair, grasping on to every possible ounce of hope, only to have to come to terms with the fact that his life would be cut way too short. Thinking of her as she begins this incredibly difficult grief journey has stirred up many memories of my first days post loss.
I’ll never forget that morning when my deepest fear was confirmed. I remember sitting in that cold hospital room next to Ralf, clenching his hand so tightly, wishing with every fiber of my being that he could squeeze back. Constantly whispering “I love you” in his ear, praying he could hear me somehow. I watched as his nurse so carefully and lovingly changed his IV bag, inserted yet another suppository to try to control his fever, placed cooling blankets on his chest and on his legs.
I finally decided to start talking to her, to ask questions. I inquired about the medications she was administering. It was then that I found out Ralf had been off of sedation for over 12 hours. He wasn’t being kept asleep anymore; he wasn’t in a medically induced coma.
He just wasn’t waking up.
I remember closing my eyes, taking a deep breath, and then walking out of the room to round up his parents and brothers to bring them up to speed. I sat at that conference table, looking at each of their pain ridden and shocked faces, my eyes clouded by my own tears.
“We need to start preparing ourselves. ”
The next 48 hours were a blur. Sometimes I still find myself recalling details that I’ve either suppressed or forgotten. I vaguely remember my conversations with the organ transplant team, making the decision to end life support, deciding where we wanted to hold the funeral mass, where he would be buried. All the family members, friends, coworkers, former students and teachers, and complete strangers who passed through that funeral home and attended the service and burial.
One memory that is so vividly emblazoned in my mind is that procession toward the altar of the church, following closely behind Ralf’s casket. The same aisle that I walked down just a little over three years prior, to meet my handsome groom waiting for me with a smile that could not only light up any room, but that illuminated my whole world.
I wish I could offer some form of comfort to my friend and fellow mommy as she endures what will quite possibly be the hardest time of her life. Yet I know, more than most people, that there is really nothing that can be said to ease her pain. My words, although heartfelt and sincere, all seem to fall flat.
Tomorrow is not promised. Not for anyone – no matter how old or young.
Hold tight to those you love.
Remember not to sweat the small stuff.
Forgive others. Forgive yourself.
Don’t wait until tomorrow.
All we have is now.