On September 25th, 2011 , my world changed. It was a lazy overcast Sunday. My mom had been the hospital for almost two weeks at that point. My sister and I had spent days and countless hours by her bedside. Telling her everything that she had missed over the past 13 days. She loved gossip. Even if she didn’t know the persons involved she would gobble up every salacious morsel until there was nothing left. Day after day we were hopeful and prayerful that she would return to us same as she was before she left us 13 days prior. She would lie there with tubes running this way and that way. She looked significantly smaller to me. She wasn’t the big voice and commanding presence that I had known her to be my entire life. However, she looked at peace. The years of anguish had slowly began to diminish each day. It was if she was getting ready for her homecoming. The acne scars and the skin discoloration from diabetes had began to fade. She looked at peace. While I was mentally at war.
I never thought that I would have to live my life without her. Without her words. Without her wisdom. Without her arsenal of curse words that she kept at her disposal ready to unleash without hesitance. Without her storytelling. Without. I wasn’t prepared. I needed more time. More words. More Love. Just more.
The day prior, my sister and I had decided we were going to spend our Sunday at home. Resting and mentally preparing for the days ahead and what would become of our mommy. Getting everything in order for when she came home. She always came home. She had made a significant turn around and was moved from the the intensive care unit to a step down. Her eyes were open and she was communicating with us through them. My family was overjoyed. We were shouting praises and jubilant hallelujahs up and down the halls of the hospital. God was indeed good.
My mom always told me that “People know when they are going to die”. It had been a rough year for her. She was in out of the hospital with each stay lasting longer and longer but she always came home. Sometimes without the doctors blessings she always came home. It was a routine that we all became very familiar with. She would sometimes plan her hospital stays. She would talk about the doctors she wanted to attend to her, the food she would order from the new menus, and the television shows she would watch. Whenever I would go to visit her there would be nurse assistants, nurses, and interning doctors gathered around her bed listening to her talk about whatever. Any subject you name it, she knew it and could tell you anything you needed to know about it. It was always a comforting sight. And without fail, in a few days she would be home.
My aunt called my sister and I and insisted, hell, demanded that we go to the hospital that day. We groaned and complained all while we reluctantly got dressed. We were both content with knowing just that day before she was alert and looking better than we remembered.
When we arrived to the hospital, I felt an instant pang in my stomach. Something wasn’t right. Family members and long time friends were gathered at the hospital telling their “Carla” stories as if she was gone already. But she wasn’t. She was coming home. Walking down the hall my legs felt like jello. I did not want to enter that room. The smell met us at the door. I still can’t begin to describe the smell. It was unlike anything I had ever smelled before. My mom did not look lively and joyful as she did 24 hours ago. My grandmother began praying instantaneously. At first, silently but grew more and more vocal with each beep of the respirator. My sister and I watched completely ignorant to what was going on. Doctors and nurses were rushing in frantically shuffling around not giving us updates but talking among themselves in their language which could have been French for all we knew. She was unresponsive. Her temperature was dropping. Her hands were cold. She was sweating. The oddest thing was that her sweat was orange. The sweat stained the pillows and bed sheets. She is coming home. Doctors continuously came in and out of the room. Without so much as a word to any of us. She was immediately moved back to the Intensive Care Unit. We all waited in the waiting room. Some talking. Some silent. All of us praying. A doctor came in and told us that she “just” had an infection which is normal for someone who has been prescribed a breathing tube and an aggressive course of antibiotics would begin. There was a collective Thank You Jesus in the waiting room.
My sister, grandmother, and I decided we would wait until they stabilize her to go and see her before we left and the others wanted to go home. I went to walk out the visitors and other family members. We had small talk on the elevator. We all felt good about the prognosis. As soon as the elevator door opened we heard “Code Blue, Fourth Floor, ICU”. No, it couldn’t be. Riding the elevator back to the Fourth floor I was praying aloud that it was someone else. Dear, God don’t let it be… and as soon as the elevator doors opened my sister collapsed into my arms. She was completely inconsolable. I held her up and told her that this was not it. This couldn’t be it. The doctor spoke to me, “Her heart stopped”. “This was impossible because she has a defibrillator and if her heart stops that is what keeps it beating, I said. He looked at me. It was a look I would never forget.. he gave me the “duh” look. “We opened her up and we are massaging her heart manually but to no avail. You have to make a decision”, he explained.
My mothers life was my decision. My entire family looked at me with pleading in their eyes. Make the right decision, Jessica.
“We will continue to massage her heart but I will tell you that we can only do it for so long. It’s up to you.” My mother was a fighter through and through. She was and still is the strongest person I have ever known. My mother had Congestive Heart Failure, Kidney Failure, Emphysema, COPD, Diabetes, Arthritis, and an enlarged heart. She dealt with these issues for over thirty years. I couldn’t imagine in my darkest nightmares what that felt like. Taking 20 or more pills everyday for the rest of your life. It was no way to live. No one knew what it was like to deal with that every single day.
My decision was for them to stop. God has already called her home.
My aunt, Tasha, screamed at me ” You didn’t let them try. You didn’t let them try.” She was devastated. My mother was tired. Tired having to fight for her life. The decision was made for me. She was pronounced dead at 9:20 p.m. Sunday September 25th, 2011.
I lost the one person that I knew loved me without condition, without judgement in this world. The one person I knew I could lean on no matter what I was going through. No matter what I had done I could always depend on her. She was my first super hero. The sacrifices she made so that I could just exist in this crazy ass world will never ever go unacknowledged. I am because she was(If that makes any kind of sense). Every single moment of life since then has been a struggle. I am honestly not sure how I am able to go on without her but everyday I try. I still question. I try to make since of something that seemed inconceivable. I try to remember the sound of her voice. It’s the weirdest thing as much as she talked I can’t remember what she sounds like.
And that makes me angry as hell.