Friday, May 18, 2007

A sad trip home

Tragedy, it seems, comes in chunks. The morning after my post on the Virginia Tech massacre, my mother called and told me that my father had been admitted to the Cardio ICU. I called my brother, whom I hadn’t seen in nearly 13 years, and our family friend Susan to let them what was happening. I set aside all my plans for that weekend and began packing for St. Louis. As I packed, my husband went online to make plane reservations for me. He completed making reservations at 12:30 PM, and my flight was to depart at 2:30 PM. I had a connecting flight from O’Hare, and didn’t arrive in St. Louis until that evening. Fortunately, Susan gave my mother company before my brother and I could arrive.

My father was put on a respirator. By Sunday, it was apparent that he wasn’t going to recover, so my mother, brother, and I made the fateful decision to have the respirator removed. It was removed at about 1:30 PM. We sat by my father’s bedside, held his hands, listened to his breathing, and watched the heart rate monitor. His breaths grew less and less frequent, as his heart rate dropped. When his heart rate dropped below 30, the monitor sounded. The nurse came to shut it off. My father died 3:42 PM, Sunday, April 22, 2007.

That was not the end of bad news. Susan called to let us know that her son was diagnosed with cancer. Also, the daughter of my mother’s late friend called to say that her father had died. As I had to contend with my mother at the same time, I’m sorry that I couldn’t be fully present for these people when they called.

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