Tim, Part I

Well, here we go.

I guess it’s safe to say that when I first started this blog, I never expected to be writing about this.

I mean, I did write something about my dad. But he passed seven years ago.

Maybe this is morbid thinking, but I actually had a conversation with someone this afternoon. The point being that as you get older, maybe the thought comes into your mind that you might bury a parent in your lifetime. But, again, you never think of this.

The ‘this’ I’m referring to — well, if you’ve been following along, you already know — the death of my brother, Tim.

I’m not even sure where to start with this. All I know is my fingers are probably going to be moving quickly along the keyboard. So much inside. So much needs to come out. Not sure if it’ll be one post or more. Probably more.

So there we were, my wife and I, sitting in the hospital on Monday, June 11, just a little more than 24 hours after giving birth to our beautiful daughter, Erin.

We were waiting for the discharge to happen so we could take our new girl home and let her see her house for the first time.

Then my cellphone rang. It was a call that changed everything.

My brothers are twins. I also have a sister. Mom and my sister had been by to visit, as had Tim’s wife, Sue. I hadn’t heard from my brother Tom. He had a lot going on his plate, so I didn’t think of anything of it.

And, when I saw his name on my caller ID, I simply thought he was calling to say that he wouldn’t make it to the hospital, but that he’d be by at some point soon to visit and meet his new niece.

Oh how I wish that’s what he said.

I don’t remember the exact words, but it was something like, “Michael. Timmy collapsed. He’s on life support. He’s at a hospital in Massachusetts. You need to call Lynn. I’m on my way to get mom and then heading up.”

Um, what? This is my happy moment. What? No, really, what?

I hung up, gave Renee the news, found a nurse to help us speed up the process of getting out of there and called my sister, who was equally shocked.

So then we coordinate. Where are we going? How are we getting there? Who’s riding with who? Wait, who is going to stay with Renee and Erin? What about Aidan? He’s due home soon. Oh, OK, Renee’s parents can stay at the house. Phew.

More scattered information before waiting for my sister to get to my house so we can ride together. Mom already in the car with Tom on the way. Tim’s wife Sue already there. Their 13-year-old son with family. Their 22-year-old son is, well, in Iraq.

Tim loved motocross, watching and riding. Well, for two days, he was at a track in Mass. where he could have a fantasy camp type experience and ride on this track. He was on his bike, at the starting line when he collapsed.

With Lynn with me now, we started heading north to some place called Noble Hospital. Tom called. Tim is being transferred to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. Well, good news, I guess. Bigger (and we assume better) hospital, ready to handle this sort of thing. And, a closer drive.

We get there, Lynn and I the last to arrive. We make our way to the ER. What a madhouse. People all over the place. Beds in the hallway. People in handcuffs. People fighting.

Everyone looks shaken. Where’s Tim? Can we see him?

We make our way through a myriad of ER patients to this corner curtain area in the ER.

And there’s my big brother. (I know. They are twins. But Tim was first. So that makes him my big brother.) Laying on the table. Wait, this really is happening. Three hours earlier I was in a hospital with a precious new life. Now, here I am, trying to listen, to gather information and looking at my brother — hoping, praying.

At this point, while it was clear he wasn’t in good shape, I certainly had no reason to believe that he wouldn’t pull through. I mean, people recover from heart attacks. Right? He’ll recover. He’ll eat better. Do more. But he’ll be OK.

My first point of concern came shortly after. He was transferred up to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. We all went upstairs to that waiting room. The message was, give us 15 to 20 minutes to get him stable and then we’ll come to get you and let you in to visit.

Well, more than an hour passes. Why aren’t they coming out? So, there’s a phone in the waiting room. I call into the unit. No, we can’t see him. Not yet.

Another 20 minutes passes. Then a nurse comes out. His nurse. Her name is Beth. She talks to Sue. I sort of listen in. It’s not good news. Hard time getting him stable. Can’t go in. Well, Sue can, but only for a minute. My mom wants to go in before we leave. She convinces Beth she should be able. She’s in for 20 minutes.

After she comes out, we (mom, sister and I) decide to go home for the night. We take Tim’s younger son with us. And, at the same time, we hope the hospital is reaching out to the Red Cross to get word to Iraq that Marc needs to come home. Now.

I’m still not sure what I felt when I left. But I can tell you it was something worse than when I arrived. Beth said it best. “We don’t have stable patients in the Cardiac ICU.”

3 Comments on “Tim, Part I”

  1. Christine B says:

    Oh, Mike. I would hug you so hard if I could. I’m trying to figure out how to send you some French Silk Pie, but I think it would be botulism-inducing by the time it arrived in Connecticut from Washington. And Erin? Hello, BEAUTIFUL. Renee is a rock star. (So are you.)

  2. […] is one of two children, and she gave birth to four — one of whom she’s already buried. As a parent, I can’t even imagine the pain that must cause. I know it does/did, but she does […]

  3. Sara says:

    I just wanted you to know that I’m going back and reading these, because, well, you knew I’d need to. So thank you for writing them. We had to contact the Red Cross to get my brother’s step-son home from Japan with the Marines, too. Just too much.

    I hate that we’ve both been through this, but thank you for writing.

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