Tim, Part IIPosted: June 23, 2007
So I went home Monday night, the 11th of June, excited to see my new daughter, born just a day before, and nervous about my brother. He was going to be OK, right?
Tuesday and Wednesday are a blur. I don’t remember much. Mostly anecdotal things. Like on Tuesday, how I brought my iPod to the hospital to play music, believing Tim would somehow hear what I was playing for him.
I first played AC/DC, his favorite band. Then I started to play Styx. I didn’t like a certain song, so I got up to change it. The next song coming up? Don’t Let It End This Way.
I then played Motley Crue for him — at least I did until one of their songs started playing. It’s called Kickstart My Heart.
I mean, the irony is the cruelest. And there’s really no way to make this up — especially when driving home Tuesday night, the first song I hear on the radio is How to Save a Life.
I’m not sure of this joke being played on me. But I don’t like it.
What I also remember most about Tuesday and Wednesday is how amazing this hospital was. Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, MA. The Cardiac ICU nurses, in particular, are some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.
They gave such respect, not just to us, but to Tim. The way they bathed him. The way they talked to him. The way they touched him. The utmost in professionalism and in human decency.
I asked one nurse, Beth, how she did this. Didn’t she get attached? Of course we get attached, she said. How can you not?
I don’t remember a lot more, other than hearing that they were going to do an EEG, which basically measures for any brain activity. When I heard that, I think it hit me. I lost it at my brother’s bedside a couple of times. Each time, a nurse was right there with a comforting arm and peaceful word. I cannot say enough about these people.
Throughout all this, we knew that Marc had been contacted in Iraq and the process of getting him home had begun.
Thursday morning, about 6 a.m., Sue called to say Tim took a turn for the worse overnight. I was planning on staying home to rest that day, but I just looked at Renee and said, “I’ve gotta go up.” Ten minutes later, I was out the door.
I live the closest to the hospital, so I was the first one there, besides Sue. I got there about 8. Shortly thereafter, the attending physician took Sue and I into a conference room. Joining us were two other doctors, three nurses and a chaplain.
The doctor said what I think we all believed to be true by this time. Tim had no brain activity. He was, in effect, brain dead. I don’t know how this doctor did it. But he was so good. He was telling a man’s wife and younger brother that our worst fears were coming true.
And somehow, he did it in a way that we were comforted. Again, I completely broke down. This was my moment. Things changed for me a bit after this. I looked up at one point during my cryfest and two of the three nurses were crying with me. The chaplain had her hand on Sue.
These people were just amazing. The doctor went on to say they would do all they could to make sure Tim would make it until Marc got here. He was honest and said he didn’t think it was possible, because by this time we knew we wouldn’t see Marc until Saturday. But he said they would try. That’s all we could ask for. The respect was just unbelievable.
The rest of the family arrived shortly there after, my mom, sister, brother (Tim’s twin) and Tim’s son. We shared the news.
Then we had meetings with the social worker to discuss different things. We talked about wakes. Funerals. Pallbearers. Eulogies. Organ donation. Everything. It was surreal.
There was a white board in the room. I wrote, “Love you, Tim” on it. I didn’t know what else to do.
Then, I had gone downstairs to get something to eat. When I came back up, the man in the ICU waiting room, knew who I was and said, “They are waiting for you in the room.”
Oh God, I thought. Already?!
I go in there and nothing has changed with Tim. But, there was a huge food platter with sandwiches, drinks, chips, cookies etc. This was from the nursing staff. Again, these people. I don’t know what else to say. The utmost in care and respect.
Thursday night, I was ready to go home. I said I wasn’t coming back Friday. I needed to rest.
My sister asked if I was going to be OK with that — meaning, I wasn’t there when my Dad died and she was afraid of how I would be if I missed this.
I was fine, I told her. I made my peace. I said my goodbye — which I had done after Sue and I talked with the doctors and nurses earlier in the morning. Another bedside meltdown.
I was still playing music for him. And, I had even taken a picture of Erin on my cellphone and showed that to him — so he could meet his niece. He knew about her, but he hadn’t seen her — until then.
Oh, one other crazy note. One of the doctors on Tim’s team? Yeah, his last name is Hope. Dr. Hope. Can you believe that? This is stuff you can’t make up.
I left Thursday thinking it would be the last time I would see my brother.