These photos are from a day I will never forget! I was supposed to have an important conference call for work, but while dad was admitted to Blodgett Hospital for back surgery, my mom had a cardiac event and ended up in Butterworth Hospital across town. He was released from his hospital 30 minutes before her surgery was scheduled. I canceled my meeting to get him to her before her surgery. I don't think I need to even tell you how much they loved each-other! ...
We finally got them both out of the hospital and home and everyone was on the road to recovery. Mom had been blind in both eyes for almost two years, due to cataracts. When she finally qualified for medicare the week of her birthday, she scheduled her surgery. She couldn't wait to see again!
Despite being cleared by 11 specialists who told us it was the same risk level as "getting your teeth cleaned" - her surgery did not go well!!! She experienced complications and went into respiratory arrest. She was rushed by ambulance to Holland Hospital and then transferred back to Butterworth, where they put her in an induced coma and reduced her body temperature to protect her vital organs. I can't even find any words to describe what it was like being next to her hospital bed for three days, holding her ice cold hand, kissing her ice cold cheek, as machines breathed and did everything for her, praying, begging and pleading for her to survive it.
On the morning of my mom's 65th birthday, her doctors informed us her brain had been starved of oxygen for over 10 minutes and she was brain dead. There was absolutely no hope for her to recover and keeping her on life support would be cruel. I had to call my brother. All the air had been sucked out of my lungs and I could hardly stand, but I had to call him. I just remember kind of floating down the hallway toward the reception area. With tears just pouring out of my eyes, I asked if I could use the physician consultation room to make a few phone calls. The receptionist said no, and the waiting room was packed. There was no quiet corner and no cell service in my mom's room, so I just called him right there, with the world spinning all around me. When he answered, I just fell to the ground. I literally couldn't even hold myself up. I couldn't even breathe to get the words out "we have to take mom off of life support," but then a stranger in the waiting room put her hand on my back. She didn't say a word, she just gently rubbed my back and for all the money in the world it felt like my mom's hand. I finally blurted the words out. I think I thanked her, but I'm not even sure to be honest. Anyone who would do that for a stranger, should know how kind that was!!! It was the only reason I could get back onto my feet. I wish she could know the gratitude I feel for that quick bit of kindness, will never diminish.
Mom loved Joanne Gilliam's cakes, they were her favorite. She ordered cakes from Joanne for, I think, every single person she probably ever met, so I had ordered one special, thinking my mom would be seeing again and we would all have a big party to celebrate. Instead we cut up her cake and passed it out to her doctors and nurses. Then after I quietly sang Happy Birthday in her ear, we said our goodbyes and disconnected her life support. It was unquestionably the worst day of our lives! And to this day - I can't stomach hearing that "Happy Birthday" song. It transports me instantly to the worst moment of my entire life.
"This Too Shall Pass"
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