Sunday, September 21, 2008

Grief Never Sleeps

When Jack fell ill we he was flown by helicopter to Dell Children's Hospital. We knew it was serious, but not until about 12:00am did we learn how dire.  The doctor on duty told us it was Amoebic Meningitis and it's fatal.  Fatal..fatal...fatal.  Shock set in.  This could not be true, not to our son, no, it's a mistake, this is not possible!  The next day, Saturday, he showed signs of recovery! Hallelujah! He moved his eye's and squeezed our hands. The doctors and nurses were amazed. 
He has a chance. The enthusiasm was short lived.
By the following day things began to go downhill; vital signs, cranial pressure, etc.  The decline worsened as the days progressed until Wednesday, August 15 at 3:33pm when he was pronounced dead.  Our grieving began when Dr. Kerr said that horrible word...fatal, but now it reached a different level.  We left our son in his bed, connected to the respirators so that his organs could be harvested.  In retrospect I don't know how we did that.  I guess by that time we were just following directions, too shaken to make decisions on our own. What else could we do?
Initially the pain is overwhelming.  My thoughts were only of my sons last days, from the time Deidre called to say "Jacks really sick, I think he has meningitis" to 3:33pm on 8/15.  These thoughts ran like a DVD in my mind, all I could see was my boy in his bed with too many IV's to count, a shunt in his head and respirator.  I cried constantly, could not sleep nor eat. Devastated. My only thoughts were of Jack.  Surely I was loosing my mind. Simply put, I didn't believe it could be true.  I could not wake up from this horrific nightmare.  13 months later I still don't believe it actually happened, although I'm gradually accepting it.
The pain began to subside after a month or so,  instead of crying multiple times a day, it became only once or twice a day, I started eating and could hold a conversation without mentioning Jack. 
But the pain was there, barley hidden below the surface.
Grief of this magnitude is akin to open heart surgery without the benefit of anesthesia. It hurts in places you never knew existed, physically or mentally.
Gradually, life becomes almost normal, but not normal like before. It's our "new normal".  It's unrealistic to think that we will ever be free of our feelings and grief and I never want to be!  Currently I go days without the tears and sometimes don't think about the tragedy that befell our family until mid morning, but those days are few and far between.  Other people that have lost a child tell me that one day we will only remember the happy, good times and not dwell on the bad, perhaps this is so, but we're not there yet.

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