In the morning I woke up to the sound of rain and as I didn’t want to get up I pulled my covers up some and stayed in my bed for a little while longer. I didn’t have to rush that morning since I was off for the rest of the week. It was Thursday which was usually my first work day but that day I took my time and even though it was hard to get going with the pouring rain outside I was on my way to Charity around one that afternoon.
Once again I made my way up to the 7th floor and couldn’t help feeling a little sad about not seeing Shane that day.
Carrie, Jay’s day shift nurse greeted me warmly, “Hey Anna, how are you?”
“All right I guess. How’s Jay?”
“No significant change.”
I nodded, sighed and went into his room. Jay lay there with the tubes and wires attached to him, soft beeping sounds letting the nurses know that he was doing okay. I greeted him with a kiss.
I drew open the curtains on the window and outside I saw the dark clouds, and lots of rain still. I sat next to Jay’s bed, took his hand in mine once again and started talking about the weather and how I was off for the week.
I sat there next to his bed and softly started talking about Shane, “So I met this guy here at the hospital.”
I felt almost nervous to tell Jay about Shane but somehow I wanted to let him know, “He is…I think I like him. He’s good looking, he’s nice, and he…he…I don’t know, there’s something about him.”
I debated telling Jay about Shane’s disability but I felt since he couldn’t probably hear me anyways it was silly.
I took a deep breath and looked over at Jay who lay still and with his eyes closed.
“So Shane…he…he uses crutches and wears these braces on his legs so he can walk…I don’t really know what’s wrong with him…but I think I want to get to know him more. I’m just…I don’t know…”
I didn’t finish and was startled when I felt Jay’s hand move in mine. I stood up to get a better look at him. To my surprise he slowly opened his eyes.
“Jay, baby, hey?”
He blinked as if he had to look into a bright light.
“Jay, I’m here with you. Can you hear me baby?”
Jay moved his head in a very slow nod. He moved his hand from mine and brought it up to his face, where the tubing was pushed into his throat and strapped to his face running to the machine breathing for him. His eyes stayed on me and he touched the ventilator tubing with his hand.
I moved his hand away from the tubing.
“You’ve to leave this alone Jay. It helps you breathe.”
He really was too weak to do anything with his hand but I could see pleading in his eyes, the pleading to talk and to have a voice again.
I looked over my shoulder to the door and then turned to him again, “Jay, you’re on a ventilator, they can’t just take this off. What’s going on?”
I leaned down to him and stroked his hair out of his forehead. His eyes were sad but he pulled me closer to him.
I felt tears come up in my eyes, “What is it Jay? I’m so sorry. Do you want me to get the nurse?”
He moved his head from side to side.
“Jay, I’m here. Are you okay?”
He nodded slowly and he pushed my hand onto his heart and then touched his hand to my heart.
Tears started rolling down my face, “I love you Jay.”
He actually moved his hand up to my face and wiped some of the tears away.
“I can’t help it Jay…I’m sorry.”
I kept leaning over my brother and looking into his beautiful eyes, “Did you hear me a while ago?”
He nodded again.
“You heard me tell you about Shane?”
He nodded again and now he moved his hand from my face and gave me a thumbs up.
I couldn’t stop my tears anymore, “Thumbs up for Shane?”
He nodded again.
“Oh Jay, I wish we could talk.”
His eyes looked past me and I looked around myself trying to figure out what he was looking at. When he moved his hand now he gestured with his fingers like he was writing into the air.
“Jay, do you want to write down something?”
He nodded again and my mind was racing at what was going on.
I rushed over to my purse, “Paper…paper and a pen…hold on…”
I frantically pulled out my notepad and pen and hurried back over to Jay. I let his bed up some on the head end and he reached for the pen right away. I handed it to him and he took it with his skinny fingers.
I pulled the bedside table over Jay’s lap and put the notepad on it. Weakly he set his hand next to the notepad trying to find a spot to start writing. I assisted him in positioning his hand. I cried silently and watched my brother somehow trying to communicate with me. His breathing came very quick now.Holding the pen weakly in his hand I watched him slowly draw one scribbly letter after another:
I love you much. Always hear you talk to me. Tired of holding on. I want you to let me go.
I pressed my fist to my mouth, trying to keep it together at what I was reading. I softly touched my hand to his shoulder and he moved his eyes to me. I nodded and Jay kept writing with a shaky hand:
Shane is good for you. Give him fair chance. Will help you.
The pen dropped onto the table and his hand fell next to the paper, his eyes moved up to me as his head fell back again and he was trying to breathe. His eyes didn’t move from mine and they were shiny.I took his hand in mine, “Jay, I love you so much and I’m going to miss you so much.”
My tears were just flowing freely and he pulled me to him and pushing the table out of the way some I crawled next to him onto the bed and laid my head on his chest, his arm was around me now.
I realized he was going now and once more I looked at him and I cried but I smiled and his eyes formed wrinkles in the corners as he was trying to smile at me. His chest was moving fast and now his blood pressure dropped and the machine started beeping alarmingly.
He pulled me tightly to him and his arms were wrapped around me and I listened to his heart and I said, “I’m letting you go Jay…I love you more than anything.”
I could feel his grip getting weaker but I stayed right next to him on the bed and I felt his heart beat on my ear and I felt his skinny body next to mine.
Carrie, the nurse came rushing in and hurried around to the blood pressure monitor, “Okay, Anna, I need you to move away from him right now. He’s not well.”
I didn’t move and only said, “He’s ready to go. He wants to go. I’m not leaving his side.”
Carrie actually didn’t really push the issue. She leaned over Jay and felt his forehead and stroked quickly through his hair.
She then turned to some medication she had brought in with her and quickly prepared a syringe to shoot into his IV line. It happened so unexpected when Jay actually jerked his arm so fast that the IV line ripped out, the fluids were dripping onto the floor and some blood was oozing from his hand.
I quickly looked at his face, and he kept his eyes on me, tears now slowly rolling down his cheeks. The IV tubing was hanging down and liquid dripping on the floor. Carrie rushed through the room, trying to get control of the situation and while Jay and I kept our eyes on each other, I told him once more, “I love you Jay.”
He moved my hand to his heart, his eyes still on me as the heart line turned flat and the quick beeping became a steady tone as Jay’s heart had stopped. His hands became limp, his chest stopped moving and his eyes had fallen shut.
On his wrist Jay had a band that stated his name, birthday and account number but also three letters “DNR” – Do not resuscitate.
This had been part of his living will. Carrie knew the letters were on there and she actually turned the sounds lower. I laid myself next to him, brought my legs up on the bed and had my head on his chest. I didn’t acknowledge my surroundings anymore, all I could think of was my brother and tears were streaming over my face but I was calm. I had been expecting this for the longest time and now that he had finally left I felt a surge of relief. My brother was finally free. I laid there with him and I felt his presence in the room, the earthly life he had just lost was now in another realm, but I felt him close. Warmth was still radiating from his body and I just held on to him and laid there.
Around me people started moving and I heard Carrie’s voice in the distance, “I’m sorry Anna.”
After the doctor had been called for his final check he reported Jay’s death at 4:18 p.m. on July 25th.
I was able to stay with him in the room for another 30 minutes or so until they finally told me to leave so they could prepare him to be moved to the morgue of Charity hospital. I actually helped take some of the sensors of his chest, wrapped his hand up where he had ripped out the IV line, they extubated him and when he finally just lay there in the bed, he looked so peaceful and he was so beautiful. I didn’t say much to anyone, I cried silent tears but I was at peace with it. The way we were able to communicate right before he died had helped me to let him go and Jay had been ready. He had not been afraid. He had wanted it to be over.
I felt like I was in a daze as the nurses and the doctor expressed their condolences and gave me further instructions on what was going to happen now. Eventually I seated myself in a quiet corner away from everything and I made phone calls. First I called our foster parents, Cindy and Al. As I told them the news Cindy started crying on the phone and Al took over as his wife couldn’t talk anymore.
His voice broke under tears, “Anna, we’ll come down right now if you want us to.”
“I’m actually okay right now, it’s too late for you to come down. Just stay there and I’ll contact the funeral home and make all the arrangements. I’ll call you as soon as I have things set up.”
“Let us know if you need anything, Anna, money or anything. Or if you still want us to come, call us please.”
“Thanks Al. I appreciate it.”
We finished our conversation and I called Nadine next.
She was devastated to hear the news and started crying, “Anna, what do you need me to do?”
“Nothing actually, I’ll make all the arrangements.”
“I’m coming to the hospital.”
“You don’t need to, they need you at the club.”
Nadine insisted, “Not that important. I’ll be there in 30 minutes.”
I knew she would come no matter what I said, I didn’t fight her on it, and I was actually okay with it.
I called and texted some of Jay’s friends, they could spread the word and with everyone I promised to let them know as soon as a viewing was scheduled. Jay had already made all the plans for his funeral. He had been in contact with a funeral home, he had planned to get cremated. When he first had told me about all these things I didn’t want to hear any of it but he made known that it was important to him and so we planned all of it together, sometimes crying and sometimes laughing during the process.
I felt strong enough to call the funeral home and it was decided that they would pick Jay up later on that evening and get him ready for the viewing which was planned for all day Saturday. After the viewing there would be a memorial service at the funeral home on Sunday before noon. They would send him to be cremated and then contact me once his ashes were in and I could pick them up.
I informed the nurses about all of this and I had to sign some forms and papers. I did walk over to Jay’s room again and it was the strangest feeling now as they had moved him already and the room was empty and without any sounds or any life.Carrie came up behind me and softly touched my shoulders, “We’ll get his things together and you can pick it up whenever.”
I nodded and Carrie walked out of the room. I stood in the room for a few more moments, just looking around until Nadine’s voice broke the silence in the room, “Anna, honey.”
I turned around and gave myself into her open arms. She held me to her and I cried. When I was able to I told her about the plans so far and we were on our way to my apartment soon after. I wasn’t capable of driving so I left my car in the garage of Charity hospital.
Nadine planned to stay with me all night and once at home, we made some more phone calls until I finally just sat on the couch and cried again.
My phone played its ring tone and Nadine looked at me, “You want me to get it?”
I nodded, assuming it was a call back about the funeral plans.
I heard Nadine talk to the person on the other end, “She’s not able to come to the phone right now.”
I looked at her and she held her hand over the phone speaker whispering, “It’s some guy named Shane.”
I was startled for a moment, but I just couldn’t talk to him right now, “Tell him something…I’m busy or outside or something.”
Nadine talked again, “So Anna is actually at her neighbors right now. Can I give her a message?”
Apparently Shane didn’t give up so fast and I heard Nadine explain, “I’m not sure. I can tell her you called.”
Nadine finished, “Oh okay. I’ll let her know. Maybe tomorrow then?”
She ended the call and turned to me, “Who’s that?”
I didn’t feel like explaining to Nadine who Shane was, “Can I tell you some other time? I don’t feel like it right now.”
Nadine was understanding but threw me a curious look.
I dreamt of Jay and Shane that night. I woke up twice in cold sweat and shaking. Nadine was on the couch in the living room. In the morning as I woke up I heard her in the kitchen already and when I came out breakfast was ready and we sat at the table and I talked about Jay again and I cried again and we ate and we cried. She held me, rocked me like a baby, handed me tissues, and stroked over my head. She was just simply there for me. She answered all the calls and even told people of the scheduled viewing on Saturday morning. My phone was ringing all day and I was thankful she was there for me and with me. I couldn’t have done it alone.
My cell phone rang during the afternoon and again Nadine answered it once again like she had done all day.I overheard again, “No, this is her friend Nadine.”
She held the phone down and turned to me, “It’s the guy again...Shane.”
Even though I couldn’t imagine talking to him right now I knew I had to tell him what was going on. I couldn’t leave him hanging. I took the phone from Nadine and went outside on my small balcony looking out over the swimming pool, and courtyard of my apartment complex.
I sat on one of the two chairs on the balcony, “Shane?”
“Anna, hey…yes, it’s me. How are you?”
I waited a moment trying to stay strong talking to him, “I’m not so good actually.”
“What’s going on? I’m at the hospital. Are you here?”
“I’m not there and I won’t be anytime soon.”
“What’s going on? Why?”
“The family member I had on the 7th floor passed away yesterday afternoon.”
There was a short silence until he said, “Anna, I’m so sorry, is there anything I can do?”
“There’s nothing you can do. The family member was my brother Jay.“
Shane didn’t say anything for a few more seconds.
His voice was low, “I’m so sorry. I don’t know what to say Anna.”
He paused again and then asked, “When am I going to see you again?”
I took a deep breath, trying to suppress the oncoming pain, “I’m not sure right now, Shane. I think I need some time. I have too many things going on right now and so many things in my head.”
Now his voice trembled, “I only have a few days left here. I was really hoping to see you again.”
I felt bad for saying the things to him but I just couldn’t even imagine being with him at the moment with everything that was going on.
I had to keep my tears in as I said, “Maybe it’s better if….if we just give this some time.”
Shane didn’t give up yet, “How much time?”
I didn’t have an answer, “Shane, I don’t know. I’m sorry. I really can’t think straight right now. Just call me before you go back to Morgan City.”
He sounded sincerely disappointed and his voice cracked, “I’m probably leaving next weekend…why can’t I see you again?”
He took a breath and continued while I was swallowing my tears, “Anna, I know we just met and all but I…I really would like to be there for you right now if you just give me a chance. I can be there for you or with you…”
I hesitated with my reply but then said, “Shane, I don’t think I can do this right now. Obviously you’re still going through some stuff with your disability and all. We don’t even know each other so please understand. Maybe it was just bad timing for us to meet right now.”
I hated myself for saying all of it.
His voice trembled, “If you feel that way…okay. But we really didn’t have…”
I cut him off, “Shane please, I have to go. I’m so sorry.”
Tears were rolling down my face and I finished, “Just call me before you leave to go back to Morgan City.”
Before he could say anything else I hung up on him and I couldn’t stop my tears then. I felt horrible and I remembered how Jay had written down that Shane was good for me and it would help me.
Help me with what I wondered? Get over my brother’s death? Use Shane as some kind of pillow to let all my grief bounce off on? Shane couldn’t help me. He very obviously was still dealing with his own issues. I just didn’t have the energy to invest in him and everything that was going on with him at this time.
I could feel that he was hurt by what I had said and I remembered his smile which I had probably wiped off his face permanently. I did like him, but I just couldn’t see myself with him right now. We didn’t know anything about each other and I didn’t have the strength to learn about his disability or whatever the reason was for him having to wear the leg braces. I had too many things on my mind right now. I wasn’t ready to share this with him. As I sat there pondering about the damage I had just done and trying to find excuses of why I had done it, Nadine came out to the balcony and as she saw me sitting there with tears running over my face she sat across from me, “Who’s Shane?”
I looked up at her teary eyed and Nadine repeated, “Honey, who is this boy?”
I started lowly, sniffling my nose, “He’s this guy I met at the hospital last week. We met and we had coffee one day. I think I like him but right now I just can’t do it…I just blew him off cold hearted.”
“What do you mean, you think you like him?”
“I don’t know anything about him really. We just met and we only talked about random stuff…he’s…he’s nice and attractive and all but I don’t really know him. He’s got health issues and stuff is going on with him and I don’t know if I want to deal with all of that. I just can’t right now.”
Nadine patted my knee, “Well, it sounds like he hit a spot in you…you haven’t talked about a guy like this in a while. He’s nice and all but has health issues…like what kind of issues?”
I shook my head, “Naddy, I don’t know….he’s attractive and there’s something about him that stirred my interest, but it’s done. I can’t be with anyone right now or spend energy in dating. I need to take care of Jay’s funeral…”
Tears were still running down my cheeks and I sniffled my nose, debating if I should tell Nadine more about Shane but I didn’t.
Nadine smiled, “Well then, he sounds like he’s a special guy and hopefully he’ll be patient and not give up on you yet. Definitely sounds like something about him got you all worked up.”
She patted my knee again, “You know honey, Jay would want you to be happy and he would want you to keep on living your life Anna.”
I know what she was getting at but I only nodded and then said, “I know Naddy but I just can’t do it right now.”
I spent the rest of the afternoon preparing everything for the viewing on Saturday and the memorial service on Sunday. It was difficult at times but with Nadine there I managed okay. She helped me and she held me when I just couldn’t keep on going. We took many breaks and at night I sat on the couch, and Nadine just held me while I cried some more.
I had prepared a collection of Jay’s favorite music, I had packed a small bag for myself since I would be there all day Saturday and possibly late into the evening. The funeral home would take care of all the decorations and everything for the viewing including refreshments for people. They even had the outfit there already that Jay wanted to be in. We had taken care of that back when we had planned all of it.
I had another rough night and even woke up with nightmarish visions only to realize I was in my apartment and I was okay. Nadine came in and checked on me, stroked over my head and told me with a soft voice that everything was going to be okay.