This post that you’re about to read precedes my first memory, the previous post. This is written by Scott who was my boyfriend at the time of the car crash, but has since upgraded to my husband.
Heidi’s mom stood up as I entered the ICU family room. I had been trading shifts with her and other members of Heidi’s family at this post everyday for the past two weeks. She looked worried and had been crying, which wasn’t unexpected, that’s what people do in places like this. But something was different today. Her eyes conveyed a sense of urgency. There was a question in them.
“What?” I’d heard her but I needed a second to let the words sink in.
“Heidi’s awake and she won’t stop crying. They’d like you to go talk to her.”
This was the moment I’d been praying for. But the joy I was expecting didn’t arrive. There was no fear or anger. Just the cold reality of the conversation I knew was about to take place. But there was love. Only love could give me the strength to walk the path appearing before me.
“The doctors turned down the drugs that were keeping her asleep. Her Dad and I tried to talk to her but she just keeps crying.”
She doesn’t know anything. She’s been lying there, unconsciously fighting for her life for every second of every day for the past two weeks.
“I’ll tell the nurse you’d like to go in.”
There’s so much to tell her. Where do you start? How do you tell somebody they’ve lost everything they thought they would have forever?
As Heidi’s mom left the room, I sat down on the small couch and stared at the floor. The family room wasn’t your typical hospital waiting room. This one felt like it had been given a little more thought in design. The other waiting rooms I had visited over the past two weeks all felt as though they’d been added to the building as an afterthought or the space had been reluctantly conceded by the other more important parts of the building. This one was equipped for people whom would be waiting a long time. The couches and chairs felt comfortable at first but quickly lost their charm as your muscles discovered the lack of support. During the night these couches pulled out into even less comfortable beds. Cheap prints of impressionist paintings hung on the walls overtop industrial strength wall paper and wall sconces cast their soft light up the wall to illuminate the t-bar ceiling. Meanwhile, a film of thin carpet attempted to conceal the hard concrete floor beneath. While the room was welcoming and warm, it ultimately failed in its efforts to conceal the fact that you were sitting in a place where death knocked often.
The door opened as Heidi’s mom returned with the nurse, “Hi Scott, come on in. Heidi’s awake and wants to see you.”
As I stood up, I noticed the pile of paper cranes on the table across the family room had grown again since yesterday. Behind them, a middle aged Asian woman spoke quietly to a teenage girl as they both focused on the little birds forming in their hands. I followed the nurse out as she turned to lead me down the now familiar maze of hallways toward Heidi’s ICU room.