An empty bed ... left empty by the death of a child or loved one. The pain of that empty bed is felt deeply by parents, family and friends. Other ways the empty bed is felt ... through loss of spouse to death or divorce. This blog is in honor of my son Jesse who died suddenly and unexpectedly of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and left his bed empty.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
I just finished this -- I wrote it tonight. I had the opportunity to visit with the parents of one of the boys who was with Jesse when he died. The father told me that Jesse was clutching his chest and had scratched it when he collapsed. Ethan and Benjiimon were afraid to move or turn Jesse over, but they did when the 911 dispatcher told them to. That was when they saw that he was clutching his chest with both hands and had scratched himself. I didn't know that until tonight. It has been a hard, very sad crying night for me. I'm not sure if I completely understand the comfort in sharing -- but there is. This is my version of what happened in the hospital the day Jesse died.
The thought of you
Clutching at your heart, scratching your chest.
Trying desperately to stop the pain –
Futilely willing your stopped heart to beat again.
Clutching at life,
Lying there on the hard cold floor.
Your life draining away.
Me so far away –
Helpless to do anything,
To hold you, comfort you and love you.
My dear sweet son ~~
I'm coming – after driving for two hours –
Your boy has died they say, we're sorry...
"He’s not ready" they say.
I don’t care, “Please, just take me to my boy!”
I insist until finally they take us.
I come in and find you lying there on a hard metal hospital table.
I pull the sheet down, away from your face, now blue,
the rosy color of life drained from your face and body.
Your body, slowly growing cold.
I lean over you, laying my head on yours and let the sobs rack my body as the pain tears through me – body and soul.
This can’t be happening – it can’t be.
We sob and sob, your father and I.
The mortician comes to take you away – No we can’t, we’re not ready, and Glenna and Matt aren’t even here yet.
No … we’re not ready.
After the sobs subside I lift your hand and hold it – your precious hand.
I examine every part of it, the bracelet on your wrist, given to you by Ethan, the cut your were so proud of, received while cleaning up and playing your boyish games.
I notice the dirt under your fingernails.
I love this hand, your strong muscular arm, everything about it and you. I hold and examine your other hand, loving this body that served you so well for the 16 years you were with us, this body of yours, I love it and I love you.
I caress and notice every part of your head and face, your ears, memorizing you, your forehead, your lips and teeth around the tube they used to try and resuscitate you.
I will never forget this face – this beautiful, handsome face, my son.
I open your closed eyelids to peek at your eyes. Your beautiful green eyes that sparkled so. The sparkle is gone now.
The mortician is still waiting and finally leaves telling us he will come back when we are finished.
I will not be rushed. This is the last time I will get to really be with your body.
I play with your hair, your hair you were so proud of, hair the girls were so jealous of. I ask for scissors to cut a lock or two of your hair to remember you. Don't worry I'll cut it from the back so no one will be able to tell.
I caress your beard, face and hair for a long time. I kiss your forehead and cheeks. Kisses enough to last -- a little while at least.
I groom you – gently scratch all the little bumps off your forehead. I play with your beard and facial hair, so manly, so young.
I talk to you – “No driver’s ed for you!” I say jokingly.
Chris and Maren bring Ethan and Benjiimon. Ethan is wearing sun glasses to hide the fact he's been crying. Benjiimon is keeping on a brave and somber face. We talk and ask questions, we need to know every detail. What happened? We need to know.
We talk, we cry, we call your brother’s and sisters, Glenna and Matt are on their way, we give directions the best we can. Yes he’s dead we say. It is unbelievable. Glenna and Matt arrive. We hug and sob once again as Matt and Glenna join in our caresses.
I move to your feet and legs, caressing and noticing everything about them, the story they tell. That bare patch on your right shin, what? a dare? a game? Who could stand to rip off the most hair with duct tape? And of course you won. We laugh at the fun you always had.
You’re moving on you say... A transfer, a new calling. "Sorry I couldn’t stay a little longer I was having so much fun. Life is great isn’t it. I love you. Sorry I had to leave so suddenly and unexpectedly."
We stay with your body, loving it, caressing it, memorizing it. We can’t believe you are really leaving us.
Donation? they ask, what about tissue donation? What? I didn’t think we could do that after death. No, is it possible?
What would you want us to do? Yes, you would want to help another.
OK … we’ll think about it.
It is so hard to leave. We never want to leave – so very final.
You will never be the same – after the autopsy and donations … so much of you will be gone. Embalming. So final.
We turn to go and slowly start to leave, but I can’t.
I remember I have some oils in my purse. I go get them.
I put the sweet smelling oil on your feet and legs, your arms and hands, your face and hair.
You will smell sweet with the oils given and applied by your mother.
I love you Jesse, I love you so very much.
Finally I can turn and leave … reluctantly, slowly. Leaving the body of my dear boy, Jesse.