Saturday November 26, 2011
My kids woke up really early this morning and since Tyler had been on Daddy duty all week, I decided to let him sleep in. Since we were staying at my Mom's house and were sharing that space with my sisters I knew I had to get the kids out of the house. I loaded them in the car and took them to Target to wander the aisles and do some retail therapy. I ended up buying some new shoes, a scarf and a big cozy sweater. Little did I know I would be wearing that sweater that evening, Andrew's last night on Earth. We eventually made our way back home and spent the rest of the morning at home, rather than the hospital. Kari had made plans with me a few days before to drive down from Bellingham to watch our kids for the day. We gave Sonja an early nap and in the afternoon we loaded our kids in the car with Kyle & Kari and Tyler and I headed up to the hospital. Tyler had not spent much time at the hospital that week, so when we walked in the room and Andrew saw Tyler, Andrew completely lit up and had a huge smile on his face. Andrew always considered Tyler to be a real brother. They had a special friendship and Andrew loved him like family. We spent a few sacred hours together with Andrew - just our crew. My mom, Ashley, Tyler and my sisters. We all looked around at each other and the room was quiet and peaceful and we told Andrew that we were all here. We surrounded his bed and talked and took turns holding his hands. By this time Andrew was really out of it and would come and go. He was mumbling a lot but would have several moments of complete clarity. As we sat there, he rattled off his life story - he talked about basketball plays, about customers from the bank, his favorite foods, nursery rhymes...his subconscious was taking over and his brain was recapping his life. It was absolutely fascinating, sometimes odd but mostly just sacred and beautiful. He kept asking us the time and then would point towards the ceiling and tell us there were only a few more hours left. It was scary, not knowing when it would happen or how. Every minute and hour was precious.
At some point around 7pm the Youngs brought the kids to the outside of the hospital and I nursed Sonja and Tyler took them home for bed. Around 9pm the nurse told us that she didn't expect Andrew to make it through the night. A few phone calls were made to those of Andrew's friends who needed to be there. At this point Andrew's pain was horrifying. We were trying to help and everyone was teary and didn't know what to do. Finally the nurse told us it was time - time to push more pain meds and get an oxygen mask on him. It was the only thing left to do. The pain meds settled him down and when the mask was finally put on him his breathing slowed way down. We stood in a circle around his bed, holding him and each other. We literally stood there and watched him breathe. His eyes were closed and his breathing slowed and slowed and slowed and finally, his last breath. We all watched it happen. We looked at the clock. It was 10:11pm. We called the nurse and she confirmed, yes, he was gone. All of us crumbled and hugged and wailed and stood and looked at his empty body. At some point my sisters and I walked out of the room and collapsed in front of his room, sitting on the hospital floor in the hall. We sat and leaned into each other and cried. This was how it was going to be from now on - just us 4 girls. The sweater I was wearing was like a blanket wrapped around me, offering me comfort as I comforted my sisters. My baby sisters were heart broken and I could do nothing about it. A horrible feeling for a mother hen like myself. Every time I wear this sweater I am wrapped in love and remember this beautiful, peaceful, love drenched night, the night that Andrew died.
There was a lot of going in and out of the room and a lot of details to take care of. We were very compelled to leave though. Andrew wasn't there anymore and we had to get out. I walked over to his body and kissed his already cold face. My last time to look at his body. As I've described before, the second that Andrew died his soul left his body and joined God in heaven. It was almost like you could see it go. And to look at his body was creepy - it was an empty shell. Thankfully several of Andrew's friends were willing to sit with his body until they zipped him up and took him away to the morgue. He was never left by himself.
We walked out of that room and down the elevator and into Tyler's truck that was waiting for us. Carrie had come over to sit while the kids slept so Tyler could come pick up Sarah and I. We drove away from that hospital and walked into my Mom's house and it was such a blur. I was physically ill. My body was shaking and the feeling of having to vomit wouldn't leave. My Mom and sisters and a few other friends eventually poured into the house and we sat in her living room and cried and recounted what we had just experienced. Nobody wanted to go to bed. Nobody wanted Andrew's last day alive to be over. Nobody wanted it to be real. At some point in the wee hours of the morning I fell asleep.