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August 30, 2016
Micah and Moxie were going to school.
I see my husband in the photo on the right, taking Moxie to the truck, and I see Micah standing on the hill by where we parked the trucks. I must have walked them to the truck to see them off.
I don’t remember. It’s all a blur.
I’m pretty sure I have other photos taken on my big camera, photos on a hard drive somewhere, because I see this one below with my name on it. Apparently, I took the photo, edited it, uploaded and downloaded on my phone.
I’m not ready for any of the other photos yet, ones that I took with my big camera. These ones that I’m pulling out from my phone camera roll are hard enough.
On August 30, my oldest two kids were in school and I took my youngest walking around the school area. We looked at the beautiful flowers as we walked. We picked blackberries and ate them.
And then we went to pick up Micah and Moxie from school.
I remember the restlessness that I felt. Like, I needed to move, but when I moved, it wasn’t enough. I needed to pray but when I prayed, it wasn’t enough. I needed to be still and feel Dana’s presence, but when I was, I couldn’t.
I remember the fog in that restlessness, that perpetual fog, the fog that hadn’t gone away. I was still moving through this lava, liquid world and nothing felt real.
That night, I stood on the deck and my niece Yu Han called me. She said that the doctors wanted to have a family meeting for Dana. I remember I asked why, and she said, “well, he’s on every form of life support.”
I hadn’t tallied all the care that Dana was receiving at the ICU as “life support,” and to hear it so baldly stated was a jolt to me.
All of those photos of the machines that Dana was connected to, the photos that I took so playfully, thinking of how Dana would get a kick out of them when he woke up, all of those machines were literally keeping Dana alive. That, without those machines on, Dana would die because he was unable to breathe or keep his heart going on his own.
August 31st, 2016
I did not leave the night of the 30th to go back to Redding because I was traveling in unsafe areas. Night would make it worse, and it could be complicated with the kids. That’s the thing about living so isolated, and also the thing about living in marijuana country during harvest season: things are a little different.
I left the next morning.
At that point, I remember not being thrilled about needing to take the kids. I wanted to be able to focus on Dana. It wasn’t a sharp feeling though, more like a heart’s wish, followed by a sigh.
I don’t remember why I took a picture of downtown Ferndale. Did a child puke on the Wild Cat drive through the Lost Coast and on the way into town? Or did I stop there for food for the drive? That would be strange because I usually stopped for supplies in Eureka or Arcata.
But it’s on my camera roll.
We drove the 7 hours and whatever else for stops along the way (bathroom! Puking! Road work! Gas! Coffee! Gum, or something crunchy to keep me awake!), and we were back at Mercy Hospital, in the ICU.
Everything was still, and everything was restless. Mom and my nieces were still there, busy weaving webs of hope from the cocoon of the ICU waiting room My niece Yu Han was still – yes, still! – trying to resolve the enormous issue of Dana’s insurance. She was trying to get him covered through a grace period that might extend just far enough. They’d say no, she’d push on and call someone else and push through another angle. She was relentless.
The next photo is this one:
We were back at the hotel.
The kids loved that luggage carrier thing. I did, too. It made a real difference whilst trying to tote what felt like million small bags and 3 wiggly, active children.
I wanted just one big suitcase.
We got settled into our room, took care of all the necessary aspects of being physically clean, cared for and functional in this western culture.
I wrote this blog post on August 31st, in the pre-dawn darkness of morning: The Problem with Belief
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.