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September 1st, 2016
We headed straight for the ICU as morning came on September 1st.
That was a double BOB stroller, incredibly large and incredibly useful. I put all of their snacks, devices, games, clothing changes in that thing and never had to worry about needing to carry them if they fell asleep.
The waiting room.
Coming in on that day, I was starkly reminded of a time a while past in which I had parked my beast of a Suburban in the hospital parking lot, upper level. There was a woman near me who was struggling to get something out of her trunk. I asked her if I could help her, and as she turned to me, I could see her eyes, swollen and red from tears and strain.
I don’t remember if she accepted my help or not; I just remember that later, I saw her in the ICU, only this time, with her large family and they were all weeping, making a decision to remove life support from someone who was clearly loved.
I thought of that day, I thought of where we were.
Most of all of course, I thought of Dana.
His hands were still stained from dirt, from working.
His hands, so familiar to me. Hands that I had held as I learned to walk, hands that I held as I needed comfort. Hands that held milk for me when I was a baby even. Hands that would throw things to me, at me, hands that pushed me, propelled me, hands that I used to be jealous of, because he had those nice long elegant fingers with nice nail beds while I got stuck with the stubby, pudgy peasant ones.
Hands that prayed with me.
We had to don gowns, gloves and masks at that point when we went in to see him. I think it had been that way for a while, but since it was all explained to me as a result of being careful about infection, post-surgery, I hadn’t been deeply worried.
But I was worried now.
That he was on every form of life support didn’t mean as much to me as the fact that I still couldn’t feel Dana, I couldn’t sense him.
I really didn’t know what to do.
So I did the only thing I could think of:
I went and bought a kindle, and I loaded it with all of Dana and my own favorite songs from growing up. I went back to the ICU and plugged it in and put it under his pillow.
I’m crying as I type this, because I remember feeling like I was really pulling out the Big Stuff, that this had to do it, had to wake him up. I had Seals and Crofts on there – One Planet, One People, Please. I had Iz Kamakawiwo’ole, Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I loaded that baby up and asked the ICU staff to please not turn it off, please have it playing in a loop, please. They said they would, they said it was ok.
It had to work, it had to work, please make it work.
The hospital gardens were a solace to us all.
Little areas for prayer, meditation.
Space and silence.
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.