When you have a child, you think about all the little things that will change. You try and mentally prepare yourself for different situations. Think about how you might handle them. But there are so many to prepare for. You can’t possibly think of them all. And you only realize it when you find yourself faced with one.
We lost a family member yesterday. My step-father. He fought a battle that not many could have endured. But somehow, he did. His desire to keep going was always because of his grandchildren. He had big plans for them. He was going to take them places, or plant a garden, or start an orchard. Something. But thats, without a doubt, why he persevered the way that he did. For as long as he did. He didn’t want to miss an opportunity with any of them. And maybe it’s just me, but he seemed to have a special bond with my son. His pal.
I think that’s why his death is so hard. You never want your loved ones to suffer. You never want them to live a life less than. And as his health declined rapidly over the last few weeks, those around him started the grieving process. But, for me, it was different this time.
Not only am I grieving for myself. For the man I had known all my life. A man who was kind, generous, and a constant dreamer. But I grieving for my son.
Nikola loved his Pa. He loved him so so much. I have never known a baby to sit so contently for hours on someone’s lap, but he did. He loved it. Nikola would sit an listen to his Pa talk about all the adventures they were going to go on since he was born. He would look up at him, eyes wide, and just take it all in. Never wiggling, never crying. Just sitting and watching.
I think that what’s making this so hard. Knowing how much Nikola loved him. And while he is just a baby.- Only 14 months, I know that he knows something is different. We were at my mom’s on Sunday, Barry was already in hospice, and Nikola looked at her and said “Papa.” And he said it again this morning when he was playing with a toy Barry had gotten him. He’s a smart little boy.
And so, this is one of the things. One of the things that is different now. I didn’t see it coming, I didn’t think about it. But, here we are. Barry didn’t want people to be sad. He said many times in the last couple weeks that he had lived an incredible life and did all the things he wanted to do. And I think we can find comfort in that.
Get out your wellies boys and girls. This one is gonna get a little deep.
I believe that most everything happens for a reason. I think that we are all heading towards a sort of incredibly vague predetermined destiny. Some people may find that comforting, others perhaps not. I’m indifferent. But it does play into this theory of mine quite nicely.
Most people have experienced Deja Vu at some point in their lives. It’s a fairly common phenomenon. But I seem to have it regularly. Maybe once or twice every couple of weeks. Only, I’m not certain that’s what I’d consider it really. When this experience occurs I dont have the feeling that I have been in that exact space before. It’s not about space for me. It is about the lighting, the smells, the sounds, the people, the entire experience in that split second. It’s not something happening “again”. Instead it’s something I had, at some point, dreamt of happening. A premonition.
When these moments happen, I relish them. I close my eyes and will it to last longer. This sudden and fleeting sense is what I like to think of as a “checkpoint”. It’s a little blip in time that confirms I’ve made the right choices. I’m on the right path. That all my stars are aligning just so. And I find that astoundingly comforting.
I had a “checkpoint” moment yesterday. I had just gotten home from work. My baby was in his walker and we were in the kitchen. He and I have been in those exact spots countless times. But yesterday was different. The familiar and exciting feeling came over me like a wave. I closed my eyes for a moment. Then looked at my son and smiled. Believing that you are exactly where you’re supposed to be is one the most gratifying sensations there is.
I have been working on this post for weeks. Today, I decided to start over. My post was long, and unnecessarily so. It didn’t accomplish what I had wanted it to. It’s tone and the overall message was lost with every paragraph. So here we are. At the beginning.
One year ago, my brother was in an accident. It has been a long three hundred and sixty-five days. I don’t want or need to rehash every sad, upsetting detail. But, I do want to share with you all some of the more poignant moments and some observations that have stuck with me over the last year.
I remember when I got the call from JJ’s foreman, Ian. But more so, I remember the phone call I got from dad shortly after. I asked Ian if JJ was alive. When he answered “yes”, there was no denying the uncertainty voice. I knew what he was saying without saying it. I knew what the tone of that “yes” meant. JJ WAS alive when I left him, but I don’t know if he still is. My dad asked me the same question just minutes after. I wanted to be strong and say sternly, confidently “Yes!” but the words had, unintentionally, come out the exact same way Ian had said it. Unconvincingly.
After I arrived at the hospital, I talked with the nurses and then found the ICU waiting room. I opened the door and was immediately taken aback. The people in the room were talking loudly, laughing, eating. All these things, I couldn’t fathom happening in a place like that. This was supposed to be a place of tragedy, a place for reflection, prayer, and quiet whispered voices. I hated the waiting room with every ounce of my being. I couldn’t stay in there. I honestly, truly couldn’t. Luckily, there was a private waiting room we were told we could use. And by god we did. It was supposed to be for doctors to have consultations with the family of patients. I thought about the tough questions asked and some even tougher answers given in that room. I prayed that that wouldn’t be us. We stayed in that room for three days. And just when we had gotten a little less sad, enough to where we could tolerate talking, and smiling we gave up the room to someone who needed it more. It didn’t last long, we were back in there by day 5. The day JJ’s artery gave out.
That first night, we had been told, that it was going to be a long one. The first time we got to talk to a doctor was around 8 or 9 that night. JJ had been in surgery since one o’clock. Dr. Brown told us that he was the orthopedic surgeon that had been working on JJ. He was impressed with the double femur break JJ had suffered. He said that if you had to have a broken femur (or 2) this is the way to do it. It was a clean break. Flat across. He told us that the bones would be able to fuse with little to no problem, he believed. He said that if all this injury was, was a couple of broken femurs, JJ would be out of here in a few days. But that, as we would come to know, wasn’t the case.
A few hour later we got to talk to the second surgeon. He told us what he had seen and maybe more importantly, what he hadn’t. JJ had lost a lot of tissue, muscle, nerves, and lots of blood. He went through 107 units that day. But most distressing were his arteries. They were completely shredded. I asked the doctor if there was anything I could do. If there was anything that he could take from me to give to J. I told him that he could have whatever he wanted. The doctor smirked and shook his head a little. I could tell he had thought of it. I have no doubt. Maybe not my arteries specifically, but someones. His face said it all. That very thought had come to him. I didn’t delve any deeper. But my father and I both let him know in no uncertain terms that whatever JJ needed, we were happy to give.
At 2 am we were told that they were wrapping up the surgery and they’d be bringing JJ up soon. From the room we were in we could see JJ’s. We stood on chairs, we craned our necks. Did whatever we had to do so we could catch a glimpse of him. And at 3:30, they told us we could go in to see him. He didn’t look like himself. He was so swollen. But I have never been so happy to see someone in my entire life. We asked the prognosis. Torn between the desire to know and the dread that may come with the answer. JJ was, without a doubt, still in critical condition. When the doctor talked about the prognosis, he wasn’t referring to if he would lose a leg or both, it was if JJ would survive. I will never forget that moment.
After a few days JJ had started to come to. Never for long, only a few minutes and then he’d be back to sleep. But when he was awake, he wanted to communicate. It was a tall order with the breathing tube in. Someone got him a small dry erase board. He would try and write something, sometimes falling asleep in the middle of writing, and we would be left with the task of deciphering it. We may as well have been decoding ancient hieroglyphics. And when we couldn’t figure it out, we would start guessing like we were playing a game of charades. Is that an I? No? Ok, is it an L? No? Shit, is it a J? Nope. Then after a minute or two, when all of the energy he had, had drained out of him, he would let his hands drop from equal parts exhaustion and frustration and his eyes would fill with tears and he would shake his head as if to say “I give up”. That was, without a doubt, one of the hardest parts for me. There he was helpless, relying on us to help him, and I couldn’t. I was not a good guesser.
One of the first things that we were able to read was the word “boots”. Mom said, “your boots are right here, J. On the shelf”. She showed them to him. The sense of confusion on his face was unmistakable. My mom and I looked at each other. She knew right away why he was confused. Call it mothers intuition. She said “J, your boots are fine. Your feet didn’t go into the chipper.” His eyebrows became unfurrowed, almost like at that very second, everything came back to him. In fact, one night after the boots incident, mom asked him if he remembered the accident. He nodded as best as he could, and then wrote: “They didn’t believe me.” Later he would explain what he had meant. When his co-worker had been on the phone with 911, JJ told him to tell the dispatcher to get life flight started. He knew that they carried blood on the helicopter and that he was going to need it. But what he either didn’t know or didn’t think about at the time, is that patients can’t request life flight, it has to come from the paramedic.
The hardest day was undoubtedly the day JJ’s right leg artery gave out. It was the first Monday after the accident. The nurses would come in every few hours and pull out this black box that had a stethoscope in the shape of a pen connected it to it. They would put it on the top of JJ’s feet, one by one, and move it around until they heard a swishy sound. That sound was his pulse. That day, they had checked it before he went down to surgery. A process we had already come to know well. And when he would come back. One nurse tried, then another. No swishy sound. They called for the doctor. The room was silent.
The doctor confirmed what we all had suspected. At the very beginning, we had been told that the repair to his arteries was a kind of one and done deal. They weren’t sure if the gore-tex that had put in would hold. Each leg had a 50/50 shot they told us. But it didn’t matter. We wanted a second opinion. We asked that his file be sent to mass Gen to see what they said. JJ had woken up, and I think it was dad who explained the situation to him. He took it well. You could tell he understood and agreed.
A couple of hours later a report came back from Boston. There was nothing that could be done. The right leg would have to be amputated. We cried. A lot. I went to the chapel for a while. Eventually, we all reconvened in JJ’s room. J woke up and motioned for his dry erase board. He wrote, what I made out to be “ambulance or helicopter.” He wanted to know how he was getting to Boston. I read it aloud so he could confirm my guess. He did. This was, for me, the hardest moment of JJ’s hospital stay. I looked at him and said “J, you’re not going to Mass Gen. I’m so sorry. They said that there was nothing they could do.” He stared at the ceiling for a minute, cried only a couple of tears, and fell back asleep.
Not long after, the doctor came back in to explain the procedure for the amputation. We were all listening intently when I looked over and noticed JJ had woken up and was listening too. The doctor started over from the beginning to make sure J heard everything he had said. Nurses came in to start the pre-op prep like they had done earlier. They gave J and an extra dose of whatever powerful concoction he was already on. He fell asleep immediately. One of them asked dad to sign a piece of paper allowing them to amputate. And that, I have no doubt, was dad’s toughest moment. He said he didn’t want JJ to hate him for making that decision. For signing that piece of paper. More tears came.
Now, looking back, the days that follow sort of melt together in a way. But certain moments stick out. The bigger ones, certainly more at the beginning and then start to taper. Like when he got his breathing tube out. There was a nurse on duty that J had taken a liking to. He said to her, “Can I ask you a personal question? Why do I get the feeling that you like me?” Listen, I’ve seen my brother interact with women, and I must say, this was, surprisingly, one of his more charismatic moments.
One of the only times I have seen JJ cry was one of his first nights in his regular room. Everyone was concerned about his mental state. Probably because we were all such a mess we assumed he must be too. It was just him and I and I can’t remember the exact wording I used but I asked him what and how he was feeling. He told me that the hardest part was that he would never be a firefighter again. He cried real hard, and so did I. I told him that if there was something he wanted to do, then he would figure out a way to do it. I had. and still have, no doubt of that. I found a video of a firefighter in Ohio who had an amputation almost exactly like JJ’s. He had been outfitted with a special prosthetic that worked perfectly. He wasn’t on light duty, the guy was fighting fires. I watched J watch the video and then we cried some more.
On Sundays, we would have football parties in his room. We’d bring a cooler and whatever JJ wanted to eat. He had lost so much weight. He was already thin and didn’t have much to lose. When he was able to eat, which was about once or twice every other day, he didn’t eat much. He wanted a special soup. We always called it green soup. Our nanny would make it for us. Kruno went and bought every box Hannaford had. That’s what he’s eating is this picture. He was so happy to have that green soup.
Next came his time at Spaulding. They do some truly amazing work there. And JJ was the incredibly lucky to be the recipient of some of that amazing work. He has said several times that he doesn’t believe he’d be this far along if he hadn’t have gone there. It was hard, him being so far away, but it was for the best. We all knew it. I got this photo one day while I was at work.
I was so proud. JJ has made us all very proud throughout this experience. His resolve has been something to be admired. He would be a great role model for someone who’s gone through a similar experience.
He has worked very hard to get to where he is. I got to go with him to a physical therapy appointment a few months ago. To the naked eye, the unknowing person, it may have looked like he wasn’t doing much. Lifting a leg up and down, moving side to side. But to us, to know where he had been such a short time ago. The condition he was in. How hard he worked. It was nothing short of a miracle. We almost lost him…a few times. But here he is.
So many moments and memories stick out. Things that I want to share. But this post has again, turned out to be very long. They will have to be told at a later time. Maybe on his two year anniversary. The weird thing is, and I think I can speak for most of my family. We are now running on a different calendar. To me, and I’d bet to JJ too, tonight at midnight, marks a new year. With I’m sure, more milestones to conquer and mountains to move. He will continue to progress and heal, hopefully sharing his progress along the way. This past year JJ has been the recipient of more prayers and blessings then could ever be counted. And for that, our family is so incredibly grateful.
I remember a few years ago I read an article that talked about an art gallery opening. The layout of the event was set up like a person’s house. With several different rooms, all with different types of artwork in them. One of the spectators arrived via skateboard, and instead of carrying it around with him, left it leaning against one of the hallway walls close to the entrance. Everyone that arrived after him, stopped to photograph his skateboard. They all perceived it as a work of art.
When it comes to art, I am a novice at best. I know nothing about it. But there seems to be a lot of it. And it’s got me thinking… Who has to perceive something as art for it TO BE art? And better yet: Who has to perceive you as something for it to be true and does it matter?
When I first read about the Fearless Girl statue. I was immediately drawn to her. I read every story I could find that mentioned anything about her. I don’t consider myself a feminist necessarily, or an art connoisseur by any means, but everything about this bold, brazen sculpture spoke to me. The artist was able to make this statue convey gumption in the most subtle yet unequivocal way.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding this pony-tailed, little girl. Specifically, how she was placed in relation to the iconic Charging Bull. The male artist who created the seven thousand pound symbol of American power and resilience pitched quite the fit about the girl. Stating that the female artist who made this tiny, in comparison, 250-pound Fearless Girl statue had “altered the perception of the bull” because of where and how she was placed. Facing the bull. He isn’t entirely wrong. The statue had accomplished everything the artist had set out to do. Everything about Fearless Girl was very intentional. The artist said, “I made sure to keep her features soft, she’s not defiant, she’s brave, proud and strong, not belligerent”. And I think the artist was able to perfectly emulate that.
I’ve been thinking about how I’m perceived a lot lately. If people’s perceptions of me and even my own are an actuality. Everyone wants to see themselves in a favorable light, but is that the truth? I haven’t been reaching my potential professionally. And while some of the fault undoubtedly rests on my shoulders, I believe it is also a product of my environment.
I’ve decided it’s time for a career change. I don’t fit in in the wealth management industry. I am not naturally meek or mild, but this position has forced me to be both in some instances. I don’t like it. It makes me uncomfortable. I feel unsure almost every day. In most of the things I do. Except when I’m talking to clients. That’s when I’m at home. I’m confident that whatever they need, I can help them. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll put on my Nancy Drew hat and work tirelessly until I find it and report back. I’ll conquer the unknown happily and fearlessly. Because I know that when I do, the client will be thankful. I will have helped them accomplish something they couldn’t have done on their own. And that is a great feeling.
One of the things I miss the most in my current position is being part of a team. I guess technically, I am. But Just because someone says “you’re apart of the team!” doesn’t make it so. That means they may think of you as that, but if no actions are there to support this thought, then does it matter how they perceive it? Shouldn’t how I feel carry some weight? Whose perception is correct?
Over the last couple months, I’ve had several interviews. And recently, I have had 2 men, in a hiring position, tell me that I “seem like I can be a bitch when necessary”. They aren’t wrong, I guess. I like to get shit done. But, I didn’t love how the word “bitch” hit my ear. One person immediately felt bad and said: “I mean that as a compliment”. And that’s how I had taken it. I think that’s how some people perceive being strong and taking charge. When and how people use that word can and do have different connotations. Whether that’s right or wrong, well, I guess it depends on the perceiver…
I have been offered an amazing position. One that I am so excited about it gives me chills. It’s at a fantastic company run by an incredible group of successful, intelligent women. I didn’t know if I was going to get it honestly. The interview process was intense. And I don’t know if I was necessarily the best candidate on paper. But as it would turn out, after 5 meetings, and hours of some of the most self-reflective questions I have ever been asked, they chose me. And I know that I won’t have to be meek or mild. I won’t have to feel like an outsider. I’m going to be a part of a team. Like, for real this time. I can be confident, tough, determined. All of the things that The Fearless Girl and I were meant to be.
I started out strong. Just over eight months ago. I was blogging often, having a fairly clear, concise point with each post. The feedback I got was amazing. People told me that what I was writing was relatable and how they looked forward to my posts. But, as the weeks went on, I found myself blogging less and less and less. At one point going more than a month without posting a single thing.
I would still go to WordPress almost every day. Just under the “Reader” tab. I would scroll through my saved categories, spending a majority of my time under “Blogging”. A common post I’d see would fall along the lines of “So, I haven’t posted in a while.” or “Things have been really hectic lately and I haven’t logged in”. Listen, I get it. I do. Life gets busy and things come up. But I couldn’t help but wonder… Were they really too busy for days, weeks, on end or maybe it’s because they didn’t have something to say? Something they were proud of, or inspired by, or excited about. And by no fault of their own necessarily.
It’s so very easy to rely on an excuse, rather than admit that you’ve maybe lost motivation. Or perhaps, you’ve been looking for inspiration and have come up empty handed. I find that so many of my posts have come to fruition because I was inspired by something. Something happened or I read something. Whatever it was, was so amazing that it just compelled me to write. To tell the WordPress world all about it.
A few weeks ago, I got the blogging itch. The one where you need to write something down, purely for the sake of writing. But, I didn’t know what to write about. I needed inspiration in real bad way. So I went over to Dream Big, Dream Often, to see what the author had been up to. He has a fantastic blog. Every day he publishes posts that are not only thought-provoking, but also entice engagement from a seemingly very diverse audience. I’m pretty new to this, but even I know that is no small feat. And as I scrolled and read, there it was. A simple blog post, about nothing really. It was maybe 3 or 4 sentances long. In the post, he had asked a question about social media usage. I answered, and in my response, I typed the title of this post. That’s all I needed, I had my inspiration.
When inspiration hits, there’s no other way to describe it other than a spark. When I have an idea for a post that I’m excited about, there is nothing that will stop me from writing, editing, revising and hitting that beautiful blue “publish” button. My eyes light up, you can see the wheels turning and from there, my fingers glide over the alphabet keys with the utmost of ease. You never know where the spark will come from or when it will strike. But thankfully, inevitably, it does. Whether it’s slight or fierce, sooner or later, you’ll have a creative urge that will bring you back from that merciless thing called writers block.
I’ve never seen “The Godfather”. But, I have seen “You’ve Got Mail”. Many, many times. In the movie, Meg Ryan’s character, Kathleen, is at odds with a big businessman named Joe Fox, whose company is about to put her’s under. Unbeknownst to the both of them, they are each other’s secret online love interests. Joe Fox, played by Tom Hanks replies with the following message to Kathleen when she asked him for business advice:
“Go to the mattresses. You’re at war. It’s not personal, it’s business. It’s not personal its business. Recite that to yourself every time you feel you’re losing your nerve. I know you worry about being brave, this is your chance. Fight. Fight to the death!”
This post was a tricky one to write. There are so many variations of what it means to fight. You can fight for an injustice, for someone’s well-being, or for something you believe in. My family has been tackling some of those lately.
My first lesson about “Going to the Mattresses”
For my entire life, I have been terrible at all sports. Awful. I have no business being on any sort of field or court in a competitive setting. However, in 7th grade, I signed up to play on our middle school soccer team. Every sport I had played leading up to this, I had been coached by my dad or his friends at the rec department. That wasn’t the case this time.
During one match, our team was winning 7-0 and we were in the final minutes of the game. The coach called my name for the first time that day and put me in as fullback. The whistle blew and an opposing wing came at me with the ball. I managed to take it away and kick it in the opposite direction. A few seconds later the whistle blew again and I had been replaced. As I came off the field I saw my dad get out of the car and start walking towards our sideline. I thought “he’s probably coming to tell me what a great job I did, kicking that ball away.” I was mistaken.
“Darci! Get your shit, we’re going home!” I stopped in my tracks, shocked. He didn’t stop there though. He then turned to the coach. “Hey! You’ve got an awful lot to learn about coaching!” he said. “You’re up 7-0, and you can’t leave her in there for more than 30 seconds? You’ve been playing your first string the entire game!”
That was the end of my soccer career. I was so embarrassed. I remember crying and dreading going to school the next day. We are from a very small town where everyone knows everyone. I knew kids and their parents would be talking about it. Later on that night, dad came to have a talk with me about what had happened. I believe this was after he had had a phone call with my former coach. While I don’t remember his exact words, the moral of the story was “That wasn’t right. That’s not how to be a good coach. And she needed to know how I felt” My dad lacks subtlety, at times. It’s a blessing and a curse. But, I’ll never forget that day and the lesson I learned. He fought for what he believed. It’s a story I tell often.
Our family has fought our share battles recently. All of the varying levels of intensity and for different reasons. Some have been fought as a group and some have been taken on singularly, and even internally.
My mom, for example, has fought for my step-dad every day since September 1st. He was in a car accident and has been in the hospital since then. Most of the time he hasn’t been fully awake. She has fought for an adequate level of care. She has fought to keep him alive, more than I believe the doctors have since the first days after the accident. She has been at the hospital (with the exception of when my brothers’ accident happened) every day she could since the beginning. My mom with her vigilante style bedside monitoring, and her demand for answers. She’s fought real hard. He woke up last week, and I got a phone call from him. He said, “What’s going on, kid?” That’s always how he started a phone call with me. It was probably the most amazing phone call I’ve ever gotten in my life. Unfortunately, he did have a bump in his recovery road a couple of days after that phone call. But, he’s still here. He’s still fighting.
Today is the 3-month mark since JJ’s accident. There is no way for anyone to really understand what he must battle with every day. There’s no way to measure how much he has to fight on a daily basis. Even in his first days in the hospital, the doctors and nurses all talked about how tenacious he was. How much strength and determination he had. And all that was said before he was able to talk. My family knew he had all that in him. But I never truly noticed the degree of it until then. When he would insist on doing things himself when he had 6 very willing family members in his room to help. When he would surpass every expectation the doctors had set. Stand with almost full weight on a leg that he doesn’t have full feeling in. And most recently, when he was told he wouldn’t be on a snowmobile this year. He showed them all just how much fight he had in him.
Just from a personal standpoint, my brothers fight aside. This is what I’ve learned in the last 3 months: Fighting is hard. It is exhausting and often tear-inducing. And because of the recent uptick of occurrences in which going to battle is required, I’ve had to pick them more carefully.
My brother is home from the hospital. And everyone in the family is ecstatic. We have been looking forward to this for three months. We knew that the transition would be tough, but I was totally unprepared for how tough it would be at the beginning. In one week alone, I have cried at 2 different pharmacies trying to pick up my brother’s prescriptions because of issues related to billing. I’m sure I looked like a lunatic. And then, inevitably feel immediately embarrassed and start pleading my case as to why I’m not a lunatic and then probably look like even more of a lunatic then I did at the beginning. It’s a vicious cycle. Anyway, One of the battles we’ve taken on is making the house handicap accessible. We have been begging for 2 months for someone to come in an access our house. Get it set up for him so when he got home, he’d be able to be mostly independent. We were met with every stall tactic and excuse they had. And I, having never navigated through anything like this before, fell for it. At this point, there are 5 or 6 different people or companies involved in this. The caseworker, the caseworkers assistant, the insurance company, the contractor, subcontractor, and as of today the owner of a very large home modification company. Everyone is pointing the finger at the other as to why this is taking so long. I make multiple phone calls a day trying to figure it out but usually end up more confused than I was at the beginning. Today, I made an extra phone call. To a lawyer. As this process goes along, I’m seeing that sometimes you can’t fight your battles alone. And I need help fighting this one. There won’t be many more niceties. It’s not personal. It’s business.
I have yet to find a manual or script anywhere to offer me any guidance on how to fight. The desire alone, to fight, comes from within. It’s propelled by a person’s heart, gut instinct, and moral compass. And not very often, do those 3 things combined steer you wrong.
“If you’re feeling froggy, go ahead and leap” – Butch Hanson
There are many ways to say “Goodbye”. It can have many different undertones. It can be sad or even happy in some cases, and other things in between.
My brother has hit a milestone in recovery from his work accident. After 46 days in the hospital, he has been transferred to rehabilitation in Boston. There, he will get his first prosthetic and soon start walking again. We have been preparing for this day since he was out of the ICU.
J.J. doesn’t remember much of the ICU. How could he? When they first brought him in, he was hooked up to multiple machines and had 19 different bags of fluids hanging from what the nurses called his “Christmas tree”. As they days went on, and specifically after the amputation, periodically the nurses would come in and trim the tree. And soon enough he was down to barely a shrub. During his stint in the ICU, those nurses were his lifeline. They were our lifeline. They barely left his room. We relied on them for everything. And they never did disappoint.
The day that J.J. was moved from the ICU to a regular room was one of those confusing types of goodbyes I’m talking about. We said goodbye to our lifelines, and cried a little. It was tough. The uncertainty of it. What this new floor, with the new nurses was going to bring.
These men and women were every bit as amazing as the last bunch. The nurses seemed to love J.J. like a member of their family. Some brought him in homemade food. They hung out with him in the middle of the night when he couldn’t sleep. They checked in on him even when he wasn’t assigned as their patient. J.J. loved them too. He had a system, how he liked things. Certain pillows in certain places on the bed. All the nurses knew this secret, sometimes unspoken system, and obliged. If they were ever bothered or annoyed by his requests, they certainly didn’t let on.
On Friday November 18th, J.J. was told that he was ready for Spaulding. He would leave Monday morning. I asked him a few times if he was excited. He response was always the same. “Yes and no.” I know the decision to leave CMMC was a hard one for him. But his case worker assured him that Spaulding was the place to be. That Sunday, we said goodbye to a couple of our favorite nurses. Shelby, Kristen and Abby. I started to cry, and so did they. J.J. said “way to go, Darc.”
Monday came, more goodbyes were said. I’m sure there were fewer tears considering I wasn’t there. They loaded him into the ambulance and headed to Boston. He’ll be at Spaulding for about 4-6 weeks. The facility is amazing. It’s a state of the art, futuristic looking place right on the harbor. While the first day was tough, just getting accustomed to their way of doing things, J.J. knows this is where he needs to be. And in time, saying goodbye to the people here will be just like before.