**edit: This was in 2007, fyi.**
It was evening.
We were hanging out in the ICU waiting room.
We'd pretty much lived there for the previous few days. My sister was attempting to catch a few moments of sleep in the room across the hall where the medical staff meet with families, presumably to share bad news. There was a set of motorized double doors that separated us from Ron, my brother-in-law. He had multiple myeloma. His heart was struggling. In the waiting room, we started to recognize other families as family too. I mean, when you spend night and day in a small waiting room, you can only ignore each other for so long. Several people had blankets and pillows and were attempting to sleep. Whoever designs hospital waiting room chairs does an excellent job at creating the most uncomfortable long-term place to sit.
We can only visit Ron two at a time. At least one of his brothers was visiting him on this particular night, at this particular time. My oh-so-uncomfortable chair is sort of near the waiting room door.
Suddenly I hear a lot of commotion behind those double doors. Lots of beeping alarms and staff talking loudly. Somebody is barking orders. I work in a hospital. I know the tone of those voices and the beeping alarms could not be good.
I step into the hall and punch the button on the wall that opens the doors into the ICU. Ron's bed is straight ahead. There are so. many. people. around him. Their faces are concerned, but everybody is focused on the task at hand. After what seems like an eternity, the doors close. I never stepped through the doors, I just wanted to see if all the chaos was taking place at Ron's bedside. It was.
By now the rest of the family is in the hallway with me, staring at the closed doors. His daughter is crying. The rest of us are just in shock. Is he dying? Could this be it? It's too soon. He's too young. This CANNOT be happening. My heart is beating so hard and fast and feels like it's pounding out of my chest, I swear somebody across the hall could count my pulse just by looking at me.
Somebody needs to tell my sister. I volunteer. That was a stupid thing to do.
I creep into the dark room she's sleeping in and put my hand on her arm, saying her name gently. "There's something going on. We don't know what exactly, but I think you need to wake up." My tone and facial expression said far more than my words. She joins the crowd of us in the hallway.
We just stood there. It felt like forever. Some crying. Some wringing hands. Some clinging to each other. All praying. I remember thinking my heart is going to explode from the crazy pace and intensity with which it was beating.
The sounds behind the doors changed. The loud voices changed to calmer voices. The alarming beeps became more routine sounding. I was hoping and praying this was a good sign.
After 30-45 minutes, a medical person came out to talk to us all. We were hanging on his every word. Ron stopped breathing, which stopped his heart. They got him back. He's on a ventilator now. I don't think I heard much after "We got him back". That's all I cared about. The next days could take care of themselves. But for now, we've got him back.
The only day in my memory that stands out as worse than that evening, is the day I left the hospital without my daughter.
I'm linking up with Heather from The Extraordinary Ordinary for her Just Write exercise. I need to quit participating, though, because more often than not, it makes me cry...