"While you were sleeping our babies grew,
the stars shined
the shadows moved...
While we stared for hours in our makers face."-E.P.
Today (25 Sep) is my son's birthday. He is 23, yet now he is always 21. He was shot to death 6 May 2009. He died without me in the parking lot of a shitty steak house. Alone. I did so fail my only son. My son, my son. A pain without end.
I was going to write a post about how I came to live with two dogs and a car all named Scylla. A few nights ago after giving my wife, Sarah, her night medicines, and kissing her goodnight I sat next to Sarah in the dark composing this post of the Scylli in my head, resting like a fucking fool while the Angel of Death came:
O430 hours, the alarm clock begins to buzz. Not able to roll over the man begins a complicated set of maneuvers; pull your legs up tight, grab the headboard and pull while slipping to the right, while the clock buzzes into the silence. He slaps the clock and calls out to his sleeping wife to awaken. She sleeps on.
The man understands and lets his anger build and flow. Sarah has only been home from Iraq for weeks with a fractured hip. Now the Army has decided that she can perform administrative work as she recuperates. Sarah, as always, takes this with good humour and an attititude of loyalty and dedication. In preparation for work Sarah's doctor's have changed her medicine. Tonight not feeling well Sarah turns in early. This man is selfish and wants his injured wife home to rest in his arms. To love her and whisper in her ear, You are me and I am you. We share this soul, we share this heart, we share this pain without end. You are my strength and the only reason I live.". He calls out to his wife again.
No response. Ok, pumpkin come on I'll get the coffee. Nothing. Now still facing away he turns on the light and prepares for the painful left turn. Grunting and sweating he performs his routine in reverse.
What the fuck? Sarah is half off the bed sprawled onto the nightstand which is swept clear of lamps and books and drinks. He rubs her back, Come on ba...her back is cold.
An adrenline rush? A premonition of an evil known too well? The hand of God? The man bolts upright. He slips off the end of the bed. Moving to Sarah's side he can see that her olive, tawny skin is ashen. Her side is crowded with his chair, theraputic heat pump, night stand and the rest of his detritus of being a gimp, he can only reach Sarah with one arm. One hundred pounds, his tiny smidgen of a wife...a single arm curl to lift and turn Sarah over.
Can anyone else feel the world tilt and sway as this man clings with an iron grip? In the second of a second the Universe begins to collapse...
Check her eyes, both rolled back into her head. No pulse. No breath sounds.
And the Angel of Death Screams.
There is that moment, that second, that instance when everything stops. There is no one else. The is nothing else. His world has ceased to spin.
This man grabs his wife and flips her over his hip onto the floor. CPR. GO. NOW. GET THIS RIGHT YOU FUCKING IDIOT.
Push and pump and breathe for her. And again. And again. His sweat drips onto Sarah's sweet, beautiful face. And push, and pump and breathe for her. And again. And again. Time is nothing, it stops and spins and stops again.
And Jesus wept...
Sarah suddenly pulls a hard ragged breath. He stops. Check her. Pulse, Weak and unsteady. Breath, ragged and hard sounds, intermitent, a gasping sound of saddness. Check her eyes. Left rolled back. Right staring and fixed.
She stops breathing. He slaps her and screams, SARAH. She pulls air with a moan he will hear forever.
Now move. Yet everything is so slow. He remembers this hard fight of time from combat. YOU MUST KEEP MOVING. STOP AND SHE DIES.
Always keep moving.
He moves, while his everything lies on the floor dying. Running down the hall screaming for Brother Thomas. TO MOVE. TO COME. TO SAVE SARAH. TO SAVE SARAH. Brother Thomas appears.
Sarah is dying. Go to her while I make the call. If she stops breathing slap the shit out of her. He goes. The man runs down the staircase. Makes the call. The sound of hard slaps tears his heart He runs back to Sarah.
Always keep moving.
Go lock the dogs up and wait at the door. Brother Thomas, all slight muscle mass moves with a speed. This man sits over Sarah, her breathing still rasping and irregular. For her and a thing she will love him for some day he picks her up with one arm and clothes her with the other. Again he lays her down. She is blue. Breathe and breathe and breathe. Please, God?
God. This man has one thought. If you go Sarah I go with you. I am coming with you. Where you go I shall also go. I am weak and can not, will not do this again. Breathe. So please God do not let death have her. Please, your will be done but I can not go on without Sarah. Have I not given enough. What the fuck else do you want from me?
Always keep moving.
God. This man breathes for Sarah again. She struggles and breathes. Kneeling over his dying wife he steels himself. Begins to pray and pray and pray.
"In Nomine Patris"
PLEASE GOD DO NOT TAKE HER FROM ME!
"et Spiritus Sancti."
And so he prays. He makes the sign of the cross on her forehead. The EMTs and Brother Thomas have to fight this man away from his wife. As they tend to her he does notice that their bedroom is now crowded with medics, firemen, and police. A police officer asks , Is she probable? (is she going to die) The response is a shrug of the medic's shoulders. Now the man is throwing everyone out of his way to get to Sarah. He is wrestled down a flight of stairs.
Questions and questions and questions. This man hears a gasping groan from Sarah. He stands. He hears another groan. He begins to move. He hears his name in a faint gasp of breath. Now no one can stop him. He is throwing men out of his way, he pushes, he shoves, he strikes. He is holding her. A medic stops the police, we don't have time for this we need to move her NOW. This man carries his wife down all the stairs whispering love and strength into her ear. He slips her onto a gurney in the ambulance. Her heart stops. Her breathing stops.
The universe falls.
They brought Sarah back. She is weak, tired and beaten. She is still in the hospital recovering and worrying about me. She had a horrible reaction to medicines that should not have been prescribed together. I only stop seeing her lying on our bed grey and dying and hear that horrible moan for breath when the vision of our dead son in his coffin comes to haunt. This pain without end.
Brother Thomas is with her as I come home at her orders to sleep and change clothes. Sleep is beyond me. I write this to vent and get the nightmares away from me. Or try. Sarah says that she's strong enough to be alone whilst Brother Thomas and I take care of a hard duty today. It is so hard to leave her. Yet...
It is our son's birthday. And someone has to take care of him. So Brother Thomas and I will drive up to the North Shore like we do every September 25th. We will stand silently for an hour or so watching the power of God's good ocean. We will wade out a bit and pray for Alec and that God might wash Alec's soul from the eternal well of God's forgiveness and love. Then while I cry and cry we will take a hard drink and wish our son and nephew a Happy Birthday. And I will think of death all the ride home.
My son, my son. A pain without end.
No one ever stays. Everyone goes away. I miss my son and fear for my wife. I know that soon I must leave everyone.
"In your love my salvation lies."- A.M.