On a bright sunny March morning in 2014 I got a telephone call from a hospital administrator that dropped me to my knees. A month after we had traveled to the town where he lived to help our son celebrate his 49th birthday, he had collapsed on a nearby sidewalk, victim of a massive heart attack. The woman on the phone told me he was brain-dead, not expected to survive and that we should come as quickly as possible. I collapsed in my husband’s arms as we tried to comprehend this devestating news and pull ourselves together for what was one of he most difficult days of our lives. Notifying his sisters, who adored their ‘little’ brother, we all made our way north, speed limits be damned. The sad scene that met our eyes was one shared by so many broken hearted people the world over. Life support, the quiet but efficient comings and goings of staff, questions to answer, forms to fill out, receiving the personal belongings on him when the ambulance brought him in. The beyond-agonizing decision to terminate life-support, which no mother should ever have to make. Then holding his hand as that process took place and we waited in numb helplessness for the end. Only it never ends. I relive his last few calls, ”Mom, I’m really sick, I went to the ER last night, they gave me some pills and said to see my regular doctor Monday.” And me, good old Mom, encouraging him as any mom would do, follow the instructions, get lots of fluids, get some sleep and call me. Figuring when he didn’t call the next morning it was because he was still sleeping, never dreaming he had walked to the nearby store and collapsed going home. If only I had known his heart was bad, if only I could have done something… anything… to save him. I am tortured feeling I let him down when he needed me most. So please friends, take “I’m really sick” messages more seriously than I did. It may save a life, it may save you a lifetime of regret.
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