Have you ever experienced one of those calamitous moments where you immediately realize that life as you know it will be changed forever?
This has happened to me twice now.
The first occurred when I was nine years old. I remember standing in the living room of my farmhouse with my brother and sister staring at the faces of my mother, grandmothers, aunts and uncles. Their eyes red and puffy. Their faces numb with shock. My mother gathered us around her. Before the words left her mouth, I knew. I knew who was absent. I knew that life would never be the same.
My father had died suddenly in a workplace accident earlier that day. He put us on the bus that morning, and kissed us goodbye: for the last time.
The second occurred Friday, January 17th, 2014 when I arrived at the Emergency Room in Timmins with Theodore. We were rushed from triage to a trauma room and it immediately filled with doctors and nurses. It was in that moment that I knew. I knew it was serious. I knew Theo was very sick and would not survive this unscathed. I knew that life would never be the same.
Minutes later I was on the phone with Mark, shaking, telling him to get to the hospital immediately. The team swarmed around Theodore, looking for a vein. I watched helplessly as they hooked him up to oxygen (and ventolin to open up his airways) and inserted two intra-osseous lines into each of his calves (a process of injecting directly into the marrow of the bone when iv access isn’t possible). He was administered fluids and antibiotics. A chest xray followed which revealed that his right lobe and the pleural cavity (the space between his lobe and his chest cavity) was filled with purulent fluid. A chest tube was immediately inserted to drain his lung and we were asked to step out of the room during the procedure. When we returned, we stood alongside his bed, rubbing his little head, whispering in his ears and watching his breathing become increasingly more shallow. And then it stopped. We were rushed out of the room.
Mark and I sat outside our son’s room for approximately 30 minutes. 30 agonizingly long, painful, minutes. The door opened at some point and we could see chest compressions being performed on Theodore. We didn’t know if he was dead or alive. Mark gripped my hand tightly and we waited. Waited to hear our son’s fate.
A social worker approached us during this time and I refused to talk to her. I remember thinking, ‘Why would a social worker be involved if Theo was going to survive this? ‘ Finally, the ER doctor came out and told us that they had lost him for a while (18 minutes, I later learned) but Theo was alive and breathing with a ventilator.
Our son had died. Our son was still alive.