Sunday, August 07, 2005

My son, my son

August 1991. Hot. Very hot. It's been very hot for it seems like forever.

Son Kevin seems to have had a bad day at work. Had a fight with his supervisor.

After graduating from college he returned home to live. He could have lived on his own, but he liked things. He seems to want to start out where his father and I are leaving off financially. He expects to be able to afford stuff. Wants to be able to afford a nice place in a nice area. He has a little red Porsche in the driveway, a Gucci watch on his wrist, two-hundred-dollar shoes on his feet, but it's never enough.

I hear him argue on the phone with his girlfriend of seven years. Arguing about what they will do this coming weekend. It's only Tuesday, but he likes things nailed down. He's organized. Besides, she's living in Washington D.C. now and weekends take planning. Who's going where? He's going down? She's coming up? They argue a lot; it's nothing new.

My husband Niks leaves to go over to baby-sit dddragon's twin daughters, who have just turned one. Kevin is complaining to me about work, nothing new. He's frequently unhappy about the world in general. I'm in a hurry because I have to go to church to a Finance Committee meeting. He's still talking to me as I go out the kitchen door into the garage, leaning out the door to tell me one last thing. It's just another day.

Later, nine-fifteen, nine-thirty, something like that, Niks and I arrive back home at just about the same time. We enter the house together. Kevin comes down the stairs to greet us. He's tall and thin but comes bouncing down the steps like the little kid he still sometimes is. Niks is hungry and makes himself some little snack to eat. He asks Kevin if he had supper. Kevin is 26, but his father is still concerned about what the boy has for supper when we haven't all eaten together. I've always said that Kevin is an air-fern. You know, those little ferns that aren't even in soil, and you never have to water, yet they live anyway. Like that. The boy is a picky eater.

Kevin tells him what he had to eat. Must have gone out to a restaurant, because it sounded like a real meal. Niks said, "Was it any good?"

"Yeah. It was pretty good." High praise from the boy.

We all chatted about something. Can't remember now what. This and that. Kevin seems to be in a pretty good mood now. He goes up to his room. It's been his room since he was seven years old. It still is his room, for that matter.

We were watching TV. My husband Niks and I. POP. It sounded like a pop to me.

"What was that?" we asked each other. Both of us suspected. I suspected. Niks said later he knew. But we pretended for a second that we didn't.

"Kevin?" We called. But he usually had on headphones and wouldn't hear us calling.

He did have on headphones, and he didn't hear us calling. He was dead.

Well, not dead. His lungs breathed and his heart beat. But he was dead.

His father ran up the stairs to his room. I called 911 and my mouth went dry. Completely dry. I was telling someone on the phone that my son had shot himself, and I was aware that my mouth went dry. I marveled at that at the time. Not marveled that my mouth was dry. Marveled that I was aware of it. How could I think of it at a time like this? But I was doing all of those things at once. Giving my address, Kevin's age, my name, being aware of my dry mouth, and shocked that I noticed my dry mouth. It was so dry that it stuck to my teeth.

The paramedics arrive while I am still on the phone. Small town. The police keep my husband and me downstairs. Niks had already gone up while I was calling. He doesn't want me to see. I'm torn. But they're not letting me go.

They work on him for what seems like a long time. "Stabilizing" him. He's alive!
They have arranged for the Penn State Medical School hospital to send a helicopter for him. They bring him down on a stretcher and take him away in an ambulance to the park nearby, where the helicopter is waiting for them.

Niks and I follow in our car. Of course we can't keep up. The helicopter is probably in Hershey at the hospital before we've crossed the river only two miles away.

On the way to the hospital I convince myself that our son will be okay. He's alive. I tell my husband, "He's going to be okay. He'll be mad as hell when he wakes up tomorrow, but he's going to be okay!"

The boy's father says nothing. He's been in Kevin's room with him. He knows.

At the hospital they put us in a separate, private, waiting room in the emergency room area. I didn't know they had those. A chaplain comes and talks to us. Says that he's seen our son. "He's handsome. Athletic looking," he says. It doesn't occur to me to wonder why the chaplain has been in to see our son. I should have wondered why he would be in the room where they were trying to save a person's life.

We wait and wait. Seems like a very long time. Finally an entire group of doctors come in to see us. They explain that Kevin has had "no brain activity" since he entered the hospital. They aren't treating him. There is no treatment. His heart and lungs are strong, and continue on, but soon his brain will swell and those functions will stop. He is brain dead.

We aren't crying. Yet. We agree to donate his organs, but we, me really, want to see him. They stall me. They are pleased, excited even, but trying to hide their excitement, about the organ donation. A healthy twenty-six year old man. Man! He's only a boy. They want the organs. They need time to hook him up to lots of machines so that they can save the organs. I don't blame them; I just want to see him.

It suddenly hits me that maybe I don't want him on machines. Maybe that will cause him to be in pain. I ask. "No." they tell me. "He can't feel anything. The pain is all yours now." And so is was. And so it is.

It's past midnight by now. He is declared dead on August 7, 1991. My son, my son.


Doug said...

Tan Lucy. I'm so sorry.

natasha said...

I'm sorry, Luce. I had no idea.

mireille said...

thank you for letting us know. i'm sorry. -mireille

Libby said...

Lucy...thank you for sharing painful as it was for me to read, i know it was more painful to live through and wrute this...i'm so sorry.

schnoodlepooh said...

Tan Lucy, What a tragedy. I'm so sorry.
Peg (schnoodlepooh)

OldHorsetailSnake said...

I am sure it is very sad for you to lose him, and not to know why. Sorry, Lucy, very sorry.

Fred said...

I love my daughters so much; I don't know how I could ever cope if something like this happened.

It took a lot of courage to write this post. I'm so sorry for you and the family.

Laura said...

Oh my God how you've suffered. I am more sorry than I could ever say.

Urban Chick said...

i came here because i saw the flowers on micki's blog

i am numb from reading your post and so so very sorry

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Tan Lucy,

My heart and soul go out to you.

As a mother, I understand the connection and love one has for a child.

May the beauty of your son's life always burn brightly within your heart.

The Little Red Hen said...

I am so sorry. We lost our son to suicide on October 13, 1992. He drove his truck into the garage, closed the door, and got back into the running truck. My mother found him the next morning. He lived in her town. He was 28 years old. We don't get over it but we learn to go on. May God bless you with His peace.

Bela said...

Such a terrible thing! I'm very sorry for your loss.

katiedid said...

I can't even imagine what you went through. I'm so sorry, so so so sorry. Thank you for sharing this... it must have been terribly difficult to write this. Thank you.

still life said...

an anniversary which marks the day of a tragedy is one that i understand. i am sorry for your family's loss and for the fresh pain that this date brings. i wrap my arms around you.

Janey said...

I'm so sorry. I hope you've found some peace in the memory of your love for him.

Jamie Dawn said...

You showed tremendous courage to donate his organs at such an unimaginable time of loss.

My friend was on her way to my house and got in a car accident. Her beautiful three year old was declared brain dead as a result of terrible head trauma.
My hubby and I were with our friends as they made the decision to donate her organs.

You are an amazing woman with amazing strength.
Thanks for sharing this.
I'm so sorry for the loss that your entire family has endured. I'm glad you have each other to lean on.

Niobium said...

My deepest sympathies.

Scott W said...

Wow. Beautifully written. Some of us just aren't able to finish our book of life. It's sad and tragic. May peace be with you as you remember one so dear to your heart.

Kate said...

I'm so sorry for your pain, and for your husband's. What a horrible thing to live through. I will pray for your son, and for you.

Kiki said...

Through my tears I write to you. How sad, how tragic, how absolutely painful a thing for you to live through. I wish i knew the words to ease the pain, for I know time heals, but certain things never disappear.

Lately I have been in an awful depression, and have been suicidal. Reading this account has made me promise myself NEVER to take my life, no matter how badly I feel the need.

I feel your strength coming through in your words, and I am using it to strengthen my resolve.

may the memory of your son be blessed.

AP3 said...

Having insomnia... surprise, surprise! I remember for at least two or three years after Nivek died, I spent as much emotional energy worrying about you and Niks as I did grieving in a more direct way about Nivek. What you two went through in those days was so incredibly traumatic, on top of the obvious tragedy of losing your son.

actonbell said...

Wonderfully written, Mom! and Good Morning!

Saur♥Kraut said...

Wow. It hit me like a punch in the stomach. I thought he was still alive, from what you've written. I waited to see you write that he survived and was wiser for the experience. I am so very, very sorry.

People who commit suicide are often oblivious to the horrid pain they can cause others.

One of my brother's friends killed himself 15 years ago. He was extremely handsome, sweet, intelligent, talented, and funny. He had everything to live for, or so we thought. We often asked ourselves if we could have done anything to prevent it if we'd known. They say that's something that all survivors ask themselves.

GodlessMom said...

I can't imagine the pain you must have felt and still feel. Thank you for sharing your story.

red-queen said...

with tears running down my face - i didn't want to know - but couldn't stop reading.

i hope someone considering suicide reads your post. i hope they see how cruel, how fruitless it is.

((((hugs to you)))) for your bravery, speaking the truth.

Kyahgirl said...

Dear Tan Lucy Pez:
This is the first time I've come to your blog. I've seen you post so many times on C'est Chic that I got curious and thought I'd see who the woman is! Your post about Guinevere prompted me finally. So, I was scanning your posts here and started reading this one. The date never sunk in until I was partway through. The remembrance of a tragedy never in my mind until it struck me that your son died. Death is so sudden, so final...for the one who passes on. It lingers and torments the rest of us for so long. I'm so sorry. 14 years have passed and the pain, shock, disbelief are very real. Your spoke beautifully, and my heart goes out to you and your family.

Meegan said...

Tan Lucy,

I am just back from vacation and catching up on blogs, so I've just now read this. Like the others who read it, I am in tears. I am so, so terribly sorry.

Savtadotty said...

I am in tears too. Dear TLP I'm sending you a hug from 5,000 miles away.

Miz BoheMia said...

Oh God! I have lost so many loved ones, I can feel that pain... as a mother, I bow before you... I cannot fathom that pain... not at all. I wish you never had to go through that TLP...

I am short of breath and in tears...

Lucy said...

I don't know if you'll see this comment or not.. I was browsing your old entries - taking a few past posts - from various sites i enjoy reading to share witha friend who is in the ICU @ Duke. I stumbled onto this post - i did not realize your lost your son. I just wanted you to know how sorry i am.