"ignore the story. see the soul. remember to love. you will never regret it" --- Seane Corn

"ignore the story. see the soul. remember to love. you will never regret it" --- Seane Corn
it's a jungle out there

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Expired Patient: Part II

Yesterday knocked me on my ass.

Just as I hit the PUBLISH POST button last night, Bruce walked in the door.

Chica? what's wrong?

I burst into tears. I sobbed. I told him about Brandon. And Brandon's mom.
I'm sure 13 years ago he witnessed a rant about cardiologists and babies in pain.
But he doesn't remember that.

All he knows, and all I know, is I haven't cried like that in years and years.
And the past few years I have had plenty of reasons to sob.

This morning I woke up all puffy eyed and thought about it.
And because I spend an inordinate amount of time contemplating my navel and the crap in my head,
I wondered if last night's cry was about more than one dead patient.

I didn't cry like that when my mom died.
I didn't cry like that when my dad died.
I didn't cry like that when my husband and family were circling the drain.

I cried over around and through all of those things, but I did not cry like I cried last night.

And honest to god, I think my tears were all for my dead patient. And his mom.


She came to see me yesterday evening. I walked into the exam room and just looked at her.

oh my god K, are you all right? is everyone else all right?

I'm ok. We're ok. I know you were away. I said to myself, oh my god I have to see her.
You saved Brandon. You got him his surgery.
If it weren't for you, I wouldn't have had him for 13 years.

Which, my friends, is entirely untrue.
5 month old Brandon would have gotten his surgery with or without me. His situation was kind of a no brainer.
But, as far as she's concerned, I saved her baby.

that's fucked up and a helluva heavy load

we just looked at each other and my eyes started to leak

talk about Hail Mary Full of Grace

She was so calm. Not a valium sort of calm, but an accepting sort of calm.
She said she hasn't fallen apart yet. She feels all broken inside.
I watched her take lots of deep breaths as we talked.
She would actually say whew under her breath as the waves of anxiety hit her.

She can't go home
She's sleeping on her sister's couch
She keeps expecting him to walk through the door
She can't look in the mirror he looked just like her

She fell asleep at the wheel.

They were coming back from visiting her brother in NJ. They stopped at Dunkin Donuts for coffee. They got back on the road and the next thing she remembers is the air bag hitting her in the face. The car had flipped over twice and hit the divider. She turned around and saw the 18 month old strapped in his car seat with a scratch on his lip. Her 17 year old was there with a bloody nose. But Brandon was not in the car.

Somehow, he was thrown from the car and hit by oncoming traffic. The paramedics told her he died instantaneously and didn't suffer.
She takes comfort in the words of the compassionate paramedics.

Michelle...if I could take that day back...if just one thing was different...if we had left earlier.

She wasn't drunk. She wasn't negligent. She was the working mom of 3 boys. She was tired.

I didn't know what to say to her. I felt completely impotent. Not a way I'm used to feeling.

She told me about the funeral.
She brought me a laminated prayer card with his picture on it.

Her faith is getting her through. God has His reasons. It's part of His Plan.
I'm quick to scoff at anything Christian, but the reality is, whatever gets you through the night, right?
Whether it's Jesus Christ or Ganesh or Allah or the God of Abraham or Universal Love, it's all the same shit.

I said you're one tough lady

She said it's not me and pointed to the ceiling

I gave her the name of a good therapist.

She can't sleep. She's exhausted.
The valium didn't help. Benadryl doesn't work.
She's back to work cause she needs the money. Her son died less than 3 weeks ago.
She says she's OK during the day, but when night comes she starts to freak out.
She watches her 18 month old sleep.
She's sad he won't remember his big brother Brandon, who was such a good big brother and such a good son.

She says she knows he knew she loved him. They talked about it just a few days before the accident.
The Universe is Abundant

She says she knows he's watching.

I told her she would see him again. Because that's what I truly believe.


Today I flip flop between deep sadness and deep gratitude.
That's all I have to say.


  1. "She wasn't drunk. She wasn't negligent. She was the working mom of 3 boys. She was tired"

    omg, I am bawling. I am so sorry for their loss. I am going to hug and kiss mine extra tonight. This is so painful for you and everyone who knows them.

  2. Whew....this is grabbing me by the heart, Michelle. What a fucking week for you, and that poor mother...oh, my heart goes out to her.

  3. No words. Just hopes for some peace for you as well. Tears are like friends and blood: they come to the wound without having to be called. Often they help to wash away the dust of painful moments until they recede to their place in our hearts. That is what I hope for you right now.

  4. Oh.my.gawd. That mother. Impotent is right. This hurt just reading about it.

  5. Oh Michelle...can't wrap my head around it. Or my heart. Xoxoxo

  6. Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! How does someone get over this? Bless her.

  7. She will never get over it. Hopefully, she will learn to live with this pain. Whatever helps her, let that be given.
    Oh Michelle. Oh Michelle.

  8. Oh my God. I am completely incompetent in the face of this. Anne Lamott says we try to hide from the fact that some things just can't be gotten over. This is one of those things. Can we do anything for her? What could we do? I'm so sorry Michelle.

  9. I am crying, too, for her. For you.

  10. Oh Michelle. Heart breaking. There are no words.
    It is good, I guess, that you got those tears out. Deep sadness and deep gratitude sums up my feelings as well. Sending you a hug over the airwaves, and the mom and her family too.

  11. michelle.

    oh god. that a mother has to feel this. after giving every ounce of herself. oh god.

    all of this time i have wondered as readers say you are their hero. i have thought, 'she's michelle. my sister...she's human. no more, no less.'

    yet now i bend down and brush the dirt from your weary feet as you journey. and i don't have to tell you how i weep for this woman. this tired mother.

    namaste, michelle.

  12. Oh, dear friend.
    Dear sister: you, and the sister I have never met, the tired blessed mother, burdened now by a curse she can never escape; dear sisters. How we all grieve and cry with you. None of us who've read this will forget it, probably ever.

    But Michelle, there is also this: I am profoundly grateful to know that there are people like you providing health care to other people. I've known this for awhile (and I've been blessed to have my own angels in human form, like the family doc who succoured our family through Pop's Alzheimers) but I can't help reminding you that lots of people deal with health professionals who come to the day, or seem to come to the day, without compassion. Perhaps they do this out of self-preservation - it's not a leap to understand this. But when you're fortunate enough to find yourself being cared for by someone who says, "What's he getting for pain?"...well, that's you, my dear friend. Thank the Goddess. Thank God. Thank Ganesh. Thank whoever, but I am SO THANKFUL that you're on the same planet with me.
    Love you.

  13. I've read and returned to these posts a few times. I know how I feel but have a hard time expressing it. So, in regards to Angela's comment, I say...ditto. Love to all.

  14. Just so sad. Truly heartbreaking. Words fail me.

  15. We lost our sons through different circumstances but my heart goes out to this mom. And yes, it's fine that you mentioned me in yesterdays post. How could it not be? You are one of the kindest people I know. Your heart is huge. You continue to check on me when others do not. My life is horrific now - not sure it will ever be better. Suicide has simply ruined me.

  16. God bless that poor woman and Brandon. I can't imagine anyone better to talk with than you, Michelle. I'm sure that you were a comfort to her.

    I love you.

  17. I really don't have any words; here I am sitting on some fucking high because there is new life at my house, and there is a mom just like me who works and is tired and now-fuck. fuckfuckfuck.

  18. I came here from Hallie's blog because I saw your comment on her recent post and wondered what you said in your link to her. I am sitting here crying because I can not believe the injustice in the world that things like this have to happen. God Bless you for talking with that mother and trying to help her. And thank you for being such an amazing friend to Hallie.

  19. oh god, what a heart wrenching story. this has been a tough week. it sounds lame but hang in there. this is a lot.

  20. I echo what DarcC said- just reading this hurts. i hope the mom does not go to the house alone. i hope someone goes with her. hope...

  21. Oh. Oh.

    This is the kind of thing, that as a mother, one can only let a billionth of that pain in, and that is too painful to bear.


so... wadaya think?

Your fairy is called Columbine Icedancer
She is a bone chilling bringer of justice for the vulnerable.
She lives in mushroom fields and quiet meadows.
She is only seen when the bees swarm and the crickets chirrup.
She wears lilac and purple like columbine flowers. She has icy blue butterfly wings.