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For Nichole.

March 18, 2010

I walked in and saw her.  She was in such a position that I thought that she looked uncomfortable.  As uncomfortable as I felt to be sure.  There were the usual noises of machines and beeps, artificial breath.  It was like watching a movie.

Her mom had insisted that we see her.  I wasn’t expecting to.  We were just stopping by to show our support, ask if they needed anything, yet she lead us immediately to her glass enclosed room.  When we walked in, her mom said, “Oh, she lost her roommate,”  She gestured to the nurses, “Where is her roommate?”  She had hopeful eyes that were met with a downward glance.  “Oh,” she said, her eyes growing wide and scared.  The nurses asked us to give them a minute.  And, after we heard the updates we decided to leave.  We left thinking that there were many positive signs.  She was only deprived of oxygen for a couple of minutes before CPR started.  Maybe not even that long.  Her heart was still beating when her daughter brought the neighbor in, and the neighbor inflated her lungs.  They were warming her body temperature up faster than what was expected.  She would be fully warm by dinnertime, and an MRI was scheduled for 8:00.  We left telling ourselves and each other that everything was going to be okay.

When my phone beeped with a new text message during bookclub, I thought it was a trivial matter.  Hassling me because I forgot to check back as I had promised.  I called, and heard the devastating news.

Brain Dead.

I left bookclub hastily.  Drove much too fast.  Met my friends.  My friends who I grew up with.  My friends.  Now there is one less.  I wasn’t close to her.  We never were close.  She and I never were BFFs.  But she was my friend.  I went to her baby shower, her wedding shower.  We met for lunch once a month.  We went to Colorado together for a wedding.  She was always there, always.  Even when she wasn’t.  I still have an email from her.  She sent it to me one week ago today, regarding our next lunch date.

My friends met me in a parking lot.  I crawled into the back seat.  They were all crying.  I was not.  I was busy filling the space.  Talking, cracking jokes.  It didn’t seem real.  I could still see her.  We walked back into the hospital.  Back up to ICU.  Back into her class enclosed room.  She looked like she was sleeping.  The artificial breath moving her chest up and down.  Her face was turned away from my side of her bed.  Her hand underneath the covers.  I let the tears come.

Her daughter’s get well card was taped to a monitor:  “I hope you feel good.”  My heart split.  My friends were talking, remembering moments.  I couldn’t remember anything.  I could only see her husband crying in the hallway, where I had seen him that afternoon.  I could only imagine what her daughter must be feeling.  She is the same age as Sarah.  Her mom fell out of bed and said, “Get Help.”  Those are the last words she spoke.  She ran to her neighbor’s house.  The Neurosurgeon neighbor.  Who started inflating her lungs and then, when her heart stopped, performed CPR until the paramedics arrived.

That was on Monday.

I studied her face, her hand, her breath.  I prayed.  I wondered if her spirit was hovering over her bed, by the ceiling.  I wondered if it was still trapped in her body.  They will harvest her organs tomorrow.

What happened?  She had a blood clot in her leg.  She didn’t know that she had a blood clot.  It broke free and lodged into her lung.  Pulmonary Embolism.  She was fine, and then she wasn’t.  What you should know is that she lived her life to the fullest.  She was thirty-nine.  She lived more in her years than I will ever live in my lifetime.  She will be missed.

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15 Comments
  1. March 19, 2010 2:40 am

    Wow. This is completely inappropriate to say at this time, but that was one fine piece of writing. I felt as if I were there, which makes the whole thing even more sad.

    Thanks. I’ve been wallowing in self pity lately, and your post and Liz’s post reminded me that I have NOTHING to complain about.

    • March 28, 2010 12:16 pm

      Thank you Cate. It was such a nice complement. Like a prize.

  2. March 19, 2010 8:01 am

    Oh Meg, how awful. Your comment on my post about my friend’s son was right on the money. We go through our lives thinking death will politely wait for us until we are ready, when in reality he just gives a yank when HE’s ready. No wonder we’re all left off-balance. Huge hugs to you.

    • March 28, 2010 12:16 pm

      Thanks Liz. I hope you are doing better with your grief as well. Hugs right back to you.

  3. March 19, 2010 9:10 am

    Oh, I’m crying. How terribly unfair and how scary it is to be reminded that death comes at completely inappropriate and unfair times. I’m so sorry that you’ve lost a friend. Her family will absolutely be in my thoughts, but something as simple as prayer feels so inadequate in the face of such loss. And yes, you wrote this so beautifully, Meg.

    • March 28, 2010 12:17 pm

      Thank you Sam. You put words to it: “completely inappropriate and unfair times.” Exactly.

  4. March 19, 2010 11:10 am

    This is so beautiful and heart-wrenching and jolting all at once, Meg. I cannot imagine the shock and grief everyone close to her are going through right now. I’m going to be hugging my children a little more tightly tonight, as I’m sure you are too.

    • March 28, 2010 12:19 pm

      Thank you Bethany. My kids are sick of me. They are rolling their eyes and asking me when I will “get over it.” But, they also got a biology lesson of what a pulmonary embolism is, and what it does. I think it freaked them out too.

  5. March 20, 2010 7:15 am

    Oh Meg, god. I’m left wide open by this, with no words and a heart full. And yes, you wrote this beautifully.

    • March 28, 2010 12:21 pm

      Thank you Christina. There is a vacancy in my heart for sure.

  6. March 20, 2010 2:14 pm

    Meg, I am so sorry!! I didn’t know her and I am sitting here wiping tears away. My thoughts and prayers are with her family. I can’t imagine what they are going through. It is a harsh reminder how fragile life is and to hold our loved ones a bit closer.

    • March 28, 2010 12:21 pm

      Yes. I have told everyone around me that I love them so much, they are starting to mock me.

  7. March 29, 2010 3:15 pm

    Wow, Meg. I don’t have any words right now, but to say that Nicole, her family, and you are in my thoughts and prayers, and I’m glad we’ve made this connection. This was powerfully written.
    sara
    xo

    • March 30, 2010 8:44 am

      Thank you Sara. I am so glad you stopped by :)

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