The last couple days I’ve been feeling like I’ve gained some footing in the sucking mud pit I was in for the last week or two. My entire body, mind, and spirit have been whirling in a tornado of shaken beliefs, thoughts, and ideas.
For the most part, I’ve only hurriedly gone through Pat’s material belongings. They are all around me, and I feel as though searching through them will give me some last undiscovered remnant of him. Looking through them still gives me a sense that I’m invading his privacy. Also, I’m a bit frightened I’ll find something too emotionally hard to handle.
His dressertop and bedside table are still a pile of his things. His school backpack that was inseparable from him the last 3 years is still untouched with his packed items the day he was hit (actually, my mom was practical enough to remember that he always packed his meals for the day, so she had me take out his food).
I’ve found some interesting things:
- A note with the contact information of Doug, the wonderful nurse who took such diligent care of Patrick while he was in the coma in the ICU at Memorial. Patrick had been finishing his nursing school by doing critical care rotations. On his own time, he would search out exceptional nurses, nurse practitioners, and doctors to “shadow”–follow around at work for a day to see what it was like. He had met Doug and they had spoken of Pat shadowing him at Memorial’s ICU. How ironic that Doug ended up being his nurse.
- Just tonight, Joey and I took from Pat’s backpack his handheld computer (Pat called it his “brain”). We looked at his electronic calendar and saw that for the days after his accident he had planned on being at ICU just about each day. On the day he died, he had scheduled “ice cream” at a nursing function. He had been doing his ICU rotation at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, but ended up at Memorial.
- On top of his piles of his dresser is a pamphlet for Indiana’s Tissue and Organ Donation. Mere hours after Pat’s death, while I was breaking the news to our children, the donation center called me to ask permission for donation. The kids immediately said, “That’s what Papa said would be the greatest gift!” With that said, I took the call and went through one of the most grueling 45 minutes of my life giving an in-depth taped permission, with complete lifetime medical history of Patrick. At a time when I was in the most utter state of emotional and physical shock and couldn’t even bear to hear someone say his name, I went through that phone call, knowing it’s what Pat and, ultimately, I wanted. I had just come from the hospital where I had clung to his lifeless body sobbing, wailing, and thanking him for our life together, not wanting to ever let go of him, yet hours later gave permission for his corneas, skin on his back, and lower body from the pelvis down to be given to the living (it was too late for any internal organs to be donated). I love you, Patrick, for your beautiful ability to GIVE!!!
- His wallet contains his blood donor card.
- All around me now as I type are evidence of his passions–his textbooks for learning, his paddling, cycling, swimming, and running training gear/calendar, and his children. Daniel, Joey, Tommy, Laura and I still sleep in a huddled heap together.
I cannot believe it is September already! I feel like time stopped back in July. Thank God for my community, especially my family who has stepped in to take care of all practical matters. Slowly, gradually, I’ll continue to search–search for new meaning and growth.
I just recently read that you can’t fight darkness, you can only add more light. I’m searching for that inner flame, kindled by all of you during the last several weeks, to grow stronger and spread light in this unimaginable darkness.