Three years ago, my sister got up in the morning and went into her daughter's room. She found her daughter had died - passed away in her sleep. Her death sent our family in a tailspin as we had never had anyone in our immediate family to die. My sister's life was damaged in a way that could not be repaired. I thought I would lose her, too. Her daughter, a 23 year old with Down Syndrome, was her companion and buddy. Being divorced for many years, it was always the two of them – as thick as thieves.
I, too, was very close to her. (I love you Gago!) And as much as I miss my niece sitting on my floor in a yoga position with her shoes kicked, her death affected me in a way I thought would never be. I now fear the death of my own child, ER.
ER gets up very early in the morning. Six o' clock is his usual rising time. It's as if he has an internal clock whose alarm goes off when the numbers hit 6-0-0. He's done it for years and I have come to expect it. Even on weekends, I'm looking for him to be up before me. However, when I arise and he is still in his bed with his door closed….I panic. My mind immediately goes to my sister and what she faced three years ago. Is he alive? Will I open his door, go over to his bed and find a stiff cold body?
If I rise later than my usual norm and realize he's not up, I sometimes ask my teenage son if he's heard any noise from ER's room. He's so busy doing his own thing, most of the time the answer is "No." This angers me. Why isn't he concerned about ER as I am? Doesn't he fear something may have happened to his brother? This anger causes me to express these concerns out in the open as I yell, "Why haven't you checked on your brother? Aren't you worried?" This is very unfair of me asI'mthe one who has this fear – to put it on others is unjust.
Taking those steps to his door is like walking the last mile. I have no idea what I will find. I'm praying internally with every step and trying to prepare myself with every beat of my heart. I'm trying to convince myself that just because he didn't move when I opened his door doesn't mean he's dead. Just because I can't see the up and down patterns which indicate breathing does not a passed on son make. Reaching my hand out in an effort to touch him…..oh, it's so difficult to do. Simply becausethis is it– this will be the determining factor. Do I remember CPR? Is my life insurance paid up? Are there any large objects on the floor I may hit on the way down in case I faint? I touch him….."Mamma's man?" He's alive…Thank you, God!
I've got to get over this. Just because my sister lost her daughter does not mean I will lose my son. My sister and I are very close. So many things she has endured, I've endured, as well. But, I have got to get pass this fear. I've waited three long years and yet it comes with every morning I face his closed door…….