Tuesday, December 27, 2005

tragedy and an ode to my family

it's been 2 weeks as of today. and i'm still not strong enough to write or talk about the things that i want to talk about. this post will have to suffice until i think i'm ready to write. first, i must preface this by saying that my family is the center of my life. my mother has 4 siblings. and both her parents (my nanny and papa) are still alive. we are a closeknit family. we spend all the major holidays together -as well as many minor ones. we vacation together every summer in florida for a week. we look for any excuse to be together. though 3 of my mom's siblings (her brothers) and her parents live in florida, we see them frequently. and my nanny and papa drive up to tennessee (or we drive down) often. though they're 650 miles away, my family always feels really close. there are no divorces, no split families, no children shuffled between houses during the holidays. though we argue, we love each other fiercely. i have no doubt that if i ever needed something - ANYONE in my family would be there to give it to me. there are 13 grandchildren. i love my family intensely - and i'm very protective of them. all of my life, we have seemed charmed. death hasn't touched anyone. even my grandmother's mother, hazel - is still alive and fiesty at the age of 101 (102 in february). i knew that eventually, tragedy would strike our family, but i never expected it to come in the form it has.

2 weeks ago, as of today, i was studying at school for my pharmacology final. it was just after 9:30. for it being finals week, i was feeling pretty good. my cell phone rang, and i saw that it was my mother. never for a moment did i think anything bad had happened. it wasn't like those odd 3am calls, where your heart stops, because you're sure that something terrible has happened. i thought she was calling to check on my finals, see how i was doing. when i answered, i couldn't understand my mother, her voice was so choked with tears. i finally understood that she was telling me that crosby, the 21 month old son of her brother - my uncle lief - had drowned in their pool.

i don't want to go into the details too much, it's still too awful to talk about. i called the dean and told him that i would be missing my last 2 finals (path and pharm). i went home to greeneville. by the time i had arrived at around midnight, mom and my aunt mel had decided they were driving through the night to florida. crosby had been resuscitated - and had a heartbeat. he was flown to st josephs children's hospital in tampa. he was on a respirator and unconscious. at the time, i had hope. i thought that it would be like drownings in the movies. it seemed bad, but in the end, the doctors would save him.

we drove through the night (i slept, attempting to recuperate from the brutality of no sleep for 3 days) and arrived in tampa at about 1:30 the next afternoon. we went up to the pediatric ICU. again, i don't want to go into details. suffice to say that i sat in crosby's room with my uncle lief and aunt mel for the rest of the day. there is so much to say about those 8 hours, but i can't. later in the evening, we decided to leave for the night and return in the morning. about 10 minutes after we left, crosby went into cardiac arrest and could not be stabilized. he died on wednesday evening, dec 14. the funeral was held on saturday. my uncle went through an ordeal with the department of children and families (DCF) - mainly because they're incompetent. but it's over.

we came home to our new house. my brother -home from iraq - couldn't get to lakeland in time for the funeral, so he occupied himself by moving us into our new house. i unpacked frantically for 2.5 days - ran errands, did all the stuff i needed to do for the move - and then we turned around friday night and drove back to florida. and here i am. with my family.

if this all seems dry and emotionless, then i'm sorry. i can't bear to write about the things that hurt yet. like sitting in the hospital with that beautiful, sweet little boy, with all the tubes sticking out of him. seeing his sweet little face - and that horrible feeling when i first saw him in the hospital bed- still and pale. wanting to help my uncle lief and aunt sally, to do anything i could to for one minute alleviate their suffering - and being able to do nothing but clean their house, do dishes, and watch nate and adeline so that lief and sally could attempt to sleep. all those things, while helpful, don't do anything to dull the pain that i see on their faces. and everytime i lie down to sleep or stop doing stuff for 5 minutes, i see my beautiful little cousin's sweet face and head of curly golden-red hair and my heart breaks all over again. he was a little angel. i know that sounds generic, aren't all children 'angels'? but crosby really was - he was the happiest, sweetest little boy i ever met. when i get home, i will post some pictures of him.

and my grandfather. his heart is broken, truly. he loves all his grandchildren, but he's so gifted with little children, they naturally love him. and crosby most of all. i've seen them together so often - and there are so many pictures where the love my grandfather had for that little boy just radiates from him. and i love my grandfather so much -and there's nothing i can do to help him. there's nothing i can do to help anyone. except clean and cook and try to make sure people are fed and comfortable, at least.

this post is for them, the family that i have that i wish everyone could have. for nanny and papa, dara, cheryl, antoinette, jake, mel, tony, little tony, ashley, mom, dad, andrew, rhiannon, john, james, phillip, minter, andrea, evan, sarah, lief, sally, nate, adeline, and tiny little crosby. they are all my heart - beating within me - and if they were gone, i'd be gone too.

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