It was a difficult week, but with the help of friends and family we were able to get through it. Everyone tells me I helped a great deal in making the arrangements for my brother's funeral services, but during all of it I felt like I was running on auto-pilot. I don't know how I got so involved in things. It seemed like there were plenty of grown-ups around.
Well, I guess the truth was obvious. Now we were the grown-ups and it was time to step up and handle things.
It was painful to make a lot the decisions that needed to be made, but it really never felt like a burden. I just kept doing what needed to be done.
The day before my brother passed away, I was at the hospital with him. He had health issues, but there was no reason to believe there were any reasons at all to keep him in the hospital. Certainly nothing seemed life threatening.
In trying to leave, there were medications to be picked up from the pharmacy, forms to fill out and a blood test to be taken before anyone would sign off on his exit papers. It took us over six hours to wrap it up. In that time we joked and argued and strolled down to the cafeteria and had a bite to eat. We talked about lots of nothing (and argued some more) and our only concern was how long it was taking for us to get the hell out of there.
It seemed like a long time, but now I'm thankful for every second of it.
Finally clear, I got him home and we were done. I'm sure I complained about him chewing up half my day. He'd been in and out of the hospital for the last couple of months because of complications from liver disease and a stubborn infection in his shoulder. That particular problem was from a work injury suffered five years ago.
My sister-in-law had to rush him to the Emergency Room the next morning. He was bleeding internally and in some pain. My sister-in-law called me and our oldest brother, but it still didn't feel like things were all that critical. It just felt like we were being called to have the right people there to ask questions about my brother's condition.
Nobody knew how bad it was.
The doctors managed to stabilize him and they were giving him blood to replace what he'd lost. He was conscious and complained about being cold. I was standing over him in the ER and my hands were warm. I put one of my hands on his (we're not really a "touchy" kind of family). He felt really cold. They gave him extra blankets and tried to make him comfortable.
Our older brother and his wife were there. After the doctors stabilized him, we were all going to head for home. Shucks, he seemed pretty stable.
My older brother and his wife left. I was going to leave, but realized that would leave my sister-in-law there by herself. I waited for a bit, I didn't want my brother to be alone if my sister-in-law wanted to get coffee or anything for herself.
My brother stayed in the ER area until a bed became available in the Critical Care Unit.
They began having trouble with my brother's blood pressure. It was low. They were concerned and let us know. We started calling family members and many of them started making their way to the hospital.
My brother went into shock around 5:00pm. The hospital was able to revive him and stablize him, but it wasn't looking good. They asked if we'd like to have a priest available.
I talked to family members on my cell phone. Those who lived far away and couldn't make it to the hospital I tried my best to keep updated on my brother's condition. My brother's three son's were there, his wife and many of his friends. My wife and youngest daughter arrived, our Aunt Glady's and Uncle Conner had left home earlier in the day and had arrived. More friends and family came in.
Around 8:00pm he went into shock again. The doctors and nurses and everybody tried their best, but they were not able to revive him. He was pronounced dead at 8:20pm. This was on Sunday, the 14th of January.
Not all at once, but over the next hour we all went in and said goodbye. I made the call to tell our parents. I wasn't eager, but I knew how difficult it was going to be and just figured I'd save someone else from having to do that. I could barely speak.
Well, that's it for the moment. There's more I observed I might write about, but I'm not sure if I'll revisit that day again here.
In everything that happened then and since, I've found strength in having so many friends and family members offering support. It's awkward at times, but we've laughed and cried our way through to where we are now. The funeral is over. I've done all I can do. Slowly, one step at a time, I'll be better and it's okay to remind me of that. I'm not so fragile that I'll break down or snap if you draw attention to what I'm going through. I'm thankful for you concern, your support and your condolences. The outpouring of concern for me and all of us makes it easier to do the things that I have to do.
Even when I'm drinking from a cup that I'd rather pass along.