NOVEMBER 11, 2016…Veterans Day
I woke up and text by brother as I did every Veterans Day telling him how proud I was of him and that I loved him. He replied “thanks sis, means a lot to me.”
That was it. That was the last communication I ever had with him. Four hours later he would be on life support and transferred to Bayonet Point Trauma Center in Florida.
He suffered a cerebral bleed so bad (aneurism), he was technically brain dead already.
My father called me and said you need to get the next plane as soon as possible. My father wanted us all to be there together. I had no idea at the time that my brother was not going to wake up. I had no information that this was it. I was told to get down there quick and he was on a ventilator and his organs were starting to fail. I got two tickets for a flight out the next morning but I had to leave here at 2:30 am to get to JFK on time.
I remember calling my friend Heather and saying I need to get a hair cut, I need something I don’t have to think about. She immediately got me an appointment and watched my babies.
Ironically the hair dresser had lost her brother too, as I sat in the chair watching all my long blond locks fall to the floor, I remember her words which I will keep private between her and I.
Just three months prior, I had given birth to my second child Harrison. At three months of age, I had to leave him behind, stop breast-feeding, and get to JFK to get the next flight out to Tampa from NY.
My parents and other siblings had caught earlier flights, and my older sister and I met at JFK. Seeing her at the airport terminal of Jet Blue I was shaking and crying and emotionally in a very dark place. It felt as if I was stumbling around in a half awake dream like state wondering when would I wake the fu*k up! It was near 4 am. My breasts hurt from not feeding, and I longed for my baby boy. We grabbed hands and went through security. I had no bags to check, because I couldn’t even think straight.
I had one carry on bag containing whatever I could grab. People’s faces were all smiling escaping NY to warm sunny Florida. Constant questions from strangers asking if we were excited for our vacation. My sister and I nodded and smiled and grabbed hands harder not wanting to put out the words “um no, our brother is on life support and we are going to see him probably for the last time alive.”
What exactly is going on I kept thinking. Is this real? How did this happen? How am I on a plane to Tampa at 4 in the morning with my sister? How I managed to even book the tickets in the first place and the rental car is beyond my ability to even remember. Those moments after I got off the phone with my father were a blur of events. I know I ran to my church to see Pastor Aaron. I know I went to a hair salon and chopped off all my hair. I remember my father in law driving me to JFK and telling him to pull over as I had to throw up.
Here I was, up in the sky a place my brother loved so much. He fancied jumping out of airplanes and was a Jump Master.
We donated his organs.
His funeral consisted of a tradition military funeral and members of his army family came from near and far to say goodbye .
The touching stories will never leave me. The pain will never leave me, but in helping one veteran at a time the pain will soften. This is how I choose to honor him.
which brings me to the point how meditation and reiki can be a vital part of combatting ptsd and anxiety.