Recently, I was forced to sit for hours in the same room my son died in.
We were there for a different emergency but I felt stuck. Half of me in the present, trying to be there for my husband, while the other was thrown against my will back to 2008.
Nine years ago, I screamed at the hospital staff calling the time on my son’s death from a chair in this very room.
“Please, don’t call it. Don’t call it,” I cried, over and over. Because I knew there was no coming back once they did.
My husband and I sat by his side in that ER room for what seemed hours and yet seconds, all intertwined. I stroked his jet black hair, held his hand, took my time cleaning the blood from his face. Fourteen, with the stature and frame of a man, but the face of a baby. My baby.
It took everything within me to will myself to leave him there.
I knew when I left that room, it was real. I would have to face the reality of what just happened and return home to tell his little brother. Strange as it was, there was comfort in those cold, grey walls. It was a bubble that protected us from what was to come.
But the moment I walked out of the room, I never wanted to enter it again.
My stepdad was the next to use our local ER, suffering a stroke.
Just pulling into the parking lot made me nauseous because it took me straight back to that night. The lobby was as far as I could physically go.
Some time later, our younger son hurt his foot and we returned. In the midst of the emergency, I wasn’t thinking about the room, until I saw it. Fortunately, we were placed in a different room and I avoided turning my gaze to that doorway.
This past fall, my husband had a scare, of which we thought at the time was a heart attack. They placed us in the room directly beside. A shared wall divided us; the same wall I had leaned my head on to pray.
And now, nine years later, back in this room, praying and pleading for someone I love.
Most of the time, I kept my focus on my husband, the monitor, his needs. I studied the faces of the staff as they came to take labs or give medicine, keeping my mind busy. But when they wheeled him away for tests, a part of me wanted to crawl into the floor and weep.
Blow by blow, all the memories I had stuffed deep down came flooding back.
My body was positioned on the opposite wall so it was as if I was watching a replay of the nightmare all over again. Leaning onto the sink, bracing and ready in case my stomach matched the rest of my insides. There were points of the flashbacks that seemed so real, I felt like I could reach out and touch them.
My husband returned and brought me the welcomed jolt back to the present. Lowering the rail on his bed, I scooted my chair to him, rested my head by his lap,and let needed tears fall quietly into the scratchy sheets. He rubbed circles on my back with his hand, neither of us speaking.
Thankfully, we were transferred to a hospital with no memories or triggers. A few days after, sitting on the couch, we watched the sunrise.
“Do you know what room that was…” his voice cracked.
I nodded and we sat there in silence, holding each other’s hand.