The quadruple bypass had been a total success. The family began to let their shoulders down and breath a little easier, until…that first meal! Those infamous cornflakes – tasty clusters of flakes, yet deadly to a paralyzed, empty stomach. The first spoonful hit the stomach producing nausea, stomach cramps and pain, making the stomach bloat with extreme speed. The symptoms had now become agonizing with no sign of relief. Rushed to the OR! Doctors in desperate search of what had caused this drastic turn of events, and trying to figure out how and why this was happening while he was slowly making a positive recovery from his heart surgery.
The family lingers in the room waiting for an update. The nurse comes in and says, “He’s losing a lot of blood. Are any of you able to give blood for him?” We are willing. After some tests, it turns out only two of his kids are a match. One has been using so he’s out. The youngest of them all is taken to the room where she’ll sit as the precious life giving liquid flows out of her veins.
Waiting and more waiting. Finally, a doctor approaches. “We did all we could…” Words that you hope would only be said in movies, but no, this is real. Before any emotion can be shown, the doctor whispers to the widow, “If you want to take him now without waiting, we are going to have to wheel him out as if he is still alive. Otherwise, you might not get him for days, or even months due to all the red tape.” She, “strong-as-nails”, her norm, says, “I’m taking him now!”
The family is then asked to “stuff all their feelings and emotions” and act as if nothing has happened.
The gurney in front, the family behind…as if…all is good.
The body is delivered to the family home, and is customary in that culture, they will dress and prepare him for the all night wake.
Two of his five sons and his two daughters enter “that room”. He is wrapped in sheets. They approach and start unwrapping…GASP!!! UGH!!! The sight, the smells, the liquids! “How? why? Could they have closed him up? Can someone else do this? This can’t be happening!”
One white shirt after another, stained…useless. “We” aren’t equipped for this?” “This should be done by a funeral home.” Nope, this is us and this is how we roll…yeah…swallow that!
Somehow, he is prepped and ready for the all night wake and viewing of the tons of mourners that will come and pay their respects. Rosaries, prayers, coffee, chatter. Tomorrow, he will be carried through the streets of his village, ending at the cemetery with the proper burial. Then the people will scatter, life will continue as usual…
BUT those four “kids” will live with those images of their Dad. Neither will talk to each other about it; neither will talk about it to anyone…because that just how this family rolls.