Sometimes I just wish everyone would stop asking me if I’m ok, or how I’m doing. Other times, I keep waiting for someone to finally ask that I know is really interested in the answer so that I can talk about it. This week I have been inspired to begin writing as a cathartic way to deal with my feelings. While I am terrified about putting my REAL feelings out there, it is (for now at least) how I am choosing to sort everything out. On the days when I wish everyone would quit asking, I don’t have to write anything; on the days when I’m chomping at the bit to talk about it, now I can. I choose to see this as a positive way of navigating this completely unfamiliar territory, instead of worrying about what people will think of me, my family, my faith or my sister. To protect the rest of my family, however, I will try to focus this as much on my experiences, thoughts and feelings as possible and allow them to deal with this in their own way.
To say I would like to start at the beginning is a tall order, at best, because I don’t know when the beginning was for her, and I can’t even really pinpoint it for myself. So I will start with the beginning of the rest of my life … April 27, 2011. My alarm went off that morning at the usual time and I got up and got ready for work. There was seemingly nothing out of the ordinary about this Wednesday morning. As I walked outside my apartment and locked my front door, my phone rang and I saw that it was my mom. Immediately, because of past experience, or intuition or something, I knew something was up. She never called me at 7:30am unless something was up. I answered the phone and her voice sounded very ….. eery. I guess that’s the best way to describe it. She sounded calm, matter-of-fact, and to the point. She said “Kell, Holly is in the hospital. She had a seizure last night, and they are careflighting her from the Lovington hospital to Lubbock. We don’t know a whole lot more than that, but Dad and I are going to Lubbock.” I had so many thoughts going on in my head. Admittedly, one of them was “Why don’t you wait and find out if this is even a big deal before you guys take off and drive all the way to Lubbock? She could be fine by the time you even get there.” But there was also something inside me that thought “Of course you’re going! Hurry and get on the road!” Almost panicking that she was going to land at the hospital in Lubbock with no one there to be by her side – for what we thought were going to be a few critical hours until they were able to stabilize her. I almost immediately started crying … I don’t know why. I usually didn’t react to news about Holly so strongly, because things usually settled down or worked out. I guess something in me knew that this could be different.
I got in the car and drove on to work thinking that I would settle down on the drive and be fine by the time I got there. The more I drove, the more worked up and scared I got. I knew that seizures could cause permanent brain damage and I was just worried that some of the damage might not be reversible. I had been at work for a couple of minutes … couple of hours… who knows, when my mom called me again. She said that they were still several hours out of Lubbock and that Holly had been having a seizure for over 13 minutes, and the doctors couldn’t stop it. This time her voice sounded scared, weak and helpless.
I will never forget that call as long as I live, because out of all of the “update” calls I received over the next 24 hours or so, that was the first one where I realized that my parents … my superheroes, the people who had been fixing things, bailing me out of things, and providing for us our whole lives… were completely helpless and powerless. Powerless to help Holly, powerless to comfort me and Sam with the right words, and powerless over their own emotions.
After that phone call, I decided to leave work because they had given me a list of 8 or so people to call each time they updated me, and had given everyone my name as a point of contact for updates as well. My phone started ringing off the hook. Sam, cousins, grandparents, parents’ friends, my friends, my parents… and the cycle would start all over. At one point, Sam and I decided to put it on Facebook to solicit prayers from our church members, family members and close friends. All afternoon my phone was getting calls, texts, Facebook notifications, emails, and even messages on Words with Friends.
I was overwhelmed by how much people cared … but there was also a small part of me that just wanted everyone to STOP for a minute. Stop and let us process this; stop and give me a minute to make myself believe this story before I have to tell it to you. Like I said before, it was a Wednesday and I knew they were going to make an announcement about it at church that night, and that I would be bombarded with questions, hugs, love and sympathy – which sometimes makes it harder. So I decided not to go. After 8pm that night, the cat was ALL THE WAY out of the bag. Mine and Sam’s facebooks lit up like the fourth of July. All of my cousins, immediate and distant, were calling and writing for updates and to see if they could help. Man, how I wished they could help, do SOMETHING to get us out of this.
When I called for the final update before I tried to get some sleep that night, my dad told me that other than the seizing, Holly was still unconscious and hadn’t been awake since she was picked up by the EMTs in Lovington, NM (where she lived.) He said that my grandparents had arrived in Lubbock around the same time they did and that they had a few visitors (children of family friends, family members in the area, etc.) He also told me that we could be in this for the long haul, but that things were not good. Not at all.
Earlier in the day, our preacher and his wife (dear friends) said they were going to leave for Lubbock at about 10am the next morning (Thursday) and asked if I wanted to go. I wasn’t sure at first, but after that phone call from my Dad.. I knew. I had to be there with them. I had to talk to Holly, to whatever level of consciousness she had. What if there is such a thing as fate, or karma or WHATEVER and my being there could help? I had to go be with my mom and grandma. I had to be there so that later on, I wouldn’t blame myself for not.
So I called Jeff & Laura and told them I would sincerely appreciate the ride and would see them in the morning. We all decided not to tell my parents that we were coming, because we wanted surprise them (and also I didn’t want them to worry about us being on the road, on top of everything else.)The road trip was pleasant, if you ignored the elephant in the car with us … that we were going to see my comatose sister and devastated parents & grandparents. We talked about ANYTHING else, listened to The Eagles, I slept, we stopped and ate … just a “normal” road trip.
When we were about 2 hours from Lubbock (I think … definitely out in the middle of nowhere), my dad called again. He asked what I was doing in such a “normal” voice that I immediately knew he was calling with bad news. I felt my face go white, and got a huge pit in my stomach. I told him I was riding in the car, and asked what was going on. He told me that Holly had had an EEG that morning (to measure brain activity, I believe) and that the preliminary results were not good. He said that there were parts of her brain that showed little-to-no activity and other parts that showed severe damage. It was this phone call that I found out that by the time the EMTs in NM started her heart again, she had been without oxygen for 15-20 minutes, at least.My heart didn’t exactly sink, so much as jump up in my throat and make a lump there. I knew the statistics, I remembered some things from school. Brains can’t function without oxygen for that long. While it was confirmation of something I had been suspecting to hear since 8am the morning before, it was devastating. It was no longer suspicion … it was fact.
Sometimes words feel SO inadequate to describe feelings. “Devastating” and “I felt sick” don’t even come close to how I felt. Maybe it was because you could only generously describe mine and Holly’s relationship as “rocky” for the past 6 years. Maybe it was because I didn’t know how to watch my big sister be still and unresponsive and kept alive by machines. Maybe it was because I knew that the images on my parents’ faces, the nurses’ faces as they tiptoed around us were about to haunt me for the rest of my life. Maybe it was because I had already watched one sibling be so close to death, and I was certain I didn’t have it in me to watch another. Whatever the reason … Whatever I was feeling was beyond the English language’s ability to convey. At best, I was a shell of the person I had been when I woke up that Wednesday.
If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW
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