Sunday, April 7, 2013

One Year

One year ago today, my younger brother Ty died. I've been going back and forth on whether or not I should blog about it. I honestly didn't (and as I actually write this, still don't) want to write about it because writing about things forces you to relive those things. Good or bad.

But then I started to wonder if I would regret not writing about it. So here I am. I want to say upfront that I don't want anyone to feel obligated to comment. I like keeping things shiny and happy but let's face it, sometimes life just gives you lemons that refuse to become lemonade no matter how "Pollyanna" you try to be about it.

So here it is...

Ty, the December before the accident
As most of you know, my brother was in a coma for 5 days. On the fifth day the surgeon told us there was no hope and we needed to decide about taking him off of life support and letting him go. For those of you that haven't experienced the whole life support thing with a loved one (and I sincerely hope you haven't and never will), it ain't like in the movies where the nurse cuts off the machine and you sit in a perfectly lighted room, full of flowers and soft music as the machine starts it's beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

Well, maybe it is like that for some people but everything changes when the person is an organ donor. See, they only have a certain amount of time once the person passes to "harvest" so since Ty was on life support and a donor, we had to go to the operating room to say our final goodbyes.

One year later, the timing isn't so clear. I think he was scheduled to be taken off the machines around 4:00 in the afternoon. But when it was 4:00, it had to be delayed because the surgeon got an emergency call. You know, once you've waited 5 days for something to change, once you've had the 5th night to decide you have to be okay with what's happening, once you've sat for hours waiting for it to be over, to be told you now have to wait longer is agony. But waited we did.

Right before going "downstairs"
They wheeled him out of his room with myself and my parents following. Nurses moved out of the way and people gave us sympathetic stares. I almost expected them to yell out, "Dead man rolling!" Then they had us wait in a tiny room with counselors while they removed the tubes from his throat.

We each had a handler. Well, they didn't call themselves that, that's just what I thought of them as, we each got one assigned to us and they were very sweet and good at their jobs but if I thought waiting with him in his room was bad, having to sit in that claustrophobic room with 3 strangers talking about death and "better places" and all that jazz while my parents cried and cried was even worse.

Because we were going into the OR, we had to wear head to toe scrubs, including masks. And while I get it, I know we had to wear it, it sucked...we couldn't even be comfortable while Ty died. Breathing through that mask and trying to keep it together was...whatever, it was what it was.

Ty had a time limit within which to die. If he didn't die in time, they couldn't harvest his organs and he would be wheeled up to another floor to die there. So he didn't even get the luxury of taking his time to die. Ty breathed on his own for almost 45 minutes. For almost 45 minutes we stood there, in a cold, dark operating room, gathered around him, my mother crying over his body, my dad crying out, "Oh Jesus, oh Jesus, oh Jesus....", the counselors rubbing our backs and the surgeon watching the clock.

Almost 45 minutes, watching his chest go up and down, I can still hear the rattle, the force of his breath as he struggled to...I don't know what...let go? Hang on? Just breathe? Almost 45 minutes, "Jesus", up and down went his chest, "Jesus", trying to keep my breath in that surgical mask, in those scrubs, mentally begging him to just let go before I started screaming. Counselors rubbing my back, telling me it would be okay, rubbing rubbing, be okay, "Jesus", be okay....I wanted to throw something at them. Anything to get them to shut up. Anything to get out of there, anything to stop the sounds of my parents crying, the sounds of his chest-rattling breath, the tick tick tick of the clock the surgeon kept staring at....tick tick tick tick tick tick.

My hand was on his chest when he finally stopped breathing. One minute he breathed, the next he just didn't. Oh, right he's a donor so whisk whisk whisk us out of the OR they did...."thanks for coming, we've got work to do so out out out", whooshhhhhhhhhhhhhhh the counselors showed us the door, found our things and pulled out their best airline stewardess "buh-bye now, thanks for dying with us, buh-bye, buh-bye now, buh-bye, thanks for dying with us..."

So we left. All the waiting, the praying, the hoping, the acceptance, so long it took to happen but once it did, we left. It was the day before Easter when he died. And I left the hospital, got home and then had to dye Easter eggs with Toot. Just that simple, Life started up again. No time to grieve or mourn or shake my fist, no time, no time. Eggs to dye, dinner to make, life to live.

Buh-bye now. Buh-bye.


  1. I am so sorry for your loss. Your love for your brother is evident. And those of us who haven't been where you have obviously have no idea. No idea. Thank you for sharing.

  2. you must be incredible strong! so strong to blog this - to relive this! Seeing the photo even I jump - no movie but reality!
    I don't think anyone can imagine how it is to see a beloved one die ... die like this ... breathing the last breaths!I really cried reading this cause I relived the same I had with my Mum - to stare and listen - wating for the one last breath ...
    But it would have been unbearable for me not to be able to say goodbye in a decent way! Without the clock ticking! How awful!
    I hope you stay strong - as you have been!! Yes ... life goes on ... but it lost a lot of its glitter ...

  3. My goodness Maggi,

    I was so excited when I happened to be on my blog when your post popped by. It has been a long time for me to be here and lingering. For some unknown reason, I have been thinking about you.

    I am so so terribly sorry for your loss and all that came with your final good bye. You are so brave for sharing this with us. I could feel the emotion through the screen and wanted to reach out and shove those counselors right out the door for you.

    Many blessing my friend,
    Big {{HUGS}}
    Nerina xOxO

  4. I am sorry for your loss Maggi...I will not say I understand...each loss is felt differently by each individual person who experiences it...I do empathize and I feel compassion for you and your family.

    I hope it will prove helpful to you to have written about your brother dying...and you're right it hurts like h*ll when life goes on

  5. I have been thinking about you often. I know that their are no words I can say that will show my sorrow for you nor can I ever understand what you have gone through.

    I just wanted you to know that I have been thinking about you and I wish I could give you a real hug instead of a virtual hug!

  6. That was very moving. Maggie, I hope you and your family have started to heal from the loss. I am thinking of you, I wish something I said would make you feel better, but l know it won't. Bless you. Kashi.

  7. I am so sorry. I felt sucked right in, like an observer. My mom passed away in January, so my emotions are still very high, and your recounting of the events brought it all back to me. He saved lives as he lost his own, but I can't imagine having to deal with my mom being whisked away like that. My heart goes out to you. Sending you love and hugs and peace.

  8. After reading your post I felt I did have to comment to say thank you for sharing your experience with us, it is evident how much you emotion you feel and testament to your strength that you are able to put your story out there. I am so sorry for your pain and the that you feel life just started up again, that is wrong and time to greave is unbelievably important so I hope you have had time and your emotions are healing. x

  9. I saw the beginning of your story in my reader and wanted to pop in and read the rest of your heartfelt post. Thank you for sharing your experience. My heart goes out to you and your family. Sending hugs your way.

  10. that was very beautifully written. I am so sorry for the loss of your brother.

  11. I'm glad you shared it! Love ya!!

  12. Sweetheart,
    I just buried my brother last Friday.And he was the machine.The pain is still very raw.I lost my baby Brother in 84.I miss him so much still.Soooo I do understand.I am going to write about my older brother.He help keep my family together.Took care of us.
    Talking and writing about them ... keeps them alive. You did the right thing.
    They are in Gods hands now.
    May God bless you,
    Marie Antionette

  13. Oh my goodness, I know this comment is late but I just stumbled across your blog and I know you said you didn't want people to feel obligated to write comments but I feel a crazy strong need too, so apologies in advance. On a side note I turned off my comments on my blog when my Grandma died and the lead up to it, for the non obligated reason.

    I'm not sure where to begin but simply to say your writing was so beautiful. I had no idea that, was the process with life support (when a person is an organ donator). Thank-you for sharing, I feel somewhat more informed, especially as I've always been a strong advocator of organ donation, but naively never knew this side.

    Sometimes I can't believe how unbelievably unreal life can be, this story seems like it should belongs within the pages on a fiction book but it happened to someone, you and I just want to say how sorry I am that you had to go through it and how amazing it was that you did and can share your story. It was incredibly moving. I hope life has shown you more happiness since.

  14. Thank you ALL for sharing your comments, thoughts and sympathy with me! I appreciate it so much, you'll never know. I've always supported organ donation and still do, my brother was able to help two people with the gift of his kidneys which is so awesome. And while the situation was more "rushed" and just...I don't even know the word, lol...because of his donation, I'm still thankful he gave such a gift.

  15. oh Maggi, I'm so very sorry! I had no idea! Just went through this with my hubby, he wasn't a donor, but he died, God that's hard to actually write that word! Here come the tears again, i am so truly sorry, take time to grieve,