I’m sure I’ll have more to say with time, but I wrote this the other day and wanted to share it with you …
It had been a long and emotional day at the hospital, and it would be the last day of Mia’s life, though of course, we did not know this yet.
A nurse named Cyndi would turn out to be an angel on earth for us that day. For, as day turned into evening, she was the one who told us to make sure we spoke to Mia, because Mia could surely hear us. My aunt Josie, my brother Kevin and I crowded around her bedside. The time went by quickly as we talked about the old days – and you know there were hours of stories to fill. There was the time she turned to my sister Jenny in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, and she said, “Have you ever seen so many fat people in your life?” Of course, she spoke loudly since she was hard of hearing, so it’s very likely everyone in the waiting room heard this. There was also the time I took her for a ride on the light rail for the first time. As we waited at the epicenter for the train to pick us up, Mia glanced around at the very, um, urban crowd, then turned to me and loudly said, “when is Mayor McCrory going to do something about this gang problem?” I shushed her, and she said – loudly – “Good point. We don’t want to get shot.”
We talked about the time I stayed with her for a week while she was in rehab. She was very particular that week, making me open the curtains, then close the curtains, depending on the time of day and the way the sun was coming in, and her mood. I was constantly opening and shutting curtains! By the end of the week I never wanted to see a curtain again. Then there was the clock issue. The clock hung above the bathroom door, so she wanted me to leave the bathroom light on and the door cracked just enough to shine light on the clock – so she would know what time it was at any point that she woke. Problem was, the nurses would come in every couple of hours to check on her, then would then go into the bathroom to wash their hands, and they’d mess up our system. So every couple of hours, I’d have to get up to fix it.
But, in addition, there were many more shining moments that week. Such as the point where Mia turned to me and said, “You know, we could sneak out of here, go see a movie, and then get our toes done …”
That last night at the hospital, as evening turned into midnight and later, I didn’t want to sleep because I feared finding the worst when I woke. In the tiny ICU room, Josie and Kevin settled into reclining chairs, and I curled up next to her in the hospital bed. The nurse told me that feeling me beside her would bring her comfort. So I made sure I was touching her, lest she forget I was there. As we turned off the lights and settled into a broken sleep, I reached up and pulled the curtains closed. Then I said my last words to her. “There you go, Mia,” I said, “I closed the curtains for you.”