By: Christine McFarlane
My world changed the day I heard a nurse say over the phone
“Your friend is very sick and he’s in the ICU,”
“I think it would be good if you came to see him.”
It was seven years ago, that I got that phone call and at the time, I recall that I had been living in shared housing, and to get any semblance of privacy, I often chose to stay in my room with my door locked, so that no one could bother me.
My friend Lori and I had been worried because we hadn’t heard from our friend for a few days. I was nervously calling around to the hospitals after failing to locate him through the various other places we knew he could be at.
As I heard the nurse say this, my heart leapt into my throat and the tears just spilled down my cheeks. As I took in this bit of news, I didn't realize that I would be saying goodbye to the closest friend I had at that time, in a matter of days.
My hands were shaking as I put the phone down and picked it up again to call my friend Lori. I heard the RING...RING... of her phone, and a wave of fear/anxiety hit me in the gut as though someone had just punched me.
My friend Lori, answers
She hears me crying and says
“Christine? Is that you? What’s wrong?”
I stop crying long enough to blurt out
“It's Chris. He’s in the hospital in ICU.”
I hear Lori draw in her breath and gasp. There’s a moment of silence before she says
“Do you know what hospital he’s in”
“I’ll come and get you. We will go and see him.”
I don’t know how long I waited for my friend to come and get me. Everything at that point became a blur, even the car ride to the hospital that was clear across the city from where my friend had to drive from and to my place to pick me up.
I recall getting to the hospital and getting off the elevator at ICU. I hear the noises of the various machines that are attached to each patient and I remember shivering, and thinking to myself,
“This can’t be happening.”
The scene around me was chaotic, as nurses rushed here and there. I could hear the BEEP....BEEP...of the heart monitors, and the announcement CODE BLUE...CODE BLUE...that occasionally blasts from the hospital’s p.a. system.
Usually I am afraid of hospitals and stay clear away from them. I have my own bad history with them but this time, I knew I had to be there. I enter the room 320 and my eyes nervously scan the four beds that are there. My friend is laying in the bed 320B.
I slowly walk over to his bed and stand there looking at him. I grab his hand and hold onto it, willing the tears to stop flowing because I know I have to be strong for him.
He’s as still as can be, tubes are coming out of him every way possible. I hear the hum of the machine that I learn later is breathing for him. As my friend and I are standing at his bedside, Lori says to him
“You have to fight, you can’t give up” and even jokingly says
“You’re missing Coronation Street and the Simpsons.”
Those were two of his favorite shows that the two of us often watched when I spent time with him. A million thoughts went through my head as I stood there. I wondered if my friend was going to pull through, would I see him smile again or hear his laugh.
That day at the hospital, I stood by him and hoped that he would hear my silent prayer that we would all see him well again. Lori and I stayed until visiting hours were over.
As we left, I looked back once more and silently mouthed
“I love you”
Two days later, I called the hospital once more, and was told
“Your friend is gone. He passed away this afternoon.”
I put the phone down, and cried myself to sleep.
I never knew that I would be saying goodbye to the closest friend I had ever had at that time. I still miss him to this day, but I know now that he is in a better place and isn’t in anymore pain.
(In memory of C.A.)