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(Waylon Jennings reference)

Part 3:  As I’ve said, I didn’t know a whole lot about dying growing up. And even with the episodes described earlier, it always seemed that I was in control. This is probably because I was in control.

My life was going very well. I was doing a great job as a programmer at an elite operation, I was married to a beautiful young lady, I had a lovely young daughter, we were moving into base housing, finally, a four bedroom two story joint, no less, and we were expecting our second child.

As we were moving, in fact, my wife was due any minute, and all indications were for a healthy baby girl we’d already named Amanda. I had even participated in some of the birthing stuff, so that I could participate in her entry into the world.

We had completed packing the apartment and were dreaming of moving onto the base, close to my job, for sure, but close to my wife’s as well, and the movers had pretty much cleared out the apartment, when my wife went into labor.

We raced to the hospital of course, with me puking at a stop light right before the hospital (it is a tradition of mine, one I have managed to accomplish for all three of my children). We were on time, we had plenty of time, in fact. They hooked Corrine up to a machine to monitor things and I sat beside her with my vomit-smelling breath and reassured her.

And then all hell broke loose. The monitor started beeping like a Star Wars robot, people started rushing in and out, and pretty soon she was in OR, they were in OR. Naturally, I followed. I stood inside the OR, believe it or not!!! for several minutes, and even answered the question when one doc asked, “General or Local?”. It was that answer that got me thrown out.

So. I’m sitting in her room, which happened to be right next to that OR, don’t ask me why, and I can see the orange slush building up on the floor as people go running back and forth. I only thought it was blood, of course. It was the sterile solution they used to cleanse you before surgery. She was getting a C-section.

An emergency C-section.

And no one would talk to me. I watched them running back and forth, watched the floor getting oranger and oranger, and wondered what was going on. I had my fears, you can bet. I feared for my wife, I feared for my daughter. But, I was in control, and I knew all would be well.

I can fix anything, after all, always have, always will.

Amanda was born “brain-dead”.

I can fix anything, after all, always have, always will.

I rode in the ambulance with my wife and daughter to the big hospital in Boston, probably the most famous children’s hospital in the world. Somehow, later, I made it back home.

Home was an apartment with one broken kitchen chair in it.

I sat in that chair in the middle of the living room and wailed like a wounded wolf.

I had nothing, I had no one. I had darkness and despair, and, finally, a loss of control. I was no longer in control.

And you thought this didn’t have to do with cancer didn’t you? 🙂

Never before in my life had I ever felt that I was not in control of my life, for the moment, for the hour, for the day, for the year, for my life.

If it was broken, I could fix it.

But not now.

Amanda was dead.

Not yet officially, of course, but she was dead. And I was wailing to no one and to everyone. The God I no longer believed in was a part of my angry conversation, I can assure you, although this is not when I stopped believing. It is merely interesting that I decided to converse with this entity again, at this crisis moment in my life, and that I got no answer.

Maybe I did. I did get an answer. My friend Mike probably heard me howling at the moon. Maybe someone alerted him, although I cannot imagine who, but he came and grabbed me, and took me downstairs to his place, where I got the call asking if we wanted to donate organs, and I had to answer immediately.

I do not know how you answer that question at that time, I really don’t. I don’t envy the task of asking the question, even. I am sure that some people lash out at them. Fortunately for them, I was too numb, too tired, too defeated, to lash out. I think I asked them to call me back, and when they said it was now or never, I said go for it.

All I know is this: I went into Boston’s Children’s Hospital, and I went into the ward where the babies were in incubators, and the room was dark, with light only from the incubators, and we, my wife and I, she able to walk by now, walked past them, looking for Amanda. As we passed these youngsters, we knew that most would live. Some were missing limbs. Some were clearly suffering from Down’s Syndrome. All of them seemed to have some sort of physical, some sort of obvious problem.

Amanda did not. Amanda was perfect. Ten little toes, 10 little fingers, a button nose, and the bluest eyes on the planet. No deformities at all, except for the one inside of her brain, the lack of oxygen that made it a useless organ.

There we were, my wife and I, in the dark, our child haloed by the light of the incubator, getting our last look at the beautiful Amanda.