You looked almost normal lying there. I was far from normal, in complete shock actually.
Your hair was wet, as were your clothes, but aside from some dried blood here and there and a bad gash on your arm you looked like you had just fallen asleep after a long day at work, watching reruns of SNL.
Your chest was heaving a bit, which was strange to see. I assumed, correctly, that this was from the lung. I knew it was serious, but not necessarily fatal. Just hard to watch.
It still didn’t hit me, though. They said you had grasped the paramedics hand when asked. They said you never stopped breathing. I hung my thoughts there as I watched you silently. No tears. No emotion. Mom kept stroking your arm. “We will get that cut cleaned up,” the doctor said. “Probably a few stitches. We will clean him up,” he assured us. It didn’t hit me until someone asked.
“So when he wakes up…?”
The doctor didn’t pause. I wonder if that’s a tactic you have to learn in med school. Just give it to them all at once. One motion. Rip off the band aid.
“When he wakes up, then we will know the extent of the brain damage.”
Brain damage? It hadn’t crossed my mind. I knew you had broken every rib, I knew your pelvis had been fractured (or so they thought at the time), I knew your lung had collapsed and your jaw was broken, but brain damage? And he hadn’t said 'if ' but 'extent' as if he were confident there were some amount, just a little fuzzy on the details. I thought of one of those clear jars full of M&Ms. Guess how much to win the prize…
My mind could not grasp this as I watched you. In that moment I could not process that two hours ago you had been a normal 22 year old on your way to dinner. You would have responded to a text from me regarding some band, and now as you lay there, you were forever changed. That no matter what the doctors did from this point on, there was that.
The doctor elaborated, but I couldn’t concentrate. He explained to Mom and Dad and Stashe, that the CT scan would show if surgery was necessary to remove a portion of your skull to allow for swelling.
Static. Everything was still. What are you thinking about right now? Can you hear us? Do you know what is happening to you? I wanted to rush the side of your bed and start talking to you about something. Anything. We could prove them wrong together, they would see. You would open your eyes and yawn and the doctors would be baffled. You would make a joke about how even with a head injury you were smarter than me. You would get up and complain that your arm hurt, ask for some good drugs and we would all be on our way home. All you needed was someone to believe it, someone on your side.
But I didn’t. I just stood there.
I noticed the stained cloth in the trash can. Was that from you? How often were these cans emptied? I looked to the doctor as he spoke, hearing nothing. What had this doctor eaten for dinner? And when exactly does one take their breaks, on the midnight shift? I took some mental guesses as to his favorite TV shows, clothing stores. It seems crazy now. As this man stood there, outlining your fate for us, my mind went somewhere else. I simply refused to accept that this had happened to the smartest, funniest, most loving person I knew.
I was angry. And I would be for a very long time.