Nolan suffered his Aneurysm on July 18, at around 10:10 pm. He lacked any brain function at the time the neurosurgeon first checked him at 2am on July 19. There has to be a second evaluation for brain function at least 4 hours later before a person can be pronounced “Deceased”. I remember dreading 6am, knowing they would check again. I was able to put the doctors off until the afternoon of July 19, when I watched everything they did during the 2nd neurological evaluation. It was horrible, but I’m glad I stayed with him during that exam. It left no doubt in my mind that Nolan was already gone. So, in the late afternoon on July 19, Nolan was pronounced officially “Brain Dead” (although they had some kinder, fluffier term they used it means the same ugly thing). Because we chose to honor Nolan’s passing by saving as many other lives as we could, Nolan was kept on life support while transplant teams and recipients were gathered and prepared. He was taken into the operating room the night of July 20, and was finally taken off of life support in the wee morning hours of July 21.
Which date do you go by? Is it by the “official” time/date stamp on some stupid “official” certificate? Do we call it when his heart was removed from his body? It’s horrible. It’s more than just 1 day to survive each month. We have to survive 4 separate anniversary dates each month. Which do we pick as our own “Official?”
We (DH, me, and Little N) consider Nolan’s passing to be on July 18, 2014 at approximately 10:15pm. That’s when his heart stopped beating. That’s when his breathing stopped. CPR was able to keep his blood oxygenated, but he didn’t maintain a steady heartbeat again until he was somewhere between Pittsfield and Bangor on the Life Flight helicopter. By that point, we all knew he was gone. I knew before the 2 ambulances even got to the house that he wasn’t coming back. I knew. I just knew.
Because of the length of this ordeal, we have 4 days every month where we remember some part of the trauma more strongly. The night he “went down,” the day of his “official” date, the night he went into surgery, and the day he was taken off life support. I think this makes it even harder.
On October 18, I decided that I simply couldn’t handle this 3-month mark. I opened the door wide and invited Denial right in. I asked Denial to bring as many friends as he could to help pretend the night away. What I literally did was this (taken from my personal Facebook page):
3 months. I can’t do it, so I’m not going to. Here it is, this is my Bat Signal going up, rallying the Troops. I’m going to have a Denial Party at my house tonight because that is way more fun than a Pity Party. We’re going to pretend that everything is ok and that we can survive this. We’re going to pretend that Grief isn’t swallowing us all, and we’re going to pretend laughter comes easily. We’ll throw some carnage on the grill and pretend we still like to eat. If you can handle that (and some cocktails) come on over, bring your kids, a snack or drink, and we’ll open the door wide for Denial. Just for tonight. We can get back to Grieving tomorrow.
It worked. So many of our friends showed up with food in hand and a hug in their hearts to help us make it through the night. 10:15pm came and went without my noticing. Our house was filled with laughter just like “Before.” I couldn’t have managed that night without everyone surrounding me and helping me stand. Seriously. I am so thankful for everyone who answered the Call. So what happened when everyone went home?
It turns out Denial is a fickle son-of-a-bitch. That “F-er” left with everyone else. He left me stranded and alone at 3am. I am so lucky that my dearest friend, my Soul Sister, was staying the night. I crawled into bed with her, sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. She simply gave me tons of Reiki and love until I fell asleep.
The following few days were also horrendous. It’s funny how things only occur to you in hindsight that should be so obvious. It really wasn’t until I began writing about Nolan’s timeline that it dawned on me. You’re probably one step ahead of me at this point. No duh the next few days were so hard! I didn’t consciously think about each day’s representation, but my body knew. My heart knew. Now I know, and maybe next month will make more sense when I spend 4 days in bed crying.