Short Story: Final Moments

 

“Dad, can I get you anything?” I asked, as he struggled with the flat, lifeless pillow beneath his shoulder blades.

“I would love a Whopper, Jr.,” he breathed. Pausing to catch his breath again, sucking the oxygen from the plastic life lines crookedly falling from his nostrils, he turned his sunken blue eyes to mine. “And I would like to watch . . .” again he rested his thoughts in order to draw in more air . . . “Christmas Vacation”.

His once strong hands, now thinned and shaky, slowly lifted to the nasal tubes, attempting to arrange the hissing air hoses more securely. The tubes fell away, askew once more, as his arms collapsed back at his sides. “Let me help you, Dad,” I said, as I leaned over the bed rail, trying not to tangle myself in the snake nest of monitor wires. I slid the nozzles into his nose and ran my fingers around both sides of his face, the bristle from his normally close-shaved skin pricking at my fingertips, pulling the tubes tighter until my hands met behind his head. I fastened them in place, then pulled that useless cardboard pillow from behind his back and guided his head gently back onto its stiffness.

“Boys, run to Burger King and get Papa a Whopper, Jr. and a Coke,” I said to John and Jake, as I fumbled through my purse. Having found a twenty and my keys, I handed them over to John, now 16, and gave him a feeble grin as our eyes met. I engulfed my baby boy in a hug, having caught the heartache in his eyes, as I urged him to run home, too, and find the DVD Papa wanted to watch.

As the boys shuffled out of the room, I turned back to Dad. His eyes were closed as I studied the man lying before me. He had aged so much in the twenty-nine days since his low-blood-sugar-induced fall into the kitchen table. I absorbed every detail, wanting to remember each crazy grey eyebrow hair; the wrinkled collection of pale skin gathering beneath his chin; his frail six foot six body, sinking closer to the ground with each gulp of air; and his hands . . . ah, those hands . . . enormous, creative and strong no more.

I grabbed ahold of Dad’s hand, sliding my palm beneath his chilled fingers. My thumb caressed his pinky and he gently squeezed my hand, saying “thanks” with the short-lived grasp. His eyes remained closed as mine released their anguish.

The boys returned with their Papa’s wishes as I was wiping the final remnants of sorrow from my cheeks. He must have smelled the burger in his dream, his eyes fluttering back to consciousness, as they pushed open the heavy oak door. Jake found a seat on the mauve sofa near the window. He was quiet, as usual, lost and unsure, a boy in a man’s body. With death lurking and unwanted, he had no clue how to save his Papa (and himself) from its inevitable arrival.

John took my spot as I wandered over to join Jake in staring blankly out the window. After a few bites, Dad raised his shrinking hand, shakily waving off John’s gesture to feed him another mouthful of bliss. Death danced merrily back into the room, our smiles faded, as Papa dissolved, smaller still, onto the rigid bed.

After sending the boys home, quiet gasps of snores escaped from Dad’s slouched mouth, as I half-heartedly lost myself in the movie he had asked to watch. Normally, quoting nearly every line, I would have been snorting with fits of laughter. It didn’t seem right to be cackling, even if it had tried to escape my bereaved body.

“This is my favorite line in the movie,” he muttered, startling me from my trance.

 Holy cow! How did he suddenly wake up from an unconscious state for his favorite part of the movie? I mused, half alarmed and half seriously impressed, as Dad began quoting movie lines. I looked at my Dad, laughter brightening his dimming eyes, a smile breaking through, his pale skin radiating a moment of elation and I joined him . . . I set the laughter free. Death stood frozen in the corner of the room, wanting to partake in the merriment but duty would not allow it. So it watched; studying, waiting.

Dad giggled off and on throughout the rest of the movie. My hand and his intertwined in a moment of harmony. A squeeze here. A kiss on the knuckles there. A final farewell in the touching of a hand . . . a hand that had held a tiny bundle of joy on the steps of Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati in March of 1966 as Mom climbed into the red Volkswagen beetle, a hand that had pushed my pink bike with the flowered banana seat as I learned to ride without my training wheels on the Mt. Washington Elementary School playground, a hand that hovered too close to the steering wheel as I pulled out onto Mears Avenue for the first time in Dad’s new silver 1982 Plymouth Horizon, a hand that twirled me around the dance floor in the undercroft of Guardian Angels Church to Al Martino’s “Daddy’s Little Girl”, a hand that gently enveloped my baby boys as he gazed at them in awe, a hand I knew would always be there to hold if ever I needed it.

Death, who had been impatiently hovering, had taken over holding his hand when I made my way from the room. When I arrived back in that chilled room a few hours later, his hand was icy still. The hiss of the tubes silenced. The laughter faded. As I placed a kiss upon his cool forehead, my hot tears cascading onto him, I felt the warmth of his hand upon my shoulder. The spirit of his enormous, creative, strong hand.

Daily Release Feb 5

Today I release any stored negative energy held within my body as I continue to cleanse out that old negative trauma energy and allow the light of God and Holy Spirit to fill me instead. I find comfort in knowing I am loved and guided along this healing journey.

Weekly Update – Book Proposal

Weekly update!

This week has been fairly quiet on the book-front. The completed proposal is in my editor’s hands. She will have it back to me by the first week of February. Then I can edit away!

As for the book itself . . . I am so excited to have an outline to work with and a plan for it. Finally. As I’ve told so many, I’ve been writing this book for years. In, what feels like, circles. Always coming back to “what is it I am really trying to say?” I knew in my heart and soul I didn’t want it to be a “woe is me” story all about my trauma. I wanted it to be about hope and healing and the journey toward joy, yet knowing the trauma has to be a part of it.

There is a connection that happens between our souls when we have those “me, too” moments. The haunting beauty of my story is that it paints with a broad trauma brush, touching different people in different ways . . . yet, the vast majority of those folks are striving to live a more joyous, peaceful and purposeful existence. And many are stuck. Not knowing quite how to do move forward.

This is my tale from trauma to triumph, the “how to” for getting oneself unstuck from the muck.

* * * * *

Tomorrow, I have a meeting to discuss the website development. Excited to move forward with that, as well! Wish me luck.

* * * * *

A beautiful and incredibly talented friend painted this unicorn shadow for me. It hangs next to my desk in my writing space. I smile at it every day.

 

Angel Visit

Facebook post from December 25, 2016:

I have to share my annual sappy Christmas post! It’s become tradition. It has also become tradition for one or more of my family members to make me cry when opening gifts. This year did not disappoint. The award for “make Mom sob” goes to my oldest son, John Wellbrock. So, here’s the story:

When John was 2 months old, he suddenly developed an illness which made it difficult for him to breathe. He was admitted into Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center where he spent 10 days literally fighting for his life. His oxygen saturation was dropping into the low 90’s and at one point into the 80’s. He would cough and cough and cough and cough and NOTHING could stop it . . . except . . . when I would sing “Come Monday” by Jimmy Buffet to him. You see, when I was pregnant with John, Jimmy had just released his 4 disc album set “Boats, Beaches, Bars & Ballads” and his dad and I would blast it through the house for hours on end. This baby LOVED Jimmy Buffet from in utero! So, there I stood, over his crib, wires and tubes attached to his precious little body, my tired momma arms caressing his sweet little face as I sang him his favorite song. Over and over again. And he would catch his breath.

For 10 days this went on. I refused to leave his side. I told everyone who kept suggesting I go home and rest, “I don’t want him to ever open his eyes and not see his mommy standing there, praying for him and taking care of him”. The doctor told me he could die and I was not about to let that happen.

Call it exhaustion or be a believer, but on Thanksgiving night 1993, after I had nibbled at the plate of turkey and the fixings that my mom had delivered me, I sat in the rocking chair, watching my baby boy struggle to breathe. I drifted off to sleep, the light dim in the room, shining from the crack beneath the bathroom door. My eyes suddenly opened when I felt a presence in the room. A peacefulness enveloped my body as I silently watched a magnificent being of light stand at the foot of John’s metal hospital crib. This angel or heavenly being, just watched him. And he stopped coughing and studied. I knew in that moment that John was going to be okay as tears streamed down my face.

John was released soon after and had no long-lasting residual effects from his illness. They never did give us a definitive answer to what was making him ill. They labeled it an “echo virus” and said it was similar to Whooping Cough, but all of those cultures kept coming back negative.

Jump to Christmas 2016. My beautiful son, wrote me a poem about this time in our lives together. He made this gift . . . his words, his creation, our moment captured.

Forever I will remember that “Come Monday it’ll be alright . . for come Monday I’ll be holding you tight.”

Peace,

Teri

Goals and Self-Care

Facebook post from January 3, 2017:

 

Goals for 2017 include continued self-care, cultivating peace in my life, experiencing continued connectedness. This morning before heading off to work, I took some “T” time.

I’m currently reading 13 different books but my favorite is “The Gifts of Imperfection”. If you’re looking for an amazing read, pick this book up.

I also wrote in a Gratitude journal, with today’s instructed subject: “To learn from our enemies is the best way to loving them: for it makes us grateful to them” . . . not that I have “enemies”, per se, but a difficult subject to write about in a grateful way, nonetheless.

Finally, I took a few minutes to mindfully color. Just breathe and settle into my day.

Take care of yourself in some way today. Whether big or small. You are so very worth it ?

I wish you a life filled with an abundance of joy, tranquility, laughter and love.

Peace,

Teri

#traumainformedcare #hopeforhealing #hope #healing #unicornshadows

My Muse Rocks

Holy wow!

I did it.

I finished the book proposal. I told myself I wanted it done mid-January. And, look at that. Turned it in to my editor by Jan 15th! This sample chapter turned out even better than I had dreamed. Inspiration was flowing through me. #mymuserocks

As I conversed with my amazingly talented editor, Alee, earlier today, I have to admit I was pretty blown away by how this process is unfolding. It’s as if the stars are aligning and I am seeing the path before me in this magnificent illumination of light. As Alee and I tossed around branding ideas for my new website, the themes for all of my endeavors came into clear focus: healing, hope, empowerment. She loved the idea of “hope for healing” which was the Tristate Trauma Network’s fall conference Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) banner theme.

This book, Unicorn Shadows . . . a story of hope.

Our Sammie therapy dog role and our Sammie’s Bundles of Hope Project . . . healing through therapy animal services and a hope-inspired project.

My podcast, The Healing Place Podcast . . . a safe space to share stories of healing and hope.

My upcoming speaking tour with a brilliant friend and leader in the TIC arena . . . continued sharing of the “hope for healing” message.

These four areas of concentration are practically full-time jobs in and of themselves. Yet, I find myself energized and in a constant state of creative movement. I should be exhausted! However, here I sit, mulling over digital makeover suggestions; talking to the President/CEO of Hay House Publishing, Reid Tracy, on the phone during a Q&A session tonight; creating new business cards with my soon-to-be-released www.teriwellbrock.com displayed in happy purple font; designing labels for our Sammie’s Bundles of Hope “Hope Folders” for care-givers;  and editing my sample chapter in the book proposal.

This is really happening.

My suggestion to anyone out there hoping to make their dreams come true . . . take one step toward that dream right now. Research something. Make a call. Send an email. Write your short-term or long-term goals out. Put your dream out into the universe on social media. Then tomorrow . . . take another step. And the next day . . . yet, another. And do not stop moving toward that dream until you are sitting in your favorite space one evening, around 8:15 pm, and your heart starts to smile as your soul whispers to it, “This is really happening”.