Tonight, I’m going to write about something that I should’ve never had to tell my best friend.
On the night of August 17th, I heard my phone vibrating and saw the familiar “mommykins” pop up on the caller id. “I’ll let it charge some and call her back,” I thought to myself. Giving that my phone was at 3% I didn’t think that could hold up a conversation with my mom. As I let it charge, I missed two more calls along with three texts in our family group text. I get back to my phone and pick it up and the first words that I see are “Barry” “wrecked” “motorcycle”. I immediately freeze and so many thoughts race through my head. “Go tell Jessie” “Wait, no. Call mom first and get the details” So I called my mom back. She didn’t answer the first time but I got a hold of her on the second try. She said that Barry, my uncle/best friend’s dad had wrecked his motorcycle. He was on our road that I used to live on and my mom had went to the scene. Come to find out later on he hit a deer and the deer came back up and hit him and knocked him off of his motorcycle. I’ll never forget the way my mom said “I’ll tell you what they told me.” “I asked the first responders if he was okay and there response was “we’re doing everything we can” then I asked, do you think I need to get his mom and bring her to the hospital to which the police officer replied “yes”.” I was in shock. I didn’t know what to think. So I hung up with my mom and immediately told Jessie. We went to the hospital where we waited in the waiting room anxiously. Finally, when they told us that three could go see him after the CT scan, Jessie wanted me to go with her. As we walked back through triage I saw more than I bargained for but I’d do it all over again for her. I saw knots on heads that were the size of a baseball, blood on staff that didn’t belong to them, and a lot more gut wrenching bodily fluids that made my stomach feel less than pleased. We get to Barry and he has blood down the left side of his face and the right side is starting to bruise and has a rather larger cut on his forehead. His eyes are open and wandering the room as if he’s not sure where he is. I see road rash down his right arm and cuts and little road rash spots on his left hand. But for some reason, it’s different when it’s your own family. It’s not gut wrenching or sickening. It’s shocking. The nurse in the trauma bay said that the CT was fine and that their main concern was all of his facial fractures. On our way back out, I made a conscious effort not to make a squeamish face as my stomach turned because I knew those people were someone’s family members. Just like Barry was mine. After that, we went back out to the ER waiting and updated everyone. After waiting a while longer we went home, thinking everything will be okay. As I sit in family consultation room right now, surrounded by the ones I love, I have to realize that isn’t the case. The next few days were spent wondering and waiting and watching for him to come to more and more. He would squeeze hands occasionally and tears came out of his eyes when John (his son who was unfortunately in Florida working) talked into his ear through the phone. Eventually, he was moved into the Trauma Surgical Unit 3. Day 4 rolls around and I get to Sarah’s house from work and just start chatting like nothing happened. Just an everyday thing for us. She then asked me if I had talked to mom because they thought there might now be brain damage. I was shocked. Kirstie had tried to tell Jessie but she just didn’t grasp it. I got to the hospital and hurried upstairs to try to get the details from my mom before Jessie got there. When I got up there she told me that they thought there was brain damage because there’s a part in your brain that’s like a jellyfish and when trauma happens, the “heads and “legs” separate. And there’s no putting them back. They thought this is what happened to Barry due to his symptoms. And they said if day 10 rolled around and there was no more progress, they would need to make a decision. Imagine having to tell that to your best friend. And imagine having to hear that at 21 about your dad. She cried and I cried. I told her that she could go up to the room, she could go to the waiting room, or she could go home. And no one could say a word to her no matter her decision because it wasn’t their daddy laying there. She decided to go to the waiting room for a little while. This morning, August 23, 2017 I got a text from my mom that said “the mri was bad as they suspected, the doctors are coming in to talk to everyone in a little bit”. I tried my hardest to keep it together. Until I updated Kayla at work over instant messenger and she replied with “honey why are you here. You know where you need to be”. She was right. I lost it. I ran to Vickie and told her that I knew where I needed to be and I left. When I got to the hospital we all waited on John, Jessie, and Dana. When they got here, Jessie came over to me and sat on my lap and buried her head into her hand and that’s when I lost it. They told them that there was two options. They could either put a tracheal tube in and he could go to therapy and get as much of a life back as he possibly could OR they could remove all of his tubes and let him live comfortably for as long as the good Lord allowed. In that moment, when they gave that option, I looked around the room at every face that started to cry. I then realized that I was crying myself. I cradled Jessie as she sobbed. In that moment I think we all knew what he would have wished. Later that evening, John decided he was ready. I think he was tired of seeing his dad suffer when he knew he was ready. They took the tubes out but left the oxygen. As John lay his head on Barry and occasionally put Barry’s hand on his back or neck, we all sobbed. Thinking about the good times, feeling the pain that his children were feeling for them, regretting the time not spent. Whatever the reason, we were all there. Not fighting, not arguing, just there. There for each other, there for John and Jessie. That’s big for our family if you know them. A miracle. Unheard of. The nurse came in and said they were going to move him to a regular room upstairs so that we could all spend some time with him and since there were so many of us. His struggling to breathe got worse and worse. I wanted to breathe for him. My mom told John that sometimes you have to tell them that it’s okay to go. John whispered in his ear for a few minutes. He held on strong though. A few minutes later Barry took his hand and slowly, but surely he pointed straight up to the sky. We all sobbed and gasped as we looked around at each other in awe. I myself was still so confused as to why he was holding on. We all knew he was ready. A little while passed and I decided I needed to be with Jessie in the waiting area. We waited a while and then they came in around 10 and said they were moving him. We went up to his room to wait on him and I was in the room plugging up the radio that mom got for him and trying to find something that he’d like. As they wheeled him in, my stomach became a huge knot. I looked at Kirstie and shook my head. He was yellow. I went and told Angie and someone called John who immediately ran up. Jessie went and put her head on his chest and just cried. John ran in and started talking to him, thanking him for all he’d done. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to watch; I couldn’t imagine going through it. We all hugged each other, cried, and were there for each other. I think one of the hardest things through all of this is that I wasn’t just there for my uncle. I was there for my best friend’s dad and my uncle. I cannot even begin to imagine what they went through, are going through, or how they felt. I also can’t imagine how my sister felt. She had so much hope and faith that he would wake up. Which he did, just not here. Not in this nasty old sinful world. He woke up to the pearly gates of heaven and I truly believe that. I also can’t begin to imagine what my mamaw is going through. We’ve always said that she’ll outlive us all but no one should have to bury a child. No matter the age. This story wasn’t yet completed when I started writing it. It’s been two weeks tonight since he died and I’ve just now brought myself back here to finish this. Life has somewhat moved on although he will, of course, always be with us. I have just been focusing on being there for Jessie in any and every way I can. John too but he’s back in Florida getting his stuff moved back so it’s not as easy to be there for him. I know that he was proud of them beyond the shadow of a doubt!
What idea inspires you?
The idea that there’s good in everyone inspires me. I believe that no matter what someone has done, there is good in them. And I look for that daily in everyone I’m around.
Write a poem about summertime.
We’ll just leave this one here because we’ve already established that I can’t write poems.
Write about a loved book character.
My favorite book character would have to be Miles from A Bend in the Road. He’s so great to Sarah and his son. He loves them unconditionally and I just think he’s a great book character.
Use 50 words to describe your day.
What is one moment that changed your life’s path?
The moment that really stands out to me as changing my life’s path is the day that we found out my mom had breast cancer. It’s a devastating thing that no one ever wants to and never thinks that they will hear. When it does, it turns your world upside down. I remember coming home like any other night and my mom saying “I need to tell you something.” This was unusual for her so I was, of course, concerned. I sat my things down and sat on the loveseat, she was on the couch. She said, “my mammogram was abnormal so I had to go to have a biopsy done today.” My heart sank. My mom, being my mom, replied with “I’m sure it’s nothing.” She had never been one to rush us to the emergency room for a sore throat(which we all appreciate). So I tried to trust her and hold back the tears as she showed me the big black and blue spot on her chest where they did the biopsy. I knew as soon as I hit the stairs and no one could see me, I would lose it. Sure enough, I let go of our ten minute hug and grabbed my things as I fought the first tear. I ran upstairs and cried myself to sleep that night. I went to work the next day and told my coworkers what had happened to which most replied “I’m sure it’s nothing” or “I’m sure she’s fine”. It was fine when my mom said it but I don’t like when people tell me that when I’ve just found out something is or could be wrong. I understand that they’re trying to be nice but it drives me nuts! We all spent the next week, I believe, worrying and trying to be there for my mom. I remember she went to her appointment (still not sure why she went alone and kick myself for it everyday) and sent out a group text afterwards telling us that it was cancer. I was devastated and turned my chair around and said “it is cancer” before immediately darting to the bathroom, slamming the door behind me, and bawling my eyes out quietly. No one from work ever came to comfort me. I don’t know if they didn’t know what to say or what but that’s always bothered me. I needed someone right then more than ever and felt like I had no one. On my lunch break that day, I went to my sisters where my mom, sisters, and niece were. All fighting back tears, we just talked and planned. The hospital that my mom was going to was really trying to get her to do only a lumpectomy. My mom really wanted to do a double mastectomy and make sure it was as gone as it could be. They really kept pushing her to do the lumpectomy and they were being very drawn out about getting everything started. My mom decided to switch doctors and I can’t say enough about her group of doctors at UT. They were impeccable and I don’t have a bad thing to say. There were fifteen people at my mom’s surgery all with her shirts on. To make this story a smidge shorter, my mom is a year and a half in remission and thriving. She’s my hero and the most amazing person I’ve ever met.
“No masterpiece was ever created by a lazy artist”
I love this quote. If you’re a lazy person, it shows in everything you do. Whether that be art, writing, cooking, cleaning, working, etc. Laziness shows through as just the type of person that you are.
What town or city are you grateful for?
I’m thankful for a lot of cities and towns for different reasons. I’m grateful for Sevierville because it’s where my mom gave birth to me, where I was brought home, where I went to school, where I basically grew up. I’m thankful for Knoxville because it’s also where I grew up for some time too. I’m thankful for Maryville because it’s where I’m sitting right now in my apartment looking out my window at the Smoky Mountains while I write this.
What are you excited about this week?
This week I’m excited that I don’t have to work Thursday and Friday night. I work at my second job on Tuesday and Wednesday nights now instead!