It’s been a hard few days. I expect there will be more of them in the future.
I can’t do anything for Jeff as he lies in ICU at a Birmingham hospital. I can help his wife Amy by making sure she’s taken care of when I’m around her. Did she eat? Does she need time alone? Did she get enough time with him during visitation?
But I can’t … fix … anything … here …
I knew this when she called me on Saturday, wondering what to do when he didn’t show at home on time. I knew this when she called to tell me about the hospital. I knew this when I made the drive over to Birmingham.
I can try to help Amy as her other friends have in the past few days. Phone calls, meals, hugs, reassuring words, random acts of social networking. It seemed like enough until I actually got here.
Not here as a the physical location. The corner of 6th Avenue and 18th Street, UAB Neurological ICU, 8th floor. That didn’t do it.
Here. The place where I see Jeff. That makes it harder to manage.
I can’t fix this for him, or Amy … or anyone. That hurts when it materializes in my mind, when I’m trying to be the one they lean one when they don’t know what to do next. I can be rational and dependable until that thought sticks in my mind and won’t go away.
But I keep it together … mostly. I snap a bit when the GPS sends me several miles in the wrong direction and wonder out loud what my supposedly Google Maps equipped Samsung Vibrant would look like rectally inserted into a cow. Still, keeping it together.
The visitation this afternoon was the hardest … but for many of the right reasons. He moved. He squeezed hands when Dana or Amy asked him to. He would release and move fingers. It wasn’t amazing or conclusive progress. but it’s the most anyone has seen him respond since they’ve been here.
It was only for a few minutes. It was small. It wasn’t a miracle. But it was enough to almost make me break down.
There is one more visitation tonight. I will watch my friends make room decorations, which make Amy laugh as she approves them for the wall. I will check the web for messages from friends that cannot be here. I will buy coffee for people when they look thirsty or a bit tired, and make sure my friends make it back to the hotel.
And sometime, in the dark, when waiting for sleep to come, I will probably cry. Because tomorrow I can’t, not when my friends need me to lean on when they realize they can’t fix Jeff either. But we will all try.