Late one evening at the end of January, Jody was transported by ambulance from the St. Thomas Hospital to Victoria Hospital in London, so that her collapsed lung could be treated better. We arrived in Emergency and stayed there for some time until her bed was ready in the Thoracics unit.
I stayed with Jody overnight, mind racing, heart throbbing, doing whatever needed to be done. Mostly just “being with” my lovely wife. As morning broke, and my head was getting fuzzy, I realized that I had been awake for 24 hours. And still there was stuff to do, people to meet, Jody to love.
As the clock struck noon, I was really fading. A nurse would say something to me, and it just wouldn’t register. People would walk by the room and they started looking like ghosts. I thought about driving home to Union for some shut-eye. I remember fingering Hugo’s keys in my pocket, truly in a state of absent mind, until I clued in to that being a ridiculous and dangerous course of action.
I could feel my mind collapsing, and I just had enough brain cells left to phone Rachelle, a friend of ours, and ask if I could get some sleep at her place. She was happy to help. We arranged a time for her to pick me up.
I wobbled my way from the nursing unit down to the Emergency waiting room, marginally conscious of people looking at me. Oh so dully, I wondered if they thought I was drunk. I spoke to someone to prove I wasn’t, and God only knows what came out of my mouth.
In the waiting room, I tried to focus on the conversation between an elderly woman and her daughter a couple of rows away, but it was a foreign language to me. And I was nodding, then jerking myself up before my body would have hit the floor.
Finally Rachelle, smiling at me. Good grief, what was she so happy about? I told her I was in trouble but that didn’t faze her. From the passenger seat of her car, I surveyed a strangely unfamiliar London as we headed west on Commissioners Road and then swirled through a bunch of side streets.
I think we sat at her kitchen table a bit, and I think I drank something, but I don’t really know. Rachelle led me to a guest room in the basement, and I pretty much fell into bed. Some inside voice said “You can’t sleep in your clothes” so I struggled with buttons and zippers before falling onto the pillow again. It was 5:00 pm.
Five minutes later, I was still awake. I sat up, terrified. “I’m going to die of no sleep!” That I remember – exactly those words. “I have to find Rachelle and tell her I’m dying!” It was so real. I was dying. I pressed down on the mattress to get up and tell her … and then collapsed back on the bed. Breathing fast and shallow. Eyes stunned open. Hands shaking ……
And then sleep … for many hours.
And today, I remain alive. Having had a glimpse of oblivion. Oh my.