We Will Always Be Here For Each Other

December 1, 2009
We Will Always be here for Each Other

The aged and withered corpse shivered with fear as it lay upon the frigid metal bed. The man who had once been before was no longer a man, but a shriveled vegetable, struggling to fight off a termite. The amassment of tubes running throughout his body was gruesome and disturbing, and he was ashamed. The inability to mutter a word filled his heart with defeat as well as sorrow, for he prayed that they were aware of how much he truly loved them.

As the extended family arrived at his uninviting house from various states, they all shuffled into the room with hesitation. Suddenly, the reality of what the internal termite was capable of doing became palpable. The adults drew near with the desire to comfort him and the children followed in fear because they did not recognize their grandfather. They would all whisper into his wrinkled ear promising that he would be okay and that he could defeat the termite, but everyone was well aware that these were hopeless lies. As he patiently waited for his ticking clock to cease, his decrepit lungs collapsed due to their fragility from the sticks of pungent fumes of which he willingly inhaled. The women would recite continuously, “We are a family. We must be here for each other.” The men would stand behind their wives and attempt to restrain their tears in order to appear strong for their family. The children would hide because they were at a loss for words and once again the women would reluctantly state, “We are a family. We must be here for each other.” Day after day visitors would hesitantly wander into the room in search for progress. Sadly, the truth was that day after day his soul was gradually slipping away.

The distant sirens pierced everyone’s ear drums as they sped closer and closer. The old man struggled to point to his throat and signaled that he was incapable of breathing. The family assured him that help was on its way, but inside they silently began to grow with panic. Six bulky men and one slender woman came swiftly bursting through the front door and rushed into the room. The children stared at the strange silver boxes that they carried and moved closer with curiosity to catch a glimpse of what they contained. Needles the size of wooden pencils were being pricked and roughly forced into the poor man’s frail skin as his flesh began to fade to an ash gray, then a muggy blue, and then to an ash gray once more.

Suddenly the paramedics packed up their silver boxes and wheeled the old man out of the house and into the emergency vehicle. The women and children quickly piled into their own cars and followed the truck to the hospital. There was an eerie dead silence that filled the air and the women would remind the children, “We are a family. We must be here for each other.” The dreadful drive felt as if it were the end of the world, and the passengers were aware that every bump in the road was excruciating for the man. Once they finally arrived, the paramedics took the man to the intensive care unit and abandoned the petrified family members in the chilled lobby.

It was now midnight and there was still no news of what condition the old man was in.
The children’s eyes were weighed down by sleep as exhaustion overcame their bodies. The women were all stirring about the lobby, anxious to be filled in on the drama. Three more hours passed when finally a nurse with rich brown locks of hair walked slowly and sluggishly toward the family. Everyone’s faces lit up with hope and then she bared the painful news that the man’s lung had collapsed and that he must remain in hospice. It was as if a sharpened knife had stabbed their hearts. Tears began to fill the children’s eyes and they were scolded once again, “We are a family. We must be here for each other.” No one had the nerve to say it out loud, but they all knew that it was time to pay their respects and say goodbye.

They were sent into a dark family consoling room that had chairs and an essential box of Kleenex. In groups at a time, the family members went into the hospital room to say goodbye. The last members to enter were the old man’s daughter and granddaughter. There were what seemed like thousands of plastic cords penetrating his body and hundreds of tubes going down his throat and out his sides. It was heart breaking to see him like that, but they knew deep down that this was not truly “him.” Although he could not see, move, or talk, he could still hear. The granddaughter bravely took his fragile hand and wept. After a few moments her mother reminded her to openly express to him how she felt. Languidly, the girl leaned over close to his ear, cleared her throat, and prepared herself to say goodbye. “I will always remember you grandpa. Don’t be afraid to leave. We will take care of grandma. I love you so much. Bye.”

April 1, 2009, was the day that the family hid underneath sheets of black. The old man was finally at peace and able to rest. As he was lowered into the ground, two soldiers folded the American flag and proudly handed it to his wife. That was the moment when all the women had lost their strength. Despite their embarrassment, they broke down and continuously sobbed, only to find their children courageously stating, “We are a family. We will always be here for each other.”

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