The one in which everything ends? That one.
I was in that room again, but it wasn’t the same. The baby in the crib was mine, but she wasn’t, it wasn’t her. The power went out, and the nurses and technicians were all giving the patients oxygen manually, squeezing that large ball, forcing air into that mask, but it wasn’t enough. The doctor who came in was outmatched but wouldn’t admit it. I pulled back her nightgown and a dark red spot was growing on her chest under the skin, and I thought, that’s not right, that’s not what happened. House came into the room. I had sent for him. He was real, not the character on the television show. He limped over to the crib and looked down at her and then looked at me, and then I knew. There was a lot of noise, monitors, the whoosh click of the machines. I had given her Tylenol when I put her down for her nap. Teething, I thought; that’s why she’s been so grouchy. Why didn’t I remember about the teething? The children’s Tylenol will work, but is children’s Tylenol and Infant Tylenol the same? No, I remember, it’s not, so which one? Only Tylenol doesn’t have much effect when there’s something growing in your brain. I didn’t know. How could I know? She fell asleep on her side almost as soon as I put her down, she had been in the high chair, and I gave her a Ritz cracker, only she didn’t want it, and Cheerios were chocolate chip flavored, and I thought that wasn’t a very good snack for a baby, so I pulled up the side of the crib, and then we were in the room, the hospital room, and it was happening all over. House couldn’t help her, and he couldn’t help the young boy who was seeing symbols, the one that the mean nurse had tried to turn away, but a different nurse admitted him. The mean nurse said that he had been to the ER three times with this same problem, and he couldn’t come back any more, but the boy was bleeding from his nose, and his father was frantic, so the nice nurse wheeled the boy into a room and called for House because the boy was seeing symbols in the air. This was all in the dream, and it was happening simultaneously, not linearly. And a woman who came into the room, the room that I was in, with House said that she needed to get back to her job, and I stopped her and said no. If you leave, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. She looked at me and said that I was going to try to make her feel guilty the way that House did, and House remarked that she didn’t know what guilt was. And I said to her, she was Kirsty Alley for some reason, I said, “If you leave, she’ll die, and you won’t be here, and you’ll have to live with that guilt forever, you won’t have been here when she took her last breath, you won’t remember any of this,” so she stayed in the room. So there was me and House and Kirsty Alley and the first doctor, who still didn’t know what to do. And there was the baby in the crib, and she was dying, in the same way that she dies every single time that I go into that room, and the nurses outside the room were moving very quickly because the electricity had come back on, and patients everywhere needed help, but in the room, in that room that is hell and every awful, terrible place that has ever existed, in that room, it was the five of us, and one of us was dying. And the whoosh-click kept going and going, and the only good part was that I woke up before she died this time, and when I did, I felt pain all over my body, but especially my head, and I remembered the teething, and wondered why I didn’t think of the teething when she first started to get fussy, and then I remembered that all of the Infant Tylenol in the world can’t help with that kind of pain.
Tomorrow would have been Caitlin’s 24th birthday.
This song was playing in the background of my dream: Butthole Surfers, “Whatever (I Had a Dream Last Night)”
10 thoughts on “I had that dream last night, You know?”
I ache for the words that could soothe some small part of your pain. But I’m afraid they have not yet been invented. Sometimes I think all we can do is breathe and keep on breathing. <>
Thank you for your kind words. You’re right, though. Sometimes just to keep breathing is all that you can do.
Very powerful. I’m still shuddering from just reading about it, so I can imagine how much worse it must be for you. Leah in NC is right of course, but my own experience has demonstrated the limited value of that knowledge.
I know that Leah is right, but that doesn’t stop me for torturing myself. You know how that goes. Knowledge is power, right? Not really. I mean, knowledge in the broadest sense does empower, but when it’s a toss-up between knowing and feeling, for some of us, the feeling always wins.
I fired this post off right after I got up so that I wouldn’t forget the details. Perhaps it wasn’t for sharing. I still question myself about the wisdom of sharing so much, but I needed to get it down.
Well, you know I worry about the “sharing” thing too. It’s hard to strike a good balance between privacy and being open enough to benefit from the therapeutic value of self expression.
BTW, this post has had one of my favorite songs, I Dreamed Last Night, playing in my head ever since I read it! 😀
I love that song.
My overall sense of this? YOU are punishing yourself for something that is NOT your fault.
Knowing and believing are two different things. On an intellectual level, I know. You know? But emotionally, I will never forgive myself.
But as always, thanks for reading, thanks for caring, and thanks for commenting.
I do care very much. Many of us have this piece of us that we just can’t process through – some people’s make much less sense, like my own timidity. What you wrote gives me the sense of how overwhelming it is. You cannot say that you are not an amazing writer…
I am wrapping you up in my best and softest quilt and feeding you the most soothing things I can think of… If I had a job (and therefore, money) I would come take you stand up paddle boarding…
There’s this Pink Floyd you tube video – Wish you were here – with pink skies, water, a guy stand up paddle boarding, seagulls… Very peaceful… Maybe you’ll go watch it and have a little bit of peace on this dark weekend.
Funny you should mention Pink Floyd. Izaak Mak is always posting Pink Floyd, one of my favorites. Thanks for the warm thoughts, don’t know about stand up paddle boarding, though.