2003-06-19 | 8:34 p.m.
I've made several entries here about the death of my patients. The lady who was fragile as a butterfly's wings, but who's heart pumped on and on long after the rest of her body lost warmth and elasticity. The man who's son came in and stayed at his side until he stopped breathing. The lady with the beautiful, almond-shaped eyes. And, the someone who embodied 'class.'
Tonight I'm marking a page for Jeffrey. He was so well loved by his family, Diary. Had a wicked sense of humor, good taste in wives and buddies, and, he was a very good Daddy.
For my part, I know I'll never forget playing in the huge yard at my Grandmother's house with Jeff and company. He was the oldest of his siblings. So was I. We agreed on almost everything. As we played in the summer heat, out in the ever-changing dirt parking lot in Salem, either one of us was likely to be called on to retrieve the kickball from the prickers, and, honestly we were most likely the ones that sent it there. We could be counted on to do the hard stuff so that the 'kids' could keep playing, keep getting sweaty and dirty, keep riding our bikes in a big circle under the sun, and then taking a break in shade of the mullberry trees.
Jeff is gone, but he had one last, hard, heartbreaking thing to do before leaving the rest of us to toe the dirt in the summer sun, waiting for our turn. He had to say goodbye to his little boys, his tiny nephew who he only just met 6 months ago, and his wife. I had a chance to see him before he died. It was at the end of what must have been a horrifically long day for his brother, and the others planted outside of the private hospital room.
As we both grew into adulthood, concerned with heavier things than practical jokes on our aunt who was terrified of snakes, and the like, our views on spirituality grew towards opposite ideas, and we eventually found ourselves going years between polite visits at milestone family gatherings. No more inside jokes to share. Not even a half-hearted promise to try and get together more often.
When I got home from seeing him, I did the only thing I knew Jeff would want me to do. I put "Shrek" in my TV/VCR and watched it like we used to watch World of Disney every Sunday when we kids. Lying on the floor, straining to keep my grainey eyelids open, and all giggles. And I prayed that he wouldn't suffer even a minute longer than absolutely necessary. Thankfully, he was able to fall asleep in death less than 48 hours after the doctors stopped life support.
Bye Jeff. We'll miss you.