Thanks for dying
It’s happened, the phone vibrated in my back pocket and I was busy with Corey. Thought it was the bill collector or Isabelle calling again, because she always checks on me these days. But no, it wasn’t it was the hospital this time.
“Hello Mrs. Keels, this is Nurse Karen from the hospital… please call us.” Nurse Karen’s voice is stunted, she usually has a cheer to her tone. Even if it is just test results, she always sounds like she has good news.
I can hear Corey in the other room, playing hide-and-go-seek with Bruno. Bruno is a dog, that knows how to play hide-and-go-seek. I guess they are soul mates or something.
Back to the phone call. I called Isabelle first. Knowing with any news from the hospital I might have to go. She was on her way by the time I started to call the hospital. But I couldn’t finish dialing the number. I just couldn’t. It was a terrible feeling. Not wanting to know.
Ben and I have always kept the philosophy that knowing is better than putting off the problem. Like dad did when he had cancer. He refused to go to the doctor until it was too late. I knew I couldn’t hear what ever it was. It could mean that he was already gone.
Isabelle showed up shortly after I didn’t call Nurse Karen back. She was sweet in her hovering way. She made me tea, taking away the phone at the same time to give me a few more precious moments before I had to confront the truth of what Nurse Karen was going to tell me. I waited until Corey’s nap before I attempted to call again.
Time reference that was two hours between the message and the return call. Isabelle was holding my hand while I dialed the number. She has really warm hands.
“Hello Mrs. Keels,” said Nurse Karen.
“Hello Karen, how are you?” I have a habit of avoiding the actual conversation as long as possible.
“Oh how nice of you to ask Mrs. Keels, I am doing ok today. How about yourself.” She gets directly to the point when she wants to. She’s asked me the one question that can be interpreted as ‘she knows, I know, she knows that I have been stalling for two hours’.
“Sitting here in trepidation Nurse Karen.” Isabelle’s warm hand squeezes mine just a bit.
“Well, let me go get Doctor Stead so he can speak with you.” I know it is bad when the doctor has to say whatever it is, because Nurse Karen talks results and Doctor Stead talks problems.
“Okay Nurse Karen. Take your time.” I will let you know something personal diary. I hate hold music. I will probably hate it for the rest of my life because ‘hold music’ is just going to remind me of the two minutes I waited for Doctor Stead to come to the phone.
“Thank you for holding Mrs. Keels here is Doctor Stead.” Nurse Karen was quick. I couldn’t even thank her when she switched the phone lines.
“Hello Lillian it’s Bill how are you doing?” I exhaled just a little at his voice. It was more casual than I expected. When he was casual it was never bad news.
“Bill, please, what’s happening?” my voice was shaking as much as my hands were. Isabelle squeezed my hand again. She was here for me.
“Lillian, it isn’t bad, it’s just strange news I need to tell you.” I nodded even though he couldn’t see me, “Lillian a donor has been located with all the right parameters. We can use the organs to save Ben. The intestines are a match, the liver is clean, we’ve got a chance here.” I started crying then. The tears were more relief than anything else. It was a miracle.
“What is strange about that?” I needed the whole truth, because Bill’s voice wasn’t altogether happy.
“It looks like this donor might have been related to Ben somehow. Did he have a father or brother or cousin?” Ben didn’t have any family known to us.
“Ben was adopted Bill. He never found his family.” Bill’s voice grunted through the mouth piece.
“Right, yes. I was just wondering if he had looked into them this past year?” Bill was considering the fact that Ben had been dealing with his mortality in a way. I suppose people do look at their past when their life is at risk.
“He’s never mentioned it to me Bill.” Bill was quite, and then seemed to concede that we couldn’t know that answer unless we asked Ben himself.
“Regardless the man on the table is an organ donor and a perfect match. I’ve got the family’s consent. We will be operating tonight. I think you should come see Ben before he goes under.”
“Of course, I’ll be right over.” I hugged Isabelle, kissed a sleeping Corey and rushed out the door.
On the way to see Ben, I kept wondering if he would mind if the man on the table, the family he had never known, was going to save his life. I wonder if he would have objected if Bill or I had told him about the possible relation.
From how Bill was acting when I got to the room, I could tell he didn’t want to tell Ben either. I didn’t say anything. I kissed laid down on the bed with Ben. I let him hold me. Breathe me in like he always does. I kissed him and said, “You better come back to me Mister Keels.” He had that wan smile sick people have. Where they are happy but the blush isn’t on their face because their blood flow is off.
He was brave as they rolled him out the door. I staid in the room and cried softly. I even prayed, which I haven’t done in years.
A knock at the door startled me. I looked up and saw this older woman. Graying hair, a worn down smile. The ones you see when the worst moment of their life has passed and the smile is for everyone else.
“Hello, my name is Marianne, they told me that your husband was going to get some of Kevin’s organs. I just wanted… to meet someone that would make Kevin’s death…”
She was sweet about it. I wondered if she just wanted comfort or a thanks. I couldn’t restrain myself. I bolted to her and hugged her with a fierceness I didn’t know I had in me.
Maybe it was the guilt I felt and I didn’t want her to see my face in that moment. That sick human moment when I couldn’t stop thinking that I didn’t expect to be happy he was dead.