Regarding July 5, 2001

The next part is pretty vague.

When did Eden arrive? I think it was Wednesday night. I think after we got home, Steve and Emily stayed here, David and I went to pick Eden up at Hobby. That part is pretty vivid. He spotted us before we saw him and bellowed out an exuberant "hey, hey" in his usual fashion.

Did we take him to the hospital? I think that must have been the case, although I really can't remember. I don't really know what I did the rest of that night. I made out the futon for Steve and I made a pallet in the living room for whoever else showed up. I think I wound up sleeping on it with Saki, our dog, and Snuffy, Jeremy's favorite stuffed animal, for all of about 45 minutes. But where was Eden?

Eventually around 5 or 6 a.m. I got a call from the hospital. Ron and Becky (Jeremy's parents), Jocelin and Larry (Jocelin's husband) and Makenzie (their daughter), and Melissa (Jeremy's baby sister) had arrived at the hospital. They tried the OKC airport but by that time on the 4th of July all the flights had been cancelled so they drove all night and went directly to the hospital.

I joined them shortly thereafter. Lots of hugging and tears and explanations ensued.

About 7 a.m. Dr. Mims came back to tell us the bad news.

From the time Jeremy had been brought in, he explained, Jeremy's left pupil had been completely dilated, meaning all function on that side of his brain was completely shutdown. Throughout the evening, however, his right pupil had vacillated. Sometimes it was smaller, sometimes it was bigger. During the procedure to drain the excess fluid his right pupil had dilated completely, too, and they thought they'd lost him. But it subsided again when they went to do the angiogram.

About 4 a.m. it completely dilated again -- and it stayed that way.

"At this point, there's no hope," Dr. Mims said. "In my heart of hearts, I think he was gone by the time he hit the ground. There would have been very little pain, and then he was asleep. He's not suffering."

I've told this story so many times and I think people are always a little aghast that I tend to tell it in a rather flat, expressionless way. It's the reporter thing, I think. Telling the story has always been important in my family. It makes me feel like I'm doing something useful to be able to tell it and to tell all of it I don't have the time or energy for breaking down.

Did I break down when Dr. Mims told us the bad news? Of course. How could I not? Did I cry great huge gasping awful, somewhat high-pitched sobs? Definitely. And then it subsided. Another task to perform.

"What next?" I asked.

"Well, we'll do whatever you want us to do," Dr. Mims said.

Becky, Ron and I all agreed that there was no point in prolonging life support measures. Jeremy never wanted that. And we were all agreed, from the very beginning, that we were OK with the fact that he was a proponent of organ donation -- and an excellent candidate.

Dr. Mims explained that in order to declare Jeremy legally brain dead they would have to flush his body of the drugs that were used to induce the coma and then perform the tests prescribed by law in the State of Texas. It would take at least 12 hours, possibly more, depending on how quickly things progressed. And that there was some possibility that he wouldn't last that long -- complete life support isn't 100 percent foolproof by any means.

"Turn off the drugs," we told him.

And the vigil began.

Continued

RPJ


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