I woke up to the sound of sirens deafening, bright lights shining, I was breathing in an oxygen mask, and the most gorgeous men I had ever seen were leaning over me with such care and compassion! Why are paramedics all so beautiful, I thought. One of them held my hand and the other was keeping my head cool with a compress. Another one had me hooked up to a monitor and was keeping watch on my heart rate. I didn’t understand. The last thing I remember is I fell asleep on the couch and now it seems I’m being whisked off to the hospital. What is going on, I wondered.
I could hear the tires treading on the freeway. I’m getting stronger, this is unnecessary. Take me home, I wanted to say. But I couldn’t find the words. My throat hurt and I felt dizzy. So I closed my eyes and imagined myself sunbathing on the beach. Golden brown sun kissed skin, I was in my happy place, sipping sangria and listening to Pink on the radio … when all of a sudden it went quiet and I saw faces around me. The handsome paramedics were gone and these faces looked familiar. But who were they?
It took a moment for my eyes to focus and I saw three angels around me. My mom, my Auntie Kim, and my dear friend Theresa. How sweet of them to visit, I thought. Oh but wait, where am I, I asked myself. I still couldn’t find the words. So I looked around. Bright lights. White linens. Beeping machines. Why am I at the hospital? I thought. I still couldn’t speak. There was a lot of pressure in my chest.
I was told that I was unresponsive and was brought here by ambulance. I was told the X-rays showed fluid in my lungs. I was told they wanted to keep me overnight to hydrate me and keep me stable. I was told I was extremely dehydrated, malnourished, and that I had pneumonia. I thought I was getting stronger! This is crazy talk! But then the memories of the past few days flooded back. Too many guests, constant vomiting, dizzy spells, so hard to rest with pills being shoved down my throat. I realized how tired I actually was. The only part I remember being enjoyable was a sunset visit to the beach with my mom and dad.
It was at that moment that I realized I was never getting out of this hospital bed. In my life I always lived for my “firsts”, but now I was trying to remember my “lasts”. That was my last time at the beach with my parents. That was the last movie I watched with my sisters. The last nap I took with my kitty … my mind started racing and my heart rate elevating. I didn’t know how much time had passed, but my thoughts were out of control and then next thing I remember is a nurse pounding on my chest and a room full of doctors with concerned faces. I tried to let go, but God said “Not yet, little one, your family needs just a little more time”.
It was the next day. Mothers Day. I was all alone. I was in the ICU. I was surprisingly calm. I felt warm. I felt energized. I was given a second chance! The nurses told me the ICU rules were different and only 2 guests were allowed at a time. She told me my family was waiting for me outside and that two would be let in at a time. I asked where my husband was and she told me he was in the hallway on the phone. The nurse told me I had just received a blood transfusion. It’s crazy how I don’t remember any of this! But one thing I did realize and I will never forget, is that I don’t feel any pain. For the first time in 5 months I actually feel good. In a much calmer state of mind, I peacefully dozed off.
When I opened my eyes, my mom and my sister Harmony were by my side. They were giggling and telling stories and it made me smile. Then they FaceTimed my niece and nephew who weren’t allowed in because of ICU policy. Lame. I was so delirious all I could say was “hi Shyra”, but it made them laugh so I can live with that. I love their faces. They told me about their vacation plans and that made me happy. I love vacations.
Then they FaceTimed my older sister Amber. She was in Northern California. She apologized for not being there. I told her it was okay. We were together in spirit and that was just as good. Even though miles apart, sisters are always close at heart. It was an unspoken truth, and what her and I shared didn’t need to be in person. I know she loves me and she knows I love her. So I dozed off again.
When I opened my eyes, there was my husband and my sister Havilah. They chatted about my care and Havi held my hand and asked if I needed anything. She’s so thoughtful! Mahmoud was a basket case. Rightly so. I could see it in his face. He knew I was dying. But Havi didn’t. Her face showed hope. I held on to that. I needed that hope. My little sissy always came through for me when I needed her most! Now if only I could keep my eyes open. I was so relaxed all I wanted to do was sleep. I haven’t slept well in 5 months. As much as I wanted to fight it, I started to love hospitals. Hospitals are amazing! Why was I so stubborn and against it all this time? They know exactly what I need to keep me comfortable. It was effortless. I felt happy. I was surrounded by family and true comfort.
Apparently that night my fever spiked to 103 and I was experiencing heart arrhythmia. Up and down all night. I don’t remember it though. All I remember are glimpses of my dad, of my husband, and my mom. They were by my side all night. They were worried, I could tell. But they knew I was finally in good hands.
The next morning more family was taking turns visiting me. I loved seeing their faces. I couldn’t say much. All I could do was whisper. I was floating on clouds. I remember the doctor coming in and explaining to my family that my chances were slim and I probably wasn’t leaving the hospital. He said something about overdose and organs shutting down but I couldn’t stay awake to hear the rest … that’s ok, I thought as I drifted off, I’m in good hands. I feel safe here. I’m comfortable.
Maybe I was too comfortable, because I felt my soul leaving my body. It was a feeling of relief, of letting go. But I wasn’t ready to go yet. There were still a few more lasts I wanted to experience. As I felt my soul take off, I felt someone’s hand grab mine. It was my daddy’s hand. He wasn’t ready to let me go yet either. I was so grateful for that! His touch brought me back and I opened my eyes and said “I’m not done fighting!”. I could tell by the look on everyone’s faces that they were in shock. I made eye contact with my dad and it was a beautiful moment we shared in the unspoken silence as I silently thanked him for bringing me back. Then I whispered “I’m thirsty”, and Mahmoud gave me a drink. He had tears streaming down his face. Why the theatrics, I thought. I’m fine! These people are overreacting!
I wanted to sleep again. I just couldn’t keep my eyes open! My body finally was saying yes to rest and it felt so good. Every time I opened my eyes I saw love, I saw my family, but I saw their pain too. I wanted to tell them I’m alright, that I feel no pain, that I’m not going anywhere. I wanted to tell them that I’m just changing out this body for a new one. I knew my current body wouldn’t be leaving this bed and I was okay with that. I was ready for my new body. But first, I wanted a bite from my mom’s tuna sandwich. I was so hungry! I suddenly felt chatty and energized. I was at peace with my destiny and it felt good. So I ate my mom’s sandwich, I sipped a smoothie, and I chatted with my husband and family. It was actually fun!
After 3 days of being surrounded by people in the hospital, I was ready. I didn’t want to leave, but I knew it was time. God was calling me home. This human body of mine had served its time and I was so tired. I reflected on what a wonderful life I lived. I got to travel the world. I married the man of my dreams. I had my very own kitty cat. I had my dream job, beautiful friends, and a loving family. I may have lived only a short life, but it was a good life.
I had a few precious moments alone with my mommy. We whispered together in the dark and had our last heart-to-heart convo. I love my mommy. She has been my anchor. I will miss her so much.
I waited until after dawn, after everyone left, and I took one last breath. I drifted peacefully to the afterlife. The transition was smooth. It was like gliding across the ice on figure skates. Funny thing though, I didn’t see the Pearly Gates or Chubby Cherubs …
I saw myself staring out the window of a train car. I was sitting there with my soft hands gently folded in my lap. Snow capped mountains go zipping by. Rain drops are stuck to the outer part of the window. The cows grazing in the fields look like specs at the speed the train is going. In the distance, the sun is trying to make its way through the clouds. I look down at my new body, very similar to my previous body, but this one has no tumor. The cancer is gone. The pain is gone. I’m brand new! The Girl in the Hospital Bed is healed and she’s on a one way ticket adventure to the most covetous destination of all time.