Chapter Nine: Expansion
The next day Steve’s nurse was the same one from the day before. As his sister, mom, and I gathered around his bed doing our usual hand holding and foot rubbing, she seemed to be a little irritated with us, like we were in her way. Eventually, she told us we all needed to take a break. We were always touching him and she thought he needed some space. She told us to leave for a few hours and come back after we had some time to relax and take care of ourselves.
I was a little put out by her comments and suggestion. She didn’t know the journey we had been on with him. She didn’t know how much he needed us. I wanted to stay, but something in me told me we needed to honor her request, so his mom, sister, and I left the room, not happily, but we left. We went back to our sanctuary at Taylor House and sat on the porch in the warm May sun, drinking hot tea, and trying to relax.
After three hours had passed, Steve’s sister and I felt we had been gone long enough, so we headed back to the hospital. As we entered the ICU and were walking past the nurses station, a nurse stopped us and told us that before we went into Steve’s room he needed to tell us something. Our hearts stopped. We didn’t know what to expect. Then he said, “He’s off the ventilator. It happened around 2:00pm.” It was now obvious to me that Steve’s nurse had known this was going to happen and had been wise enough to get us out of the way.
His sister and I hugged each other in elated disbelief. We rushed into his room where he lay still sleeping, cheeks sunken in from where the ventilator tubes had been for so long, looking like he had survived a war, frail and thin, but he was breathing! I kissed his forehead and told him what a good job he had done. Then, in the quick pace that I was just beginning to get used to in the hospital, they transferred him to another room, a room where people don’t die, but begin to live. It was May, 23rd; the day Steve took his first breath in his new life..
The new room was down the hall from where we had been. We called his mom to let her know and she came rushing over from Taylor house. His step dad was getting a flight and was scheduled to arrive the next morning, while his cousin Craig and his family had arrived at 2:00 that afternoon, at the exact time Steve took his first breath. The family was gathering to celebrate the miracle we had all been praying for.
That night we dined at Taylor house with family and then fell into bed exhausted from the day’s events. As we slept deep and hard, filled with relief, cousin Craig spent the night in Steve’s new room, telling stories to a now awakened Steve, listening to Steve sing crazy drug filled songs, laughing at jokes that could only come from another world; not really understood, but greatly appreciated, and holding the hand of a man who had travelled to places far beyond our world.
The next day we would begin the process of healing. It was going to be a rough ride, but a ride we were all very willing to take. Life had just gotten bigger.