An interview diary of the hardest time in my friend's life. (To be read in order, starting at post 'One')
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Ben's mom Marie called me pretty late. I've only ever spoken to her twice, once at their wedding and right now.
MR: Yes hello. Is this Craig?
CS: Yes it is.
MR: Would you be able to come to the hospital? There's been an accident.
CS: Is everything ok? Is someone hurt?
This woman, basically speaking with a stranger, seemed so reserved prior to this moment. She must have been dealt more than she could bear. Her voice was saturated with it. Every syllable dripped with sadness. She simply said,
MR: Please, I think you should just come.
CS: I'll be right there.
I hung up the phone. Something washed over me. I saw Izzy and Ajax, and felt a sacrificial love for them that I can't explain. Their lot in life has been so difficult lately.
When I located the wing of the hospital Ben was on, I came across his parents. His mom was holding a very tired Ajax. He must have been exhausted. Poor guy looked all cried out.
Ben's dad Steven put his hand on my shoulder.
SR: Craig, there's been an accident. Ben was driving drunk we think, and ran into someone. He's had a brain injury. He just fell asleep, he's been in and out since we got here.
CS: Oh no.
SR: That's not all Craig.
He sighed, looking down.
CS: Is the other driver ok?
SR: Yes, she managed to be unhurt, thank goodness.
Ben must have woke up again. He was shouting. It caught me way off guard.
BR: Izzy! Izzy!
I heard a commotion. What was he doing? I had to check. To make sure he wasn't hurting himself or scaring Izzy.
BR: Izzy, get down from there right now!
What on earth?
I looked in his room. He was lying down and was surrounded by machines and wires and tubes. Some serious nurses were beside him. His head was bandaged and he had not been cleaned since the crash, as he still had some blood on his face and arms.
I felt like taking charge and spoke to his father.
CS: We should get Izzy out of there. This is too much for her.
SR: Craig... She's not in there...
Something inside me became ajar. Something was not right about this. I felt anxious and a little nauseous. They weren't talking. What were they waiting for?
SR: She.. was in the back ... seat. She's...
My heart sank and my stomach felt like I was falling.
CS: Is she in this hospital or the childrens?
I looked at Ben's parents. They were both looking at me, the sadness in their eyes... I hardly knew them, but I've never seen anyone look so beaten up inside. I had too look away, because their eyes were giving away something they didn't want to say. Not out loud.
CS: I don't want to know.
They didn't have to tell me. I figured it out. But there was some doubt lingering, like maybe, just maybe I was wrong. Please let me be wrong. My head was feeling cloudy.
SR: She's gone.
The last bit of hope fell away when I heard those words. Tiny white dots appeared in my vision. I could see Ben's dad's face, then increasingly more dots.
Ben started assertively speaking.
BR: Agnes, could you come in here for a minute?
White and black dots, tiny patterns. Taking over my vision. Beautiful chaos. An electric smell. My face was numb. I was thinking about my numb face when I fainted and hit the floor. I don't know why I remember that.
I awake in the chair. My head stings and throbs. I feel pressure in my heart but I don't want to cry. I feel like there's something to do, that I can't let go yet. I hold it in.
I walk over to Ben's room, giving an assuring nod to Ben's parents on the way. The nurses are leaving the room as I enter. He's looking to his left, out the window. It's night, and you can see some of the skyline. As I get a closer, I can see that his eyes are welling up with tears, and he blinks them away. I think he sees my reflection in the dark window and turns to look at me. He looks worse emotionally than physically.
I speak softly.
He hesitates to speak. I suppose he's thinking. I wish he hesitated longer. He speaks quite slowly and quietly.
BR: Do you remember when I said I wish I believed in heaven so I could join Agnes?
BR: Well now I wish there was a hell so I could pay for what I did to my little girl.
I can't talk.
BR: You know... your first child... there's something so special about your first. We had a bond. It was unlike anything I've ever known. It felt spiritual or something. I cared about her so much... When I woke up in the car... she was on her knees in front of the seat beside me. I thought it was weird that she was in the front seat. She's never in the front seat. I was dazed, and I couldn't figure out how she got there. I didn't really know we crashed even. What a weird way to sleep, I thought. I should wake her up and put her in the back seat, so she's not sore when she wakes up. I called her name real quiet. Izzy... Izzy...
What he said next frightened me a bit. He looked back to the window and said quite demandingly,
BR: Izzy! Izzy! Get down from there right now!
He paused. He started speaking as he was before, but I was having trouble paying attention because that episode caught me off guard. He just continued where he left off.
BR: ...and she didn't wake up. So I brushed her cheek, and right away I got worried. I went to turn her face towards me and...
I did not want to imagine what she looked like lifeless.
CS: Please... stop.
He waited before speaking again.
BR: I saw Agnes. It was her there, looking back at me. But she wasn't dead. She was... crying. I stared at her face. Her face was saying 'how could you?' I just felt it, you know? I could see in her eyes that 'we', what made us one when she was alive, was broken. I broke it. And Agnes was gone, and I stared at the back of my little girl until help came. I saw what was most precious to me, taken away. I remembered her face, every freckle, her fine hair, and her tiny ears and cute nose. Her eyebrows, her chin, her mouth. I remembered her exactly as she was. I watched as they took her out of the car and... saw what I did to her...
CS: Really, please don't.
He cried these words
BR: I hurt her so bad, Craig. I'm so sorry...