Some things I remember in blazing color. The black and red jacket he wore with his blue jeans and brown cowboy boots as he hurried to leave the house. The sequined dress with with those ridiculously high pink heels I tried on that morning for one of the upcoming Christmas parties and carelessly tossed on the counter til later, and then then threw out months later, never worn, because the sight of them made me sick. The red and green and white and blue Christmas decorations I had bartered with him to bring upstairs earlier that week in exchange for skipping school. And because he helped me decorate that year, I didn’t have it in me to take the decorations down after, and when someone else did months later without asking, I went absolutely batshit lunatic crazy.
Some things I remember in sound. His cowboy boots clicking on our slate floor. His deep laugh. His promise to bring me a coffee. The 100 sizzling pierogies I was assigned to make for the food stand at the basketball game. Demetra’s laughter on the phone sharing her college stories. The TV on in the basement. Hearing my name called at halftime on the bleachers when the phone call came saying Damon’s hurt. Damon’s hurt. Hearing my own voice alone in my car going 90miles per hour to the hospital screaming, screaming: Do not do this to me.
Some things I just remember in snippets. Picking Talia up from her friend’s house that morning, letting her drive a few blocks, without a permit. Stopping at CVS on the way home. Damon giving me a bear hug before he walked out the door. The little girl I met in the food stand at the basketball game, telling me her name, laughing as I teased her. The little girl who had a father I’d never met, a father who was a neurosurgeon and just hours later saved my son’s life against all odds.
I remember being wrapped in white hospital blankets on the floor of the waiting room and drinking glass after glass of water. I couldn’t get enough water. I remember the waiting room filled with so many friends, kids mostly, so many who held the walls and ceiling from crashing in on me.
I remember the chaplain giving me Damon’s belongings and asking me if I needed spiritual guidance and me telling him he smelled of death and to get away from me.
I remember someone rubbing my back and saying talk to Damon, Karen, you have to talk to him. And so I talked inside my head and said don’t leave me Damon. Please don’t leave me.
I remember the gold hoop earrings on the mean nurse who couldn’t take a second to explain anything to me. I remember the red hair on the other nurse who said to me he’ll be fine and turned to my friend and said he’s not going to make it. I remember the male nurse who was in training under the gold hooped earring nurse and took the time to explain and took the time to care and took the time to smile.
I remember the neurosurgeon, that sweet little girl’s father, after hours of trying to stop the bleeding in Damon’s brain telling us we have room to hope.
Ten years ago today our lives changed in that clichéd split second. The colors dimmed and the sounds quieted. Ten years is a long time. An exhaustingly long time. Usually I use the anniversary date to cheer on all we’ve done and how far Damon has come. But this year, this 10th year, I look back and just remember that day. I grieve for what has been lost. And yet I still hope for miracles. ❤️