Written expressions of grief: Dear James
Written by Racquel Shelby on March 23, 2018
I thought about you today. I thought about you yesterday. Hell… I been thinking about you…on and off… and of course… it won’t stop. I don’t intend for your memory to fade…because outside of the one picture I took of you…your memory…our memories…. we shared together is all I have.
I will never forget the day we met. Of course… I don’t know specifically the date…but the visions of what happened are still there. If I had of known you would leave this school of life called earth before I got a chance to say goodbye… I would have documented every time we shared together.
It must have been an afternoon shift that we met. You just had hip surgery. At the time… you stayed on that call light for something. I’m sure it was pain medication. Who wouldn’t be in pain after their body had been sliced like a Turkey on Thanksgiving? It was my job to check on you being the nurse assistant at the time. I introduced myself and boy did you give me an introduction!! It was from that day forward we had created a bond. I want to say our relationship began in 2008. That was 10 years ago. We have known each other prior to my marriage and prior to birthing my last two kids.
Every time you were my patient… or in the hospital… if we saw each other you would always greet me with “HEY BABY”. You had become my family. You knew about me getting married. You witnessed me being pregnant. I wanted you at both my graduations… but your health continued to decline preventing you from attending.
I hold regret in my heart. I kept saying to you and myself that I would come and take care of you. Of course…I never got around to it. Being so busy with the kids…my education…and everything else I had going on. Isn’t that everyone’s excuse? I should have made time damnit!! That is what you do when you love someone. You were my family. Our relationship had surpassed the patient and caregiver. I did try to bring you a plate of barbeque. My mom advised against it and so did my husband… because of the diet, you had in the hospital.
They said I would be breaking the doctor’s orders. They were right. So many times we had spent inside the walls of a hospital.
James… when I tried to get you some outside help for your health…why didn’t you follow through? I was going to pick you up and take you to the appointment…but you didn’t answer my call…or call me back. You could have been here longer.
The main point I want to address is the last time I saw you. It was either the end of 2015… or the very beginning of 2016. You had been dropped off in Emergency by the EMS. Looking at your face and eyes… I could see your health had taken a dramatic turn for the worse. Of course… you greeted me with the same words as you always did…” hey baby”. However… this time was different. You weren’t your regular self. You weren’t the James that demands attention with his personality, antics, and jokes. Your appearance was fragile. It looked like whoever had taken over your care wasn’t keeping you as neat and clean as you were prior. You told me you had moved out of your house and with relatives some time ago. I blamed them low key… but I don’t know the story. I just went off of what I was looking at with my own two eyes at the time. You know what… I am wrong too! I should have come to your new living space and checked it out…but I failed you too.
You asked me for some food. I went to get it. Something in me told me this was the last time I would see you. I returned and gave you what you asked of me… but I had to walk off to return to my station. When I sat down at my station… something told me to go back to you and get all the contact information I could of relatives… or whatever I could get. Problem is… I ignored that voice and kept working. You don’t know this but…I called my husband fighting back tears explaining to him how I felt and what I had saw as far as your appearance. He did the best he could to console me and I had to get it together to finish my shift. That was the last time I saw you.
You were like an uncle to me. You were special. I miss you and I can’t do a damn thing about it! I messed up. I had come up with the idea to do a video mini-series with seniors telling their life story. My grandmother would tell her story and I wanted a male. My mom suggested that I use you for it. That was a great idea… so I called you. The same number you had all those years I had known you was disconnected.
I tried 2 weeks later… hoping someone had forgotten to pay your phone bill… and it was still disconnected.
My mom said if you had the phone all those years and it was disconnected you may had passed. An uncomfortable feeling had come over me. One I tried to push away. I began to google you to see what I could find. All I found was a dead end. Then the next day I went to work and searched you without going into your chart and found out you were deceased. I began to feel paralyzed with sorrow. I have never lost anyone close to me… while I have been old enough to process what loss is.
I’m sitting at my desk and the warm tears begin to fall. I am mad because I can’t make them stop. I’m not emotional. On top of that… I had coworkers around! I didn’t feel like talking about it…but I couldn’t fight away the soon to be evidence on my face that would prompt questioning. I tried typing in your info again a few times… hoping it was a fluke. Nope! The word in bright red kept reading DECEASED!!!
Where does that leave us, James? I’m sorry I didn’t do more. I know you loved me and I love you just as much. Sometimes we get so used to things… we begin to take it for granted…forgetting that tomorrow just could be the end. If I could bend time and pull you through for just a few hours…so we could chat again… I would. The problem is I can’t.
Please forgive me! I know you have. Please watch over me and fight for me up there. I know you do and will continue. This world lost such a wonderful person that I had the pleasure of meeting. You never know when you walk through a door who may change your life forever. That is what you did. You changed me forever. Forever I will think of you. I’m just happy to know you are no longer in pain. You can smile again, run again, and I know you’re making someone laugh up there! Tell my great-grandma I said hello. I miss you. Come visit me in my dreams … so I can hear you say “hey baby” just one more time. I love you and I always will.
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