Greetings my fellow readers and bloggers! It’s been way too long since my last post. RN school has really taken most of my time these days, and as many of you know, it’s not easy tackling school, work, family, and church. But, we must take it one day at a time.
So, last week in class, we were asked by an instructor to write a couple paragraphs on our thoughts of end of life/death, since it is our lecture topic this week. Well, a couple paragraphs turned into 3 pages! The purpose of the reflective journal was not only just for her to read, but for us to check ourself, and see where our heart is with such a difficult topic for many. Below, I will post an exerpt from the paper, of my thoughts, and experience on dying. This is my story. ***Disclaimer, you may need tissues handy.***
I used to wonder why bad things happen to good people. I used to blame God when things didn’t go the way I wanted them to. I used to blame myself, on why I didn’t reach out to more people. I used to…
My brother Manny had just turned 31 years old, he loved to laugh, dance, and just have a good time. Anytime I was going through something rough, he would always make a joke, and always made things feel lighter. He was not perfect, but after all no one is. He was the life of the party, and filled with life! Growing up in Los Angeles was not always peaches and crème. Manny turned to other things that helped him cope with his environment. I was also living in L.A at the time, and our parents were living in rural West Virginia, where God had called them to pastor a church. Praise God for praying parents, who always encouraged and loved us no matter the poor choices we made.
One day, my brother Manny decided to leave his old lifestyle and moved across the country to West Virginia. I was so excited for his decision to finally change, and told him I would drive him to the airport myself. I picked him up about 5am to head to the airport. I thought he wouldn’t’ be ready, or flake out, because it was such a huge move! I knocked on the window to his room, to find him wide-awake, and all he could do is share the excitment of his next move! I told him if he was ready to make this life changing decision, and he hesitantly and farsightedly said he was. He was also leaving his two young children, who he loved very much, in the care of their mother.
He arrives to West Virginia, and quickly begins to get aquanted with his new home. He slowly made a 180 turn in his lifestyle choices. He quickly gets a job, and soon enough becomes a manager at a local fine dining restaurant. His life was falling into place. He starting to send any extra money he had, back home to California to his children, and started to attend church again. He paid off old parking tickets, therefore allowing him to get his drivers license, and purchase a vehicle. He was happy as can be. I was still in Los Angeles during this time but, I remember my sister calling me and telling me she took him to the DMV to get his drivers license. They asked him if he would like to be an organ donor. He asked them to clarify, not fully understanding what it meant. And so they explained to him, for example, if anything were to ever happen or say he would get in an accident, if we would like to donate his organs, and save another life. He quickly responded, “yes, I would save someone’s life.” The statement he made would foreshadow the events to take place a few months later.
I was working nightshift in an acute Psych unit in a hospital in the L.A area. About 2am, I get a call from my mom, which was very strange to me, since it was 5am East Coast time, and wondered why she would be calling me so early. She begins to share that Manny was in a car accident, and from the trembling in her voice, I knew it was bad. She said that the doctors told my parents that they needed to call the family and have them come right away. I left work early, and got the first morning flight out to D.C the next morning.
I get to the hospital, along with a few other family members who flew in, to find Manny in an ICU bed, lifeless. He was intubated with mechanical ventilation (life-support). I held his hand, and felt him say he was okay and at peace. At that moment I knew he was gone. With tears flowing down my face, I walked out the room and began to pray. My parents and family (I come from a family of ministers) prayed, and urgently sent messages out to all the pastors in our fellowship, and had everyone praying for a miracle. My family contended for a miracle, that only the hand of God can do. But, after a second EEG confirmed there was no brain activity, other decisions had to be made.
Then, the Gift of Life Program came into place. MannyBoy was an organ donor. After a week long of tests, and keeping him alive on life support, he was to become a donor.
“You were born with the ability to change someone’s life, don’t ever waste it”.
Early on Saturday morning, they would take him in the OR (Operating Room). We held Manny’s hand for one last time, and as his flaccid body lay on the bed at the doorway of the OR, we said our last goodbye.
After he passed, my siblings and I went in his room, and took home with us some of his belongings. I took a couple of Manny’s Bob Marley shirts, and his favorite “Jager” shot glass. I began to step back into a lifestyle I am not proud of. I started taking pills, smoking cigarettes & pot, and “backslid.” I was angry, hurt, and had no self-esteem. I was mad at God, on how He would allow such thing to happen to Manny after he changed his life around. I blamed the two other girls in the car with him, the driver of the car, who was intoxicated. It was a difficult season.
One night before going out to a Hollywood club, I was taking shots in Manny’s shot glass, and as I was pounding them down, I heard Manny’s voice, “what are you doing to yourself…” My lifestyle of destruction behavior quickly changed. I began to go to church again and seeked God. God is my refuge and my strength, and through everything, He was always in the midst. Even in my darkest times, God was protecting me from the many poor decisions I was making.
Two years later, my sis-in-law receives flowers from the young man who received Manny’s heart. Words cannot describe what this meant to my family. We were (and are) still healing from this. That a young man is now alive, and able to live life, because our Manny wanted to “save his life.”
There have been many situations of death I have experienced. I can say it has gotten much easier throughout the years, but it is always something difficult to go through. About 5 years ago, while working on a Med/Surg floor, I lost a patient, and held his hand as he took his last breath and went to be with the Lord. I have also had family members pass away related to drug use/misuse. Death is never an easy thing to go through. I can honestly say that like myself, many have doubted God, when these heartbreaking situations occur. The sad truth is often times, healthcare workers and other professions become “numb” to dying, as we see it all around us.
A couple weeks ago, during my OR clinical rotation for school, I was blessed to be able to witness first hand, an organ harvest/transplant surgery. Having seeing that, it has even more so brought awareness of the value of being an organ donor. My hope is that everyone would consider being one too.
So, here I am almost 4 years later since Manny went to heaven. I have been set-free, and delivered from depression/suicide thoughts, drug abuse, and promiscuity. I am studying to become what God has ordained for me to be. That despite all circumstances, and hindrances, I will reach my goal. My prayer is that people will see the light, and know that God is in control. Amen.
For more info on becoming an organ donor: