I should’ve been on the mend after discovering the box in the attic, and for a short while I was. I could go into great detail about how things took a turn.
I could talk about the day I received the letter from the transplant clinic two months after Nicole’s death, and the panic I felt in realizing I’d forgotten to tell them she was gone. If you had the nerves for it, I would explain my horror at opening the letter to find that it was not an approval for the transplant as I’d expected, but a rejection.
If I thought you wouldn’t judge me, I’d tell you what I considered doing to my own flesh after reading the letter and the shock and embarrassment I felt that such a thing had so effortlessly entered my mind.
If I had the stomach for it, I could tell you that after I read that rejection letter, I immediately envisioned Nicole lying in her casket; her skin dark and dry; her face, swollen, the backs of her bony hands—which were folded in front of her—riddled with needle marks. I could describe the large scab from the oxygen sensor staring up from the middle of her forehead like the eye of a Cyclops, or how the tape that had held the tube in her throat for over a month had left rope-like burns up each cheek, like she’d been slashed across the face with a whip. I could explain that in two short years, this is what my daughter had been reduced to; this is what I had allowed to happen.
I could mention the lady at the funeral home who asked, “Was your daughter in an accident?” And how I wanted to say, “Yes, you could call it that.”
I could also mention that with the arrival of this rejection letter, I began hating the doctors; they had colonized every corner of our lives for two solid years, and now that everything was decimated, and shattered, and hanging off the hinges, they’d simply returned to their own pleasant countries, leaving me here alone to sift through the rubble.
I could say all these things; instead, I’ll just mention that of everything that went wrong, I myself am most to blame because every time Nicole cried and said, “Ma, I can’t do this,” I insisted that she could, that we could-together, and that she should get up and keep fighting because it would all pay off in the end. But to reach "the end" and discover that there had never been a cavalry coming to save us, that those two horrid years had been for nothing, and that if Nicole weren’t already dead, this would’ve killed her, was too much for me to bear.
Grief had rounded up two partners (Guilt & Anger), and the three of them together were formidable foes. No amount of praying, no amount of counseling, and no amount of sleeping could loose me of their grip. I fell into a state of complete and utter blackness that persisted through the rest of the year.