Saturday, August 20, 2011

We Pulled the Plug (Part 1)

    Two trees stand at the back of my house, guarding it through the days and nights.  One is a massive willow, with branches reaching all the way to the ground like overly-long warriors' arms.  It's the heart of my town; I swear that tree is powerful and endless like time.
     The second tree is a wisp of a thing; it causes me to worry that the winds might take it away.  It's over eight years old, and still struggles to grow.  
    Anyway, I stared at those two trees, devised and weighed the differences between them.  The little tree has always reminded me of Zeke because there's something wrong with it, and it will never be like other trees no matter how hard I hope and pray.  The big tree reminds me of myself, because it's always encouraging the little tree to be strong.
    I blinked back tears, willing anything to take the pain away. 
    "Why is he hooked to all those machines?" The Hippie asked, breaking me away from my thoughts.  Somehow she'd found a bunch of pictures of Zeke, and she wanted answers.
    "He only had one good lung."  I turned to her, putting my back to the trees beyond the window.  "He wasn't well, Honey, so the machines helped him breathe."
    "Why did they stop working?  Machines hardly ever stop."
    "It's not that they stopped.  Daddy and I decided . . ." A knot formed in my stomach, how could I explain my actions to a seven-year-old?  "We had to unplug the machine.  People call it 'pulling the plug.'"  The moments flashed through my mind.  I remembered his death, his life.  How I had to be strong even though I was only nineteen.  I almost need to read my journal again, just to remember the amazing things that happened to confirm we'd done the right thing.  Every once in a while, I just need to remember the miracles God brought our way.
    But still, why did she have to ask so many questions, and why after eight years, does it still hurt?
    The Hippie's face grew red.  She balled her fists.  "What?  He could still be here, but because of you, because you wanted him to die, you took him away from me!  I wanted an older brother, always have.  But you took him away from me."
    She didn't understand.  I know a seven-year-old is too little to know about life, pain and death.  She couldn't understand how fast I had to grow up, feeling like an old lady in a teenage body.  Yet her words stung deep.  
    She ran into her room and threw herself on the bed.  "I'm so mad at you," she said.  "I wanted an older brother!"
    And I wanted to keep my son!
    "He was in so much pain.  If you were hurting everyday and always would be, would you want to stay alive. . . on machines?  Like when you have to poop really bad?  Imagine feeling that pain forever."
    (Sorry for the graphic-ness, The Hippie just hates pooing, so it was the perfect reference.)  
    "Yeah, I'd rather be alive. And Zeke felt that way too.  You took his life
. . . you did.  And you didn't even give him a choice."  I closed her door, and my baby Hippie, the healthy, rainbow baby I'd had after Zeke, fell asleep in her clothes.
    How can I explain how much her words hurt me? How my own latent fears, came to the surface again?  
    After I got all my other kids to sleep and even Cade, I went to watch "Wings."  I'm addicted to that show, and more than ever, I felt like I should watch it to help cheer me up.
    But before I watched it, I knelt next to the couch.  "God," I prayed.  "I'm so sad.  I know you've already given me a million confirmations that we did the right thing, but can you give me another sign?  Even something small, just to help me know we did the right thing?  I love you, God.  Thanks for everything you've given me, even if you had to take some things away."
    I sat down and clicked on the next episode of "Wings."  Netflix is a beautiful thing.
    You'll never believe what happened; here's what I watched:
    Go to seconds 1:07-1:50

    I cried then; the words hit me so much.  Everything they said went straight to my heart as if God Himself spoke to me.  The point is that Zeke did take a turn for the worst during the night.  That's when the nurse called to tell me we should let him go.  He probably would have been a vegetable if we kept him on machines.  And if by some stroke of luck, he wasn't a vegetable after everything he'd gone through, he would have been miserable for the rest of his life.
    I rewound to those words again, "You did the right thing . . . you did the right thing."
    I turned down the TV's volume and gazed through the back window.  Maybe it was a sign.  I smiled with tears skirting the edges of my lips.  
    I noticed then, it was dark outside, even though the porch lights shone on my special trees.  Light danced across the leaves.  The branches drifted back and forth in what seemed like the beginning of a storm.
    I scrolled to the weather channel and gaped as the news paraded across the screen.  Our city was about to have the worst wind storm of the century.  Winds were predicted to get up to 80/85 mph.  
    I looked at my little tree and death rode on its branches.  That tree reminded me of Zeke.  I couldn't imagine it toppling over and leaving me too.  
     As I stared, the winds worsened. The trees rocked and shook.
    "Oh, God," I cried.
    You'll never believe what happened next.
    To be continued tomorrow . . .

    On a side note, I'm thinking of doing a blog tour for "The Golden Sky" coming out on 11/18/11.  If you're interested in letting me do a serious or humorous guest post, interview me as an author, or review my book on your blog, please contact me here: ecboutique05(at)gmail(dot)com


  1. My heart breaks for you, but once again you are so eloquent and profound. You certainly have a gift with words. As parents, we are always filled with doubts, but usually we get second chances. This time you didn't. If it is any comfort, I was a nurse for years and I always admired the people strong enough to let their loved ones pass on rather than keep them hooked to machines. I had a crazy experience when I had a horrible car accident years ago and I know there is a better place after this life. I would take going to that peaceful, lovely place any day over life support and I am sure Zeke is grateful for the decision you made.

  2. Thank you so much for this. Your words meant the world to me. Really, I needed to read that today.

  3. Woman you know I will do that for you. Say when and where. As for the Zeke part my heart always aches when you bring this up. I'm sending big hugs your way. Thanks for being such a wonderful person..

  4. Thanks for sharing that Elizabeth it is both powerful and empowering. Love and light to you and yours.

  5. This is a wonderful post, your struggle comes through, and I love the connection to the trees. I can't say I know what that must have been like, I truly cannot imagine having ti make that decision, yet I am convinced you did the right thing. Zeke is in a much better place right now, he's not suffering anymore. Sending you good thoughts today :0

  6. Dear Elisa--I feel your pain. We lost a child, too. He died in utero just before his due date. That was 50 years ago & he has never been forgotten. Had he been born alive, I can only wish I would have had the strength to make the decision you did. You ABSOLUTELY did the right thing. I'm sending you a big e-hug!

  7. first read, and first interrest to your post..
    greeting for me from Indonesia..

  8. I meant every word, Elisabeth. I sat at many bedsides with people that were ready to leave this world. I always felt bad for the family, because they would miss their loved one, but I rarely felt regret for the person passing, because I am absolutely 120% certain that we all go someplace wonderful once we are done here on earth. Believe me, when I was on my way out after my wreck, I did not want to come back. It was that lovely. You gave Zeke a wonderful gift when you let him go and only as a mother can I appreciate the sacrifice of your decision. I admire you deeply.

  9. The crazy thing about all of this is the signs that happen before or after, or even like this "Wings" episode. Boggles my mind.
    Even though I never knew Zeke, I feel like, just from reading your journal and knowing you like I do, a part of him is with me too. He came into this world for a reason, and even though he struggled, he made a difference with his life. And that, my dearest friend, is such an amazing thing. In those short months, he impacted the world. Not many of us can say that, and I am lucky to have a friend brave enough to let go and move from incredible sadness to hope for a future better simply because he came into your lives. Missing you.

  10. Elizabeth this is a gorgeous post. I was so moved by your story, by your trying to explain the unexplainable to your daughter and the feelings of doubt. And then to watch that show and be stunned by hearing those words, it gave me goosebumps. Just gorgeous, thank you so much for sharing your story.

  11. You did the right thing. You did. I've been in a situation where we had to make that decision - and it's the worst ever - but you did the right thing. *hugs*

  12. Oh, my left me hanging!!! What about the tree. I guess I'll have to come back tomorrow. I've never seen Wings before. I'll have to watch it now.

  13. I tried to follow your blog, but your widget is being weird. So is mine. :(

  14. I would love for you to do a guest post on my blog! Although I don't visit your blog as often as I should, I have always loved your posts when I'm here. Every story has struck a chord with me and I think you're one special lady!

  15. Okay, lot's of things now! 1. I wish I had Netflix. 2. I miss Wings. 3. It was your sign! You are an amazing person and of course you did the right thing. My 7 year old would have said the same exact thing. They really don't understand how their words affect us.

  16. Once again Elizabeth, I am humbled by your talent for creating a tapestry of words, but even more than that, your life experience that so clearly defines it. I do not pretend to imagine what you have lived through, but from this mom... here's a (((HUG))) for you. May you always find comfort in His Arms.

    Hannah :)

  17. Elizabeth, I am speechless after reading this post. I don't think I've ever been through anything this serious, so I can't even pretend to understand, but I'm sure you did the right thing. Thank you so much for sharing this, it put my world in perspective.
    Love and hugs.

  18. Great blog! Please come check mine out too. Just getting getting started. (-:
    HTTP: //

  19. Thank you for sharing these intense moments of your life. I've always thought that losing a child would be the most intense pain a human could experience. And the clip...the universe works in mysterious ways! I'd love to talk to you about guest posting on mamawolfe!

  20. Your words today are the burning bush of divinity. All of us who read it stand on holy ground, with our sandals off. Awe and gratitude in our hearts. Awe for the mystery of such love and gratitude for your courage.
    Peace within and without. Above and below. Before and after. Peace

  21. Left a comment yesterday that apparently didn't take. I admire your courage and honesty and someday so will your daughter. Thank you for the powerful post. JP McKinney

  22. Eliza, know this, God uses any means possible to talk to us. Yes, believe it. I do. In October 10th I will tell everyone why on one of my posts.....kt

  23. Thank you so much, everyone. Your comments mean a ton to me. And as for your support about my book and letting me guest post--THANK YOU! I'm so excited :0)

    I'll be looking forward to that post.