I hadn’t done any Easter shopping for my other two young children so my mom and I went out to try to get some treats and toys for the kids for their baskets. Everything was picked over and I couldn’t find malted eggs. I don’t know why malted eggs are such an important tradition except that when I was a kid we would use the waxy coating to make pastel pink and blue and white lipstick and then threaten to kiss our brothers and they’d run scared. I don’t even like the taste of malted eggs but it was tradition so we went to three stores trying to get them. In the end we settled for jelly beans and Starbursts and some chocolate bunnies. It’s embarrassing now to think that I spent such precious hours prior to her death rushing through dollar stores to find cheap candy that I don’t even like in order to fulfill an artificial expectation of an artificial tradition.
That night I slept for about five hours and then helped the nurse give Jasmine a bath and change her into clean warm jammies. Mom helped get the kids ready for church and my ex took them to our ward Easter meetings.
I held Jasmine for a while and noticed that her skin seemed cool and she was quite weak. We put her heart monitor on and she reached up to me with her tiny arms and then her eyes rolled back in her head and I knew at that moment that she was dying. I screamed and the nurse and my mom started to give her CPR. The ambulance came in just four minutes and I climbed in the back with the paramedics while they tried to get a device into her tiny throat. They didn’t have one small enough and so just kept trying to breathe life into her as we careened through town to the highway.
They were doing major construction on the two lane highway and had cut the road deeply on both sides and were only allowing single lanes of cars to go through the 1 mile construction section. Sirens blaring and no where for cars to move out of the way made for a surreal waiting game as our line snaked slowly through the construction. Finally we were at the hospital and they rushed her into the emergency room.
My mom went to the church and picked up Doug1 and the kids and brought them to the hospital but by then they’d been working on Jasmine for 1/2 hr.. I went into the emergency room and demanded that the paramedics and nurses STOP. “JUST STOP! IT’S ENOUGH! LET HER GO!” I demanded. But Doug was not ready yet and told them that I was just too emotional and to keep trying. He and another LDS man who had arrived reached in and gave her a blessing and Doug commanded God to restore her health by the power of his holy priesthood. After 45 minutes of intense effort they finally had her hooked up to a breathing machine and they decided to life flight her back to Cedars Sinai where there were more skilled doctors. I think they just didn’t want her death on their books.
So we drove the 90 miles to Beverly Hills and discussed the situation with the doctors. They told us that all her vital organs were shutting down and that they could keep working on her but the odds were not good. They told us that we needed to make a decision very soon if they were going to keep trying heroic measures to extend her life. We asked them to leave us alone in the room while we made that decision.
I begged Doug to let her go and he reminded me that he was the one holding the keys of the Priesthood and he was the one closer to God and his will. He reminded me that I was too cynical, too full of doubt and not tuning into the blessings that God had for us. I got on my knees and begged him to let her go and after 1/2 hr. the doctors knocked on the door and told us that we had to decide now. Finally Doug relented and said, “Let this be on YOUR head”.
I walked into the ICU and the nurses guided me as I removed the tubes and needles stuck in her spent little body. They weren’t allowed to remove them due to California law but I could. It was so strange, so surreal and the smells and sounds were like something out of a science fiction story.
Finally she was free of the artificial anchors and I held her as she gasped and the air that had been forced into her escaped. In that nanosecond I feared that I had made a mistake and that she was actually still trying to live, but the nurses explained that it was normal and how the body released all that was forced inside during those traumatic hours before her death.
Mom, Doug, and I took turns holding her until rigormortis set in about 20 minutes later and her arms and legs started to splay out and her body stiffened. We had them put her in the morgue and then we came home to our two kids and hugged them close. The lemon and orange trees were blossoming and the air smelled so sweet. We had a Jasmine vine climbing up the front porch and it too was heady with intoxicating sweet blossoms. Finally there was peace. Easter should be about Peace.
- The name has been changed to prevent you from finding this guy and kicking the crap out of him for the guilt trip he put his wife on.
That singular experience of losing her, watching the efforts of very talented and skilled professionals and the frothing ferverence of my ex to try to use his religious beliefs to intervene and change the course of nature told me that there are only a few things we are actually capable of changing in this world. I got a really strong sense of how important it is to live for the now instead of holding off joy or even pleasure for some illusion of an afterlife.
Many told us that we’d get to raise her again in the next world. I don’t see that as a comfort. It makes children almost seem disposable since we can just get another one, a second chance, a replacement. I don’t see it that way at all. I believe that was a one time experience and that whatever I was going to gain from it, whatever she was going to teach me was meant for that moment. I don’t think she’s up in heaven in diapers waiting for me to come to her and finish being her mom.
So now what? Now we savor each moment with the living. We realize how fragile and quick life is and we do all we can to make sure this one counts.
That was such a personal and heart breaking story for you to share.Thank you for sharing it.I do not believe you cheapened her in any way in fact I believe you did the exact opposite.You made her come alive to me and hopefully for yourself as well.I wish you all the best in the future.
I meant to add:
I have also had those moments where some little reminder will open up a pit of memory and emotion and i will have to sob for awhile. I’m grateful those times are getting further apart.
This was so heartbreaking to read. Thanks, Insana, for sharing such a painful experience.
Thanks for your thoughts Tanya. I stored this one away for two decades before I felt like I could let it out. It still feels weird and almost too sacred to discuss. A part of me feels like I cheapened her by telling about her loss.
I agree sharing rough experiences brings out our humanity, helps us to work together for common good, I’m very glad you shared as well. Her memory will live on and help others realize that from tragedy piece can be found.