And Then He Died...
Yesterday I was in the grocery store. It was a hard day for me because it rained and when it rains it makes me more depressed. Of course I make do for my son but those grey days aren't easy days. I had been crying and you could tell. Sometimes it happens like that. Im walking down the street and I'm passing the playground that my son died in and grief overtakes you. The sense of loss for yourself overwhelms and you cry.
So I cried and this lady that I know vaguely from the laundromat asked me what happened. And I get asked that a lot.
What happened to him. Well it's simple.
One day Alhaarith went to school here in Queens and after school he played some 1 on 1 with his friends. By all accounts he played 3 hard games. He beat his friend Edwin out by 6 points. After he had played he was dribbling the ball…throwing some free shots (or whatever it's called) and Dihyah (My 12 yr old) called out to him that he was about to go home.
Haarith said hold on a minute, I'm bout to come too, and then he gasped and dropped to the floor. Dihyah says that he was shaking and breathing very heavily. This was probably agonized breathing that occurs after a cardiac arrest. Dihyah said he tried to do CPR like he saw on TV and called me. I got the call at 3pm that something had happened to Haarith. I thought it was just a school fight or something but all day I had been anxious about Haarith. In the morning he had left for school without saying goodbye. He had his state tests that day and he wanted to be on time. I remember wanting to run after him to tell him to come straight home from school. At about 1pm Dihyah called me to tell me that he didn't feel well. It was only another 90 minutes until school ended, and I didn't feel like walking up to the school with a sick 3 year old to get Dihyah out…so I told him to wait till school was over and come straight home. I remember thinking that I should get him and get Haarith at the same time but I didn't.
By 2.30 I was pacing up and down in the house. I wanted Haarith to sit with the sick 3 yr old . I wasn't feeling right that day at all. I was feeling sick so by 2.45pm I was getting mad…thinking ugh..'why doesn't he come straight home from school. Usually Haarith would come home at 2.35pm…so when I got the phone call…I knew it was bad.
I got to the school around 3.15 and by then I knew it was bad. There were kids watching someone on the playground and as I got closer... I knew it was my sons body laying still. I screamed. I knew he was dead. They were intubating him but there was no pulse.
I was able to sit in the ambulance with him while they waited for the paramedics to bring a defibrillator but I knew he was gone. My lovely chunky monkey (as I used to call him ) was still even with the shock. It was surreal.
At the Emergency room…I was taken to a separate conference room. There was so many people there. It was crazy. Police, School safety officers. Traffic cops, Doctors coming in and out. Department of Education liason. It was crazy. One woman came in and said that there was a slight pulse. I breathed at that point and started thinking about brain damage as I knew that he had lacked oxygen for a long time. I knew he would have brain damage at the very least but they had given me hope.
After what seemed like forever, the door opened and two doctors came into the room. I knew it was bad by the way that they were walking. They looked at me and said..we couldn't save him. He had suffered brain death. It was so technical.
The room got very quiet and I looked at all these faces and I said in this voice that sounded so british….Is this a joke? My son? Mine? Dead? Huh? and they nodded and I remember it was so quiet. Subhan Allah.
I told them I wanted to see my son and as I was taken to the Peds ER I saw the faces of all the moms in that place. They looked scared and stricken. In the room next to where my son lay was a mother who was gripping onto her child. I guess they all heard the commotion and knew that there was a serious trauma.
I went to the room and there I saw my son laid on a bed. He still had the intubation tube in his mouth. I looked at him and I said I'm going to cradle him in my arms one last time. I went to pull him up and this sound came out of his mouth. A soft ahhh sound and I jumped up and said did you hear that…he's alive…check him, check him. The doctor took out her tools to check his eyes and she said…no he's dead.
That's when I lost it. I cried like I never cried before. I cried for all the injustice. All the oppression. I cried for all the pain. I cried for all the hardships that I'd endured and I cried for my loss. I cried for the loss of my oldest son. My golden child. The one that I used to talk to like we were friends and worried that we were too much like friends. The one who said he wanted to buy me a house when he was older (I told him his happiness was enough for me). I cried like a baby and as I cried…I rubbed all my tears into his face. I traced his body with my hands. I rubbed his feet. His hands. His head. I kissed him so many times. I can still smell his smell. I hugged him and I cried. Subhan Allah. Meanwhile, my phone was going off. It was Dihyah at home with the baby. He wanted to know what was going on. I had to pull out whatever strength I had and told him, wait till I get home.
I looked at my son and knew that there was nothing else I could do for him. Nothing else but I knew I had 3 boys at home who were waiting for me. Waiting to know and I had to be the one to tell them. I kissed my sons still warm body and started that long journey home. That was it. That was what happened. Nothing. Just that.
My son lived for 14 years and died at the end of his 14th year on this planet. He died the day before his 14th birthday.
The autopsy came up undetermined natural causes because cardiac death is a natural death. My son probably had an enlarged heart. There are no symptoms for this other than death. That's what the cardiologist said. It's hard to comprehend that my son who looked healthy…was so sick that he died. Thats the reality. My son was sicker than most kids his age but we never knew it. His sickness overtook him. What was written for him overtook him.
My son went to school on Wednesday the 11th of March 2009…and then he died.