To the moon and back
by adelia devitt barker
jonathon larry duane devitt
Click on each photo to enlarge.
I lost my son almost 7 months ago. November 10,2011. He was 23 years old I live in texas. He had moved to MA. He called me to ask me if he should go to the ER because he had run a high fever the night before and was really feeling bad with a severe head ache and a stiff neck. I am a RN. I knew the possibilities. I told him to go to the ER right then. He went. But it was too late. He was put in a drug induced coma and care flighted to MA general. I pickedup his sisters from school and drove the hour and a half to the airport. I left texas at 525pm. I got to MA at 1030pm. The news was not good. But there were more tests to run. Bacterial meningitis. Swelling of the brain stem. I was told. I went to his bed side. As a nurse i knew. More tests or not; my baby boy, my best friend, was gone. Oh, his body was there, but he had no more medications on board yet he was not responding. Not to my voice. Not to my touch. Not to pain. His pupils were fixed and dilated. I am a nurse, and as a nurse i knew he was gone. But as his mother i begged god to save him.
I was alone there. 2000 miles from home. From anyone i knew. I was blessed with the staff of MA general. The doctors, nurses, social worker, priest and even the guy at the desk that watched me make a million trips outside all night. I would get so upset i would have to go down stairs and outside to catch my breath. Needed the cold wind and rain at one point to remind me this was real.
When the doctors told me he was brain dead and asked what my wishes were i already knew what to say. My son had told me of his wishes should something like this ever happen. He told me then it would be the hardest thing i ever did but if there were no hope then i had to let him go. I honored his wish. The promise i made to him. It was the hardest thing i ever had to do.
I was asked about organ donation. I said yes. He had a huge heart and i believed its what he would have wanted. I found out later that was also his wish. He was a registered donor.
The organ donation people were as amazing as the hospital staff. They made imprints of his hands for me and my girls. Locks of hair and EKG tracings. They cared for him and about me and jonathons sisters.
My parents and husband arrived 2 days after me. As did my best girlfriend of 32 years. Sherry flew into Boston. She was there the day jonathon was born to help welcome him into this world and she came to help me tell him good bye.
We packed his things. Got his car ready to tow home. And drove 2000 miles home. 3 days in a truck. 3days to have to think about a funeral. 3 days to figure out how to explain to 3 teen age girls why i couldnt bring their brother home. I promised them i would. I will bring bubba home. I brought him home, just not the way i promised them i would.
I never dreamed i would plan a funeral for my son. I held out hope until the end. I begged pleaded and tried to bargain with God until the bitter end. But plan a funeral is what we did. Hannah, Hope and Jasmine (jonathons sisters) helped every step of the way. The casket and his clothes were picked out with him in mind. Jeans, a t shirt with a sarcastic saying and a longsleeve shirt over it. And his red converse shoes. His trade mark in fashion. His flowers were purple and black and green his favorite colors. On the program there was a poem. It was from a wallet card i had given him many years before and it was in his wallet still. We asked the clergy to please dress down. He was casual. His service was as well. We made a big posterboard to sit out with a bunch of pictures of him for people to see and a journal for people to write their favorite memories in. My sweet friend JJ printed a picture of him with a scripture to put on the casket at the service. We played Pink Floyd and Whootie and the Blowfish at his service. Along with mandisa and rebecca st. James. The service reflected him. Thats how we wanted it.
Along this journey i have taken i have seen so many people open up and share their kindness. Donations to help with the funeral. Sherrys boss paying for her plane ticket and then in december giving her money to give to me so my girls could have christmas. A stranger in the airport giving me a 20 and telling me to eat something. Total strangers hugging me and praying for me and my family. My family and friends who took care of my girls while i was gone. The countless text messages and emails on facebook sharing their sympathy. The people that share with me that they have become organ donors because of my sweet baby. What a memorial to him.
I see the good things, but my heart is still shattered. I am angry and sad. I get overwhelmed with my grief. It brings me to my knees. I dont sleep well. I dont eat well. I function. I go to work and take care of my girls. But i dont think i really live any more. I function. At the end of the day i think to myself thats just one day closer to seeing my son again. Thats how i function now. Not only did I lose my son and my best friend, i lost myself too. I look in the mirror now and i dont know who that is looking back. The sadness engulfs me at times and i let the tears fall. No matter where i am, they fall. Holding it in is not an option. Some people embrace me when that happens. They hold me and they listen. Some people turn away. A mothers grief is too much for some people to bear i guess.
Jonathon was a stage hound. He loved acting. I have his plays on disk. And they are also on you tube. I cant watch them yet. I sleep in his shirts. Have his random collections of stuff in my sewing room and the guest room. I carry his wallet in my purse. I drive his car. Although that has been promised to his sister who is almost 16. I have the last clothes he wore folded on my dresser. I just cant seem to move them. They have been there since i got home. I hold on to the socks and scarf he knitted for me. The scarf was to be my christmas present this last year. He had told me he finished it a few weeks before he died. I had my lens put in his frames and i wear his glasses sometimes.
It hurts. To see his sisters struggle with his death. It hurts to not get the texts he sent every day. Or the phone call that seemed to always come when i had just walked in the bathroom. We used to laugh about the fact that even 2000 miles away i still couldnt go to the bath room alone. I miss his voice. His smile. His bigger then life dreams. His courage. His ability to always tell me "dont cry momma. It will be ok" and me believe it.
In his memory i promote organ donation.i have bumper stickers and pins i give away. Be a hero. Donate life. In his memory i wear a charm necklace that says i love you to the moon and back. It has his name. And his dates. It has one birth stone for the month he was born and one for november, his birthday in heaven.
Someday...i will hear that sweet voice and feel those sweet arms and look into those big blue eyes again. I will hear him say "i love you momma. To the moon and back". I believe that with all i am. He is waiting for me.
What i dont know is how do I learn to live again until that day comes?