santa cruz wharf

24 June 2007

a year ago today....

A year ago today.

I was staring at the Bearcub. At fifteen, his almost 6' 250+ lb body overflowed from the pediatric ICU bed. (He would later have difficulty maneuvering with a short IV drip stand… the child sized wheelchair... the mini walker… and dwarf the nurses and therapists who helped him get around. The sweet small woman who supported him to the facilities warned “now listen…you double me in everything except age…if you fall we are both going to be in serious pain” He reassured HER. Always the boy with the golden heart. Not like the girls….who take after me.

"Broken" post.

When I had arrived early that morning, he told me he was hungry and said: “kat….I want you to meet my new best friend” and ceremoniously lifted an arm connected by tubes, needles and tape, pointing to the machine which controlled his morphine drip. He pressed the little button in his hand until he was out. Always the comedian. Rather than completely breaking down...I took a deep breath and looked for a target.

Even after twentysome years any ICU environment brings excruciating flashbacks of death and loss. I vehemently hate the sounds and smells of a hospital. To this day they make me dizzy. The only way I can continue to be present is to launch into my very best rendition of “do NOT e-ph with me or mine”. The foot of his bed was about eight feet from the nurses station…I had already been told twice not to use my cell phone. I told them I was calling for an adult walker. I wasn’t really….but that’s what I told them.

I tried to ignore my cell phone. The once-wonderful man I was ever so enamored with had been calling three, four, five times an hour…furious I was there….demanding that I leave. Since he actually lived in Chicago…there wasn’t much he could do about it. Except freak out from 2200 miles. In that moment …in that window of clarity...I began to write him off.

The phone was on silent...but the flashing lights demanded my attention with a sense of urgency created by the very near depletion of my inner strength. I finally looked at the screen. I was relieved, yet surprised to see a work number. I worked for the University of California, Santa Cruz…and in five years I never had an unplanned call on the weekend. Turning sideways from the nurses and stepping behind Little Missy to block their view, I answered the call.

Little Missy watched with consternation demanding with increasing volume to know what had happened. She would later tell me I turned white and she could tell something was very wrong. And it was. I was being called into work. That morning…the body of UCSC Chancellor Denice Denton, a woman I knew and admired had been found. In the depth of severe depression she had leapt from a 43 story skyscraper.

The "official" obit.

In my life I have known a great many geniuses, brainiacs and rocket scientists. Denice Denton was absolutely the most brilliant woman I have ever known personally. Her body of work was groundbreaking…and her life unconventional. I truly believe the incredibly brilliant battle demons that most of us will never understand.

Today I remember the woman Denise Denton was and mourn the early loss of her life.

Today I am thankful for a nearly healed cub whose life is that of a typical almost 17 year old American Male. Even the smelly parts and smartass attitude.


Mel said...

Isn't it amazing what a year brings to us.

Smart arse and smelly--you just keep lovin' him just the same!
And prayers for those who have gotten to deal in the losses.


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Wow, that's one powerful post!

Stopping by via the Poetry Train; hope you'll include more posts in the future!

Anonymous said...

What an amazing post Katherine.

Beautifully written, and very touching.