I remember the slippers. I don't know why I remember them. I just remember that they were gray fuzzy material, similar to flannel, with navy blue borders. The gown was navy blue, white, and green plaid. The gown kept getting in my way. The slippers kept my feet warm. They never got in my way. It was early morning. The only light came from the television that I assumed Michael, my fourteen-year-old son, had left on before going to bed. It shed a gray-blue light on everything in his room. I entered to check on him and his overnight guest. The two boys had gone to bed after I had retired. My son, Michael, was not breathing and his face was the same gray as the light shining on him from the television. I screamed for help . The phone call for an ambulance while initiating cardiopulmonary resuscitation . The gown kept getting in my way. It kept wrapping around my legs as the movements of the nurse that I am came so automatically, it surprises me even today. If the sheer force and conviction of performing C.P.R. could revive someone, Michael would still be alive. I was trying so hard to breathe life into my son, my own flesh and blood. In my heart, I knew there was nothing there to work with, for I had seen death many times before that day. I decided to stop the very actions that I had started because I could not stand the thought of Michael's small frame being place on the Thumper, the machine I had seen and heard so many times in my emergency room experiences. That decision was the last shred of dignity that I could give to my son. The correctness of that decision was verified as the electrodes were placed on his chest to prove life had left him long ago. The lights of the emergency personnel, the blur of detectives and law enforcement people, the funeral, the autopsy, and the grief were horrendous. The loss seems more than you can tolerate. The cause was morphine overdose. The boys had been experimenting in a neighbor's medicine cabinet. I just wish I could speak with him one more time. I do not really think I would tell him anything new. I would tell him that I loved him. I would tell him that he was so very special. I would tell him that he was so very handsome and he had so much life ahead. He knew these things, but I really miss the opportunity to say them one more time. I think that is why I packed those slippers in with his personal belongings. I know that is why I remembered those slippers. I never want to walk in those shoes again. I want to learn from that experience. I wish to learn not to take the presence of people that I care about for granted. Our families and close friends, our compact little universes sometimes become so cluttered with activities of daily living that we forget to tell those closest to us our thoughts, ideas, hopes, fears and our true feelings. I wish to learn to take time each day to let someone near me know how deeply I care for them.
There are other people that enter our lives through work or business. Some people may weave in and out like the threads of a loosely knit sweater. We may have contact once in a while and that may be the extent of the relationship, but even these people as human beings deserve direct and honest communication. How hard is it to smile at a stranger? How hard is it to speak a kind word? Sometimes the smallest action can cause a link to be made from one person to another. How hard is it to listen to the words people speak? I think we listen but seldom hear. I think we look but seldom really see. I remember those slippers. I never want to walk in those shoes again.
News Article on Michael Eidson's passing. In PDF format (adobe)