I sat in the room and listened to the machines that kept my wife, Georgia, alive. The slow, continuous beeping of the heart monitor and the hiss of the ventilator were the only sounds in that dismal room in intensive care. I watched Georgia’s chest rise each time the ventilator hissed.
Earlier, the nurse told me, “Mr. Smith, there is a decision to make. Your wife had a bad day today. The doctor will be here soon. He needs to talk to you.”
I stood and paced. I knew what was coming. Tears trickled down my cheeks.
“Georgia?” I looked at my comatose wife. “Hon, we promised each other.” I paused. My words choked in my throat. I regained my composure and continued. “Georgia, we promised each other we wouldn’t let the other live on a machine. I never thought it would come so soon.
“Honey, the doctor is coming. I know what he is going to tell me. It is time to let you go. I don’t want to.” I cried harder. “Georgia, I know it’s the right thing, but it hurts so bad.” I sat down, covered my face with my hands. “I don’t want to let you go. I know it’s is the right decision and know you would agree. Georgia, I’m going to miss you.”
I sat in that room and waited for the doctor to give me the news. All I wanted was for my mom to be there and hold me. I was alone in New Jersey. I had no family—no one to comfort me. My family lived back in Canada. They couldn’t be there for me. My sixteen-year-old son lived with me. He couldn’t help. I needed to be strong for him. I craved a hug—the arms of my mother.
After Georgia’s death, I rebounded and found a new love. Instantly, I became a granddad. My new wife, Ginny, has four grandchildren by her daughter, Heather, and one by her son, Brandon. I love Heather and Brandon as much as I do my own son and daughter, Vanessa and Justin. Heather and Brandon work hard and take great care of their children.
Brandon, who worked as a landscaper, ruptured a disk lifting rocks. They operated and removed it. A second disk slipped. He was in continuous pain. The doctors decided to fuse his spine. At the age of twenty-nine, his career as a landscaper was over.
Ginny traveled from New Jersey to North Carolina to be there for him. After the operation she stood by his bed. Although the operation as a complete success, Brandon was in incredible pain. Ginny watched his body tremble and sweat as muscle spasms rippled through his back. The pain killers did little to ease his discomfort. His fiancée, Kelly, held his hand and shared tears with her future husband.
Later that night, when it was time for Ginny to leave, she reached down and hugged her son. Through his pain and drugged induced state, he hugged her back and whispered into her ear, “Mom, I’m so glad you’re here.”
I knew what he meant—the arms of a mother.