“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” — Winnie the Pooh
A couple of days had gone by but it seemed like an eternity. My dad was still unresponsive. The only thing keeping him alive was the ventilator. We had already notified his brothers and sisters. Two of his brothers were in California, One of his sisters was in Israel, Two others were in El Salvador and only one was in D.C. His brothers from California flew in when they realized how serious the situation was.
What we didn’t know was that informing my dad’s family and having them fly in would only complicate things and make this process even harder. We dealt with a lot of pushback from my dad’s family and friends. My dad’s family is super Catholic, so they prayed and prayed and believed that a miracle could save my dad. At that point, my faith was shattered and the only thing I believed in was science.
My dad’s medical team called a meeting on May 4th, 2014 around 2pm. I wanted it to be an intimate meeting just my mother my sister and I but my mom refused and allowed extended family and friends to be present. The doctors showed us brain scans one scan was taken in previous years when my father was admitted for an unrelated problem. The other scan was his brain at that time. My dad was brain dead. It was only a matter of time before his other organs began to fail.
My dad’s family wanted to keep him on life support but I knew exactly what my dad would have wanted me to do… as a matter of fact, he had told me what to do. He’d always talk to me about death and what I should do in this scenario but these things are easier said than done. One of his brothers and some of my cousins were crying on his bedside asking us not to disconnect him. Telling us that we were selfish and we were killing the man who gave us everything.
For the first time in my life, I lost my shit and stepped out of character. I had never been disrespectful nor had I ever cursed at an elder person but I could not hold in the rage and the hurt. I remember the exact words that got me kicked out of the ICU… “Are you fucking kidding me?” I began. “None of you would go visit him while he was alive and you will not take care of him if he is in a vegetative state, so who is selfish?! If you were on that bed suffering would you want someone to prolong your suffering?!” I asked. There was silence followed by tears. “Fucking answer me,” I continued to yell. “Did you not see the scans he’s already dead..” I broke down… as I finished my sentence and pushed my cousin. The nurses came and escorted me outside, they asked me to calm down. How the hell was I going to calm down when I was just accused of wanting to kill my father.
My mother was unable to sign, being twenty and the eldest child, I signed. There are no words to describe the guilt and the pain I felt. I knew my father did not deserve to be in all of this pain and suffering but what if they were right, what if a miracle did happen.. what if I just had to wait a little longer? Not to mention I felt like I was killing my father by signing off of those papers.
May 6th, 2014. We made one last call to his family and friends who wanted to say goodbye… it was all a blur. 4pm came by and the nurses kicked everyone out… Now it was just my mother, my sister and I… The nurse began the morphine drip and began to remove the tubes… When she did that my dad open his eyes as a reflex… That was the last time I saw those beautiful Honey colored eyes. We held his hand and told him how much we loved him as we watched the monitor flat line. Then the nurse called out, “Expiration time 5:37pm.”
Juan Aristides Benavides