Sunday, 5 April 2009

Palm Sunday

On the night of Palm Sunday 17 years ago my husband of 4 months, Kent, was out delivering pizzas and I was sat at the kitchen table trying to write up some prac work for college. It was rare that I could manage to get enough motivation and focus to write up reports but I was motoring along quite nicely when the phone rung so I was at once grateful and annoyed at the distraction.
Kent was a part time driver at the same shop where his brother was a full-timer and when I answered the phone he told me there had been an accident. Johnny had been hurt. It was bad. I was to pick up his wife and bring her to the hospital.
I went to borrow my brother's car, he wasn't home so I took the keys and went to his mate's place round the corner looking for him. I couldn't raise anyone there so I just left. I arrived to pick up Joanne and was grateful to find that a neighbour would escort me.
I remember arriving at the hospital to find a bunch of pizza delivery drivers hanging around the entrance. Kent materialised to tell me that Johnny had died in the ambulance. Joanne's English was quite poor and she must not have caught on. She seemed to be oblivious. We took her inside where she was taken to some kind of private room and a Cantonese speaking nurse told her what had happened.
When I think of that night I barely remember any emotion. I don't know whether events were too fast or too intense, I don't know whether emotion was supressed or whether I have simply chosen to forget the horror of it but I remember what happened next.
For some reason I, a twenty year old child and speaking the wrong language, was the one to accompany Joanne to see her husband. He lay there with ECG dots on his chest and a tube down his throat and the Johnny I knew was gone. The essence of the man wa so powerful that without it he was almost like someone else. Joanne was still feet away from the bed when she fainted.

I can't remember anymore of that night. I can't remember what happened at the hospital and I can't remember driving home, although I must have. I expected Kent to call his family overseas but he wanted them to get a good nights sleep.
I can't imagine what it was like for him to phone his Mum the next day, to tell her that his brother had met the same fate that their father had some twenty years earlier.


  1. Peace be with you, Kylie...

    Love ya,
    gig, xoxo

    sorry,bout the deletion

  2. Sometimes we have a way of blocking out tramatic events. It is our brains way of dealing with stress. I remember the night my brother was killed in a car accident. It happened in 1985. I was 10 years old. I have listened to other members of my family tell stories about that night, and some of it I don't remember. I appreantly bolted out of the door and ran off into the woods behind my oldest brothers house when they told me what happened. I just couldn't believe it and I wanted to be alone. It was dark and very stormy. The lightening was very dangerous and my dad had to come find me in the pouring rain. Not to mention it was February in Missouri, so it was a very cold rain at that. I remember lying on my pallet on the floor watching the door the rest of the night expecting my brother to walk in at any moment. Hopeing and wishing that it was all a mistake. He was 23 when he died. My mother and my sister actually passed the accident that night, and my mother remembered seeing my brother on the side of the road with a sheet on top of him. She said she felt sad because some mother was going to be told her son was dead. She fainted when she heard the news. Old wounds like that never heal completely. They just scab over, and every so often, something comes along and opens them wide open again.

  3. Those stark memories that are woven through with hazy recall still contain the unmistakable pain we never forget. Such a thing to have endured . . . The loss of a loved one never feels "okay." (At least not for me.) Yet sweet memories fill the front of the line . . . in time. XO

  4. I hardly know what to say- what a truly horrible thing to happen. This sort of thing affects you forever. Thank you for sharing this personal memory. Maybe the shock has suppressed much of your memories of that night but the fact that you remember certain details and the date so clearly shows how deeply the memory is seated.

    My first reaction when reading this was horror that the hospital allowed you and his wife to see him with all that medical paraphernalia attached. How dehumanising. That shocking memory is forever etched in your psyche- and hers. It could have been handled better.

  5. Cece- I read your comment, and I am so sorry that you lost your brother in this way. You describe your feelings very vividly.

  6. gig
    thanks, you take care now

  7. cece
    that was a horrible thing to happen. i'm so sorry.

    how strange for you to pass the scene of the accident. johnny was a block from the shop and kent happened upon the accident. he knew who it was and something of what was happening but wasn't allowed near.
    emergency services have their reasons for those policies but it added to his anguish.

    God Bless

  8. debbie,
    i'm sure it isn't ok for my husband but for me it's as ok as a thing like that can be.
    i'm sorry my kids wont know him.

    thanks for dropping by

  9. cinnamon,
    now that you mention it i think it was a legal requirement that the coroner recieve him that way. i'm not sure.
    the medical stuff didnt bother me as much as seeing him dressed in his best in the casket. at the hospital it was more honest or something.......

    have a great day

  10. I have just realized that it will be 16 years ago that my mother died on the day before good Friday. Helen was 6 weeks old, my brother was getting married on Easter Saturday. So with all the public holidays we couldn't have the funereal until a week later.
    My brother went ahead with the wedding on the Easter Saturday which felt very weird as mum had just died two days before and we were celebrating a marriage. as you can gather my brother hoped mum would still be able to come to the wedding although i have been told that she may not have been able to by then. She was tossing up if she felt well enough if she would be able to go or not.
    So for us Easter has always a been reminder.Sorry to hear about your brother in law Kylie.

  11. hi jo,
    that must have been a terrible time. and i imagine it would have cast a shadow over the wedding.
    it's the kind of thing that you couldnt make up!

    i hope you have a good easter (but i'm sure we'll talk before that)


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