An account of a man who goes into a coma but is aware of what is going on.
| THE OLD TEMPLE
I drove by the old temple on my way to work every day. It was the oldest building in the little town I lived in; Lazarus, New Mexico. It had once been used as a place of worship by the pioneers heading further west in the early days of our nation. At least that’s what I was told as a child; now it was the local hospital.
I had lived in Lazarus all of my life and had finally made it up to vice president of the factory where I worked. I had started out at the factory as just a worker fifteen years earlier, but now I had my own office on the fourth floor. I was doing pretty well for a local boy and had married my high school sweetheart and had two wonderful children; Ashley Nicole was now 14 and Blaze Alexander was coming up on his 11th birthday. Life was wonderful until that day in August when the elevator broke down.
I went through my morning ritual that day of getting up, showering, getting dressed and then eating breakfast. I kissed my wife and kids goodbye and headed out to work. It was going to be another scorcher of a day, as it was already hot at only seven in the morning. For some reason, as I backed out of the driveway, I paused and stared at my house for a second. I drove to work with the air conditioner on in the car.
I saw an ambulance leaving The Old Temple Hospital as I was going past it. The lights were on and traffic was stopped so it could get through the streets to whatever emergency it was headed to. While stopped waiting for the ambulance to pass my car started to overheat. I pulled into the parking lot and cut off the engine. I was going to have to get the radiator checked out. This was the first time it had overheated. It was probably due for a tune-up anyway.
I popped the hood and loosened the radiator cap, watching the fluid spew out of the hole. I grabbed an old jug from the trunk and headed inside the hospital to get some water. The hospital had been built around the original temple and was circular in shape. I entered through the visitor’s entrance and found the janitors office within a few feet of the bathrooms. Inside I filled the jug with water and headed back toward the exit. I had always been impressed with the way the old temple was still intact inside the newer walls of the hospital. It was built of clay and shaped in the form of a dome; it was also the largest room in the hospital and was being used as the intensive care unit because it could hold more equipment for those who were terminally ill or injured severely. The original nameplate was still intact on the temple. It was simply The Old Temple. That’s how everyone knew it and also where the hospital got its name.
I headed out to my car and was happy to see it was no longer spewing so I poured the water into the radiator. Once I got the car restarted I rolled the windows down instead of using the air conditioner. The rest of my trip to the factory went smoothly and the car did not overheat again.
As I entered the building I immediately saw the sign proclaiming that once again, the elevator was out of service. I headed for the stairs, knowing I would be sweating by the time I got to my office on the fourth floor. I was out of breath before I got to the third floor. As I entered the platform on the third floor someone came bursting out of the doors. I tried to stop the door with my briefcase but it caught me solid and I could feel myself start to tumble backwards.
I remember feeling the pain as my head struck the steps on my journey down the stairs but after the initial pain I could no longer feel any pain, although I knew I was tumbling down to the landing between the floors. I could feel the blood flowing from my head where it had struck the corner of one of the stairs but was surprised that the pain was not unbearable. I attempted to get up to confront the person who had come bursting out of the door and realize that I could not move, I could not even open my eyes.
“Mr. Steinland! Are you okay?” I heard a voice say from above me, probably the person in such a hurry.
“Oh my God! Someone call 9-1-1!”
I knew that something was wrong because I could not move, but when I heard the woman yell to call 9-1-1 I really started to worry. Was I dead? No, that could not be the case, I was still aware of everything going on around me. I just could not move anything, not even my eyelids.
I could hear the footfalls of the people coming down the stairs and could sense them around me. Then I felt a hand on my neck. Who was touching my neck? I realized that they were checking for a pulse!
“He’s still alive. Someone go get Mr. Hancock, and make sure that 9-1-1 has been called,” another voice said in the darkness.
“Of course I’m still alive!” I wanted to shout, but could not make my mouth move. I then wondered if calling 9-1-1 would do any good. I had seen the ambulance leaving the hospital only 20 minutes before, there was only one ambulance in this town.
I could hear someone going up the stairs at a fast pace and I thought that they might want to be careful and not fall down the stairs. As I lay on the floor I could feel the people around me moving my body into a more natural position. It really did not matter to me because I was feeling no pain. Although I could feel them touching my body and moving it around I could not feel any pain.
Moments later I heard the president telling everyone to move out of the way as he came down the stairs.
“John! John, can you hear me?” he asked.
I wanted to answer but knew it was useless. Then I was able to see people above me. At first the light was bright but then I was able to see clearly. Mr. Hancock was holding my eyelid up and staring into my eye. I could see his agitated skin from where he had shaved this morning and could even smell his aftershave. Then it was dark again. I liked the light much better.
“His pupils are dilated; maybe he has only been knocked unconscious. How did this happen?” Mr. Hancock asked.
“I was coming out of the door on the third floor and he must have been behind it and it hit him and knocked him down the stairs,” I heard a woman explain between her sobs.
“Okay, everyone get back to work and I will stay here with him until the paramedics arrive. They don’t need all of us in their way.”
Mr. Hancock stayed with me until the paramedics arrived. I heard him tell them that I had fallen down the stairs and had been knocked unconscious. I felt one of the paramedics check my neck for a pulse and then open my eyes to check them. While they were open I could see the blue of his shirt and the bright light of the flashlight he shone into them. He was a younger guy with dark hair. After he dropped my eyelid I heard a snapping noise and then smelled a powerful ammonia smell as he tried to awake me with the smelling salts. If I could have moved I would have been choking from the smell, instead I lay there as the smell permeated my senses.
Someone else, another paramedic I assume was patching up my head where it had struck the stairs. I could feel him touching the wound and applying pressure to it. I felt the coldness as he put some kind of antiseptic on it, but did not feel the sting. Then I felt him put the bandage over the wound.
“You take the head and I’ll take the feet,” I heard the man who had tried to revive me say. Then I felt my body being lifted and placed on the stretcher. I could feel the pressure as they strapped me onto the cart. I then was being lifted into the air and tilted as they carried me down the stairs.
“We are taking him to the old temple. Can you contact his family and tell them what has happened and where we are taking him?” I heard one of the paramedic’s say to Mr. Hancock.
“Yes, yes. I will take care of calling his family. Is he going to be okay?”
“We won’t know until a doctor examines him. Tell the family to check in the ER to find out where he is and his status”
“Okay, will do,” Mr. Hancock said as he headed back up the stairs.
When we arrived at the first floor I felt myself placed on the ground and then raised once again. This time I could tell that the legs were out on the gurney as I was being wheeled out the front door and toward the ambulance. Along the way I could hear others who worked there asking each other what had happened.
Once they had me in the ambulance they attached an oxygen mask to my face and I started breathing fresh, cool air. I felt every bump as the ambulance rushed me to the hospital. I was fully awake the whole way to the hospital and heard the two paramedics talking to each other about me.
“It appears as if he is in a coma. He had no responses to either the light or to the smelling salts. His blood pressure is normal and his respiration seems to be doing okay right now, but other than that I would believe he is dead,” one said to the other.
“How old is he?”
I could feel the paramedic next to me reach under me and pull my wallet from my back pocket.
“He is only 32. He has a picture in here of him and his family, looks like he has a couple of kids and his wife is a hottie. This man has a lot to live for; it would really suck to be in coma with a wife like that.”
I felt the rage building inside of me. This young punk was sitting there talking about my wife like she was a piece of meat. Although, it did feel good to hear someone else saying that he thought my wife was as fine as I thought she was, but not in front of me! I wanted to reach over and punch him in the nose but could not move anything. I wanted to beat him within an inch of his life and teach him to respect women, and also to respect other people’s wives. Then he really upset me!
“And his daughter looks like she would be fun in the sack too!”
“For God’s sake man! She’s only 14!” I screamed in my head. When I am able to move again I am going to have to kick this guy’s ass.
“Pass that picture up here, I want to take a look at em,” the driver said.
I could hear the man next to me moving toward the front of the ambulance.
“Yeah, they are hotties! Although the daughter is a little young, but you know the old saying, ‘old enough to bleed, old enough for me’!” the driver said.
The two of them shared a laugh as I lay in the back feeling the rage come to a boil. I was definitely going to find out who these two jokers were and have their heads for saying those things about my daughter. I would file some sort of lawsuit against the ambulance company, get these two fired and get a little money in the process.
We arrived at the hospital and I could hear the back door open and felt myself being moved. The legs once again were lowered and I was being rolled into the emergency room at the old temple.
“Is he stable?”
“His vitals are normal, but he does not respond to anything. We tried smelling salts and there was no response, his pupils do not respond to light and he has not moved since we arrived at the scene. He has a half inch laceration on the back of his head that we patched up,” the paramedic explained.
“Get him into the OR, I will be in shortly. We lost the girl from the car wreck you brought in earlier. She never had a chance,” the man apparently the doctor said.
I was moved into another room and felt my body being moved to another bed. I could feel someone taking my shirt off and then removing my pants. Suddenly my mother’s advice came back to me, “Always wear clean underwear, you never know when you will be in an accident.” I laughed within at the irony of that statement coming back to me when it did, but I was also grateful that I had on clean underwear. Soon they had one of those hospital gowns on me and I was laid back down in a prone position.
I heard the doctor come into the room and tell the anesthetist to put me under. I felt a mask placed over my face and slowly the voices in the room began to fade as I went to sleep. The last thing I remember was feeling a needle go into my arm, there was no pain but a weird sensation as I felt the needle enter my vein. Then I knew no more.
I came awake and knew I was in a different room. The sounds were much different where I was. I tried to open my eyes and look around and realized that I was still unable to move. I had no idea what time it was or how long I had been asleep. My head was on a pillow and I could tell from the coolness that my hair had been cut away from where I had struck the stairs.
The sounds in the room had a slight echo to them. I could hear two separate machines beeping along to the rhythm of patient’s hearts. I knew instinctively that I was inside the Intensive Care Unit. I was in the old temple. There was only one other patient in the room with me, at least only one with a heart monitor. I also had a mask over my face and air was being forced into my lungs and drawn back out. I was on life support!
As I lay there I could hear voices that I knew were not real. I could hear the actual sounds of the room clearly, but inside my head I could also hear other voices; voices that were singing. It sounded like a religious song, the voices sounded tired and weary. The song ended and I could hear the people sitting down. I began to wonder if I had actually died and this was my prelude to going to heaven. Then I heard the voice of a man start speaking, I could not make out the words exactly but knew instinctively that I was listening to a sermon.
I lay there, unable to move, listening to the sound of the voice. I could tell that he was getting to the peak of his sermon as his voice started to get louder and louder, his words getting more rushed and frantic. The only sentence I could make out was his last one, which was; “This old temple is that place of God and will stand as long as Gods grace shines down upon it!” Then the singing started again.
I was brought back to the real world by the sound of someone sobbing softly. I heard someone sit down in a chair next to my bed and was immediately aware of the smell of my wife's perfume. It was such a heavenly smell and she was the only one I knew that wore it. Without my sight all my other senses seemed to be running on overdrive and the smell filled my head. It was a wonderful smell of lavender and roses, I could not remember the name of the perfume, but it was all she bought.
I felt her touch my hand that lay by my side and caress the back of it ever so lightly. I could hear her trying to hold back the sobs that slipped out occasionally. I wanted to hold her in my arms and tell her that everything would be all right. I wanted to run my fingers through her brunette hair and caress her soft cheek. I wanted to kiss her small lips and look deeply into her hazel eyes. I wanted to tell her that I loved her more than I loved life itself. I wanted to do all these things and so much more.
I tried to think back to the morning I had left for work. I had told her that I loved her but now it seemed as if it was just a routine; that I had not let her know that I truly loved her. It seemed that we had gotten into a pattern and every day had been the same for the last few years. I could not remember the last time I had taken her out dancing, or bought her flowers for no reason. I had bought her flowers for Valentines Day and her birthday, but I had not bought her flowers for just being her in many years.
Her hand left mine as someone else entered the room.
“How is he?” I heard Kristine ask.
“He is in a coma. We ran a CAT scan on him and he has suffered from a cerebral hemorrhage. The incision from where his head hit the stairs was about a half inch deep and has penetrated his brain. He is in a deep coma and spontaneous respiration has ceased, therefore he is on the mechanical respirator. At this time, that is the only thing that is keeping him alive. When he arrived at the hospital he was breathing on his own, but during the surgery he stopped breathing and had to be put on the machine. There have been cases like this where the patient has come out of coma and only had minor damage to his brain functions, but most cases like this result in the patient becoming vegetative,” the doctor explained.
I heard Kristine slump back down in the chair. She was no longer able to hold back the tears and was now weeping openly. “How did this happen? Why did it have to happen to him?”
“Mrs. Steinland, all we can do right now is keep an eye on him. Right now he is in stable condition with the life-support machine and he could recover in a few days. Don’t give up hope on him yet. He has a strong heart and very well could pull out of this with no complications. Right now he is non-responsive to external stimuli but he may be in a couple of days. The best thing you can do right now is to let him know you love him. Some people believe that a coma patient can still hear things going on around them.”
“Yeah doc! I can hear everything and then some,” I thought to myself. Kristine had my hand in hers again and I could feel the tears as she rubbed it across her cheek. I only wished I could brush those tears away and hold her.
“I will be in tomorrow to check on him. If you would like I can prescribe you some medicine to help you sleep tonight,” the doctor told her.
“No, that’s okay. I must be leaving here soon and get the kids from my sister’s house. Will it be okay to bring them here to see him?”
“Normally there is only one person allowed in ICU per patient but due to only having one other person in here I don’t think it will be a problem.”
“Thank you doctor. I know that you did everything you could do,” she said.
I lay there listening to the conversation between the two of them wishing that I could take part in it. I could hear the doctor walking away and leave the room. Kristine sat there for a short while longer holding my hand and then bent over to my ear and whispered that she loved me and would be back tomorrow. She lay my hand back on my stomach and I listened as she also left the room. Then all was quite except the incessant beeping of the heart monitors.
Later on I heard someone enter the room. I felt the blood pressure cuff put on my arm and felt as the machine squeezed it. Then a thermometer was stuck in my mouth and a minute later I heard the beep of the machine. The thermometer was removed and the cuff was taken off my arm. My right eye was opened and a light shined into it. While it was open I could see the room around me. The ceiling was a dome; it had different paintings going all the way around it. I could see Jesus on the cross with the halo over his head in one painting, another was a painting of the last supper, and another was Jesus preaching to the masses. I could not make out the fourth painting as it was out of my line of sight, but could tell that there was another one there.
The eye was closed and the other opened a moment later. I could see the nurse who was checking for responses. She was young, probably in her early twenties. Her blonde hair was tied in a bun and she wore a perfume that reminded me of a spring morning, it was a fresh scent.
“How are you doing Mr. Steinland? My name is Dedra. I don’t know if you can hear me or not, but I will be over here every four hours to check your vitals and check for responses from you. You are so young to be in this condition, I truly hope that you recover and are out of here soon.”
I was mesmerized by her voice; it was a sweet delicate voice.
She reminded me of my daughter. It also felt really good to have someone talking to me even though I could not respond to her. Her smell lingered in my nose after she had left and went to the other patient. I could hear the other patient talking to her, so I figured that I was the only one in coma in the ICU. The other patient sounded to be old and had apparently had a lung collapse and was also on a machine to assist her breathing. As I lay there listening to the two of them talk I slowly drifted off to sleep.
While I slept, I assumed it was night, I had many different dreams. I could not remember most of them when I awoke but one in particular stuck out in my mind. It was a dream set back in the 1800’s when the old temple had just been built. I was attending a church service in it and had my family around me. We were all dressed in clothes that I always associated with western movies. I even had a vest on, with a holster at my side. Kristine had a bonnet on and so did Ashley. Blaze had a wooden gun that he was playing with behind the pew, out of sight of the minister.
After I awoke I could not remember what the sermon was about, but the voice of the minister was the same one I had heard in my head earlier.
I remembered once more being awakened by Dedra as she took my vitals and opened my eyes. I enjoyed it so much when she opened my eyes, being able to see was much better than not seeing. She chatted with me again before she moved on to the other patient. Then I drifted off to sleep once more.
I was awakened with a start when I heard voices coming from the room.
“His heart has stopped! Get the doctor!” I heard someone say.
I could only hear one heart monitor in the room now. My heart had stopped beating and someone was pressing down on my chest in a rhythmic fashion. I was aware of everything going on. There was no white light coming toward me so I did not associate what was happening with dying. Everyone knows that when you die you go toward the white light, right?
Then the doctor came bursting into the room.
“Did you power up the machine?” he asked.
“Yes doctor,” I heard the nurse say, it was not Dedra.
“Give me the paddles. Set it to 50%!”
“It’s ready doctor”
I could feel the cold paddles on my chest. Then I heard him say ‘clear!’ and suddenly my whole body was being shocked. I could not feel the pain from the shock but I felt all the muscles in my body tense up. I could feel the voltage going through my body while the paddles were in place. Then the shock stopped. There was still only one heart machine making that annoying beeping sound in the room. I was dying!
“Charge it again!”
I felt the doctor pressing down on my chest. Each time he would press the machine would make a beep. He kept this up until the machine had recharged itself and then I felt the paddles once more.
The shocks started going through my body once more. Then I felt my heart start to pump blood once more. At first it was pumping quickly, but eventually slowed down to a steady pace.
“That was close. I am going to keep him on the heart machine to regulate his heartbeat. I don’t think he will make it through the night unless we do that.”
Shortly I felt my body being moved to another bed and I was rolled out of the ICU and back into an operating room. I was expecting to have the mask on my face replaced with another one but instead I was suddenly feeling very light headed.
“The anesthetic has been administered doctor,” I heard someone say.
Then sleep came to me no matter how much I fought to stay awake. It was a dreamless sleep and when I awoke I was back in the ICU once more. Once again I could hear two separate heart machines.
As I lay there I once again started to hear the singing in my head. This time the words were clearer. The people were singing an old religious song “Bringing in the Sheaves.” I was remembering the dream I had and could actually visualize myself in the old temple with the congregation singing along. Once the song was over we sat down and a man rose from behind the pulpit. He was an older man, his full head of hair was white as snow, and he wore a black robe with the priest’s collar.
I lay there listening to the sermon; this time I paid attention to what he was preaching about. He was talking about the long journey Moses had taken and how he had died before he made it to the promised land. Just as we, his congregation, were on a long journey to the promised land of California. He closed out the sermon by reading the Psalm about walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Then we all rose once again and sang Amazing Grace.
Suddenly the sounds of the heart machines came back into focus and I realized that I must have been dreaming. I felt the cuff of the blood pressure machine go on my arm and the thermometer go into my mouth. I could smell the spring smell once again; Dedra must be on duty again.
“I hear your family is coming to visit you today. The doctor says you had a very rough time last night and had to go back into surgery. Hopefully they got you fixed up real good and you will be back with us soon.”
Eye opened, light shined in, Jesus on the cross, eye closed. Cuff and thermometer removed, sounds of writing on paper, movement around the bed. Eye opened, Jesus preaching, Jesus eating last supper, bright light, eye closed.
“Now you take care of yourself and pull out of this,” Dedra said as she walked off.
An hour later I heard another familiar voice. It was Mr. Hancock.
“How is he doing?”
“He had a rough night last night, we almost lost him. But today he has been pretty stable.”
I could hear his footfalls as he came over to my bed. How nice of the boss to come by and see me in the hospital.
“John, how ya doing old buddy?”
“Can’t move a muscle, can’t talk, and can’t even open my eyes! How the hell do you think I am doing?”
“We really miss you at work and look forward to you coming back soon,” he said. After a pause he spoke again, “The nurse says that you may be able to hear me and that I should talk to you, but I don’t know what to say. I really hate to see you in this condition. Ah hell, I can’t talk to you like this. Just get better soon and get your ass back to work, we really miss you there.”
I wish I could have opened my eyes because if my ears weren’t deceiving me my boss was almost crying. As he should be! If he had not neglected the elevator then this would have never happened to me. Believe me, when I get out of here I am going to sue the hell out of the factory. I know they have insurance and I will lose my job, but damnit, this was a case of pure negligence!
I heard him walk away as I made my future plans as far as his company was concerned. Suddenly I felt alone. I may not have liked the guy and was going to sue his ass off, but, he was there trying to talk to me. Now I was left with only the persistent sound of these damn heart machines!
Soon I heard the sounds of my children’s voices. My family had come to see me! It was so good to hear their voices.
“Go tell your daddy hello, he can’t answer you because he is asleep, but he can hear you so go talk to him,” Kristine said.
I felt both of my hands being grabbed on either side and I could feel my children’s hands in mine.
“Daddy, we want you to get better real soon and come home. I want to practice for football season and Ashley can’t throw the ball very far!” my son said to me.
“I do the best I can. Plus, when dad gets home he is going to have to be in bed for a few days before he gets better,” Ashley explained to her younger brother.
“I hope he will be able to see me in my first game, it’s only a couple of weeks away.”
“Don’t talk about him as if he isn’t here. You heard what mom said, he can hear you, he just can’t answer you.”
“Oh yeah. Anyway dad, I want you to be there during my first game because I am going to score a touchdown!”
“Dad, we really do miss you and want you to come home soon. I went to the library today and read up a little on coma. In most cases the patient recovers with no side effects,” Ashley told me.
”Well honey, I plan on recovering with no side effects with the exception of suing that damn factory for so much money that none of us ever have to work again,” I thought to myself.
“We start school next week and mom took us out and got us some new clothes. That’s what we are wearing right now. I wish you could open your eyes and see them. I have a brand new pair of jeans and this awesome shirt! Ashley has a yucky dress on.”
“It’s not yucky!”
I laughed to myself as I pictured the two of them arguing.
“Now don’t you two be arguing in front of your father. We are here to visit him and let him know how much we love him. Did you tell him about the flowers and balloons we got him?”
“Oh yeah! We got you some awesome balloons and some flowers but could not bring them here so we have them at the house for when you get home. After you get feeling better we can go outside and let them go one at a time,” Blaze said.
“And with the flowers is a rubber tree that we can plant out in the front yard!” Ashley chirped in.
I could hear Kristine talking to someone else in the room and then she came over and told the kids that they had to go.
“I love you daddy and want you to come home soon.”
“I love you too son,” I thought and wished I could squeeze his hand.
“I want to stay a little longer mom. He looks so peaceful and happy laying there,” Ashley said, almost as if she had rehearsed it.
“Okay, Blaze, why don’t you go out in the lobby and watch some TV until your sister and I come out,” Kristine suggested to my son.
“Okay! Cartoons are on!” Blaze said and then climbed up on the side of the bed and kissed me on the cheek. “I love you dad!”
I could hear Kristine walking with him out of the ICU. Ashley held my hand after they had gone and was crying softly.
“Dad, I don’t know if you can hear me or not but I was there when the doctor talked to mom earlier. He says that even with the machines that you will be lucky to make it through the night. It seems as if all of your vital functions are starting to shut down one at a time. They discussed pulling the plug. I argued with them that as long as you were still alive that you had a chance to recover but they just ignored me,” Ashley told me as she started sobbing.
I realized then that unless I could show some sign that I was still alive that they would pull the plug on my machine and let me die. I had to find some way to let them know that I was still alive.
Kristine came back into the room and I heard another set of footsteps come in also.
“Mom! He is still alive! I know he is! How can you even think about pulling the plug on him? It’s not like you have to pay to keep him alive, his insurance is covering everything!’
“Now honey, we already had this discussion. The doctor told you that if we kept him alive on this equipment that he would only be a vegetable for the rest of his life. Is that how you want to remember your father? Do you think this is going to be easy for me?”
“I read about it today at the library! Some people come out of coma with no side effects! As long as he is still alive he has a chance!” Ashley cried.
“Your father is not in a typical coma; his brain has been cut into and partially destroyed. The people who come out of coma are the ones who can still breathe on their own and the ones who don’t need a machine to make their hearts beat. His entire body is shutting down slowly, all we are doing by keeping him alive on these machines is making his pain last longer.”
“Hey! I don’t feel any pain! I don’t want to die!” I wanted to shout. There had to be some way to show them I was alive and wanted to stay alive.
“I will never forgive you for this mom; as far as I am concerned you are killing dad!”
Suddenly Ashley had her arms around my neck and was squeezing me. “I love you dad and want you to know that I don’t want to pull the plug. I will always love you and will never forget you. If you are in pain I hope that this will stop the pain and if you can hear me I want you to know that I love you.”
Her tears were rolling down my face and I could feel her body shaking with sobs. She released me and then ran out of the room. I could still feel her tears on my face and in my hair where she had cried while hugging me.
Then my wife, the traitor, was bending over me.
“Honey, I don’t know if you can hear me or not, I really doubt you can, but the doctor said this would be the best thing to do. I am going to miss you more than you will ever realize. I do not consider this killing you, but instead putting you out of your misery. I know that if you were alive in there that you would find a way to let me know, but the doctor says you are almost brain dead and the chance of you recovering is pretty much zero. Before you go I just want to tell you one last time that I love you,” Kristine said to me between sobs.
“Are we ready Mrs. Steinland?” I heard the doctor ask.
What was with this guy? Did he want to make moves on my wife or what? Did he have a golf game to get to or what? Why was he in such a hurry to kill me? Why did he think I was brain dead? I could hear and when my eyes were open see everything going on around me! What was his problem?
“Yes doctor, I have said my final goodbye to him. But I do not want to be here when you do it. Give me and the kids time to leave before you actually take him off life support,” I heard Kristine say.
Then my eye was opened and I could just see Kristine before she turned and walked from the room. As she left the room, suddenly Ashley came running back in and I could see her lovely face before the eye was let to shut again. She hugged me and once again wetted my cheek with her tears.
“I love you dad,” she managed to say before Kristine gently pulled her away and out of the room.
Once again I felt the blood pressure cuff on my arm and the thermometer put in my mouth. Dedra was back over doing her last vitals check on me before I was to die.
“That is quite a nice family you have there. Your daughter really loves you and I have to agree with her that we should not pull the plug.” I heard Dedra whisper in my ear.
“Talking to him is useless now, he is already dead except for the machines,” the doctor said when he saw her talking to me.
I suddenly hated that man. Who was he to say that I was already dead? Maybe one day he would be in the same position. Maybe some day someone would have the chance to pull the plug on him!
My eye was opened and I saw once again the angelic face of Dedra. She was doing her last check of my pupil response. If only I could make one of them move maybe that would change their mind. Then my eye was closed and I heard Dedra leave the room.
I could hear the doctor moving around my bed unhooking different things. I felt the needle come out of my arm, no more IV. Then he removed the mask from my face, no more forced breathing. I was trying my best to breathe on my own but my lungs did not seem to work. Then my heart machine went silent as he unplugged it.
“Rest in peace,” I heard him say and then he left the room.
Only the sound of one heart machine. Then the sound of footsteps as Dedra came back in the room. In my head I was hearing the singing of the congregation once more and suddenly I could see the roof of the temple. Dedra had come in and opened my eyes. My tear blended in with my daughters tears unnoticed.
“Maybe you can see things before you go,” she said.
There was no bright light as I thought would be there at the end. Just the knowledge that I was no longer breathing and my heart was no longer beating. Slowly the sounds in the room started to fade away and the sounds of the congregation grew louder. The last sound I heard in the room was Dedra humming the same tune the congregation was singing.
As I looked at the ceiling I was finally able to see the final painting on the ceiling. It was a painting of the very same temple that I was laying in. Only this painting had been done in the 1800’s. The painting grew larger and larger as I was drawn toward it. In the lower corner of the painting was the title. The title of the painting was simply, ‘The Old Temple’.