As I sit here looking out the window of my room on the sixth floor of the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem and try to digest the news that I just got from California, I can only think that at least I'm in a place that makes me happy as I feel sadder than I have felt in a very, very long time.
A little bit ago I spoke to Cyndi's daughter Angela and received the news that Cyndi has been in a coma for the past two days and the family now has to make the painful decision as to whether or not to turn off the ventilator that has been breathing for her for the past month or hold out hope that maybe - just maybe - her brain will come back to life.
Apparently Cyndi went into cardiac arrest this past Tuesday night following what they think may have been a blockage of some sort in her lungs. It's not known exactly how long she was without oxygen but after being given CPR for 5-6 minutes they were able to get her heart started again. However, due to the lack of oxygen, it appears that she has suffered a lot of brain damage and has not had any noticeable brain activity since they revived her. Angela said that the doctors told her that generally speaking, the first 48 hours following such an event are pretty much the determining factor as to whether or not she'll regain any brain activity and - as much as I hate to say it - it doesn't look like there has been any nor will there be any.
Cyndi was pretty emphatic about wanting to stay alive as long as her mind was functioning - one of the few things that ALS doesn't touch so she was quite cognizant of the fact that the rest of her body was giving out on her - but she also was quite adamant about not wanting to be kept alive if her mind was gone. Angela said that they had talked about it quite extensively (and Cyndi being Cyndi, I've got no doubt she covered all of her bases when it came to that sort of thing) so she knows what her Mom would want done if she is, as feared, brain-dead. She would want them to shut off the ventilator and let her go releasing her from the prison that her body has become.
As I look at the church steeple in front of me, I am reminded that Cyndi always had a lot of faith and firmly believed that there's more to it than just the life that we live here on earth so I've got no doubt that she would want to "get to it" and begin the adventure that awaits her on the other side. She wouldn't want to be hooked up to machines that kept her alive when her brain was gone and she could no longer think for herself and she wouldn't want to be a burden to those who loved her either.
That said, I wasn't quite ready to say a final good-bye yet and even though I knew this was coming, I didn't think it was coming this fast. Angela said that she'll keep me posted as to what decision the family makes but at this point, I'm afraid it's probably all over except for the legalities.
Except for the final pronouncement by a doctor with time of death, my friend is gone and my heart is broken though I am very, very thankful that I got out to see her when I did. I know that all things happen for a reason, I've believed that for as long as I can remember, and I know that people oftentimes don't get the chance to say good-bye or explain to someone how much they've meant to them in their lives so I should count myself lucky that I did have that chance and that I did have a friend like Cyndi in my life but I've got to tell you, right now I'm not feeling very lucky at all. Except maybe for the fact that I'm in Salem and I can cry in peace as I mourn the loss of a part of me.
If you're the type that offers up prayers, I would appreciate a few for Jeff, Cyndi's husband, and her children Angela and Ronnie as they make the tough decisions out there in California. I'm sure they'd appreciate it, too.