Monday, November 28, 2005

Anonymous Me...An Autobiography

{painting by Anne Hardy click the pic for her site}

When I was in the 8th grade, our assignment was to write an autobiography. The title of this post, was the title I chose for mine. I really enjoyed writing then and felt I was good at it. I was good at a lot of things then. But things changed. My sister died that year and a part of me died with her. It was the day after Thanksgiving and I only recall that fact after much thought. I've blocked out a lot from that night. I have a few snapshots in my head, and I remember more about what I was thinking at the time than "visual" memories. I was 13 and I knew things were bad, but I didn't realize how close to the end Cassie was. I remember realizing that she was going when one pupil was larger than the other...I remember how ragged her last breaths were...I remember going to the nurses station for a pair of scissors so that I could have a lock of her hair...I remember studying her face and hands so that I would never forget how they looked. It's hard to go back to that day. I find it harder with every year that passes, not because the memory fades, but because the pain doesn't. I always thought that I would take my children to see her. My Dad said that the night Cassie died we sat up together talking for a long time and I told him that and broke his heart. I don't remember the conversation at all.

Here is an excerpt of my paper from 8th grade (complete with grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors)...


Melancholy & The Infinite Sadness

My sister, Cassidy
Anne Yelton, was born on October 29, 1983. Cassie was born 1 month premature
with severe cerebral paulsey. From the very beginning of her life she had it
hard. Neither my parents, family, nor I knew of the long, painful road we had
ahead for the next twelve long, but seemingly short years. From the beginning I
knew that my sister was special, and I loved her dearly for being so. The first
two years of her life were especially rough. She was sick with something all the
time. My parents were young and scared, and the doctors bills kept piling up and
we were going deeper and deeper in debt, so, even though it was the hardest
decision they ever had to make, my parents decided that it would be best for all
parties involved; on the day of Cassie's 2nd birthday, my parents put her in a
special home for
handicapped children in Asheville, North Carolina. Their,
she would recieve 24 hour care by people specially trained to care for children.
During her ten years in Asheville she was never sick until one May in 1992.
Cassie had very bad congestion in her lungs, and being that she was deaf, blind,
and mute and unable to move voluntarily, she spent most of her life lying in
either a bed, wheelchair, or bean bag, causing her to get an inadequate amount
of exercise. Her torso was twisted and her lungs constricted making it hard to
cough up the congestion in her
lungs. She was put in the Intensive Care Unit
at Memorial Mission Hospital. She was released a week later but left very weak
and her lungs were vulnerable and susceptible to getting the same thing again
and she did. Every year she was in the hospital at least twice and every time
her lungs were left even more vulnerable and susceptible. And each time my
parents were faced with the question of in the even that her heart stopped
should the doctors try to resuscitate her or not, and once again faced with the
hardest decision a parent ever has to face, my parents chose not to resuscitate.
We all knew that Cassie would die from this, but it was one of those things that
you put in the back of your mind, back in the deep, dark shadowy
corners,
and you keep it there until you can no longer suppress it, and your faced with
it, the ugly truth, face to face and you deal with it or die trying to ignore
and fight it. Finally it was
time to face the ugly, ugly truth head on. It
was, ironically, on Thanksgiving Day when we got the call. The nurses that took
care of my sister called and said that they had sent Cassie to the emergency
room at Memorial Mission. We quickly raced up to Asheville not knowing what we would find. The ride up there, I will never forget, it was dark, cold, and
silent. The whole way up there neither my mom or dad or I spoke, each pondering
his own thoughts in dead silence. When we got to the hospital we were allowed in
to see Cassie. I had never been so frightened in my life. After what seemed like
forever, they finally admitted her. After making sure she was alright we went
home. The next day early in the morning we made the trek up to Asheville and
stayed the whole day. My grandparents also joined us. Overnight, Cassie was put
into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Through the day my little sister got
progressively worse. That night, after a day of only being let in only two at a
time, they let us all in that tiny, ugly room with a bad view. We all knew
what was next but nothing was said. I remember walking into
that room, like I had done many times that day, and seeing my sister struggling to breathe. I remember looking into her beautiful, deep, brown eyes and seeing that one pupil
was dilated and the other not. A wave of anger swept over me because even though she was heavily sedated with morphine, and her not being able to communicate
fear, or happiness or any other
emotion, I saw in her eyes fear and that
scared the hell out of me, and for a moment I hated and despised God. At about
10:00pm it was clear that any moment Cassie would breathe her last
breath,
and at exactly 10:07pm on November 24, 1995 she did. As the last light of life
left her poor, weak, body my hatred for God left too. My first reaction was
uncontrollable sobbing and
hyperventilation. Whe I finally regained control
of myself, I asked for a lock of Cassie's hair, and I got it. As I watched my
mother cut Cassie's long, beautiful, brown hair I began sobbing and thinking
about how this was her last hair cut. The next day, we met with McMahan's
Funeral Home and made arrangements for Cassie's funeral services. My parents
picked out a
white casket with golden trim and golden angels on all four
corners, it was so beautiful. My sister always looked pretty in light pink so we
got a pink and white rose spray. My mom and I then went to Belk to buy Cassie the
best pink, silk night gown and hair bows to match and we did. Oh, her funeral
was so pretty and perfect except when I had to play for the service. I played a
song on the piano, right in the middle I started sobbing and ran back to my seat
like a
fool. I felt horrible and I had ruined everything, and I hated myself
for that. I'll never forgive myself for as long as I live. I will forever
remember the best sister in the world, mine, Cassidy Anne Yelton.


I did forgive myself for the whole piano incident. For the next few weeks I would sit in the church all alone and play it until the song was perfect and I knew she heard it. I quit taking piano lessons and I didn't write much after that though. I learned alot from my sisters life and death. Growing up all my baby dolls had IVs and feeding tubes. She's the reason I want to be a nurse. She taught me about compassion and unconditional love. I made a lot of friends with the kids who lived with her....unfortunately, they're all gone now. I don't know what I believe about what comes after this life, but I like to think that all of those children are running around in some magical place free of their previous bodies, wheelchairs, pain, and fear. I can almost hear them laughing right now.

2 Comments:

Anonymous susan said...

You told that beautifully

December 02, 2005 9:01 PM  
Blogger nu. said...

this was a wonderful post. heart-felt and very touching.

December 06, 2005 10:18 AM  

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