How true the words of Joni Mitchell’s song ‘You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’.
One very short month ago (February 14th), I received a telephone call at 5:00 am from my brother, asking me to please take him to the hospital’s Emergency Room; he was having trouble breathing. I quickly dressed, got into my car and drove the 5 short miles to his house.
When I arrived, he was having a very hard time catching his breath. I asked if he had chest pains for I feared he was having a heart attack, “No, not at all” was his reply. I helped him to my car and off we drove to the hospital’s Emergency Room. Once at the hospital, they took him into the triage area, he wanted me by his side, so I sat at a chair next to him. He was then brought to a treatment room where breathing treatments were administered.
Next was an x-ray, when I came back into the room, he told me he saw the digital image of his lungs and “they looked cloudy”. He figured he had pneumonia. Next was a CT scan, according to the doctor, that revealed blood clots in his lungs. He was going to be admitted to the hospital for treatment for the blood clots. He told me to go home at 11:45, he would be fine and would text me with his room number when he was in the room.
At 3:11 in the afternoon, I received a text that he was in room 212. As I was putting on my shoes to leave for the hospital I received a telephone call from his doctor. Tom had been rushed to the ICU because he was in respiratory distress. The doctor did not agree with the Emergency Room doctor’s diagnosis of blood clots, this doctor’s diagnosis was NSIP which is a terminal auto-immune disease.
I arrived at the ICU within 20 minutes of speaking with the doctor to find my brother with a CPAP mask covering his nose and mouth. This CPAP mask was pumping 100% pure oxygen into Tom’s lungs. At that time he was able to draw up a legal Medical Power of Attorney for me but was not strong enough to write a living will or a Financial Power of Attorney. Tom did not have a will or any other documents giving anyone the tools to carry out his last wishes.
His condition continued to deteriorate, more and more of his lungs were being shut down by the scarring his body was producing. On Tuesday only three short days later, Tom had to be sedated to the point of unconsciousness – a choice I had to make. I wanted him to pull through, I wanted to give his body a chance to fight this horrific disease. By Thursday, February 19th, I knew I had to make a decision to order treatment stopped and to let my brother pass on.
After an x-ray showing his left lung was totally scarred and his right lung had only approximately 3 inches of unscarred tissue on Friday morning I agreed to having the oxygen removed and to let him go. It was the hardest decision of my life. I sat by his side holding his hand until he took his last breath and then for some time afterward. I remained by his side, it was the very least I could do for my brother.
Since his death, I have learned from so many of his friends that he was so very proud of my accomplishments in life. Why is it that he never told me so?
I have learned his one desire was to go on a Camino with me, him in a horse-drawn carriage and me walking alongside. Again why didn’t he tell me of that desire? I could have made it happen while he was still alive, ah but would I have?
I have learned what a wonderful person he was when it came to helping his friends when they needed help. He helped me when I asked, why didn’t I appreciate his help, why did I just expect he should help me?
Part of the reason I moved from the New York Metropolitan Area was because my brother encouraged me to do so. Now I feel my purpose for being here has been played out.
I’ve learned a big lesson; yes it is so true, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone!
Rest in Peace my only brother, Thomas William Mourier, June 2, 1951 – February 20, 2015