The unacknowledged, forgotten, worst day of my life.
This is a story I have hardly told. And this year, I feel ready to share it with the world.
I was 14 years old. More than halfway through my freshman year of high school.
I spent two months living in a hazy, disillusioned world.
Going through the day by day notions of any normal 14 year old. School, friends, cheerleading practice, dance, homework. The list goes on.
Little did I know, that this time period of my life would be so significant.
January 25, 2009
Nora’s illness began. And what seemed like a harmless trip to the hospital, turned into a story that has changed the rest of my life.
From this day, January 25, I spent the next 43 days going through my daily life.
But my 1 year old sister was in and out of the hospital, my parents were back and forth between the hospital and home, and we had different people taking care of us.
Seeing Nora ill, attached to different machines, and living with an oxygen tank next to her became normal.
It was never threatening.
Not once did death creep into my mind. Not once did I ever imagine that my sister was so sick, her illness would take her away from us.
Within just a few short weeks, her soul would leave this Earth, and she would return home to her Heavenly Father.
March 6, 2009
It was a Friday night.
I remember my Grandma was staying with us, and I was sitting in my room getting ready for bed. When I received the worst phone call.
My mom was on the phone, screaming and crying. In panic. Telling me Nora went into cardiac arrest following her lung biopsy.
As a 14 year old, what do you do? How do you react?
March 9, 2009
A normal Monday.
I woke up, went to school, and came home.
We went to a family friend’s house for dinner, and were told we were going to drive to LA that night to see Nora.
This wasn’t alarming, as it had become semi-normal for us to make trips up to LA to visit her in the hospital.
We arrived at the hospital, and every inch of my being knew that something was wrong.
There were more people there than usual, the nurses and doctors were emotional, and looked at me with a broken heart and lost hope.
My parents asked me to come into her room first, alone.
I remember walking into her hospital room, with a pit in my stomach. Unaware of the next 24 hours that would soon unfold.
I immediately went to Nora’s bed, hugged and kissed her sweet head, full of blonde curls.
She was hooked up to more machines and wires than I can remember, her entire body was swollen with fluids, and she was sedated.
My empty, broken hearted, defeated parents looked at me, and told me that Nora wasn’t going to make it. My 1 year old sister wouldn’t live. Her time on Earth with us was ending.
I felt my entire world crash around me.
I fell to my knees.
I cried. I screamed. I broke.
In my 22 years of life, my heart has never shattered the way it did that night.
Knowing the pain my parents were in, and what they had to tell each of their children, one by one, sickens me. It is something no person should ever have to endure.
This was the longest, worst night of my life. How, as humans, we find the strength to say goodbye to someone we love, to a sibling, a child, a family member, is beyond me.
If you asked me today, to say goodbye to Nora again, I’m not sure I would find the strength to. But on this day, 8 years ago, the Holy Spirit guided me and gave me the strength to let go of Nora here on Earth, and allow her to return home to Heaven.
At the age of 14, I experienced the greatest loss of my life.
At the age of 14, I learned how precious life is.
At the age of 14, I changed.
Now, at the age of 22, I live each day of my life with Nora as my guiding light. In all things I do, I do it with her close to my heart.
No matter where I go in the world, Nora is right beside me. She inspires me, strengthens me, uplifts me, and encourages me to keep moving forward.
Today, is March 9. Today, is a hard day.
Madeline Alice Johnson