Learning To Love You More




Assignment #31
Spend time with a dying person.

Liz Ortúzar
Rockville, Maryland USA
Email Liz



Gregg Ecton
Holy Cross Hospital, May 1991
This was a very long time ago, but I remember it so very (painfully) vividly. Gregg was my big brother, 26 years old, and dying from AIDS. In the early 90' s one didn' t have much time before the inevitable. I remember going to visit him during the morning hours of May 1. Gregg had been suffering with pneumocystis for some time, along with a host of other medical problems (yeast infections, deteriorating vision, etc.). My brother was sitting cross-legged in his bed, bent over in an attempt to make breathing easier. He had on an oxygen mask and his head was resting on his hands. The oxygen was hissing and I wasn' t sure if he knew I was there, so I reached over and touched the top of Gregg' s head. I bent down to look at him as he lifted his head, but his eyes couldn' t focus immediately, and when they did it took him a moment to recognize me because there was not enough oxygen getting to his brain. It was during that moment that an invisible knife sliced through my body; I felt actual, physical pain as I thought, "Oh my God, my brother is going to die." I swallowed hard, smiled and said, "It' s me!" He smiled back and said, "Hi, ' liza" (his pet name for me - short for Elizabeth) and put his head back down. I could only stand there with my hand over my mouth, trying to hold in my tears, screams, and emotions. My mom got up, hugged me, and I broke down into wracking sobs that I couldn' t control. My mom cried with me, too, and said, "This is the closest moment together that we may ever have together." I felt incredibly desperate, and my mom was trying to help me see a little good in all of this. I went back to my brother and rubbed his back as he struggled to breathe - he was so thin that I could see his ribs. I kissed his back and as my tears rolled down his sides, I told him not to be afraid. Gregg' s next words broke my heart: "Oh, it' s okay. It' ll be over soon." And it was. I grieved as I signed the "Do No Resuscitate" order that day, we got into the ambulance, and went to Mom and Dad' s house. Two days later, my brother was gone. It thunder stormed that afternoon; Gregg was letting me know he made it to heaven.
I miss him still...