My heart is breaking this morning for the family and friends of Natasha Richardson. Partly because she was a lovely actress whose work I thoroughly enjoyed, and partly because I've been where her family is, and I know the heartbreak that comes with something this shocking.
About a year and a half ago one of Rick's brothers was out to dinner with his crazy ex-wife (yes, I'm name calling), after which they got into a fight and he ended up walking around off the freeway by himself. He attempted to climb what was essentially a hill of boulders, but unfortunately he'd been drinking heavily, and partway up he fell backwards. We only know, based on the coroner's report, that he fell, hit his head, and at some point managed to get up and walk into town.
Once he reached town, it seems he tried to get into a building of some sort, because an alarm was set off and the police came to investigate. They found my brother-in-law wandering and confused, with a bleeding lip. They decided to arrest him for public drunkenness, but first took him to the hospital to get cleaned up. It was there that a doctor discovered his head injury finally.
He was transported to a better hospital immediately, but by the time he arrived, he was unconscious. It took them some time to identify and then contact his family. We didn't hear about it until mid-afternoon that day, when they told us that he had swelling of the brain and they needed to relieve the pressure. My mother-in-law, who is in her 80's, was traveling right then with her husband from their summer home to their winter home, and had to deal with all of this on cell phones and in hotels. Thankfully she had one of her daughter-in-laws with her, who I understand is a nurse. It was all on her to make the decisions that would affect the outcome of her son's future. I can't even imagine...
Meanwhile, we were getting information here and there, but it steadily got worse and worse. Every minute the pressure on his brain continued to worsen, until finally, the doctors gave my MIL agonizing news. To save him they would have to actually remove a part of his brain, but they couldn't guarantee what kind of life he would live afterwards. A very good doctor was kind enough to make her see that it really wasn't fair to my BIL to possibly be choosing a vegetative state for him. And so she had to let go of a piece of her heart when she decided to let him go.
Again, I can't even imagine...
The only silver lining of the situation was that he turned out to be an organ donor, and it was found that his liver, his kidneys and even his lungs were all donatable. Four people's lives were touched and changed because of him, and that gave us comfort during such a heartbreaking time.
And so that's why my heart goes out to Natasha's family -- I'm certain they experienced the same downward spiral of hope as we did, because the brain is such a delicate matter. She had two young sons the same age as my darling niece who lost her father, and there is no greater loss for a child. They're all on my heart today.