We drive to the hospital, park god knows where. I feel sick, shaking and panicked as we are met by Steve. His usual composure crumpled. His tear stained face as he reaches for us somehow makes it real. It’s been 15 minutes since the call came, Leanne is dead. Died in her sleep, found this morning by her daughter Jade, only 11.
We walk through the emergency doors at Mona Vale Hospital that I know so well. That ever present smell of sterility permeates my nose. Oh god, its Mark’s anguished face. This man who I’ve known so long. This man who often rubs against my nerves, yet who is of such kind heart. This man who is my hubby’s best mate. He’s the joker, the lad, the unsophisticated yobbo who always says the most inappropriate things. Here is this man, broken, ravaged in pain, shock, disbelief. His beautiful, adored wife, she’s his whole world. He doesn’t dress without her getting out his clothes. We go to restaurants and he looks to her saying “what do I want luv?”
He hugs us both. I’m barely standing, Scott hasn’t taken a breath in what seems like hours. We stand huddled, none of us able to break the hold. I hear Jadey’s voice and something deep within me strengthens and I’m able to turn to her, grab her in a hard hug, probably more for me that her. “Come and sit with her” says Mark…
Scott and I pass an imperceptible glance, I’m not even sure it happened. An unspoken “can we do this”, neither of us having been with a deceased body before. We blindly follow someone into the back of emergency. A place I know well, have been here so many times with my accident prone boys. Yet I couldn’t tell you now where we were that morning. The slide of the cubicle curtain and there lay my friend Leanne.
I freeze for a moment, there’s not a breath in the room. How is this possible, we had lunch yesterday.. We laughed and planned our next escape. A health retreat for a few days. How we loved to get away, been doing it for years. Back when the kids were little and when we were addicted to Days of Our Lives. We’d compare notes on whatever was happening in the lives of Marlena and Roman.. We loved our trips to the Hunter Valley. How I loved to embarrass her when she was worried people thought we were leso’s.
I walk towards the bed. She’s so still. I sit by her, the blankets drawn up to her chin. I look for the rise and fall of her breath, it’s not there. There’s a bruise on her lip when they tried to ventilate her.
I look at her face, its different. I notice her hair. A crazed thought that I wish I had a GHD, she so hated when her hair frizzed.
I sit by her side, her slender hand under mine. Where has she gone? Thoughts broken by footsteps coming closer. Her brother Bruce, ashen, gulping for air. They havn’t been on the best of terms lately. He’s sobbing, wailing, yet not breathing. I hold him as he holds her, whispering “breathe Bruce, breathe”.. He finally takes a gasping breath and calls out “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.. His remorse fills the room like a thickening fog. As he leaves broken, her
other brother David walks in. This face I know well, so like hers. Their friendship so special, peas of a pod. His Flo…
I feel an intruder, the bond so close. I ease out of the room, unnoticed by David, one last touch of her toes through the scratchy blanket. Never to see her again.