Leaving Him At Highland
The remainder of Saturday, once Vinnie was out of ICU, is pretty much a blur. I remember there being a continuous stream of people coming to the hospital to see him and support me. Tootie and JeNae were on rotation in his room. Those two have got to be the elite squad of Top Flight Security when it came to monitoring, observing and enforcing visiting time limits. I was primarily stationed in the lobby to monitor who would visit and to lay down the rules. No crying. Get all our crying out before you go in to see him. He is going to respond based on how we react to seeing him.
I was doing a fairly good job of keeping it together until other people broke down. Other than my initial breakdown with Var, there were one other instance that stands out that first day. Sister, or TiTi as Vinnie calls her, called and wanted to speak to him. I held the phone to his ear. I am not sure what she said to him. However, what he said to her and what followed almost broke me down. He asked her to sing, “Sing that song TiTi, you know the one”. She began to sing, “I just want to praise you, forever and ever, for all you’ve done for me…” Til this day I can not hear that song without remembering that moment in the hospital (and later at church when 2 days after being released from the hospital, he insisted on going to church, but that’s a later post). As Sister sang, tears began to roll down Vin’s face. All I could do was hold the phone and pray, “Lord thank you for sparing my child and please help me to keep it together”.
About 8 pm, the fact that I had been up for over 36 hours and I couldn’t remember the last time I had eaten hit me. We had already decided we would stay at Tootie’s house in Fremont so we could be in close proximity to the hospital as opposed to being way in Antioch. We decided it was time to leave. As difficult as it was to leave the hospital, I knew I needed to eat and get some rest in order to be back first thing Sunday morning. Thankfully he had a room to himself and after a stern, borderline threatening conversation with the Powers That Be at Highland, it was agreed that Var could stay at the hospital with Vinnie.
Then there was the drive home. We were in my car. I was driving, Tootie was shotgun with Chelsea and JeNae in the back. To this day I do not know why they decided that the drive home was the time to go in on me about how calm I was when I called them. But they did. And go in on me they did. This family is known for reenactments and reenact my phone calls to them is exactly what they did. It is difficult to recapture, in writing, their imitations of me calling them but suffice it to say, my calmness was clearly a problem. They both agreed that it took them a more than a few seconds to compute the information I had conveyed because of calmness and the lack of emotion in my voice.
We laughed as Tootie told JeNae her response, the one out loud and the one in her head. To me she said, “WHAT Rotchie? What did you say?” In her head, she said, she thought, “I know this _____ didn’t just tell me my Godson has been shot. She couldn’t of said that cause she sounds way too calm”. She told us how, after she hung up with me, she started yelling at Big Papa to get up, she jumped out of bed, turned on every light in the house while yelling for everybody to get up, they had to get to the hospital because Vinnie had been shot. Anybody who knows Tootie can definitely envision her doing just this and then yelling louder cause nobody was moving fast enough.
I remember the pause on the phone as I told JeNae. She said her brain, too, was computing what I had said. Her pause was partially my calmness but also her disbelief at what I was saying. Vinnie wasn’t about that life. I don’t remember her exact response, I just remember by 11 am Cameron was picking her up from Oakland airport.
As they recapped how calm I was, it then became how I’m always calm and how I get on their nerves with that. “You can’t never yell and scream?” I couldn’t believe during this time of tragedy, they were talking about how much I got on their nerves and made them sick. They were really going on and on and on about it. We laughed and laughed. I was driving and laughing. I was laughing so hard I was crying. Here we are driving down 880 on a Saturday night, after the worst night of our lives, tired, hungry and laughing uncontrollably. I told them to stop making me laugh cause I was driving and I couldn’t see if I was crying due to laughing. Somebody came up with the thought of us having a car accident and how the ensuing headline would read, “Son Survives 17 Gunshot Wounds, Mother, Sisters and Godmother Die In Car Crash”. And with that, of course, we laughed some more.
We finally make it to Tootie’s house. Tootie, who finds any reason to go to WalMart on the late night tip, decided she really had a legitimate reason to go. She convinced Chelsea and JeNae to participate in her WalMart run because she “needed to get some stuff for me”.
Exhausted and emotionally drained, I laid down to try and get some sleep. The next thing I remember is being awakened, at 1 am, to Tootie’s being excited to tell me about the jeans she found me for $5.00. Not sure why that couldn’t wait until morning but clearly it couldn’t.
Tootie is one of my 5 (friends). She is my Rotchie. My ride or die. She is the Godmother (Nanny) to my boys, Auntie Tootie to my girls and Granny-Nanny to my grandsons. We have been through so much together, I could write a entire blog just on that. We may not talk often, we may not see each other often but she is that one who will drop everything when I need her and vice-versa. Our motto, when it’s time to ride out, “You ain’t said nothing but a word. Are we praying or fighting?” She was at the hospital with us every, single day the entire length of Vinnie’s stay. To this day, I have no idea what she told her job. Everybody needs a Rotchie in their life.
We finally got to bed. It seemed I had been sleep for 15 minutes when Var called about 8 am to say, Highland was allowing people access to Vinnie using is birth name (he was there under a trauma name). I told Var not to worry about it, I was on my way. Clearly Highland’s lack of security had compromised my son’s safety and they were going to hear about it.
This was the first of every morning of Vinnie’s stay at Highland, in which I would receive an early morning phone call from Var about the shenanigans of Highland Hospital relative to my son’s care and treatment. Guess they didn’t know I wasn’t the one, I was the other one. Highland would soon find out, “I only look like this”.
Next…Breach Of Security = Potential Huge Liability For Your Hospital.
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