I left the hospital, around noon, on Friday, 7/29, shortly after hearing from Michael's step-father that the neurologist had told them my friend no longer had brain activity.
Before leaving, I went into Michael's room to be with him & his mother. She stood on one side of his bed, talking with him & lovingly stroking his forehead. She talked about how there were so many things they were supposed to do together, how they were supposed to have decades ahead.
I stood on his right side & held his hand. I talked with him a bit too but not as much or as aggressively as I had the other day, when we still hoped he might wake up & start answering us. When we still hoped he was with us & hadn't gone, wasn't lost. So many people wanted so badly for that to be so. If only wanting it could have made it so...
Michael's brother arrived. I decided I was ready to step out, let him have time with his mom, with his brother. While I greatly appreciated all of the loving-kindness & comradery I had shared with Michael's friends & loved-ones in the waiting room of that ICU, I needed space & time to sort it all out.
I've said it before & I will say it again, "Losing Michael is a horrible tragedy. The world needs more of him, not less."
So, I left. I didn't even really say goodbye to most people. I told a couple, then, practically snuck out, down the stairwell, like maybe I was just going to move my car to a new two-hour parking spot, but, my two hours were up. My days of waiting with baited breath, of hoping & wishing & wondering were up. My friend was gone. I decided I was getting out of there too.
It felt somewhat cowardly & even shameful to leave the people I left behind, to face what I knew they would have to face, in the coming hours & days, but I had done all I could do & I was thankful that I was one of the ones who was able to leave, had the luxury of being able to flee. I believed Michael would understand. I hoped those who love him would too.
So, I got in my car & drove home, back, across the Golden Gate Bridge & started pulling things out of our apartment's tiny storage closet. I sorted & organized & packed our camping gear. We hadn't been camping in over a year, since Yosemite in April of 2010. We'd been wanting to go, hoping to go, planning to go, I was going. (Y1, Y2, Y3) Although, I wasn't sure where....
I went back inside & got out a map & tried to find a place another CASA volunteer turned friend had told me about, a place she'd visited, south of here, where there were all these really cool caves with bats. I decided that I thought she was talking about Pinnacles National Monument & started thinking that's where we should go.
Cameron had just finished his work week & was going to be able to get away for four days. (Sam was traveling with the family of one of his friends.) When Cameron pointed out that because it is about 60 miles inland, Pinnacles was going to be in the 90s that weekend, I started to think his idea of sticking to the coast was a better one.
But, I didn't want what I had, what I already knew. I wanted new & different, startling, breath-taking beauty. I wanted a place to get away, to escape, to sit & think & process & grieve & mourn & reflect & remember & to just be.
Cam said, if we left before the traffic got bad & just drove, that we could pretty much make it to Oregon that night. Oregon was a place neither of us had been, a place we both think we might want to live someday. They say, "Oregon is for dreamers." Maybe it was the place for us?
I took a look at some photos another CASA volunteer turned friend had shared with me of her bike ride down the Oregon & California coast. I flagged places she'd been I wanted to go, googled directions to see how far away these places were, to see what was reasonable & realistic. Then, we just got in the car & were gone.