It was January 26th, the night of my birthday. My family was there to celebrate and we were all happy as I opened my presents and we ate the birthday cake. It was snowing outside as my aunt and uncle lead the way down the snowy steps of our backdoor stairway to the car. Mother came third and Grandmother followed. I was at the top of the steps as grandmother passed by me. I said, “Be careful it’s slippery”.
I offered my arm for her to hold on to for support. However, she waved it off, and started trudging down the stairs towards my mom…a little too fast I thought. I didn’t chase after her or tell her to slow down since Grandmother was only two steps away from my mom. That’s when she slipped. She slipped forward, and looked like she was trying to walk in midair. She flew down the long set of stairs. Spinning head first into the concrete pavement below. I heard a distinct crack that echoed off the walls of my house.
It will haunt me for the rest of my life.
My mother brought her hands to her face and screamed. I saw something from Grandma’s head had catapulted outwards. Dread and horror filled my body, threatening to overwhelm my senses. I felt myself shaking. Yet I knew I had to get this situation under control. I knew it had to be me. I pushed the upwelling horror down and away. “I have this situation under control, I have this situation under control”, I repeated to myself.
I looked down the stairs to see skull fragments on the concrete and brain scattered on the ground. It was the most horrendous sight ever. I wanted to run away and puke. Instead, I went to my mother, who was screaming and crying uncontrollably now. I placed my hand on her head. “I’m here, I’m here…I’ll take care of this,” as I gently pressed her head against my shoulder.
I managed to guide her upstairs and through the doorway when my dad bursted out of his room in panic from the commotion. “What happened!? What’s wrong? Is she okay?”
I looked at him, my lips trembling. “No, it’s grandmother….she slipped down the stairs…and she’s gone.”
He looked at me with eyes of confusion, “What do you mean gone? Why are you just standing here?!?! I gotta go see her!”
“No, you have to take care of Mom.” I handed Mother to him as she clung onto him crying.
“No, I need to see my mother!!!”
“You CAN’T!!! I CANNOT let you see her. PLEASE.”
Tears were streaming down my face as the image of my grandmother on the bottom of the stairs resurfaced. It was all too horrible, all too fresh…Dad looked at me angrily. He looked like he was about to punch me in the face. I didn’t care. “Please Dad,” I begged. “Please, you cannot see grandmother like this…you cannot. Please, let me protect you. You can see her at the hospital later, but you cannot see her like this now. You need to help Mom…if you see her now, you’ll have nightmares for the rest of your life. Please Dad! Let me protect you. Please.”
I looked at him with pleading eyes as tears rolled like torrents down my face. He saw my pain, he felt my mother’s pain, and he didn’t say anything as the anger melted into frustration and fear in his eyes.
“What do you mean she’s gone? You know first aid don’t you? Why don’t you go down and help her?”
“I can’t…her skull…it’s broken….and…and…her brain, it’s …it’s…scattered….”
I couldn’t do this anymore I couldn’t look at his face. I turned around, picked up the phone and called 911. I told dispatch that my grandmother had fallen down the stairs and bashed her head and her brains are lying on the floor. That it’ll be a DOA call. I didn’t want the medics to rush here risking their lives when I know that my grandmother was gone and can’t be saved. I tried to leave the panic and horror out of my voice, but it was too difficult. I hung up and told my brother to wait for the paramedics. I didn’t want to go back outside, but it felt wrong to leave Grandmother outside by herself even though I knew she was dead. I sat at the top of the stairs and looked down at her, I couldn’t go any further down the stairs by myself. I wasn’t even a medic yet and I already have my first DOA and trauma call and it was way too close to home. It was so close that it was home…I wasn’t sure how I can handle this. My optimism told me that it was good she passed away quickly with little pain, no torture of decaying in a nursing home. At least she was happy and had a good time before the light went suddenly out.
I felt so useless. There was nothing I could do or could have done…I know can never celebrate my birthday again. When my birthday comes all I’ll see is my grandmother….on the pavement….
That was when I woke up from my sleep, crying. It was a horrible nightmare. It was all too real.