The Branches On My Family Tree–Volume VI

Joanna fell in love with stunts and became a stunt double on various TV shows. She was taught well, was a quick study and a consummate professional. That’s not to say that she never made mistakes or suffered from any injuries. Over ten years she broke both wrists, her right arm and three ribs, as well as pulled several muscles, endured countless sprains and suffered from at least one concussion. She was in pain, lessons were learnt, but she always managed to recover.

Her latest mistake would never come with a chance of recovery…

***

The one thing that I’ve always loved and has always scared me about life is how fast it all goes by. You always think that you have plenty time for everything.

My time is running out.

I’ve always found that children perfectly represent how fast life goes by. I became a parent at sixteen, way too young, way too difficult and I thought my life was over, but it was only just beginning. Joanna was the best thing to happen to me and always has been for the 34 years she has been in my life. Prue, Dave and Paige have provided me with the same amount of unexpected joy for 25 and 24 wonderful years respectively. Jake has brought additional joy for the 26 years I have been blessed with the privilege of being his stepmother.

Joanna has experienced this unconditional and limitless joy that is motherhood for herself for the past five years. Her daughter, Grace Amelia Franklin, was born on June 15th 2013. It goes without saying that she took time off work while she was pregnant, no mistake there.

This mistake was the biggest and the most costly.

Joanna’s holding my hand right now, her hands have always been tiny and gentle. Prue, Dave, Paige, Jake and Jade aren’t here, I don’t know where they are. Maybe they’re getting food from the downstairs cafeteria, just because I’m not eating that doesn’t mean they should starve. Dan’s sitting next to me, Leah and Sebastian are sitting by the other side of the bed alongside Scott. Scott’s holding Joanna’s other hand, he tells me that Jade was taking care of Grace. Jade’s been an absolute rock recently, especially as Grace’s godmother, although everyone reaches their breaking point eventually.

I don’t have much strength in my eyes, but the strength I do have I use to look around the room. I have never understood why hospital rooms feel the need to be so bland. I know a hospital needs to be sterile, but it doesn’t mean it has to look that way. I hate all of the machines, they make intermittent and annoying noises and they’re bulky. But they won’t be here for long.

I don’t know all of the details of the stunt that went awry, I don’t need to know, I just know the important details. She was driving the car at a high speed, something she has done hundreds of time and this hundred-and-first time, she lost control and the car rolled. She flatlined twice in the ambulance and was brought back, only to barely have a pulse and diagnosed as brain dead an hour after being admitted. Scott didn’t drag anything out, he signed the paperwork and had the life support turned off.

The kids said their goodbyes, they didn’t want to be in the room when it happened. It’s too painful for them and I know I should, but forcing them to be here would have just traumatised them further. Sebastian and Scott are trying to keep it together, but I know them better. I haven’t let go of her hand for one minute. My journey of motherhood began in a hospital room and it would end the same way.

I’m stroking her hand to try and hardwire into my memory of how her hands feel, ignoring the long continuous noise that has just started to fill the entire room.

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