Journey to Love
Edited by Cole, Peter and Scott
Before I went to the hospital to see Jayden, I called Jake about a stair lift. He had never installed one and said he suspected it was a pretty specialized job. “Make sure the company you purchase it from has its own crew and doesn't just pick up someone off the street,” he advised.
There were many suppliers in and around Norfolk, but I decided, for the time being, just to call the Norfolk ones. I had the phone in my hand when the thought struck that Dr. Richardson might be able to make a recommendation. I placed a call to him at his office and left a message asking him to call me or if it was within the next hour, I’d be in Jayden’s room.
He came by Jayden’s room just as I was ready to leave. When I told him what I wanted, he said, “Derek, you need to be very clear this is my personal statement and not one I am making as a member of the staff here.”
He gave me a name and said, “I needed to get one for my mom a couple years ago and they gave me good service. The lift works great and has really made a difference in my mom's life”.
I called the company and when asked when I wanted it installed said, “Yesterday,” and laughed.
“How about this afternoon? I'll send someone out immediately to have a look and unless there is something very complicated about the situation, it can be in before bedtime.” I told him if I wasn’t there to go ahead. Someone would be in the house.
The tech showed up half an hour before my rehab appointment. Sam had arranged for rehab at a place near the house when he found he needed to be in Stanton for a while. The tech took less than fifteen minutes to explain things to me. Said he didn't need me around while he did measurements. Since Sam had my car, Penny took me and Jeremy to rehab and when I had finished, she took me to the hospital to see Jayden while Jeremy had speech therapy.
I had to wait before I could see Jayden as he was being bathed when I arrived. When I could go in, I just watched him. He looked very peaceful. Nonetheless, I couldn't hold back the tears. It had been just over five long weeks since he was hurt and brought to the hospital. I kissed him on the lips and explained what Dr. Richardson and I thought was going on with him. I told him I was learning how to read his sleep state and that I would be back after a session with Paul working on reading the tracings made by the three machines. An hour later I was back and it was clear he was in deep sleep. Nonetheless, I talked to him, telling him about the lift and my talk with Kathryn. “She and Dr. Richardson talked for a long time last night. She is going to the Pueblo today and will talk with your elder to see what he thinks about your situation. I guess if the lift is in, I'll move back upstairs after the weekend. With both my dads and mom coming down, we're kinda cramped for space. Penny asked me about Jeremy moving in with her.
“‘It’s fine with me,’ I told her. ‘It’s your room.’
“I think that may happen when he's further along on his journey back to health, but he’s reluctant right now.”
“Mom and Brad are coming down this afternoon and Sam will come back at the same time. He went to Stanton to take care of some business which, no doubt, includes 'business' in which he and Brad hold a joint interest! They have an appointment with the Dean at 4:30 and I'll meet them there. Jeremy and Sergeant Major will be there as well since it is to discuss what will be done for those of us who missed classes and will likely miss more. Jeremy, for example, said he didn't think he could sit in class anytime soon and getting around is still a problem for both of us sometimes and in some places.
“When Sam and Sergeant Major talked with the dean earlier, his stance was that the university had no responsibility for delivering classes to students other than as originally planned. Dad, Sam and Sergeant Major made it very clear they thought otherwise and pointed out that the university had not only failed to protect students, but also had provided the venue for a rally when there was a reasonable expectation that it might end up in some sort of confrontation. In fact, the university had acknowledged that when they sought to have the rental contract overturned. In all there were a few more than twenty students who had been hospitalized or in such condition that they had missed more than a few classes. Sergeant Major told the dean he had obtained all the injured students’ names and the names of their parents and talked with a lawyer, but hoped something could be worked out so court could be avoided.”
I spent an hour with Jayden before I left to get lunch. I went by Dr. Richardson’s office on my way out and left a note telling him Jayden had been in deep sleep all the time I'd been with him.
Penny came by and picked me up at 4:00 and drove me to the dean's office. I'd go back to the house with my parents. I guess the meeting went well and the upshot of it was the university would provide online courses and tutors since students were five weeks behind regular classes. Students would work at their own pace. Labs, of course, required hands on, so each student was left to make arrangements for labs to work out something with the professors involved. Professors were to be instructed to be generous with incompletes for injured students who could, at no expense to them, complete courses during the summer. Not good, but not a bad arrangement all the way around, I thought. I had suspected some provision would be made where it was humanly possible to avoid a legal confrontation which would really make the university look bad.
I was exhausted by the time the meeting was over and had my dads and mom drop me off at the house before I went to the hospital to spend time with Jayden. When I walked inside I remembered the lift was to be put in today and went to see how that project was coming. As I reached the stairs, I saw a burly man descending as though he was floating down the stairs. “Mr. Wilson,” he said. “Just in time. I'm Bob Bayshore. Just trying out the lift. I'm glad you're here so I can show you how to use it. It's really very simple.” He demonstrated how the lift could be folded out of the way, used as a chair lift and in a situation like Jeremy's where sitting would be a problem—since his leg was still in a light cast and did not yet bend at the knee—a person could stand on it. “It starts and stops slowly so there's no jerking and if someone falls or gets off of it, it stops. Of course, there's a safety belt for anyone worrying about falling. Try it out.”
After a couple trips up and down the stairs, I said, “Wish I had thought about this some time ago, but better late than never.”
Kathryn called at 8:30 and we talked for almost an hour. She and the elder had had a long conversation, some of which she related to me. “He says he thinks he knows what is going on and will seek guidance. That was all he said except to say to use only Jayden's Navajo name and use yours as well when speaking to him. He did say you should remember both of you are Chosen Ones.” We talked about that and what was going on with her and the clinic. When we had wound down, she said, “I'll be back in contact as soon as I hear more from the elder.”
The next day, I cut rehab and didn’t go to the hospital in order to spend time with Mom and Sam and Brad. I was finally able to convince Sam I was doing okay with the local rehab team and that he should go back to Stanton with Mom and Brad. He finally agreed after meeting with the therapists who would be handling my rehab.
The following day I went to the hospital and spent an hour with Jayden. He was in Stage 1 sleep and I was sure he squeezed my hand in response to my squeezing his. When I finished, for some reason, I was exhausted, more so than usual. After lunch I took an hour's nap before going back to the hospital. Jayden was in his coma-like state and there was absolutely no response from anything I did. The following two days were pretty much the same with Jayden in REM sleep once and Stage 1 one other time. When he was in Stage 1 sleep, he definitely squeezed my hand and during the other times, there was no response.
Almost a week after my talk with Kathryn, I received a small package from her. I opened it at once. Inside were a letter and a Ziploc bag. The letter told me what I suspected, that the Ziploc bag contained corn pollen. The letter instructed me to mark Jayden with the pollen for the next seven days. “As you mark his forehead, call him by his Navajo name and ask him to come to you.” She also reminded me to refer to myself by my Navajo name.
I had told Dr. Richardson I would be marking Jayden with the pollen. “I have been instructed to mark him with it daily for seven days and ask him to join me.”
“No problem. May help, can't harm.”
I had a long afternoon rehab session and was so tired when I finished I went straight home and collapsed across my bed. I was asleep in minutes.
An hour later I was awakened when someone called my name. When I opened my eyes, Ricky's boss was standing beside my bed. “Derek, my boss's boss was really pissed when he learned we let someone get close enough to kill you. We have all been struggling to come up with a way to make up for that and I think we have.” He tossed two very large, very fat envelopes on the bed and said “Inside you will find printouts of photos, frames from videos, and memory cards. People in the printouts have been tagged with their names. Those are all from the attack on the aquatics team. It is our understanding that the four who attacked Jayden and Jeremy have been urged to confess. If they haven't by tomorrow, we will turn over some very damaging evidence concerning them involving more than that attack. Of course, a decent lawyer could get it thrown out of court, so we suggested they confess and work out a plea bargain. Have a nice day,” he said and turned and left.
The envelopes contained a couple hundred printouts. In each at least one attacker was named and in many cases, his college or university given. Were the photos enough for a conviction? That was the high dollar question. Of course, the police had techniques to get confessions and would no doubt use them, but ‘plea bargaining’ seemed to be the word of the day and maybe some would rush to confess before a 'friend' gave them up. Of course, many of those in the photographs were already in custody or were out on bond, but additional evidence never hurt, especially when you are offering a reduced sentence for good information. I gave Special Agent Klein a call and left a message telling him I had a real surprise gift for him and Officer Spencer and suggested they might drop by. He called back at 7:00 and I told him to come on over.
When he arrived, I handed him the two envelopes and said, “They're all yours. You are not to ask where they came from or how I got them, OK?”
Special Agent Klein had opened one of the envelopes and was spreading the contents on the round table. “Damn! Where did you get these?”
“You were not to ask, remember? Besides, I cannot tell you.”
“No court will admit them not knowing their origin.”
“Look, I understand 'plea bargain' is the word of the day. Whether or not a case gets to court is a question, but were I facing charges and saw a few of those photos, I would be working real hard to strike a bargain. You are free to use them to do that. Let's face it; very few of the cases you are building will ever see a courtroom.”
“That's true, of course, but off the record, where did you get these?”
“A man whose name I do not know delivered them to me. I don't know who he works for or anything about him except for the fact that he hates kiddie porn or those who use drugs or other means to force people into porn. Because of that, he feels he owes me and Jayden a debt. That's all I know.”
“Well, frankly I'm glad he passed all this along. As you said, it'll probably prove more valuable in getting a confession, well, confessions, and plea bargains than it would be in court anyway,” Special Agent Klein said. “Thanks.”
I thought about the letter from Kathryn and the need to mark Jayden for seven days. Given his devotion to sunrise, it seemed appropriate that he be marked at sunrise which could prove to be a problem since visiting hours did not start that early. I decided this was important enough to call Dr. Richardson's answering service and did so. It took some swift talking to get them to pass a message along to him, but an hour after I called, he called me. I explained about Jayden's devotion to sunrise and when I had finished he said, “My favorite photo of Jayden becomes clear. It is the one of him standing facing the rising sun, his arms over his head.”
“Yes, he sometimes greets the sun that way, but you should see him in his favorite way of greeting it—running toward it at top speed while chanting at the top of his lungs, but that's beside the point. Anyway, I can get in and see him early?”
“Sure. If you don't object, I will meet you just before sunrise tomorrow and go with you.”
“Sure, see you in the morning.”
So it was that I started getting up very early, going to the hospital, marking Jayden and returning to the house for a shower and breakfast. I had been marking him for six days when a second package from Kathryn arrived. I laughed when I opened it. I knew that, regardless of the Diné ceremony, you could depend on it being ancient and likely involving corn pollen and/or corn meal. So, again, for what I suspected would be some kind of ancient healing ceremony, three colors of corn meal and corn pollen were packaged in very modern Ziploc bags. The package also included detailed instructions for what I was to do and two CDs. An accompanying letter said that since Jayden had started teaching me Diné, the elder thought I could memorize the short chants and do them well enough for the Old Ones to understand. Until I was ready, I was to continue the daily marking of Jayden. The second CD was to be played continuously in Jayden's room at very low volume. Ancient chants, ancient ceremonies, modern instrument.
Preparation for the ceremony included a fast on my part and on Jayden's, but Kathryn said water was allowed and she thought Jayden having an IV was OK. I was relieved to hear that because while I thought Dr. Richardson might approve stopping the stomach tube feeding for five days, I didn't think he would allow stopping the IV. I immediately started work memorizing the chants. It was not at all easy. Five days after the package arrived, I decided I was ready to give the ceremony a try and Jayden and I began our fasts. I had talked with Dr. Richardson about it before the package arrived and he said he would make sure I was undisturbed when I was ready to perform it. “Just let me know when you are ready and I'll see you're not disturbed.” I phoned him and left a message that I would begin the ceremony at sunrise two days hence.
I was surprised when Dr. Richardson was waiting for me when I arrived, ready to do the ceremony. “Derek, would it be possible for me to be with you?” he asked.
“Certainly,” I said.
“I'll be right back,” he said and practically ran to the nurses' station. When he came back, he said, “I was making sure we would not be disturbed.”
Fortunately, Jayden's room had a view of the east so looking for sunrise was no problem. I watched as the fingers of dawn reached into the sky and as the rim of the sun appeared over the horizon, as I had been doing, then began the ceremony. Half an hour later, I had finished and Dr. Richardson helped me bathe Jayden and change his bed, otherwise he would be very uncomfortable from the corn meal on his body and in his bed.
I had done the ceremony, knowing that I was far from perfect in doing the chants, but hoped the Old Ones understood. When we had finished bathing Jayden and changing his bed, I expected to see some change in him, but was very disappointed. When Dr. Richardson opened the door, Paul practically ran into the room to look at the chart being produced by his setup. “No change, right?”
“Wrong. See, when you started, he was in that coma-like day, but look, the lines changed. What you see now is what I would expect see if the machine was recording the brain waves of a Tibetan Buddhist monk in deep meditation. So there is quite a change even though just to look at Jayden you'd never know it.”
“But he's still not awake.”
“Well, he's not exactly asleep either. As I said, he's in deep meditation. It's a state I would find very, very hard, well, truthfully, impossible to achieve even using biofeedback.”
I was guardedly optimistic when I left the hospital. When I went back after an afternoon rehab, Jayden was in a REM stage. I held his hand for half an hour, but did not try to talk with him.
After dinner, Levi and Telvin came over to talk about a class we had in common. I was starting the online version next week, but wanted to get as caught up as I could before then. I told them about the latest development with Jayden and both thought he would be back with us soon.
The following morning I finished rehab early—I promised to walk four miles before the day was over or swim the equivalent—and went to the hospital. When I took Jayden's hand and called his Navajo name, his eyes opened and he responded, with my Navajo name, then said, “Derek, my Beautiful Dark One, I love you.” My tears started as I leaned over him and kissed him gently. His kiss wasn't so gentle and in fact was very passionate. It took me a while before I could get the tears stopped.
Emotionally, mentally, Jayden was OK—sort of. Well, emotionally, both of us were not as in control as we had been before the attacks, but were generally stable. Mentally, Jayden had no memory of the attack or anything afterward. Special Agent Klein and Officer Spencer came by to talk to Jayden, but he could be of no help. Jayden was put on a high-calorie, high-protein diet and had physical therapy twice a day as well as meeting with a counselor. He had been awake for a week when the counselor suggested he might like to continue counseling on a weekly basis, but told him that was entirely up to Jayden. “I have no qualms about releasing you,” he had said. Jayden chose to forget counseling until he decided he needed it or I decided he needed it.
“You are my back-up in case I decide I'm OK and you see otherwise,” he said.
He started asking to go home and Dr. Richardson said he could, provided he kept on his diet and kept up his physical therapy. Since Sam had gone back home, Dr. Richardson made arrangements for him to have therapy where Jeremy and I were in therapy. He insisted Jayden go home in an ambulance.
Tuesday, Jayden came home to two jubilant households. Everyone was happy to have him home and before I realized it, he was overly tired, not surprising since he had been, essentially, immobile for weeks now. Jayden wanted—demanded—to be home which meant upstairs. That posed a dilemma. None of us who had been injured were ready to carry him up the stairs and he was practically as limp as a rag doll, so just seating him on the lift and trusting he could stay there, even with a safety belt, was risky. Then, when he reached the upstairs, he'd have to be helped—carried—to the bed. Fortunately, Ralph who lived in one of the student rooms, came in just as we were trying to decide what to do.
“You get him seated on the lift and belted in, then walk along side it to make sure he stays in. When he gets upstairs, I get him in the bed. Problem solved.” And it was.
We got home late afternoon so when Melyssa had supper ready, she and Penny brought it upstairs. Jayden wanted to get out of bed, but we convinced him he had done enough for one day and the two of us had supper in bed.
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