As soon as she told me, “Yes, they brought him in, he is in the emergency room” my heart sank. I didn’t cry though. That’s not the time to cry.
Instead, I grabbed a jacket and my keys and raced to my car.
I don’t recall the nine-minute drive to the hospital. But I do remember sitting in a chair in the waiting room for someone to give me information about John.
When I’d arrived and asked the person at the reception desk about him, she got a strange look on her face and told me I’d have to sit down; that someone would be out to talk to me shortly.
I was afraid to ask any questions. If you don’t ask, you can’t get unbearable news.
I found a chair, off by myself, and sat on the very edge of the seat. It felt safer there on the edge. Less committed.
Within minutes a nice looking, young, uniformed officer came into the waiting room and walked right up to me. He asked if I was there for John.
“Yes, I’m his girlfriend”, I said looking up at him.
He pulled up a chair and sat directly in front of me, which made me even more anxious than I already was.
He looked down at his notepad, and I blurted out the question I was afraid to ask. “Is he okay?”
“Yes ma’am”, was all he said for a moment.
When I asked if I could go see him, he told me, “No ma’am” and looked down at his notepad again.
I started to open my mouth to ask why but instead he interrupted me and said, “You can’t see him ma’am. No one can, because as soon as they patch him up, he is under arrest.”
Those were words I never expected to hear. And in that moment I even thought I was imagining it all. Was John really dead and my mind was making up this crazy scenario because in some obscure way it was easier to understand than losing him?
“Ma’am, are you alright?”
Alright? How in the world could I be alright? Don’t you understand we just got started? How can he be dead?
“Wait, what did you say?” I said, looking him straight in the eyes.
The nice officer with kind eyes told me John was okay, but he wrecked his motorcycle while running from the cops. I can only assume the look of utter confusion on my face made him ask again if I was okay.
A feeling of desperation came over me and I said, “I just need to see him. Please let me see him.”
In that moment I was back in the mortuary’s office in Madras, Oregon telling a man in front of me, with all the desperation of a grieving loved one, that I couldn’t comprehend what was being told to me.
I had to see for myself.
When my brother, Johnny, died I made the mortician show me his body. I had to see him and touch him and know for myself he was really dead.
This time I need to see My John and know he was really alive.
Officer Kind Eyes firmly but gently told me I couldn’t. He then asked for my phone number and suggested I go home and wait. He said he would call me personally when they had John in custody.
After giving him my number I walked out of the emergency room and sat in my car.
Then the tears started.