Forced Witness (Part Three)

04:31 Download
Paisley Yankolovich
From the 2017 CD, Forced Witness


From what I understand, he suffered. Not for hours, probably just seconds, maybe even a minute or two. But I bet it felt endless to him. Much like those eternal seconds when he saw he was about to collide into the oncoming vehicle. The medical report said his death was due to cardiac arrest brought on by blunt force trauma to his head. His friends who watched him die as they tried in vain to perform CPR said that it looked to them like he was having a heart attack, that he moaned like he was in excruciating pain as he breathed once… Paused… And breathed one last time.


My son’s last utterances were painful grunts while his twenty-year-old heart was exploding in his chest. His moans of pain and two final breaths were acted out for me by the buddy who failed to revive him, try as he may, but continued until the paramedics arrived twenty-five minutes later only to fail just as successfully. Later that boy said to me, “I’m sorry, I really tried to save your son.” And those paramedics, “We’re sorry, but we did all we could.” Then a hospital social worker, “So sorry for your loss, is there anyone we should call?” Then everybody on the whole freaking planet, “No words, no words… “ No words.


My son was helpless from conception. He needed his mom for life. He needed his dad for protection from the day his head popped out of his mother and the midwife screamed “Push!” At twenty he hated me referring to him as my little baby boy but he was my little baby boy. Every parent understands this. Our kids may get bigger but they are our children, our babies, helpless as the day they took their first breath, and destined to be there… Destined to be there when we breathe our last.


They are not supposed to die before us, they are not supposed to die out in the middle of nowhere, heart exploding, choking on their own blood, all alone without their mommy or daddy holding them, caressing them, telling them that Jesus is waiting on the other side, that they are loved, that they are perfect, that we will miss them. That we will miss him. That we will never forget-that we will never forget him.


I wasn’t supposed to see my boy dead and cold on a hospital gurney and later on a funeral home slab, or in a cardboard box with his name scribbled on it, with highly combustible paper around his head just seconds before the fires of cremation forever destroyed the most beautiful and valuable thing I’ve ever created. I invested twenty years of my life in trying to protect my son, no, trying to save him. Save his soul, save his mind from the evil influences all around us, save his body from toxins, fatty foods, smoke, drink, drugs, anything that could ultimately take his life. And mostly, I tried to save him from himself. His youth, the biggest threat of all, the little boy who saw everything as a weapon, every wall as something to climb and dive off, every aspect of life as an adventure that was insufficient unless it posed some kind of imminent danger.


Well, I was insufficient. I let that beautiful, perfect, helpless baby boy slip through my useless, inept fingers. He died in the desert in a fashion that becomes a cautionary tale for other parents. “Remember what happened to that other guy’s kid. We don’t want the same thing to happen to you.” Every year something terrible happens to someone’s kid-an accident or suicide. What lottery did I participate in to win the privilege for my boy to be the local example of 2013?




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