one year ago, Jarronn and i woke up at home. there was seemingly nothing special about that day. other than the fact that it was national cheesecake day. we got ready for the day in our bedroom, and watched the fox 5 morning news as we got dressed. they announced national cheesecake day and the new red velvet cheesecake flavor. this sent Jarronn into a random song and dance about "red-velvet-cheese-cake, red-velvet-cheese-cake." i bent over laughing. told him we had to make sure we got some.
i left the house before Jarronn and headed to capitol hill. i had a senate foreign relations committee hearing to attend for work. and as i sat in the audience listening to senator kerry and others, i posted my first "tweet" on the twitter account i had signed up for the day before: "hopeful for peace in sudan." by the end of the day, i had a whole new appreciation for the word "hope."
i got into the office and had a regular day. answered emails. checked things off my list. and then i poked around the internet to see what i could find about national cheesecake day. i called Jarronn around 2:30 p.m., which was about the time we'd typically check in with each other. we talked about our days briefly. and talked about cheesecake. i asked him if we were going to go to the cheesecake factory after work. he said he wasn't sure. that he had to pick up his godson from camp. that he wanted to get on his bike. really wanted to get on his bike. i told him the news i saw online said we'd have to dine in if we wanted half price cheesecake. he said he'd figure things out and call me back.
i left work at 5:30 p.m., eager to get home. when i came through the door, i found Jarronn and his godson in the living room, playing on the nintendo wii. i greeted them and headed upstairs to change out of my work clothes.
going to the cheesecake factory was still on my mind as i came back downstairs. i was wondering if we'd still have a chance to go. i went into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator door, and as my eyes scrolled down the shelves, they stopped as i saw a huge slice of red velvet cheesecake in a to-go container. i got excited. asked Jarronn about it. and he explained that he had been in the parking lot of the cheesecake factory when i spoke to him earlier. we decided we'd eat it later that evening. after that, i sat on the couch and watched Jarronn and his godson play their video games, laughing every now and then at the competition between them.
soon after, three of Jarronn's friends came over on their bikes. we joked about a funny situation from the previous weekend (when me and my girl friends had run into Jarronn and his bike crew in adams morgan). we talked about darfur, and Jarronn made me proud in the way he explained the situation to his friends. and Jarronn tidied up the house. swept the kitchen floor. put things away.
around 7:30 p.m., they decided it was time to go. they were going to take Jarronn's godson home and go get something to eat. as i sat on the couch, i thought to myself that i really didn't want him to go. i wanted him to stay there with me.
Jarronn came over to me on the couch and said he'd be back in a couple hours. that we'd eat that cheesecake when he got back. he bent down to kiss me, and i kissed him on the cheek. he said to me, "i can't get a kiss on the lips?" it softened my attitude, and so i kissed him on the lips. he replied "thank you" or "that's better." and 30 seconds later, he was out the door.
i spent some time on the computer. looking at friends' photos. trying to pick out a baby gift for my former boss. i got on the phone with my mom. talked about my day. told her Jarronn was out on his bike. complained about all of my gray hairs. told her my stomach was really hurting. so i decided it was best for me to take a nap. i got off the phone and stretched out on the couch.
it seems that within minutes, just after 9:00 p.m., the doorbell rang. i jumped up, a little confused and not having a clue about who it could be. i opened the door and found kim, who was dating one of the friends who had been with Jarronn. i said hey, and she said, "Jarronn got in an accident." panic ran through my body as i said, "oh my god." but she quickly reassured me that he was fine. that he would be alright. and it wasn't something she was just telling me. i knew it's what she believed. she said an ambulance had taken him to the hospital and that she would take me there. so i grabbed my shoes. and i blew out the candle Jarronn had lit earlier that evening.
we headed to the hospital and had some difficulty finding it. i was anxious to get there, to see Jarronn. but i didn't have any feelings of dread or worry. i even cracked a couple jokes on the way. when we got to the hospital, Jarronn's friend aaron met us in the parking lot. as he held back tears, he explained that Jarronn was in bad shape. that his foot was broken. that Jarronn had been complaining about pain in his chest.
as we walked into the hospital, i realized that i'd need to cancel a trip i had planned for the following week. that i'd have to stay with Jarronn and make sure he got better. aaron told one of the emergency nurses i was Jarronn's wife. i was eager to get an update and hoping to see him. the nurse asked us to follow him into the family room.
i started to get confused. why do we need to go to the family room to talk? why is this nurse acting so somber? why is he telling me that they are doing the best they can? that he just needs me to stay strong? i asked the nurse, "you're doing the best you can to do what?" as my mind raced and asked, "isn't it just a broken foot?! isn't he going to be ok?" the nurse told me they were trying to keep him alive.
at this point, i'm in the room with all of Jarronn's friends who had been riding with him. i call my mom. tell her Jarronn's been in an accident, and we need to pray. i get off the phone. i tell everyone in the room that Jarronn is going to be all right. and i believe it. because in my mind i'm thinking, "God, i know there's so much more for Jarronn here. i know how incredibly special he is. there's just no way he can't make it."
minutes later, after we all sat in silence, the nurse returned. this time with a doctor. he asked for mrs. jackson. i raised my hand. he came over to me. explained that Jarronn had a lot of internal bleeding. that they had tried to drain the blood out of his body and give it back to him. but the strain was too much on his heart. he was sorry.
i shot out of my seat.
i sounded like a broken record. and i felt like my "no's" could make it untrue. i asked them if they could go back and try again. feeling as though there had to be a way to bring him back to life. that this couldn't be it. it was supposed to be a broken foot. maybe broken ribs. how did we get here? people in the room were crying. covering their faces.
i sat back down in my seat. and then i prepared myself to make the two most difficult phone calls i've ever had to make. i called Jarronn's parents. my heart broke two more times. i made calls. people called me. people showed up at the hospital. it became a blur.
they invited me to go back and see the body, but i couldn't go right away. i wasn't sure if i wanted to have the image in my mind. knowing that it would be there forever. and that perhaps i wanted all of my memories of Jarronn to be ones of him living.
but eventually i went. he looked so similar to so many nights i had watched him sleeping. i touched him. kissed him. told him how much i loved him. felt like he was hovering over his body, observing the situation and, like me, wondering how this could have happened.
eventually, i had to leave the hospital. and Jarronn wasn't coming with me. and he wouldn't be there the next day.
and i realized how many things would never be for us. no children. no first anniversary. no cruise in january. no jazz in the garden that friday. and no red velvet cheesecake that night.