Elizabeth Tejada, staff writer

“He’s gone…” was all I managed to choke out as I sat there, staring at my crying father who was supposed to be the strength of the family and the strength I needed at that point. He stood there and just shook his head yes and continued to cry while he held a steady embrace on me.

My uncle, the man who told us hilarious stories of his first American experiences until our stomachs hurt. The man who could salsa dance until his legs fell off.  The man who cooked some bomb Colombian food.  The man who had children and a family and people all around who loved him left us at the age of 46 from brain damage.

The story was he fell down stairs and hit his brain stem that left him in a coma and was put on immediate life support. I still remember the day I ran out of softball practice and into the car just to find my mom on the phone crying her eyes out. I kept asking her what was wrong.  She just kept crying and crying until all that was left was uncontrolled sobs. She requested a family emergency trip at work and left to Boston the next day with my sisters for a week and left me with dad because he had to work, and I had school. I prayed constantly every night for his recovery, to wake up the next morning with my mom telling me that he was off life support because he was better.

Friday came along and still no good news. Two days passed and he wasn’t reacting well to the medicine. In and out everyone went into his room to try and talk to him, telling him to wake up, shaking him, crying on him, remembering the best of the memories, his daughter even sang him the song he would sing to her every night as a child for her to go to sleep, but nothing was working. My aunt said he was already stone cold and with her broken heart and heavy tears she knew it was time. My mother told me that they were waiting to see my uncle when they saw my grandmother who had passed away a few years ago walk into the room and sit next to my uncle and smile at him and then at them.

They all finally understood that he was with her now. That’s all the comfort they needed. The decision was made Saturday night to take my uncle off life support.  As the doctors pulled the cord, we lost a piece of our heart.

Although losing a loved one is always the most difficult part of life, I know that my uncle is in a better place.  He repeatedly said that my grandmother was the only woman he would ever love and now he’ll always be with her.

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