Beth’s Diary – Part Six
June 13, 1999
I am SO excited.Tomorrow I start a summer internship with the LA Free Press. Okay, I’ll admit it, not as a reporter, at least not to start but as a researcher, which I figure is good training too.A reporter is only as good as their ability to uncover the facts, so this is a good start.And yeah, the Free Press isn’t exactly the Times, but again, it’s a start.
Carlis going to work in a police reserve position over the summer, which will be a good start for his future as well.I can see us someday, working crime scenes together, it would be so cool!Carl says I’m very tenacious, which is just a classy way of his saying I’m pushy.I know it, but how else do you really get the whole story unless you are willing to push?If Woodward and Bernstein didn’t push do you think we would have gotten the whole story behind Watergate?I think NOT!
Robbi is going off to save the whales this summer. Okay, actually she is going off to study the whales in Alaska; Humpback whales to be specific.They migrate to the colder waters of the ocean during the summer to feed.Did you know that they don’t eat during the winter?I didn’t, but whales are Robbi’s current passion and it’s practically all we have heard about from her for months, every since she made the cut to go to for the study.She will live on a ship as they monitor and study a pod of whales that have previously been tagged by the researchers.I really admire Robbi for her dedication; it will not be an easy summer for her since they are likely to encounter whalers; if that happens it will break her heart because they are not allowed to interfere, although Green Peace is usually there too and does get involved and the encounters are usually not peaceful.
Lani is studying another species this summer, the European male.She is going on a tour of Spain, Italy, France and Greece with her aunt and uncle and two cousins.All I can say about that is that Europe has no idea what is about to hit them!I don’t understand Lani in many ways; I mean, we’ve been best friends practically forever and things just sort of fall into her lap with so little effort on her part.She finished this year with a 3.7 GPA and how I’d like to know?She never studies!She’s never around to study.A person couldn’t keep track of her social calendar and escapades if they devoted themselves to the task full time.She just flits from one thing to another with no direction, just landing wherever she may.It’s amazing, really.If ever anyone had a fairy godmother it MUST be Lani.
It’s been a good year for me, but stressful because of classes and also because my grandmother is not doing well.Mom has had to hire a nurse to stay with her during the school year while she was teaching.She doesn’t have a particular disease really, she’s just older and getting increasingly frail.She has fallen several times and broken bones that have had difficulty healing properly; she has no appetite at all and just seems to be wasting away.She tells me that she is just old and misses grandpa; that she just wants to be with him again.I understand that, but I guess I’m selfish; if he has her then I don’t.She’s the only grandmother I’ve even had, ever known and I can’t imagine my life without her.I never lacked for anything in my life that love and support could provide, directly due to her, my mom and Clark.How do you let that go?How do I let her go?
Beth was helping her mom wash the dinner dishes after her first day at her internship.It had been an exciting day; they only thing that kept it from being perfect was that Carl wasn’t there to hear about it.He was still as the Reserve Officer Training Course and wouldn’t be back until the end of the week.When he did get back, he would be riding along with regular officers on the 3rd watch.Which meant limited time for them to see each other, but Beth was okay with that; this was his dream and she knew how important it was to him.
"So Carl will be a police officer after this training?” her mom asked as she pulled the plug to let the sink drain.The Turner household did not own a dishwasher, her mom hated them.Beth was determined that she would never live in a house without one.
“No, he’ll be a certified Reserve Officer Mom.After he graduates in December he will go to the Police Academy and then after that he’ll be an officer.”
“Carl is a fine young man Beth and certainly very bright.He’s really pushed himself to graduate in December I know.That isn’t easy; he must be really dedicated to his goals to accomplish that!”
Beth mumbled an ‘mm hm’ and turned away so that her mom wouldn’t see the amused smile she wore as she listened to her mom’s words.Yes, Carl was certainly goal-oriented, but he was also a frat boy; party was his middle name.Just a month ago he had taught her how to chug a beer in one gulp.He couldn’t manage to teach her how NOT to throw it right back up, but she could get it down.She knew her mom also wouldn’t appreciate some of the other skills Carl had taught her.
Carl was only her second lover but he had certainly helped her to discover what sex was all about.Her first lover had never quite managed to help her get to the goal post, so to speak.She knew how to accomplish that on her own, but she had begun to believe that it just wasn’t going to happen with a guy.And then Carl entered the picture and all bets were off.She felt like she couldn’t get enough of him and this past two weeks without him had seemed endless.
They both heard Clark’s frantic yell from the living room and turned to head in there on the run.When they got to the living room Clark was on the phone with 911.Grams was half sitting, half lying on the couch and the right side of her face was drooping, her right arm hanging limply at her side over the arm of the couch.
“MOM,” Dorothy said, dropping to her knees in front of her mother.“Mom, can you speak?”Grace Turner only stared with blank eyes at her daughter, unable to speak.Dorothy reached out and wiped a small bit of saliva off of the corner of her mother’s mouth and listed to Clark as he directed the ambulance where to come.He hung up the phone finally and knelt down next to Dorothy, taking one of Grace’s chilled hands into his own.
Beth stood rooted in the doorway, unable to move or speak.She watched the scene before her as if from a tunnel and finally crumpled to her knees in shock, tears streaming down her face.She finally sat down and leaned against the doorway and prayed they would hear the sirens soon that would herald the arrival of the rescue crew.
“What happened Clark?” Dorothy asked.She grabbed an afghan off the back of the couch and tucked it around her mother, still trying to get her to respond.
Clark shrugged his shoulders and said, “We were watching Wheel of Fortune and chatting occasionally.I asked her what she thought the third word was and she didn’t answer so I looked at her and saw her face.I don’t know when it happened, a – a few minutes before that I think.It couldn’t have been too long.”
Dorothy was rubbing Grace’s hand vigorously, trying to warm it while saying, “Mom, can you hear me?Blink your eyes if you can!” but there was no response.
“She’s still breathing, that’s a good sign I think,” Clark said, watching her chest rise and fall with shallow breaths.He looked at Dorothy expectantly, hoping that he was right.
They heard the sirens approaching and Clark said, “Beth, go to the door to let them in!”He looked over his shoulder to where Beth was sitting unmoving.“BETH!The door – now!”
Beth stared at him and shook herself alert.She heard the sirens too and stood up and made her way to the door, opening it as the rescue crew pulled up in front of the house.She held the door open as she stood silently, watching them enter the house and start to assess Grams condition.
“Pupils fixed and dilated,” one of the EMT’s said as the other one wrapped a blood pressure cuff around her tiny arm.“Can you tell us what happened?”
Beth listened as Clark told them what he knew.They were listening to her grandmother’s heart and charting vital signs.“We need to transport her to the hospital folks.It looks like she has had a stroke.”They left the house briefly to retrieve a gurney and returned with it.After they got her strapped into it they talked with Dorothy as they decided on the hospital they would take her to.Clark would drive Beth and Dorothy, following the ambulance.Dorothy grabbed her purse and locked the door behind them, only a minute or so after the ambulance had left, the siren screaming into the quiet evening.
Beth hadn’t said a word since it had happened; she woodenly moved along after her mother into the hospital emergency room and stood behind her, listening as her mother provided insurance information to the clerk.Clark was parking the car and would join them as soon as he was done.
They sat in the waiting room; listening for their name to be called for an update on Grace’s condition.None of them talked; Beth leaned her head back against the pale green wall and decided she needed to pray but she couldn’t find any words.All that went through her head was ‘please don’t let her die’ and she chastised herself for that.Did that mean that regardless of her condition let her live?Her grandmother wouldn’t want that.
So just what are you asking for Beth?
Finally their name was called and they followed a nurse down several twisting corridors to get to where Grace was being monitored.A doctor and another nurse were checking her responses and monitors.Beth watched as the doctor shook his head and made a note on a chart before turning to introduce himself to them.
“Hi, Dr. Abrams.” He looked at Dorothy and asked, “You are her daughter?”
“Yes, I’m Dorothy Turner; this is my daughter Beth and a friend of the family, Clark Griffin.What can you tell us Dr. Abrams?”
"Your mother had a cerebral hemorrhage, specifically located in her brain stem.It happened when she had a stroke most likely; the two conditions often happen together.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means that she is bleeding into her brain Ms. Turner.It is grave in this instance.Tests show no brain function.”
“How can you tell this?You certainly haven’t had time to do a CT scan or anything.”
“No, we haven’t, but all the information tells us that this is what has happened.”He described several of the indicators of the condition and Dorothy and Clark both noted that they had noticed some of the symptoms earlier.
“Ms. Turner, does your mother have a living will?” he asked gently.
A small sob escaped Dorothy’s lips as she nodded solemnly.“Yes, she does. She didn’t want to be kept alive artificially.But she’s not on a respirator so does that indicate that she may recover?”
“No.”He indicated one of the machines on a rack and pointed to a readout that was displayed on it.“As you can see, she has no brain function at all; right now her body is basically breathing through her body’s automatic reflex.Eventually, soon I believe, that will stop and she will pass.I’m very sorry to have to tell you this, but it is what will happen.”
“Which is why you asked about the living will I guess?”
Dr. Abrams nodded yes, looking at the machines as one of them beeped softly in the quiet of the room.“Her heart is slowing down now, she doesn’t have long.Would you like to say your goodbyes?”
Tears were streaking Dorothy’s face as she nodded.Clark stood by her side, his arm around her shoulders and she turned her head and laid it on his shoulder, half covering her face.
Dr. Abrams nodded to the nurse and they started to leave the room.Beth watched all this in horror and finally found her voice and screamed, “No, NO! Don’t leave her, please, you can save her, I know you can.”She ran to her grandmother’s side and sobbed, “Come on Grams, don’t leave, you can get better.Please, please…”
Dorothy went to her daughter and tried to gently pull her away from her grandmother.“Beth honey, it’s time to let her go.Don’t make this more difficult for everyone.Just tell her goodbye and let her go in peace.”Her own tears were practically blinding Dorothy, but she knew she had to help Beth.“Beth - Bethy, let her go.”
At the word ‘Bethy’, her grandmother’s pet name for her she fell completely apart and sank to the floor, unable to control herself.“No, she can’t go momma, she can’t.I’m not ready.”Clark picked her up in his arms and sat her down into a chair and knelt down in front of her.
“Beth, I know sweetie, but your grandmother is ready for this.She’s been ready for a long time now.”He pulled Beth against his chest and felt her shudder with her anguish as sobs wracked her small body. Beth wrapped her arms around his neck and held onto him, sobbing all the harder because she knew that he spoke the truth; Grams was ready and as much as she didn’t want to admit it, she knew it was true.
When her sobs had abated a bit he tilted her head up so that he could look into her eyes.“C’mon sweetie, tell her goodbye, okay?”
Dorothy watched as all this played out in front of her and thought briefly about all the years she had wasted, keeping herself from this loving man.This had shown her that she couldn’t waste any more time and she knew that soon they would have to talk about it all.Right now she had this situation to deal with and she looked down again at her mother, wishing that this journey would be easy for her.Dorothy was determined that she would let her mother go as peacefully as she could.
She brushed a stray lock of hair off of Grace’s forehead and then bent to kiss the wrinkled skin.It felt cool and dry to her lips and she brushed one of her own tears off of her mother’s cheek and tried to smile.“Momma, I will miss you so much, but I won’t stand in your way.I know how much you miss daddy and want to be with him.I love you; my life was so much better because of you and I owe you so much.Go to him momma; be happy.”She bent to kiss her one last time.
Beth was now standing next to her and heard her words.“I love you Grams; give Gramps a hug from his princess for me, okay?I’ll miss you always.”
Clark stood behind them and put his arm around both of them and felt tears streak his own cheeks.Having lost both of his parents he understood their pain; only time would help them feel better, but he intended to be there for both of them, as he had always been.
The monitor started beeping rapidly just then and then settled into one long continuous tone and the doctor and nurse rushed back into the small room.They examined Grace and finally the doctor said, “Time of death, 9:17 pm.”
The nurse made a note in the chart and they both left the room again, giving the family a few last minutes.All three of them stood together, pained by the event but determined to stand strong, together.
The call came at 2:00 am.Mick was working on some case files in his office and sipping a glass of blood.He had felt restless all evening, out of sync with the world and had finally decided to try to take his mind off of it by getting some long past-due work out of the way.
“Michael Sandoval Investigations,” his voice said quietly through the phone line.
Only one word, but he immediately recognized the caller and was suddenly on edge; something was wrong.“Clark, what’s wrong?”
“It’s Grace; she passed this evening.I – I thought you would want to know.”
Mick’s heart sank and he leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes for a moment, picturing Grace in his mind.She was always such a lively and kind woman, taking care of everyone.He cleared his throat and finally said, “And, uh, the family?How are they?”It almost killed Mick to say ‘the family’ but he couldn’t bring himself to say her name.He didn’t even allow himself to think it any longer; it was better this way.
“In shock, hurting. All the usual emotions.She had a cerebral hemorrhage, but still, she went fairly quickly and I hope peacefully.It was really hard on, uh, her Mick, on Beth, but she’s tough, she’ll make it.”
The line was quiet for a minute; there didn’t seem to be anything else to say, so finally Mick said, “Thanks for letting me know Clark; I really appreciate it.Let me know if there is anything I can do, you know?”
“Yeah Mick, I will.You take care, okay?”Clark paused for a moment and drew in a deep breath and then added, "She knows you aren't here any more Mick; she misses you."
Mick swallowed hard at those words and he hung his head for a moment and closed his eyes tightly.His heartbeat frantically for a moment but he only said, “You too Clark, you too.”The line went dead and Mick listened to the tuneless buzz for a few seconds before hanging up.
He allowed himself to think of her face for a moment and a memory came to him.She was 5 and Clark had been teaching her to ride a bicycle.She was determined to do it without training wheels because they were for ‘sissies’ she had said.Mick had watched from the sideline, hidden amongst some trees as she had pedaled furiously and Clark ran along behind her as she tried to steady herself.
Finally, after several hours and several cuts and scrapes later she had it mastered.It was dusk and as Clark let go she tore down the street, all on her own, yelling her delight.She flew past Mick, racing down to the end of the cul de sac and turned around, heading back down to where Clark waited, a silly and proud grin on his face.
As she got in front of Mick her bike wheel hit a pot hole and she went flying over the handlebars and hit the pavement hard.Mick immediately heard a ‘whoosh’ as the wind was knocked out of her and before he could help himself he was there, picking her up in his arms and willing her to start breathing again.
Suddenly she caught her breath and gulped in a huge lung full and opened her eyes, only to see Mick staring at her. Clark got there then and Mick quickly handed her to him, dismayed to have been caught watching.
Clark smiled to see Mick; somehow it was okay that he watched and it wasn’t totally unexpected from what he had been told about this man.They looked at one another, each taking the other’s measure and then they both smiled and nodded.Beth was squirming and asking to be put down so she could ride some more.
“Only to the house, okay?You’ve had enough for one night Beth and it’s getting too dark anyway.Go on now,” he told her and they both watched as she climbed back on the bike and headed off to the house.She turned for a moment to stare at them and Clark said, “Pay attention to where you are going Beth!Do you want to hit another pot hole?”
She laughed and started singing some nameless song, undaunted by it all.Clark offered his hand to Mick and said, “I’m Clark, Logan’s older brother.It’s nice to meet you Mick, officially I mean.Thank you for all you’ve done for my brother Mick – for saving him I mean.”
“Yeah, it is.I’m uh, sorry to have been watching.I don’t mean anything by it.”
“I know and it’s okay.It sort of relieves me to know that someone else is watching too.Anytime Mick, anytime at all.”
They shook hands and Clark nodded in Beth’s direction; she was waiting for him at the driveway.Mick took one last look at Beth and stepped back into the shadows; out of site.Clark headed towards Beth, a smile on his face.
Coming back to the present Mick acknowledged her tenacity and determination.He knew she would be okay.
Two weeks later Dorothy was opening the mail and found a letter from a local children’s shelter.It stated that an anonymous donation had been made in her mother’s name for $25,000 dollars.Dorothy sank down on the couch and held the letter to her chest as she cried; deep wracking sobs that made her throat ache.When she finally got herself under control she managed a small smile as she re-read the letter.
Thank you Mr. St. John…