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How Are You Supposed to Feel When a 29 Year Old Man Dies in Your Arms?
You know that the world is a strange place. On 18 February 2010, I stayed at a Travelodge in Galway with my five children and my wife. I have been booked to speak at the opening of Adlanticside College in Bundorren in Co Donegal, Ireland this coming Saturday. So I decided to bring the wife and her children for a few days. Since it is a five plus hour drive we decided to stop the trip in Galway as a nice town.
We arrived and went out to eat as usual, we went to a nice Italian restaurant for the kids to get pizza, we were all happy. Return to the hotel around 10pm. The big kids had a room across the hall and we were in our room with the little ones, the joy of traveling with 5 kids. However, I was so tired that the kids were watching TV. Around 12:30 I was woken up screaming.
I thought it was some young people messing around, but it happened again. It was a terrible scream, so I jumped out of bed. My oldest son called my phone and opened the door and I told him to check. To be honest I thought it was a small family that had an argument and at worst I had to slap him, to put him to sleep. I wasn’t even prepared for what I saw. My oldest son and I went to the hall to see what was going on.
As we rounded the corner of the corridor we saw a crowd of people. There was a lot of confusion, I asked a woman what was going on, she said ‘a boy fell to the ground, with white foam coming from his mouth. ‘So I went into the room and saw a girl wearing a towel and she was shaking. I saw a naked boy lying on the floor of the bathroom and a girl in a towel screaming, ‘he hit his head, he hit his head’. There is a girl next to the boy and he is with her in recovery, there are others but I have to ask the girl while she is in the bathroom what is going on. It is said that the boy was brushing his teeth and fainted.
At this point, I started to feel ashamed that this person has taken medicine. I couldn’t be further from the truth. So I go to the girl in a towel and say ‘have you called an ambulance?’ He screamed a little ‘I don’t know, I don’t know’. So I went out to the crowd and asked them. I was told that yes it has been invited. I went back to the bathroom and the girl was talking to the boy saying ‘wake up Matt, Wake up Matt’. I told him you have to get dressed to go in the ambulance. After he got dressed, I asked him if anyone else was with him, he said he had two friends at the hotel, so I sent him and my son to pick them up.
I went back to the bathroom and when I entered I saw two toothbrushes on the floor. Then it was written, the white stuff in his mouth was toothpaste. He literally passed out while brushing his teeth. At this time two of his friends arrived, a boy named Nick, told me that the boys name is Matt, he was 29 years old and due to get a new heart valve on March 16. My heart sank at this time, there was confusion everywhere. His girlfriend was kneeling down talking to Matt, saying ‘come on matt wake up, come on matt, wake up. A friend was talking to a doctor on the phone and told us not to do anything. One of the women outside picked up the phone and shouted ‘just send an ambulance now’
So I went down the stairs to talk to the porter to see what had changed when the ambulance arrived, because I just checked Matt’s pulse, it was racing, but very weak. The porter said he didn’t know, so I called 999 myself. I explained to the girl what was going on, she put me through to the ambulance and I told the woman ‘look this guy can’t make it’, I gave her Matt’s details and she told me. the doctor came.
I ran upstairs, on the way a girl said she knew CPR, so I said common in. She’s still with Matt while he’s recovering, so I check his pulse again, nothing. Jesus said we must help him Now! so that month he told the doctor on the phone what is happening now. The doctor told us to breathe through her mouth, take two breaths and pump her heart 30 times. Fortunately, the two girls went into labor right away. Two breaths, 30 pumps and again. The girl who was pumping her breast that she had been with since before I got there was so tired and out of ideas, I said look take me. This was now about 15 minutes after I entered the room for the first time. So we continued 2 breaths, 30 pumps and so on. How long we were there, I don’t know. Matts friend and friends came around to chat with him, I said to him ‘come on Matt wake up, your friend is fine and kiss some girls’.
We continued and finally in what seemed like forever the doctor arrived. He asked me how long he had been like this, I told him 20 minutes or so. He asked to clear the room, I did. His friends are crying and trying to be hopeful, ‘he’ll be fine’. I was hoping he would tell the truth but I didn’t think so. When we helped him he had no pulse. Then the ambulance crew arrives. I make a doorman to let the ambulance people do their job. When the hotel waiter is young, I would think that the police girl has arrived. She is lost and asks him to buy everyone drinks. It will keep people busy. I remember when my sister died, she was 30 years old and she died of cancer, that the biggest thing I felt was being unemployed, so keep people busy as much as possible. It’s amazing how little silly things can mess with your mind.
I ask Nick, his name and why he was in the UK. She tells me that she was married and explains that Nick was very careful with her life, because of the upcoming surgery. He tells me how he planned to visit Nick after he recovered from surgery. I can tell from his friends and colleagues that Matt is loved very much. One of the ambulance crew asked me if I was with Matt, I told him that I was just a guest in the hotel, I explained to him who was with him and that he was outside the stairs. It was during this time that I realized for the first time that my 16-year-old son had always been there. I asked him to go back to the room and he said to sit down. I was so happy for my boy that night and I thought about Matt’s poor parents. I told his friend not to call them until he knew something, I thought to Christ I hope I made the right decision. There’s nothing he can do now, It’s 1.30 in the morning. Also she (I have never had a poor girls name) can’t do anything.
The main door is slightly open as it is pressed against the bathroom door to open. What I’m hearing from people who want to save Matt is not good. Works for 20 minutes, no response. Now there is a problem that the cot cannot reach him, so they decided to wrap him in a sheet and carry him up the stairs. Today we allow things to be built where you can’t find cots, stupidity and words alone. The ambulance lady asked me to take Matt’s girlfriend and her friends into the room, so she wouldn’t see him being moved. The girl who was the first to come, I asked her and her boyfriend to join them in their room. I have to say that I have met some amazingly strong people in my life, but the two girls I was with in the bathroom that night were amazing. I truly respect the courage, care and love he showed that night. The girl who was in the room when I arrived was so attentive that I thought she was Matt’s friend, and I knew she just did the same thing I did.
As soon as Matt’s friend and friends entered the room, we carefully led Matt down the stairs. They put him in the ambulance, I asked if his girlfriend could go with them, they said no. So I asked the boss to take them to the hospital. Matt’s girlfriend got off first, so I told her to go with the boss and take them to the car. I then took Nick aside and told him that the doctor told me it was a million shot for Matt to survive, I think to be honest the doctor who wasn’t a doctor, he was called by one of the hotel guests, he didn’t want to be the one to say that Matt was dead. They all left. (It wasn’t until we met the boss when we were investigating, that our biggest fear was realised. The boss told us that the people at the hospital said that no one could have done anything to save Matt that night.)
I spoke briefly to some of the people, told the two girls that they were wonderful and returned with my eldest to my wife and all my children. I told them it didn’t look good and I went to the bathroom and cried. I couldn’t understand it, I’m a smart person. I had never met Matt, I had never spoken or talked to him, but I felt like one of my family had died.
I still don’t understand, but I feel lost and so does my son. I have to be honest, I don’t know if I should write this or not, but as a parent, God forbid, I would want to know what happened and if my son left this world surrounded by people who loved him. That’s why I’m writing this. Even though many people like me never met Matt, he was prayed for, cared for and cared for in the most loving way I have ever witnessed. In this world of ours we feel that people no longer care about what I saw that night.
There was more love in that bathroom than I have ever seen. Everyone in there wanted Matt to pass, to talk to him, to fight to keep living and was really sad when he passed. To the extent that many did not weaken at all. We did everything to keep him alive and I’m very sorry that we couldn’t.
So how should I feel?, logic says that I saw a foreigner as a part of this world. My heart tells me that I have lost my friend. A man whose life was short but loved by people he knew and others he never met. He must have been a wonderful man.
To his Friend, friends and family, you have the thoughts, love and care of all the people who were in the Travelodge in Galway that night.
Matt you may be gone, but you will never be forgotten.
Rest in peace Matt
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