Death Leaves Holes

An overhead rail system for transporting a disabled person
Savannah's room with rail system
Slowly we dismantle the reminders of Savannah's peculiar life. We have given away her wheelchair, discarded her bath seats, stored her hospital bed. Recently,we donated her rail system to another family. Savannah's school wanted it, but the district has a strict policy against accepting any donations of medical goods (your tax dollars at work).

For those of you unfamiliar with a rail system, it is exactly what it sounds like: a system of rails that run along the ceiling for transporting a disabled person safely. You put the person in a sling that you push or pull to their destination. It works much like riding a zip line. In fact, when she was smaller, I'd occasionally put Ruby in the sling and let her ride.

"This is fun, Daddy. I wish I could ride in this like sister."

"No, you don't. You don't wish that at all."

With a motor, pictured below, you hoist the person up from her wheelchair or bed. At her destination, you reverse the gears and let her down.

The lift motor sitting on its push cart
Tamara contacted a company (101 Mobility) that installs rail systems. She asked the guy for an estimate on the removal. When he found out we were donating it to another family because our daughter had died, he said he would do the job without any charge.

It took two men all morning to dismantle the apparatus that connected the play room, the hall, the bathroom, and Savannah's bedroom. Room by room the rail came down to the clang of tools and sheet metal. One of the men scrabbled around in the attic to find and loosen the large anchor bolts. They yelled at each other through the holes in the ceiling.

"I can't find it!"

"Go more the the right!"

They sweated profusely in the inferno of the attic. One by one they located the bolts under the deep snowdrifts of insulation and boxes of Christmas ornaments.

Ruby and a friend played with an Ipad on the sofa, unperturbed by the commotion.
A hole in the ceiling where the bolt that secured the rail system used to be
A hole where the rail was secured

I worked in my home office.

When the workmen had finished and cleared away the debris, shaken my hand, and departed, I surveyed the house. It looked different without the rails that connected the rooms for Savannah. Holes punctuated the ceilings like periods. "This is what the end looks like," each hole said.

Tamara asked me to drive to the home improvement store and get patches for the drywall, but I have not complied with her request as of yet. I'm sure she believes my lethargy is due to some innate, male rebelliousness towards chores or my persistent absent-mindedness. Neither is true. I am just not ready to patch the holes Savannah has left. I need to live with them a little bit longer before I scrape the ceiling and mud them over with tape and Spackle.

#death #grief #grieving #mourning #MedicalEquipment #lift #LiftSystem #donation #SpecialNeeds #disability #parenting #deathofachild

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