Monday, March 15, 2010

Mike's story...

I have thought and thought about why I am doing this, why am I sitting down every couple days and telling my story, I mean I know it's for my kids, and their kids and so on, but what is my goal? I have decided that eventually after my story has been told and my past revisited sufficiently I would like this to become a regular journal-type blog, one where I can keep track of what is happening today, because today will soon be tomorrow and those memories will also fade.
But the problem is I can't move on and get to that point until I tell his story.

Mike Sabella. When I said before that my brother was my idol, I was not exagerating, I was not just using the word lightly. He simply was the greatest guy ever. Soft spoken, funny, caring, gentle soul. When I look back now I think that I always knew he wasn't going to be around forever. I think that is why I cried for so long after he moved out. I was the same way with my dad, sometimes when he would leave for work in the morning and I didn't get to say goodbye (because the sun hadn't even come up yet) I would panic and run for the door and try to catch him before his car drove off, always afraid I wouldn't get the chance to say goodbye. I was the same way with Mike. Always afraid something was going to happen to him.

It was fourth of July weekend 1989. My best friend Alex and I were having a great summer. We were hanging out with a super fun group of friends and just enjoying being young. I had just broke up with my long term boyfriend and Alex and I were going to have some friends over to my house. My parents were out of town. Mike called, he was bummed. He sounded very somber, I asked him what was wrong and he said that he and Kevin (his best friend) had been playing golf that day in LA at Griffiths Park and his car had been broken into. They stole his stereo and his speakers. It was the second or third time this had happened and he was not happy. He was also still having a very hard time because just a couple of months before his high school girlfriend who he was still very good friends with had been killed. She was murdered in her own home. It was horrendous and Mike was grieving hard. I felt awful because I hardly ever heard him that sad. I told him that Alex and I were having some friends over to our house and he was welcome to come hang out with us. I knew that the 4th of July was his favorite holiday and I didn't want him to be alone. He said it was alright, he was going to see what Kevin was doing.
About a week later I got back together with my boyfriend, we had been dating for about 2 years and things were very serious and I think I just got nervous so I broke up with him, and then soon after decided I needed him back. So life was good for me at the time I was teaching pre-school for the first time and loving it. I was 20 years old and they were letting me teach kids all by myself! I was working at a school in La Mirada, about 20 miles or so outside of Downey where I lived.
About two weeks after  I had spoken to Mike on the 4th I was at work and the phone rang, it was naptime so all the kids were on their mats sleeping. I answered the phone and was very surprised to hear my mom's voice. She said "Nina, it's mom. You need to come to Downey Community right away. It's Mike."
All I remember saying was "mom, is he going to be okay?" and she said "I don't know, just come... now."
I don't even think I hung up the phone or told anybody I was even leaving I just grabbed my purse and ran out. I drove as fast as I could to the hospital crying and praying the whole time. Not having any idea what had happened, I didn't know if it was a car accident or if somebody tried to hurt him. I remember walking into the hospital emergency room and my mom, dad, brother Danny and Uncle Don were all there. I knew it must be serious. I don't exactly remember the next chain of events, I just remember hearing that he was in a coma. I was so scared. I looked at my parents and they looked scared and my Uncle Don was a mess. (I didn't know why until later.) I went into see him and he looked totally normal, like nothing was wrong except he was asleep and had tubes all over. After a while they transferred him to ICU and started doing some testing. That's when they had the chance to tell me the whole story.
My mom was home alone and Mike's boss called and asked if he was at our house or if she knew where he was, because he had not shown up for work and he wasn't answering his phone. My mom immediately panicked because this was exactly how they found Christy, Mike's old girlfriend that had just been killed. She hadn't shown up for something she was supposed to be at and her sister went over and found her in her condo. Anyway, my mom did not want to go over there by herself afraid of what she might find so she called my dad but he worked in downtown LA and it was going to take him longer to get there so he told her to call my uncle. She met my Uncle Don over there and he said that he would go up to Mike's apartment to check it out. I think they had to get the key from the manager. Anyway Uncle Don went up and found Mike passed out on the bathroom floor. He had passed out in the middle of the night while he was trying to take some ibuprofen. Mike suffered from migraine headaches and apparantely had been having one. My uncle called 911 and went downstairs and told my mom what was going on. He was alive but not responsive.
After many tests at the hospital the neurosurgeon informed my parents that Mike had suffered a stroke in the stem of the brain, which was most likely what was causing his headaches, his blood was not flowing to his brain like it should.
Over the next 4 days we stayed at the hospital around the clock. The outpouring of love and support was tremendous. My boyfriend and his family were amazing, they really took care of us. The family and friends that gathered each day in the ICU waiting room was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. I will never forget on the third day we knew that things were not looking good, the doctors had told my parents that his chance of survival was small and if he did live he would be brain dead, an awful thought but we still wanted him to wake up so bad. We all took turns around his bed trying to encourage him. We told him stories, tried to make him smile and did everything we could think of to get him to just open his eyes and say "okay, I am going to be fine". It was on this day that I was standing out in the hall with Mike's friend Kevin. I had known Kevin since I was 5, he lived two doors down from us and he and Mike had been very best friends for 15 years. Kevin looked at me and said "Oh Nina, you have no idea how much he loves you". Oh my God even writing that right now 21 years later I am bawling like a baby. It was the best thing anyone had ever said to me, to know that Kevin even knew how strong our bond was and to know that Mike had shared with him how important I was to him was the sweetest thing ever.
That night my parents, Bryan (the boyfriend) and I decided that we were going to go home and sleep, we had been sleeping in the waiting room the first couple nights and we thought maybe we should go home for a while. Kevin said that he and Leslie (Mike's ex-girlfriend who was very close to our family) would stay the night. So the 4 of us went home. It was so hard to see my parents like this, they were beyond sad, they were devastated that this was happening. We all went to sleep, my mom and I slept in my room, Bryan slept on the couch and my dad slept in his room. The phone rang at 5:30 am and we all were awakened immediately dreading what the phone call was. My mom and I lay still in my bed and all we could hear was my dad say "hello?" and then, "oh, no. Not my baby boy, not my baby.. he's gone." He was sobbing and talking and I swear my heart just broke right then. Nothing was ever the same.

1 comment:

  1. I had no idea you have gone through all of this. My dear Nina, I am so sorry. xo


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