Monday, January 30, 2012

The Man with the Red Mustache

As many know I just went through a hard time with the loss of a dear college friend.  The journey through that in itself is a story from the events that happened, the people I met, the memories relived, the new memories made....
Mike Hamm was described by another friend as "impossible to describe in one word".  It's so true.  He was an energetic, dramatic, spontaneous, hilarious, dance party, laugh till you can't laugh anymore kind of guy.  I have a million memories from college that I love with him!  We had a blast together.
Mike was rushed to the hospital right after the Christmas holiday break.  He was in Keller, Texas at his sister's house preparing to fly back to New York in a mere 2 hours.  He had just said goodbye to his parents and they began their drive back to Midland, Texas.  Mike grabbed his head and began screaming "My head is exploding" and telling of how hot he had become while putting ice all over himself.  The ambulance was called and Mike began vomitting and went into a coma.  He spent 10 days at the Fort Worth hospital in a coma.  He was completely surrounded by MANY family and friends from the DFW area, NY, Midland, and everywhere in between.  His parents, grandparents, and sisters were all there.  It was a rollercoaster 10 days.  With every up, positive move forward, there was a huge down.  For awhile, he was responding to reflex tests and it was looking very good.  It was amazing to get a hand squeeze back from him after squeezing his.  We talked to him, loved on him, told him stories, people read to him, tried to annoy him out of the coma, and anything else that could be thought of. 
He was born with an AVM which was a mass in his brain.  He never knew of it as most AVM patients do not.  He was a rare case because of his trauma and his age that he experienced this.  Most of the time it is discovered between 15-20 if it is going to give any problems. 
Through the pain that all were going through, an appreciation for the love Mike had for all was formed.  A realization of how similar such a diverse group of people were was astounding.  All of the people who Mike loved were So so so very different yet sooooo similar in many ways.  We all clicked in this tragedy and really leaned on eachother and uplifted eachother while crying together.  It was talked about over and over how Mike would be overjoyed with having all these people he cared about in one room!  It was amazing hearing all the stories from everyone of how they knew Mike or the funny things they'd done together.  The family repeatedly said those stories were what was carrying them through.  They were finding strength in his friends and his friends were finding strength in them.  I've never witnessed such a strength in a family going through such hurt.  They continually were asking all of us how we were doing and hugging on us.  They constantly were giving up time with Mikey to push us to have time with him.  I was blown away with their ability to share him with everyone.  A common phrase was "He's not ours, he's all of ours".  I was amazed that this special, special family could be so selfless and loving during their time of pain.  I could only hope to show such strong true colors during a time like that.  I fell madly in love with his family. 
Mike was due for a 3rd surgery that had to be put on hold because his brain was having spasms.  If he was operated on, it would cause a stroke.  The next day after the scheduled surgery the family was imformed that his brain was at its peak for spasms which was good because that meant it would be calm and ready to operate on in the following days.  Unfortunately, his brain began hemmoraging again and they rushed him into this risky surgery.  Like expected, he had a stroke during the surgery.  The surgeon relayed however, that she completed the operation and rewired everything she needed to.  She did a very thorough job.  The next step was waiting to see how the stroke affected his brain.  After a few more days and tests showing that his body was not operating on its own, showing the brain was not commanding reflexes, the final  two were to be done.  This was on a Saturday.  The family had an idea of what the end result would be and we got the call to come back to the hospital to spend some final time with him and pray for Miracles.  I went up with some other friends early Saturday morning.The first test was done around 2 pm.  It was a dye that would be placed in his blood to see if there was any flow to his brain.  It came back negative, the brain was not getting blood.  His family came out from receiving the news in hysteria and shock.  His dad informed us extremely calm and matter of factly "It is not good.  Each of you should take time to go in a be with him and say what you want to say to him.  They will do one more test as a mere formality."  On that Saturday, the huge crowd of people lining the hospital broke into tears. 
During most of the goodbye moments, there were multiple people in his room at a time.  Same with my first "goodbye".  I found it hard to put a final goodbye and close this chapter.  I went back at one point after we already knew there was no brain activity, but found myself alone with him.  What happened next, I will forever hold on to and cherish.  I was talking to Mike and rubbing his arm.  Telling him of all the memories we had, how much he meant to me, and how he helped form me.  His arm got goosebumps.  I stopped.  I was both spooked a bit and felt a sense of Mike acknowledging that he was there with me, listening.  When I stopped, his goosebumps went away.  So I started again and kept talking to him, they returned.  It was a special moment to me.  A moment of closure.  I will forever hold that. 
I feel blessed to have known him., been apart of his life, and more so had him a part of mine!  He will always live in my memories, and my new friendships with his friends and family.  He will be remembered by all and loved for the rest of my life! 
Thank you Mikey for being who you are and loving each of us so specially! 

A college silly moment together.  One of many!

San Diego beach

Road trip!!   Including Cosmo magazine, gossiping, life stories, and hilarious moments!  Like the scary hotel

College best buds!
In honor of Mike, at his after life after party, we had a whole stache theme!  Here's to your humorous memory and your famous stache!

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