2 Day Old Baby Will Only Sleep In My Arms How Are You Supposed to Feel When a 29 Year Old Man Dies in Your Arms?

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How Are You Supposed to Feel When a 29 Year Old Man Dies in Your Arms?

You know the world is a strange place. On the 18th of February 2010, I was staying in the Travelodge in Galway with my 5 children and my wife. I have been booked to speak at the opening of Adlanticside collage in Bundorren in Co Donegal, Ireland next Saturday. So I decided to take the wife and children away for a few days. As it is a five hour plus drive, we decided to break the trip in Galway as it is a beautiful city.

We arrived and went out to eat out as usual, went to a nice Italian restaurant so the kids could get pizza, we were all in a great mood. Return to the hotel around 10 pm. The older children had the room across the hall and we were in our room with the younger ones, the joy of traveling with 5 children. Anyway I was pretty tired so drifted off while the kids watched TV. Around 12.30 I was woken up with screams.

I assumed there were some teenagers, but it went again. It was a scream, so I jumped out of bed. My oldest Son rang my cell phone just as I opened the door and I told him I would look. To be honest, I figured it was a young couple having a row and at worst I’d have to slap some guy so I could go back to sleep. I was totally unprepared for what I saw. My oldest son and I started down the hall to see what the hell was going on.

As we rounded the corner of the hallway, we saw a crowd of people. There was a lot of confusion, I asked one lady what was going on, she said: “a young man collapsed on the floor, he has white foam from his mouth”. ‘So being me, I went into the room and saw a young woman in a cloth and she was mad. I saw a young man lying naked on the bathroom floor and the girl in the towel is screaming, ‘he hit his head, he hit his head’. Next to the guy is a girl and she has him in recovery, someone else is there but I ask the girl in the bathroom what’s going on. She says the young man was brushing his teeth and collapsed.

At this point and to my shame I start thinking, Ok, this guy has taken some drugs. I couldn’t be further from the truth. So I go to the girl in the towel and I say ‘did you call an ambulance?’ She was partially shouting “I don’t know, I don’t know”. So I went out to the crowd and asked them. I was told that yes, it was called. I go back into the bathroom, the girl is talking to the young guy’ saying ‘wake up Matt, Wake up Matt’. I told her you have to get dressed so you can go in the ambulance. When she was dressed I asked her if there was anyone else with her, she said she had two friends at the hotel, So I sent her and my son to get them.

I went back to the bathroom and upon entering I saw two toothbrushes on the floor. It then registered, the white thing around his mouth was toothpaste. He collapsed literally brushing his teeth. Around this point his two friends arrived, one boy called Nick told me the guys name was Matt, he was 29 and was getting a new valve for his heart on the 16th of March. My own heart sank at this point, there was confusion everywhere. His girlfriend knelt down talking to Matt, saying ‘come on Matt wake up, come on Matt wake up. His other friend spoke to a doctor on the phone and we were told not to do anything. One of the ladies outside picked up the phone and shouted “just send the ambulance now”

So I went down stairs to talk to the porter to see what the update was on the arrival of the ambulance, 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 on the line what was going on, she put me through to the ambulance service and I told the women that “look this guy is not going to make it “, I gave her the information about Matt and she told me that. a doctor was on his way.

I ran back up, on the way another young girl said she knew CPR, so I said common. They still have Matt in recovery so I checked his pulse again, nothing. Jesus I said we must help him Now! so his friend told the doctor over the phone what was happening now. The doctor ordered us to breathe into his mouth, two breaths and pump his heart 30 times. To their credit, the two girls immediately got to work. Two breaths, 30 pumps and again. The girl who was pumping her breast, who had been with him since before I got there, was really tired and emotionally drained, so I said, look, let me take over. This happened about 15 minutes after I first entered the room. So we continued with 2 breaths, 30 pumps and so on. How long we were there I don’t know. Matts girlfriend and friends took turns talking to him, I was talking to him saying things “come on Matt wake up, your girlfriend is fine with you kissing other girls”.

We continued and finally in what seemed like forever a doctor arrived. He asked how long he had been like this, I told him about 20 minutes if not more. He asked to clear the room, I did it. His friends cry and try to be optimistic, “he will be fine”. I hoped they were right, but I didn’t think so. While we were helping him, he had no pulse. Then the ambulance crew arrives. I do doorman let the ambulance people do their job. The hotel meal young, I would think that a Polish girl arrives. She is lost. I ask her to get everyone drinks. It will keep people busy. I remember when my own sister died, she was 30 years old and died of cancer, that the main thing I felt was that I was useless, so keep people as busy as possible. It’s amazing how silly things will distract your mind.

I ask Nick, his name and why they ended up in the UK. He tells me that they are over for marriage and explains that Nick has been very careful with his lifestyle, due to his upcoming operation. He tells me how they planned to go skiing after Nick recovered from the operation. I can see from his girlfriend and his friends that Matt is loved very deeply. One of the ambulance crew asks me if I’m with Matt, I told her I’m just a guest at the hotel, explain to her who was with him and that they were outside the stairs. At this stage I am aware for the first time that my 16 year old son has been there the whole time. I ask him to go back to the room and he said he will stay. I was very proud of my young man that night and thought of Matt’s poor parents. I had told his girlfriend not to call them until she knew something, I thought, Christ I hoped I made the right decision. There’s nothing they can do now, It’s 1.30 in the morning. She too (I never got the poor girl’s name) is in no condition to do anything.

The front door is partially open because it is stuck on the bathroom door to keep it open. What I’m hearing from the people trying to save Matt is not good. They work for 20 minutes, No response. Now the problem is that they can’t bring a stretcher to him, so it was decided to wrap him in a cloth and we will carry him down the stairs. Nowadays we allow things to be built where you can’t get a stretcher, stupid is the only word. The ambulance lady asked me to get Matt’s girlfriend and friends into a room so they wouldn’t see him being moved. The girl who was first on the scene, I ask her and her boyfriend to take them to their room. I have to say that in my life I have met some amazingly strong people in my life, but the two young ladies I was in the bathroom with that night were amazing. I really respect the courage, the care and the love they showed that night. Actually the girl who was in the room when I arrived was so caring that I thought she was a friend of Matt’s, only to find out later that she had just reacted like me.

As soon as Matt’s girlfriend and friends walked into the room, we carefully led Matt down the stairs. He was put in the ambulance, I asked if his girlfriend could go with them, they said it was better not. So I asked the manager to drop them off at the hospital. Matt’s girlfriend came first so I told her she would go with the manager and get them to the car. Then I took Nick aside and told him that the doctor told me that Matt would be one in a million to survive, I think it’s fair that the doctor, who wasn’t from the emergency service, was called by one of the hotel guests, didn’t want to to be the one to say Matt passed away. They all left. (It wouldn’t be until we met the manager when we were checking out that our worst fears were realised. The manager told us that the hospital staff said there was nothing anyone could have done to save Matt that night.)

I spoke briefly to some of the people, told the two girls they were wonderful and returned with my oldest to my wife and the rest of the children. I told them it didn’t look good and went to the bathroom and cried. I couldn’t understand it, I’m a rational person. I never met Matt, never had a conversation or a pint with him, but it felt like one of my family had passed away.

I still don’t understand it, but I feel the loss and so does my son. I have to be honest that I didn’t know whether to write this or not, but as a parent, God forbid, if it was one of mine, I would want to know what happened and if my child were to tear this world apart, if they were surrounded by people , who loved them. That’s why I’m writing this. Even though most of the people like me, never met Matt, he was prayed for, worried about and cared for in the most loving way I have ever witnessed. In this current world of ours where we hear that people just don’t care anymore about what I witnessed that night.

There was more love in that bathroom than I’ve ever seen. Every person in there wanted Matt to pull through, talked to him, fought to live and was truly sad when he passed. To the point where most didn’t give up at all. We did everything to keep him alive and I’m so sorry we couldn’t.
So how should I feel?, logic says I watched a stranger share this world. My spirit tells me that I have lost a friend. A man whose life was cut short lived but was loved by the people he knew and some people he never met. What a wonderful person he must have been.

To his Girlfriend, friends and family, you have the thoughts, love and concern of all the people who were in the Travelodge in Galway that night.

Matt you may be gone but you will not be forgotten.

Rest in peace Matt

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