My parents always knew that they wanted to have 2 kids and to adopt. So, after me and my sister, they began looking to adopt. They wanted to adopt a special needs kid, provide a home to a child that might be overlooked. They were aware of their own limitations and knew that they wanted a child with a physical handicap. We took sign language classes together for a while when we thought we were getting a deaf sibling. That fell through and in the end, we found out about Lee. Lee had a little red triangle that appeared on his forehead above his nose when he cried and got upset. The Koreans considered that a handicap. It was meant to be!
His Korean name is Man Ho Ha and we picked him up from Dallas airport when he was 6 months old. He was ours from the time he was a month old, but we couldn’t get him until he was 6 months old. It was amazing. A Korean woman had traveled with him and several other babies and dropped them off at other stops, and Lee and one other child, a little girl, were her last stop. We passed him around our arms while at the airport and just couldn’t keep our eyes or hands off of him. It was a memory that will always stay with me.
He was named Jayman Lee. Jayman is spelled slightly different from normal so that we could incorporate his Korean name in there – and Lee is a family name. We just called him Lee.
Through the years, as a good older sister does, I tormented him! I curled his hair and my other sister dressed him up. Good Times! Since there is 10 years difference between he and I, we were pretty close. When he got older, I always took him school supply shopping. We had season passes to Six Flags for many years. Apparently, when he and I were younger, I thought I was also his mom. He would bring home papers from school that were subpar and needed a parents signature, in order to keep him out of trouble I would sign his papers. Then mom and dad would never know that he didn’t do well. Yeah, uh, they found out anyway.
It was 10 months ago that he was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy. You have followed my journey with him here on my blog. After the initial diagnosis, he did good. We had a few set backs, but overall, he was doing really well managing the condition. We did have a few scares along the way, but he always pulled through. In fact, our aunt commented at a family function “you don’t look sick.” Yeah, she’s that aunt.
A little over a month ago he started not feeling very well. His meds were adjusted, but he knows is body, and he knew when it was time to go to the ER.
He never left the hospital again.
This kid was amazing. He took everything that was thrown at him. We didn’t think he would survive the gallbladder surgery, but he did. Then he was transferred to UT Southwestern, which is one of the best hospitals for cardiovascular issues. He seemed to be getting better, but then stopped. I can’t tell you how many times we were told “he may not make it through the night” but he did. When he went in for his LVAD surgery, again, we knew he might not survive, but against the odds, he did. I’m so very proud of my brother for all that he went through and how well he handled it.
There was a Tuesday that I went to visit him in Dallas. He took my hand and held it. He told me how much he loved me and how glad he was that I was his sister. He said that he knows how much crap I put up from him over the years and he was so glad that I was always there to support him. He also mentioned how thankful he was that I could spend so much time with him in the hospital. He acknowledged that it couldn’t have been easy for me, but that he wanted me to know how much he appreciated it, and me, and how very much he loved me.
Then he kissed the back of my hand and sat there holding my hand.
That’s the last conversation I had with my brother.
That night he had to be put on the ventilator. A week later he coded and slipped into a coma. This Monday, he had a CT scan and we were told that there was swelling in the brain due to damage and that the doctors would not be able to fix that.
It was time.
This Tuesday we gathered by his bedside. Mom, dad, my sister, my grandmother and I. We held his hand, kissed his head and said our goodbyes. When we were ready, we called in the doctors and nurses and they turned off his machines and left us in peace. We stood by and talked to him, held his hand and we cried as he passed away.
Lee transitioned peacefully to Heaven surrounded by love. We let him know how much of a blessing he was to us, and that we were letting him go. He didn’t take long to pass, and we all knew when it happened, you could see the peaceful expression, it was so nice that after such a trying journey, he had found peace.
Today we have been busy making the arrangements. Lee will be cremated and we will have a memorial service this Saturday morning. I’ve been in contact with family and friends and have been absolutely amazed at the outpouring of love and support I have received.
Lee was well loved, and for a pain in the butt brother, he was pretty darn awesome.
Thank you all for being part of my journey with Lee.