Payton Rising (Part 1)

relationships Feb 16, 2023

Nearly 3.5 years ago, my 19 year old daughter, Payton, my only biological child, was living on her own and working hard to accomplish her dreams. All the while, us parents, we want to guide them, protect them, nurture them, yet, we want them to grow and develop into their own being through trial and error and also through absolutely any advice and direction they’ll take from us parents. What we parents usually learn is they are developing themselves for reasons greater than we can imagine. 

At this point in her 19 years of life, that's what she was going through, her own growth. Her own development, her own choices and her own consequences. Many times as we watch our children learn and grow, and we shutter at the pain they go through, while knowing deeply in our hearts there is a gem of a lesson somewhere waiting to shine through the chaos.

On October 11th 2019, Payton was found in her bedroom completely unconscious and unresponsive by a roommate. At this time in her life, she rented one of many rooms in a large house. And these roommates - 3 other girls, didn’t know each other. They were all very different and from different walks of life, but on this day - they came together.

On this particular day, Payton’s alarm kept going off continuously. When her roommate Irene heard this with no sounds of Payton getting out of bed, she knew something was wrong. Irene, never knowing Payton, knocked on her bedroom door until she was nearly late for work herself.

Mary, her other roommate then came out of her room to go to the restroom and Irene insisted she check on Payton as she had to leave for work. And Irene left. Louise, another roommate Payton had hardly known came out and said “Payton’s a heavy sleeper but she should be awake by now…” They figured she'd worked hard the night before as she tended to work long hours.

Payton was indeed a hard worker. She always has been. She worked hard on learning, being responsible, to make ends meet, to save money, and to keep her responsibilities taken care of through discipline and a wonderful work ethic. She also dreamed of many things and followed what truly made her heart sing. If there was anything she had her mind or heart set on, she would surely do everything in her power to get there. Her life was hers and hers alone and she knew she could and would become what life wanted and needed her to be. She exercised this through being passionate in what she loved to do.

Mary quickly went into Payton’s room and found Payton unresponsive, she wasn’t breathing. She had a very light pulse. Her skin was cold. She was turning blue. She immediately called 911.

The paramedics came and swiftly transported Payton to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. I got the call from a friend of Payton’s who simply said… “Payton is unconscious and unresponsive and she is on her way to the hospital…” It was a whirlwind situation and I didn’t know what was going on, it happened so fast I didn’t have time to think. I couldn’t make sense of it. Did she drink with her friends? Did she take a sleeping pill? Did she…? Did the paramedics find anything? No, they’d didn’t find anything in her room…they were just as puzzled.

I immediately jumped in the car and started driving myself and my mom to the hospital nearly an hour away. Confused, scattered and scared, all the breathing exercises I had been practicing recently came into full play. Tears rolled down my face as I took deep deep inhales and long, slow exhales. Over and over and over again as the minutes passed like hours.

My mom in the passenger seat said “let me drive, you aren’t in a state to drive…” “Mom”, I said, “you have a broken right foot and you have a giant boot on your foot. You cannot drive. She agreed and sat quietly next to me as we silently processed what we could of the situation. There were few words between us, we sat in disbelief and confusion.

About 10 minutes into our ride I received a call from a nurse at the hospital. “Are you her mother?” She asked. “Are you on your way here?” She asked…”Yes. I am her mother and yes I am on my way to her….”

“Your daughter is here. She is safe, she is warm. But I want you to know, she is on life support.” The words echoed through my entire being. It was the hardest thing I ever had to hear… It was that very moment when I realized, I might actually lose her. She might not wake up. 

“Life support, why?! What’s going on?!” I still didn’t know what was going on. “I’m sorry but that’s all I can tell you. I don’t want you to be alarmed by the tube going into her lungs when you get here...."

It was the longest drive I’d ever done in 50 minutes. Through this long ride, I kept hope. I prayed. I listened to Wayne Dyer over and over again to keep myself grounded. My daughter and I are so connected, I figured she would have somehow let me know if it was time to leave this earth. I would have felt the signs, I thought. This could not be happening, not this way. Not at 19 years old.

Stay tuned for part 2.

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