Until We Meet Again – Arthur’s Story

I’ve always hated how final death is; how you can’t change it at all! I hate feeling helpless and unable to do anything about losing someone. The year 2009 was the worst year my family ever endured. We thought we had been through enough tragedy in our lives. There would be no way God would let the year play out the way it did. It was this year that made me see that God isn’t the one who causes death but He is the one who gets you through it. He is the reason that nine years later I’m still living and although I’m missing people, I’m still here.

You see, I’ll have to begin with what happened to my dad in order to completely tell this story. In November 1992, my father had another of many surgeries. This neck surgery was supposed to help relieve neck, back pain, and headaches. Only three days later, he was ‘accidentally’ given an extra dose of morphine by a nurse who was supposed to discontinue It because medicine was causing him to hallucinate. He took something for his stomach and couldn’t feel it in his throat and subsequently choked, went 15 minutes without oxygen, and ended up in a coma. A month later, his doctors said he was in a vegetative state and would never regain consciousness. His diagnosis, permanent anoxic brain damage.

But my father responded to us in ways no doctor could tell us wasn’t there. He knew my mother’s voice, the voice of all his children, and the voice of his long-term sitter, Jackie. He stayed connected with us and fought to live for 16 1/2 years. He died in the arms of my oldest brother, his namesake, Arthur Furr, Jr., in ICU room 115, on the morning of his 68th birthday.

The mistake we made was putting him in the care of a hospice doctor who tried to make us kill my dad with a lethal cocktail. But we believed that we would not take the place of God. He would call him home when it was his time. I won’t tell what we believe happened, but you can read between the lines if you wish. We have no solid proof just the cover-up, I mean, miscommunication of her interns that let us know something wasn’t right.

Ok, so we said goodbye to my father with a military burial, the military salute with the guns, and the presentation of the flag. That was the hardest part for me and I know for my Mom. Thank God for my brother-in-law, who was in the military. He had everything set up for us. I wrote my father’s obituary for the paper and the service. I was honored.

The toll Daddy’s death took on my big brother, along with a separation from his wife, became more than he could handle. I can imagine him seeing Daddy’s last moments over and over again in his mind. As I’ve mentioned before in my blog contained my poem A Friendship With Addiction, Art Jr. already had an issue with prescription medication.

But at the time, we didn’t know that he was experiencing Ambien syndrome as well. Ambien Syndrome has a long spectrum. Some people sleepwalk, sleep eat or buy things they have no recollection of the next day. In my brother’s case, he would drive somewhere in my car and park it on the opposite side of the carport. We had no idea why it would not be parked where I put it. Also, his case of Ambien syndrome mimicked his behavior when he would overdose. We called ambulances so many times for him and they would treat him like he OD’d. I was really afraid of him.

Three months after my Daddy’s death, I loaned my vehicle to my sister, some brother had a migraine. He decided to walk to Walmart for Excedrin migraine tablets. I don’t know why he just didn’t go to the gas station up the street or the Walgreens across the street from it. He did make it to Walmart. But instead of him walking back in the door in the wee hours of June 19, 2009, a man with the word, homicide stitched on his shirt and the police did. They sat my mom down at the kitchen table and told us that, on his way home, he collapsed two blocks from our home and died in a strangers driveway. They had already taken him to Montgomery for an autopsy by the time we received the news. We didn’t see him until the viewing six days later.

I supposed you’re wondering what the autopsy stated. The doctor who did the autopsy was so kind to me and even sent me a paper copy of it. It stated that he had pulmonary edema, cardiac myopathy, and severe hydrocephalus. In layman’s terms, his respiratory system couldn’t take the overload of several medications and he went into respiratory failure and cardiac arrest which caused his brain, lungs, and heart to fill with fluid. By the time the ambulance arrived there was nothing they could do.

The autopsy concluded he died of an accidental overdose. He took his medicine a few hours before he left but had forgotten and accidentally took it again too soon. He wasn’t trying to kill himself. He was trying to get back home so he could go the next morning to Bradford! He was like that! He was determined to get the help he needed this time! But it was too late.

I’m telling this story to shed light on the harms of mixing prescription medications and over the counter meds for a pronged period of time. Eventually, as I tried many times to tell him, the body’s respiratory and central nervous systems will fail to recover. People need to know that accidental overdoses are sometimes the result of a combination of none prescription drugs such as Benedryl taken with depression and pain meds such as Amitriptyline, Phenergan, and Lortab. This lethal mixture took his life. We would beg his doctors to deny him pain medication but they refused our constant requests. His mom and pop shop pharmacist refused our constant requests to refuse to fill his prescriptions. But I find a little comfort in the closing of that pharmacy after my brother died.

This whole year, have been so hard! November 15th would have been his 52nd birthday. For some reason, I feel so much sadness and heartache. Sometimes I barely get through that day. Last night, I thought it may help to talk to my mom about it but I broke down crying. Actually, I have been crying all week but she doesn’t need to see that. I want nothing but peace, love, and happiness for the rest of her life. I can’t imagine me causing her any heartache after these two devastating blows! But unfortunately, death wasn’t finished with us.

On December 22, 2009, just five months later, my mom’s father, Luther Clemons, Sr., passed away from the devastating effects of Dementia. His death was easier to take only because he was 92 years old and had lived a long, amazing life. He was lovingly cared for till the end by my mom first, then my Auntie and Uncle. I think we were being tested as to our faith and strength as a family. But we got through it.

Life is a system of cycles, tests, trials, tribulations, victories, and successes. It’s up to you to hold on to your faith and choose how to get through each one. Luckily we had a great church support system with a great Pastor who took my brother under his wing, saving his soul. We had an awesome group of family and friends who constantly checked up on us. And then there’s the one thing people say will cure the sadness, we have had time, ten years.

I don’t think time makes it better, especially when you lose three generations in one year, have to fight in court to keep your brother’s kids he was raising, and raising other five children. They were dealing with these deaths in their own way. Time didn’t heal these wounds. Time only changed the distance between those yesterdays and today. I’m going to put this to rest and hopefully, the sadness and pressure in my chest and migraine will go away. I know there’s nothing I can do to change it, so I have to let it go and ask God for strength right now.

A friend/sister of mine and I were talking tonight and she said that she likes knowing that she will see those who passed away again. From time to time, I wonder if that’s true. Then I remember the sky, the trees, the sun and the Moon, and how good God has been to me and my family. I recall the things I’ve prayed for and received from the rain to stop so I could get home safely to protection over my family. I know there is a God. So I pray this morning for all of us who were left behind to continue to live and find peace, acceptance, grace, and mercy. In Jesus name. Amen.

Continue to Rest in Heaven big Bro! I love and miss you!!

P.S. My big brother died two days before Father’s Day. He was blessed with nine children. He lived to see one of his six beautiful grandchildren.


Valerie Collins
Valerie Collins
Valerie Collins was born in Tucson, Az, the last of six children. She has loved writing since a child but decided to pursue a career in Orthopedic nursing. Shortly after her marriage and birth of her first child at the age of 22, she was diagnosed with the chronic pain disease, Fibromyalgia, its subsequent conditions, illnesses, and syndromes. Once the disease disabled her in 2001, she revisited her passion for writing poetry and short stories and has accumulated over 100 poems and spoken word pieces over the years. She became a member of the International Society of poets in 2002 and The International Who's Who in Poetry in 2006. She currently is a member of Realistic Poetry International, Who's Who Among American Business Women, and Women of Facebook Create. Her accolades include 2005 Poet of the Year. She was awarded both the Outstanding Achievement Award in Poetry and the Official Commemorative Poetry Ambassador Medal while serving as a Poetry Ambassador associate in 2007. She wrote a play entitled “Fix Me Jesus” in 2012 for Alabama 1st COGIC State AIM Youth Convention Competition drama category which was awarded second place. Currently, she is in rehearsals for her second stage play for the local playwright, Shawna D. Moore which will be on stage in August 2019. She is in the process of compiling a two-volume poetry book entitled My Poetic Life: A Memoir of Love and a book detailing her life with Fibromyalgia, entitled Behind the Walls of Silence. In July 2018, she created her first blog site My Poetic Life (The Book) as @vfurrmstheblogger to act as a launch for both books and it has taken on a life of its own. She also owns a small crochet business, Val's Gifts of Warmth, where she sells her handmade crochet items.

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  1. Very touching story. I went through my sister dying from Alzheimer and it was so painful. While the are all gone I feel that daddy is walking the fields in Heaven, Mom is somewhere near a stove and my sister is always whispering in my ear, telling me to believe in my dreams. Yes they are gone but the memories they left behind are priceless. Strong Ink with much tenderness and love stirred in. Thank you for your story.

    • Thank you, Larry, for this and for sharing. I feel my brothers presence this time of year. Father’s Day is so hard because there’s only my brother left and I thank God for him although he is hard to take sometimes…lol! My brother died a week before Father’s Day 2009. I do believe as you do, my Dad is trying to take over the tenors in the Angels choir, my brother is walking around Heaven keeping order, my Poppy is singing ‘Stormy Weather’ to whomever will listen. Thank you. I feel better because of the way you looked at your losses, I was able to do the same.