So I made it to Atlanta on Monday afternoon, February 24, 2014. Lateef was home alone and we got to spend an hour or two catching up before we had to pick Jade up from basketball practice. It was fun. I didn’t get too much alone time with my son, where he was totally focused on our conversation (every mother’s lament) so I considered this precious time. He had undergone surgery for a benign brain tumor 9 months before that and though his recovery was rocky, he was now back at the CNN Wires desk and loving his job more than ever. I asked him how he felt. He told me that his brain felt sharp again and that he thought his stories were better than ever. Then he said “Let’s not jinx it—let’s talk about something else.” So we did.
We picked Jade up and later, Aileen came in with Ami. We had dinner together and Lateef started getting ready for work. When he came downstairs, he was dressed in a dark suit with a beautiful blue shirt (his favorite color) and striped tie. He looked fantastic. I remember saying to him: “You look wonderful. Your work group is going to stand up and give you a round of applause because you look so good! Do you always go to work like this?” He said “No, but I should!”. I gave him a hug, he kissed Aileen and went off to work in my car—happy. I am so happy that the last thing I said to him was loving and complimentary. I am glad that I was not harping on him for something he shouldn’t have done or could be doing better. No regrets there.
At about midnight, the door of my room opened. Aileen came in, and turned on the light. She was talking on the phone and her eyes were as big as saucers. I could hear from her tone of voice that there was an emergency and I knew with every bone in my body that something was wrong with Lateef. I threw off the covers and started putting on my clothes—no questions asked.
Lateef had suffered seizures at his desk and they had taken him to Grady Memorial Hospital by ambulance. We got there somehow and were finally allowed to see him in emergency. He was hooked to so many machines and he was sedated—it was scary. My heart was somewhere in my throat—certainly not where it was supposed to be. They told us that he had probably just eaten and that he had aspirated food into his lungs. There was some lung damage and he would be moved to Intensive Care. As these arrangements were being made, Aileen and I stood by his bedside—each clutching one of his hands. I did not know how bad it was at that time but I started thinking about him as a little boy and about how much I loved him, just willing him to get better.