It was dark, around 6 p.m. when Avi got the call from Jonathan. Belinda is brain dead, Jonathan told him. Tonight would be the last chance to see her. Avi, who'd spent the week "praying for a miracle" and updating friends, posted the tragic news on LADEAD: "[I]f you want to say goodbye, you need to come tonight," he added. "For those who can't make it... she does look like she's sleeping. Very peaceful and serene and beautiful. Try to remember or think of her like that. It's a new moon outside, Belinda. I'll miss your lunacy, but I'm glad I got to know you ...."
Lunar cycles begin and end with a new moon. The moon waxes - illumination gradually increasing to a full moon - then wanes - illumination decreasing - until it becomes invisible. Stare at the sky all night long, you won't see a new moon except during a solar eclipse. It rises with the sunrise and sets with the sunset. The moon waned during Luna's last days. On November 10, it was a new moon. Invisible.
Two at a time, visitors walked through the double doors of UCLA's ICU, holding Belinda's hand, talking to her, crying. In the hospital halls, Sharon told visitors stories of Belinda and her father Oz, who she would be near soon.
Avi rounded up his girlfriend, Rio and Rio's girlfriend, and rushed to the hospital. Rio, with end-stage renal failure, had narrowly escaped death after a bout of pneumonia earlier that year. Now he was back in hospital. This time to say goodbye to the girl he affectionately called his little sister. The lighthouse in the harbor would go dark.
Belinda could no longer tell anyone what it felt like, her years of suffering, her final days. Yet in so many ways, literally and lyrically, she'd told people for years:
"So I'm writing you a letter from the boxcar, telling you goodbye ...
Here in these chasms I'm falling fast asleep
Mama don't you wonder what secrets, I will keep, I will keep
Hide your face from me; run away, far away
Take a short trip out to sea
Bon Voyage ...
Bon Voyage ...
Bon Voyage ..."
Like so much of Belinda's music, "Chasms" foreshadowed Belinda's early death after a lifetime of pain. Whatever premonition she had about that, Belinda carried on, planned for the future, booked gigs and traveled as a DJ. Even after qualifying for disability, she still searched for a traditional "day" job. She took acting and dance classes. She adopted an orphan kitten, named him Rhody. She had plans.
But even the strongest will can only combat a collapsing body for so long. Available information on liver fulminant indicates that a new liver, earlier, may well have saved Belinda. Only an earlier placement on a transplant list would have changed that. But in a gatekeeping system where impressions and money matter, Belinda was stuck behind a fortress.
Brain death after transplant surgery is rare, but there are a few documented cases of livers being re-transplanted after the first recipient suffers brain death. Sharon requested that if possible, Belinda's new liver go to the man bypassed for Belinda's emergency surgery. Sharon heard that the patient did get a new liver, but anti-rejection medication made Belinda's new liver unusable. Organ harvesting retrieved Belinda's skin, bone, heart valves, and a kidney. Her right kidney saved a man in Pennsylvania, Sharon said. Her left kidney was useless. It had a septic infarct -- an obstruction caused by clumps of bacteria. A biopsy of her native liver showed severe necrosis (cell death). A biopsy of her gallbladder showed chronic cholecystis -- inflammation causing nausea, vomiting and severe constant pain.