SABRINA SEELIG. Nine years after


Nine long years have passed since Sabrina’s death at the hands of Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn. Her star shines brightly for those who knew her or were acquainted with her legacy: a bright, expansive spirit, a best friend, a soul mate, a daughter, a sister, a brilliant young intellectual. She is in my heart and yet remote galaxies away. Missing Sabrina tears me apart today as much as it did on that maddening day of final decision to acknowledge the end of her life.

Today I would like to remember Sabrina and celebrate her luminous being for all that she was and accomplished during her short life: the people she’s affected; the friends and family that she nourished and loved; the poems and prose she wrote; all the beauty she brought to us with her magical presence; delicate, exuberant and fierce. I would like her tribute to be a temple of tenderness, full of all old books with a lake of tears of love, acceptance and joy in its middle; a space where her writings can reverberate with a bell-like clarity:

“He cannot willnot doesnot cross the avenue and he knows that there is no other way.  Only this longing, this unbearable tugging at his heart is there, at his will is there, at the part of his existence that realizes the limitations of only one body only one brain, it is there. And he is stopped on the corner.  And he will remember this, later and later, and it will not be a regret, quite, it will be crystalline.  It will be an amber-caught progression of moments that are ever and ever able to bring in his breath and make him wonder what and how and why and then his breath will flow away, again.”

As we observe seventh anniversary of Sabrina’s death I want to honor her heart, her mind and her beauty. I resist the pain of recollection and I wish that my memory of her could be pure and unpolluted by anger about what was done to her. Yet, it is impossible to remember Sabrina abstracted from what happened to her during her last days. Hence the necessity to remind the world that her death was a crime. That the subsequent cover up was a crime. That no justice was served. That the perpetrators remain unaccountable and that the Wyckoff hospital may still be causing harm to others, that the legal system promotes institutionalized corruption and indifference.

On the morning of May 30th 2007, a conscious, healthy, robust young women complaining about nausea and dizziness entered the Emergency Room of Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn New York. From then on the records are sketchy and incomplete. There is a several hours gap during which no record entries have been made or the entries have been removed. She was sedated, lost consciousness, and was intubated. Her lungs collapsed, she had a heart attack and her brain stopped functioning. The order of events is questionable and the records seem to have been altered afterwards. We were lied to by the Wyckoff doctors, nurses and other hospital nurses at every step. Sabrina Seelig was pronounced dead on June 5th, 2007 at Cornell Weill Hospital in Manhattan (where she was transferred from Wyckoff). There seem to be a consensus now that her condition had become irreversible during her first day in Wyckoff Emergency Room.

In May 2012, five years after Sabrina died as result of her hospital visit, the trial against Wyckoff Heights Medical Center begun in Kings County Supreme Civil Court. The harrowing month of May 2012 in Brooklyn court was turned into a farce of justice by the judge Gloria Dabiri, the attorney Alan Fuchsberg and predictably the hospital defense attorneys. I have attempted a short summary of this difficult experience after the trial which you can find in previous posts.  Anemona Hartocillis of The New York times gave her own account of this debacle:  From the perspective of time it is clear to me that the attorney representing Sabrina’s case Alan Fuchsberg of Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm: was either entirely incompetent and unprepared or more likely helped the hospital attorneys in the cover up of causes of Sabrina’s death. The pain of loss, bound to haunt us for as long as we live, is now compounded with gross injustice and disregard for Sabrina’s life and suffering.

Today we would love to remember only Sabrina’s love and brilliance, however mindful of Sabrina’s deeply attuned social conscience, ethical passion and practical investment in all matters involving human rights and justice I am convinced that she would not want us to avert our eyes away from what led to her cruel death and the injustice that followed. I am confident that she would want our love for her to go beyond our localized grief and resignation and would expect us to behold the dark truth with eyes wide open, no matter how much it resists scrutiny and daylight.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *