These last weeks have been physically and emotionally exhausting. My heart is still broken over the loss of Vicki’s husband. I want so badly to take away her pain, but there is nothing any of us can do.
I made another trip back to see her, to try to help her, to do whatever needed to be done. We had a couple of laughs but spent most of the long 4th of July weekend running errands and working to clean up her ceramics studio.
The boys are not doing well right now and she is a mess too. Now that the number of people visiting has dwindled, they are all finally alone with their grief. And I think the reality has finally set in with the boys. They are all having trouble sleeping and the boys are struggling and wanting the world to slow down. They’re all still waiting for Scott to come home from work. When something like this hits someone you love, it devastates you as well.
I’m an atheist at this point in my life. She is not. I have trouble believing that there is a God “who wanted Scott with him”. I cannot believe that there is a purpose in taking a husband, a father, a son from those who love and depend on him. It kind of pisses me off.
I talk/email/text with Vicki daily – sometimes several times a day and just when I think things might be getting to the bearable stage for her, there is a setback. At one point she seemed suicidal and later that day she had purchased new bedding for the bed that she has not slept in since Scott died.
I no longer know what to say or what to do.
My sweet sister posted this a few days ago. Her husband passed away suddenly almost a month ago, I hope it will help someone out there in the blogosphere.
- Please do stay connected. There is already a huge hole in my universe. Do not assume I need space to grieve.
- Please do say you are sorry for my loss. I would rather you tell me that you don’t know what to say that to tell me the story of your friend who lost someone. I might be able to listen later, but not now. Do not tell me you understand.
- Do call and ask specifically, “can we go for a walk? can I run errands with you? meet you for coffee?” Do not say, “call me if you need anything”.
- Do refer to my husband’s acts or words- serious or humorous. I am so comforted by knowing my husband has not been forgotten. Do not leave him out of the conversation (even if it makes my eyes watery).
- Invite me to anything. I may decline but will appreciate being asked. Do not assume I no longer want to participate in couples events.
- Do accept that I am where I am. Marriages are brief, long, healthy, dysfunctional, intense, remote. Death comes suddenly or in tiny increments over years. Again, our experiences are so different, as are we. So my journey is through grief. Do not assume I am going through the outlined grief process “by the book”.
- Walk the talk. Do not make “conversation only” offers such as “we’ll call you and go out to dinner” and then not follow up. Yes, I am sensitive in my grieving, but I would rather you say, “I’ve been thinking of you” than to make an offer just to say something.
So I have to take a Physical Science course as part of my degree. Since I’m trying to take as many online classes and since there were only two avaialble: Oceanography (I live in Ohio so – not applicable) and Intro to Meteorolgy, I took Meteorology.
To make a long story short, I’m struggling with the weekly homework. The final exam will be open book but sheesh – I’m starting to develop a newfound respect for the TV weather dudes!
After the traumatic events of last week, normal is OK. I am back at work, reading umpteen-million e-mails and loving it. Only a few people at work know the details (no one here knows them all) and that’s cool- I shouldn’t have to tell the story much.
Hope you all have a great day!
My parents divorced when I was ten – it was not amicable – showed me the kind of relationship I didn’t want to have when I married. My grandparents’ sixty-eight year marriage showed me the kind I do want to have. My family was spread out, geographically, so there wasn’t much interaction with cousins, aunts or uncles, but I learned a few years later that family is not always related by blood ties. While many things and people have shaped me into the person I am today, the events of last weekend have changed my entire outlook on life.
My “sister’s” family adopted me when I was 15. The details are unimportant. We’ve been best friends since then. Thirty years is a lot of life to share, but it’s gone by in the blink of an eye. We talk every week; sharing the trivial and the profound stuff of our lives – children, jobs, husband stories, recipes and whatever else we can think of. We hadn’t been together in the same place since her wedding 4 ½ years ago, so we were both excited about my four-day weekend trip to Kentucky.
Friday night we shared dinner; grilled chicken, corn-on-the-cob and refrigerator pickles, I think. The kids griped about being pulled away from their video games; our two husbands discussing the work left to do on the chicken coop – the birds had to be moved into it in two weeks and there was still quite a bit to finish. Saturday plans were made: we girls were going to the Farmer’s Market for bison steaks for dinner and the men were going to paint the coop.
My sister and her husband had known each other for nearly forty years – since they were children. Life and unsuccessful first marriages had separated them, but they found each other again ten years ago. I was surprised that they had spent five years dating before they finally tied the knot. I watched as she poked fun at him, and he at her, and marveled at the love in their eyes for each other.
Saturday, June 12th, started like any other day – with coffee; we got ready to leave for the Farmer’s Market at around 8:00 and then, “Call 911, he’s dead – oh my god, he’s dead!” she screamed.
My husband and I ran to the chicken coop where my sister’s husband lay – he had been painting in the ten minutes prior to that scream. I tried to remember everything I had learned from the first aid and CPR training I had completed just three weeks ago – check for pulse, clear the airway, two breaths, thirty compressions, continue until EMS arrives.
I started compressions, my husband started breaths. I never dreamed I would actually have to use that training – not on someone I knew. I could not stop. My arms ached. I knew I had cracked his sternum and it sounded like a gunshot in the stillness of the morning. That was OK – it happens – it meant that I was going deep enough with the compressions. My heart was breaking as I looked into his grey-blue eyes – they were dilated and unresponsive. I knew that he was gone, but somehow I hoped that what we were doing could bring him back to her; to his children; to us. I remember thinking that he was the same shade of blue as a newborn baby before their first breath.
Time seemed to slow down but ten minutes later, we relinquished our places at his side to the first EMS tech to arrive. The ambulance and the second crew arrived ten minutes after that and we waited while they tried to work their magic. The ambulance pulled away for the short trip to the hospital (ten miles). I knew I had done everything right, but I kept thinking, “Was there anything more I could have done?”
My husband and I paced around the yard waiting for word and picked up the debris left by the paramedics: pieces of tape, plastic caps and a paper sticker from the defibrillator pad. Beside the spilled paint, the color of fresh buttermilk, lay the discarded IV tap still containing a drop of his blood. The paint seemed to bleed into grass that was way too green. It was surreal.
It had happened so fast; he was just going to finish one more bit of painting. The rest of us had gone in for breakfast just ten minutes before; he said he’d be up in a minute. The doctor said that it was probably a blood clot. A tiny bomb that exploded in his heart and his death was instantaneous; there was nothing anyone could have done.
Scott was one of those people that are so genuine that, ten minutes after you met him, you felt like you had known him all your life. He took pride in his work, but it didn’t define him. He had many friends, but they didn’t define him. He was active in his church, but that didn’t define him either. He loved his wife and children and that did define him. He told my sister almost every day that he felt so lucky that he got to live in this house that they bought together, but even luckier that he got to live there with her.
Ten minutes – enough time to fold a load of laundry; time enough for a quick phone call to a friend. 1/6 of an hour was all it took for a husband, a son, a father, a grandfather, a friend to leave this place. How has this event shaped me?
I’ve come to understand, in the days after his death, that life is too short to “sweat the small stuff” and too precious to ignore the big stuff. I’ve realized that past hurts that I have held onto are just that, the past and that it is time to forgive.
As family and friends rallied around Vicki and the kids, we’ve all said that we are going to a this lesson from this tragedy – love the ones close to you; cherish friendships; forgive people that have wronged you because ten minutes can change your world forever.
The sights and sounds of last weekend will be forever etched in my memory. I hope I will keep it in my heart forever – a reminder of what ten minutes can mean. I’ve called my adult children to tell them that Sunday family dinners are back on the calendar – just like when they lived at home.