Well, how was your holidays? Fulfilling? Chaotic? Maybe even remarkable? I had everything I could ever want right under one roof, my family. I adore having my kids around, cooking for them, watching movies, playing games, but there was one thing I truly wished I had… my husband.
I keep thinking as the days pass it’s going to get easier, but once the holidays transpired, my heart grew heavy with grief. So many memories cling to me like a ghost haunting an empty house. And, maybe my grief sprouts more because I compare my boyfriend to him. Some may say it was way too soon to jump into a new relationship.
But, nonetheless here I am. My youngest son, Nick, totally enjoys their time together and seeing him smile and laugh again gives me hope. Children living with autism (from my experience) are so hard to connect with sometimes. They’re usually in their own world and completely happy being fixated in that world. So, when I say I’m given hope every time I see my son laugh or joke with that twinkle in his eyes, I become so determined. Determined you may ask? What do you mean?
As of right now, I am currently reading two books Cure Your Child With Food by Kelly Dorfman and Healthy Healing by Michelle Steinke- Baumgard. I’ve researched a lot over the years and knowing certain things can trigger a slew of unwanted behaviors in our children, one of which I recently came across was artificial food dyes. Oh yes, the wonderful dyes, any color including red No. 40, red No. 3, yellow No. 5, yellow No. 6, green No. 3, and even the blue No 1, blue No. 2. I talked with our private physician and he agreed to remove all of them out of our diet. Easy? It was a little time consuming, but once you get the hang of it, which we did, I saw such a big difference in my son. Small steps. And that’s what this piece is about, to hear my son tell me good morning, maybe even a hug and then, he goes on about his day, makes me one happy mother! Just that, two words or one simple act of kindness. So, every day I strive to learn and focus on what’s important.
While on this journey of mine, my best friend recommended a book to me, Healthy Healing, I had mentioned it above. And as I was reading, the author tells you her story, her story about how she lost her husband. The entire time I’m reading I keep whispering to myself, don’t cry, don’t let the words I’m reading affect me, keep it together!
But I just couldn’t do it. Tears flooded and my heart breaks for her, I can relate to pretty much everything she’s experienced. Her story is told with a disheartening beauty, simply because you know she loses someone she loves. In a passage she states, basically, “you purchased this book because you’re looking for strength and hope.” I am and since the holidays have faded into another year without him, I have started to truly wonder what my purpose is, what is my “thing?” Which is what the author calls it in her book.
So, in part of the healing experience, perhaps this will help, and hopefully, I can do this in one sitting and tell you my story…
I had been working on a story titled Midnight (some of you may know what I’m talking about), my goal was to make it the second installment to a previous book I had written. I had been locked away that day, typing as fast as my fingers would allow, totally absorbed in the story when my husband had come in with dinner. He always made dinner before he went to work and just like any other evening he sat beside me and listened to what I had written for the day. And as usual, he would ask questions, offer ideas and listen to the music I would play while I wrote.
I remember him laughing at a particular scene and for a moment I felt like time stood still for us. He was so easy to talk to, it was effortless to love him. If I had become unsure about how a character or how a scene should play out, he would always talk me through it. And in doing so he built up a confidence in me that encouraged me to march onward.
Before he changed clothes, he played with our youngest son, tickling him with the scruff of his beard. The room filled with giggles and laughs and then he leaned over and kissed me goodbye, little did I know it would be our last kiss.
On August 12, 2015 Chris left for work, as usual he wrote his first email of the night to me letting me know he made it okay.
Sent: Wednesday, August 12, 2015 7:03 PM
Subject: Hi Darlin
I made it here, but if I start feeling bad I might come home early, it just depends on how I feel. So far, so good.
I sure do love your writing and you have mad skills with your story. I love every drop of it and can’t wait to read more.
I miss you
I replied back, he hadn’t felt good and it always made me anxious. He emailed me about five more times and we conversed throughout the night. At 2:45 I started receiving phone calls, Chris had left work and about a couple of blocks away he turned around and headed back to the job site. As soon as he parked the car he told one of the security guards there he was having trouble breathing. He took a few moments asking the guard to stay with him. And as they looked up Chris commented about the Perseids meteor shower, it was the last thing he saw before he passed away.
Shortly after I arrived at the hospital and I remember waiting in the emergency room alone. I held onto hope, thinking maybe now, we will know what was making him feel so bad. I sat and watched life flight leave, readying myself to soon follow, because in my heart I just knew he would be okay. He was going to be fine, I must have said those words over and over a thousand times inside my head.
But no one came to tell me that, instead the hospital security ushered me into a side room. It was small, plain and isolated. Still I carried no doubt in my mind, I anxiously waited for someone, a doctor, a nurse to tell me he was in surgery or something. But, once the room filled up with nurses and the same security guards, my heart started to beat a little faster. A tall, slender woman walked in, a stethoscope dangled around her shoulders, she knelt down beside me and that’s when I saw the tears in her eyes.
She spoke softly, and told me my husband had passed away, they did everything they possibly could. And as she delivered her words I felt so detached. Like it wasn’t me sitting there, it wasn’t me hearing what was being said. I remember a pile of tissues were handed to me, but I couldn’t feel the tears that streamed down my face.
From that point on, it felt like an out-of-body experience was happening to me, I was asked to see him and I said no. I wanted to remember him when he was getting ready for work that night. Full of life, smiling, I didn’t want to change that image of him. With numb hands I held the last of his things, his shoes, belt, his watch I had got him for Christmas that year, and his wedding ring.
When it came time, I was escorted back into the emergency waiting room, and still there wasn’t a soul in there. It was so quiet I could hear the creak of the chair as I sat down. One of the hospital security guards came over, asked if he could sit with me while I waited for the sheriff’s deputy to come pick me up. We sat in silence for a few minutes, and then he said, you’re going to be okay. My thoughts inside couldn’t imagine how I would ever be okay. He went on to tell me that he had also lost someone dear to him, his wife several years ago, he raised his children and eventually met someone new.
I tried so hard to be polite, tried to appear like I was listening to his story, but the very thought of moving on without Chris was unbearable. Unimaginable. I thought how could anyone say this to me? I clung to his things even harder and practically ran to the deputy’s truck when I saw it drive up. I watched the streets pass by not really hearing a word the deputy was saying, I felt as if my heart had been shattered into a million pieces. My mind scattered into various thoughts, all flooding me at once.
Once I arrived back home, I made sure my tears were gone and I told myself to be strong for my children. The rest of the early morning was a blinding blur of phone calls and deciding on different factors. One of which was making the decision of him being a donor, my middle son and I decided together. My husband was able to help three other lives that night.
My life, our life had been washed away by a tide I never saw coming. I learned that everyone handles grief differently, I also grew more appreciation for the little things in life. It’s been two years, five months and twenty-five days since I last saw his face, kissed his lips and felt his embrace. I have kept everything he has written, even his last emails, and this was the last thing he wrote before I received the call.
I love you and will be home shortly.