Twelve years ago today was one of the worse days of my life. I had been going on adrenaline for several days as on the 30th of January we brought my husband home to live out his final days near the family. It would be several hours before I was able to get rest as rest was something I didn’t want to do as I didn’t want to leave him alone for one minute. Family came in and out over the next couple of days and on the evening of the 1st I dosed off between 10 and 12 pm. When I woke up startled that I had even fallen asleep I looked over at the man I loved more than anything and saw a tear stained face looking back at me. I felt like the worse wife in the world as he had to take his last breath alone as I sat there sleeping instead of being by his side. The next 36 – 48 hours would be the toughest hours of my life.
Although he had planned for this day way before this moment, I was still not prepared for what I would be facing. The past six weeks had been nothing but hospitals and lots of prayers hoping for a miracle that we never got. Instead I had the most terrifying ride of my life when he was driven from Gainesville to Tallahassee in an ambulance that I insisted on riding in so I would be with him if he did not survive the trip.
The day he died was on a Saturday and since it was so early in the morning when everything happened and because we had done a lot of pre-planning, I was able to finalize everything rather quickly and had his funeral scheduled for the 4th. Because my daughter’s wedding was on the 16th, I was not able to grieve until much later as I wanted her day to be special regardless of what we had all just been through. A few days after the wedding I went back to work, which I had not been at in eight weeks and after a couple days I walked out of my job to figure life out.
It was at this point that the grief really hit me and depression set in that lasted for several months. Hell, if I was being honest, it lasted for years and there’s still times when it rules its ugly head.
After 12 years I’m still grieving, even though I have remarried it still hits me like a tone of bricks come February and I hate to see this month come around each year. To be honest I don’t know that I will ever stop missing him and wishing he were still here. Our memories are forever in my heart.
I love you Brian! You will never be forgotten.
I wanted to share some of his favorite memories.
In August 2001 we took the two younger kids on their first trip to Disney World, which was his favorite place to visit.
Another pic from that 2001 trip.
In December 2001, him and I went on a trip to the smokey mountains. This was a pic along the drive up the mountain towards Cades Cove.
This was his favorite pic during his real estate days. He looked so handsome.
This is from his sons wedding on September 17, 2005. He was so proud of his son and would do anything and everything for him.
In February 2006, he welcomed his first granddaughter into the world. This pic was taken in June of that year.
Come August of the year 2007 another grandson was born into the family.
He was so proud of all his grandchildren, but these two had a special place in his heart.
In October 2007 we had this family picture taken, which would be the last family pic of the whole gang together.
In November 2007 we were sealed in the church.
Today is a memorable day for two different events two years apart. Ten years ago today I moved to the big city of Nashville, Tennessee. I had just received my bachelor’s degree the day before and I was looking forward to new adventures. I remember packing the U-Haul early that morning, saying my good-byes to the girls and driving out of town. Because I would need some man power when I got there, my son and his friend followed me in my car. We finally arrived in Nashville around 9:00 pm. We had to unload everything that night because I had to have the boys at the airport the next morning to send them back to Tallahassee.
Now it was time to unpack and get settled into my new home. Not only did I have to unpack, but I had to find a job and fast. It didn’t take as long to get those boxes unpacked and get settled in. It felt great to be able to start fresh after all that I had been through the previous two years. Getting a job was another issue and took a little bit longer to get accomplished. It would be March 1st before I was able to start my new job.
My first place was on apartment off Edmonson Pike. It wasn’t too far off I-65 so it made it quick to hit the interstate to go back home or get just about anywhere I wanted to go. My son bought me a GPS for Christmas so I could find my way around town as I had never lived in a big city before. I was looking forward to learning my way around and finding all the good places to shop.
My apartment was on the 3rd floor. Not sure what I was thinking when I agreed to the third floor. It wasn’t bad until I made the trip to my parents to bring my dog home. She was a 10-year-old miniature dachshund, Annabelle. Those poor little short legs hated all those steps, so mommy carried her, to not wear her out. She was used to peeing on pee pads too, so sometimes I cheated and let her do that to avoid the steps, but mostly only on days it was raining or snowing. She hated the rain. She was only with me for a couple months before I re-homed her. I didn’t think it was fair to leave her in a house all day with nobody at home as she was used to someone always being there with her, so I found a lady who had just lost her baby and give her another baby to love. Oh how I miss my Annabelle.
On this day in 2007, we got the best call we could have ever received. My husband, Brian, was going to get the transplant he needed. He had only been on the transplant list for a couple weeks, but he was at the point that if he didn’t get the transplant soon, we would most likely loose him by the end of the year.
I can still remember where I was and what I was doing when the call came in. We had just moved most of our stuff into storage, only taking our essentials with us, to live with his mother. Brian was needing to be looked after 24-7, so the family decided this was the best option. I had returned to the apartment to clean when the call came in that we had a possible donor. I was standing in the dining room, trying to hurry up as I really needed to be by his side. Once I got the call, I called him and told him the news. He wanted me to summon all the kids to the house, so he could see them before making the drive to the hospital, which was at least two hours away. We had been told without a transplant he would surely die and with a transplant he could still die, so we were trying to prepare ourselves for the worse, but you can never prepare yourself for losing a loved one.
No sooner had I called him, and the kids and I received another call from the hospital telling us to wait. They needed to run more test on the donor organ. They would call us back. Frustration and fear swept over me like a ton of bricks. I quickly finished what I was doing, turned in the keys and got home right away. By the time I got there the children had arrived.
He took time to speak to each one individually. He wanted to give some fatherly advice to each and give them their Christmas present that he had picked out himself. After about two hours since the original call we received the second call telling us to get to the hospital. The girls were staying behind as well as our oldest son, although he came later in the night. The youngest son rode with us. That seemed to be the longest drive we had ever made from Tallahassee to Gainesville and believe me I wasn’t going the speed limit, so it shouldn’t have taken too long to get there. Not sure why I was in such a hurry, probably just the adrenaline as we were told to take our time and just come as soon as we could get there.
Once we got there, it would be a few hours before the surgery would start. We were told everything was going according to plan. The oldest son arrived before surgery was over, so the three of us were there to greet him when he came out of recovery. He looked great and he said he felt great. We thought we had received our Christmas miracle.
The next 24-48 hours would be critical as they needed to make sure the body wouldn’t reject the new organ. Because he was a diabetic, they also had to stabilize his insulin which seemed to be a little tricky at times. The first 24 hours was good. The boys ended up going home on Saturday. The youngest daughter was at a church event that her daddy insisted that she go on so she would not be there until Sunday.
When I arrived at the hospital on Sunday, things had taken a turn for the worse. The organ was still doing good, but something wasn’t right. He was in and out of it. Sometimes he knew who I was and at other times he didn’t. They said if things didn’t change, they might have to put him into a medical induced coma. I didn’t want that. At one point I was told to call the family. All the children, but our oldest daughter made it in time to see their dad one last time before our world shattered yet again. The oldest was in the parking garage when Brian slipped into a coma that he would never come out of.
It took six weeks before I could convince the doctors to let me take him home as the transplant team didn’t want to give up although the neurological team said he was brain dead. They claimed that a stroke was what put him into a coma. I still have my doubts about that.
I seldom left the hospital as I wanted to be there just in case there was a change or if he woke up. It was the most grueling six weeks of my life. He was my world…my rock. How could I go on without him?
Every year at this time I can’t help but think about all the events that took place on this day and how it affected my life so much. There are so many times that I wish I could go back to 2007 and relive those days over again, but this time with a different outcome.
The lives of my children changed so much that year. The person who held us together was gone and none of us would ever be the same again. Our family dynamic had changed, our goals changed, our futures changed, everything changed in the blink of an eye.
Sometimes the pieces of my life include memories of a lost love who I still miss, grieve over and sometimes hate for leaving me and our children to coast through this world alone. Although the second of February marked the ninth year he’s been gone sometimes it still feels like it was yesterday.
When I met the wonderful man who I am married to, Greg, I had been a widow for six years. My children were all grown ranging in age from 22 to 32 and I had no plans to remarry although I had been dating for several years. I mainly missed the companionship of a man. I had accepted the cards that had been dealt me as far as being a widow, but that need to have someone to share my day-to-day life with was real and something I missed more than anything. All of my kids lived in another state and had their own lives and relationships when I remarried, but to them I should have stayed a widow forever. A piece of advice never in your state of grief promise your children you will never remarry cause those words could bite you in the butt later.
Widowhood wasn’t something I was prepared for although I knew was a great possibility the day my husband had transplant surgery. Prior to having the surgery he had gotten real sick and we were told without a transplant he would surely die. With a transplant the odds were more in his favor of living a long life. We did prepare for the inevitable, although we were really hoping and praying for a good outcome. It was not until three days after surgery that he slipped into a coma that would change not only my life, but the life of our kids forever. The turmoil we all went through during the six weeks he lay in a coma was more than I thought any of us could bare. I put up a brave front for my children, two of which were still in high school, but I was hurting more than I ever really let on. I put the pieces of our shattered lives back together the best I could and carried on. I had too for the sake of my kids. I returned to work after being off for eight weeks only to walk out on a job I had been at for five years. It would be four months before I would even consider going back to work.
I was depressed and most days I didn’t do much more than feed my kids. Most days I wished it had been me that had died. I hated my husband for leaving me alone to deal with the aftermath. Eventually I realized I had to go back to work, for financial reasons more than anything else, as my kids depended on me to take care of them. I know I let them down and I have said I’m sorry more times than I can remember, but it’s not enough.
Our youngest daughter graduated high school, then went to the local community college, which led to her moving out. Our youngest son graduated the following year and joined the Army National Guard during his senior year which would have him leaving for basic training in the summer after graduation and then a tour in Kuwait. Knowing that both of my youngest would be on their own and I would be left totally alone with an empty nest I decided to move out-of-state to start over. And start over I did. I moved to Nashville, Tennessee with nothing but the contents of my house and a car. I moved in to an apartment with no job, no friends and no family.
It made me have to survive on my own. Something I had never experienced in my whole life as I’ve been a mom since I was seventeen so I went straight from my parents to adulthood. I never experienced life without a man until my husband passed away. The experience made me stronger in some ways and weaker in others.
Stronger in the fact that I learned how to do so much for myself. It took three months to get a job, but I did it. I made new friends and I done things I never dreamed possible. I proved to myself that I could make it on my own. Weaker in the fact that I hate being alone. Loneliness is very real and can be very scary.
The loneliness is what lead me to Greg, but when we met I had no intentions of getting married. I kept telling myself I would be okay with just living together, but I knew deep down I would never feel comfortable doing that and even though my children were not happy with my choices, I needed to do this for me. In the three years we have been together so much has changed where my children are concerned, but I do not regret my choices.
With all that being said, I don’t think we ever quit grieving for those that we’ve lost. The way we deal with the loss and grief is what matters. I will always have the memories and stories of the times we spent with our children, which carries me through the tough days.
As I look at my future I know I will survive whatever is thrown at me. I have a wonderful husband, beautiful grandchildren and a future that includes making wonderful memories exploring this beautiful country as we RV all over the country.