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.