Grief In The Night

A week ago, I had a really rough night.  I had been sick with an upper respiratory infection, been sad, and been dealing with a lot.  So, my grief seemed to get the better of me for a little while.  This blog is about that experience.

I shared it with some loved ones prior to posting it.  One of them said that guilt is not of God.  That is true and so very important to remember.  However, when the guilt comes to you in the middle of the night, you tend to believe it, at least for a little while.

When I am sick, I often feel sad or bad.  I suppose I get the blues at those times.  So on this recent Sunday night, I was up until about 12:30 a.m. with a coughing fit that just wouldn’t stop.  I made some hot tea, got a mouthful of cough drops and then started thinking of my late husband and everything that happened the day that he died.

Parts of that entire morning are still there in vivid clarity. I remember him falling out of the bed face down, I remember trying to turn him over and figure out how to help him. I remember calling 911.  While I was still talking, two police officers came in to the house, turned him over and started CPR.

Soon after they arrived, several firefighters arrived to help, then the paramedics from the ambulance service.  They all worked on my love while I talked with the officers about what happened.  As they worked, our son was still asleep upstairs – having no idea what was going on.

I then called my parents to see if they could come over and help.  I was not sure that I could drive us to the hospital.  Before they got there, Kirk was taken by ambulance to the hospital.  I had no idea at that time that I would not see him alive again.

I prayed for him to be okay, grabbed his wallet, and my purse, etc.  Then woke up Ian and said we all had to go to the hospital since his dad was taken there.  We then went to the emergency department where I told his name to the person at the desk and presented his insurance card.

We were then led into a side room, not a room where they were working on him.  I should have known something was very wrong with that but I was still in shock at this point and hopeful.  Then a doctor and nurse came in and told us what you hear in movies or TV that changes lives forever.  “We did all we could but we couldn’t revive him.  He has passed away.”

We were all crushed and stunned to hear this news.  I then went to see him and touched his cold hand.  I looked at the man who was my love and had been so full of life.  I cried, I inwardly screamed, and I was in total and complete shock.  It was so hard to see him like that, but part of me knew that he was no longer in pain and was in a better place.  Still, I wanted him to come back to us.

I came back and forth twice to continue to check on Ian since I was worried about how he was doing.  I asked for Kirk’s wedding ring and the nurse took it off his hand and gave it to me.  I feel guilty that I didn’t stay with Kirk longer.  I felt like I deserted him since I didn’t sit vigil with him until the funeral home and donor services came to get him.

I still have some guilt since I put our son before him, although he was my spouse and first love.  But, now I realize that he would have wanted me to comfort our son and be with him.  He would have understood why I had to do what I did.  After all, he loved our child as much as I do.

Thinking back on it, I think he might have been gone as soon as he hit the floor at home.  An autopsy was done that said he had an enlarged heart along with a few other issues.  So, he apparently had a heart attack when he fell.  I have no concept of the length of time that he was on the floor before I called and reacted.  I just hope and pray that if I took too long, that wasn’t part of why he didn’t make it.

So there is guilt about that as well.  And, during that recent middle of the night when I was already not feeling well, it reared its ugly head.  I still feel I should have done more, reacted sooner, called earlier, whatever.  But would that have actually made a difference?

I don’t know, but it is something that I continue to think about.  And, I continue to ask my love to forgive me for failing him since that is what it feels like I did.  I hope that I can one day forgive myself and realize that I truly did all that I could.  That it was, in fact, his time to go, despite what I wanted.

I do know that 10 or more people worked on him between who came to our house, in the ambulance and the staff at the hospital.  They all tried to revive him but had no luck that would actually stick.  And that is heartbreaking.

We had plans; we had just talked about some changes in our life the day before he passed away.  He was excited about them and looking forward to what came next.  I am not sure he had any idea of what was coming.  He didn’t feel well but we thought it was a cold and allergy issues that we all were dealing with.  We thought there was time the next day to take him to the doctor.

So this year on that Sunday night, after crying and thinking about everything from that awful day, I was finally able to settle down and rest.  The next day continued as a normal school day.  It was still hard and full of emotions, but I made it though.  I was able to see the good in our lives and move forward.

I have talked with other people who have also lost loved ones.  A few of them also feel some guilt about wishing more could have been done or an opportunity was missed, or that it was bad timing.  That seems to be part of the grief process of the denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and eventual acceptance.

Friends and family regularly ask me how I am doing.  Some days, I am able to say pretty well.  But other days, I am broken and sad and not sure what to do with myself.  So, I cry, I pray, and I think about a lovely memory with Kirk.  I try to remember that he is not in pain, that he wouldn’t have liked living as any less than the man that he was.  It is comforting to know that he is in Heaven waiting to see us again.  That is my comfort in this journey that continues to ebb and flow.

I am still a work in progress and probably will be for a long time to come.  It helps me to write about my feelings and to share them.  And, crying also helps.  It also helps to talk about Kirk, to see his picture, to laugh at a memory or a story that he told us, to laugh at jokes he told, and to tell Ian what a wonderful man his dad was.

Ian is growing into someone who Kirk would be very proud of.  He has so much of his dad in him.  That is a blessing and something I treasure. Still I wish his dad was actually here to see it.  I continue to be reminded of all of the things that he is missing and that is a challenge.

If you too are grieving, may you find support, may you have healing, and may you find your way.  May you know that some days will hurt like hell.   May you know that some days will be full of regret and guilt but that some will have hope and joy.

May we live in honor or those who are no longer with us.  May we make the most of the time we have with our loved ones.  May we be thankful for another day.  May we have healing on our path of grief.  And may God continue to bless us.

A Quick Summer

I don’t know about you but we had a quick summer.  We had fun, we traveled, we enjoyed some time at home, we enjoyed having time to read several good books, we took lots of walks or rode bikes, and we spent time with many friends and family — both on my side and Kirk’s side.

Now, we are back home winding it down.  After a lot of time with a lot of people, it is a odd to be back home again with just the two of us.  Kirk’s absence is always felt more when we are here since we enjoyed so much time with him.  So, our days have some sadness along with the happiness.

We had three two-week trips and each one had special times and moments. The first trip was in North Carolina and was primarly for work.  We enjoyed seeing clients, working with them and their students, as well as some fun and down time.  Ian was given a new Lego set to build and had a great time with that.

We also had time to visit our favorite used bookstore, toy store, bakery, and frozen yogurt shop.  We had several meals out and many long chats and watched a few favorite shows.  Ian also discovered some new vegetarian foods that he likes.

After that we went to Kentucky to work with the second generation of a family that Kirk used to work with and several other families who knew him for a while. It was nice to talk with them about him and how great he was with their kids.  We also visted the Creation Museum which was quite something.  Our hotel was very nice and we were able to enjoy several great meals.

Our third trip was to San Diego and it was fabulous. We had time with friends and family, lots of hugs, some tears, some laughter, great food, lovely sunsets, cool weather, a trip to the mountains, and beach time.

This beach is one that I have been going to since I was a baby.  I have decades of fond memories both from my childhood and from when Kirk and I took Ian.  My memory is very long of this magical place that feels like Brigadoon.

We went to a baseball game and that was a blast.  It was Atlanta Braves vs. San Diego Padres.  The home team didn’t win but it was still fun.  It was Ian’s first time to a major league ball park and he enjoyed it very much.

All in all it was a great summer with a lot of fun memories made and photos taken.  Still, it is odd to think of our twosome, instead of the family of three that we used to be.  We so wish he could have been with us.  We celebrated him and felt his presence on a few occasions.

This summer, for the first time after his passing, we celebrated Kirk’s birthday.  It was odd celebrating it without him.  Last year, we had a big meal, we sang happy birthday to him, he blew out the candles and we ate a delicious cake with ice cream.  This year, we went out to eat at the Corvette Diner in his honor.

The food was great, the company superb, the arcade games fun, and we sang again in his honor.  It was bittersweet but so very special.  I loved that my family and friends made a point to honor him in such a fun way.  The place was quite loud but Kirk would have loved it.

Now, we are trying to get back to our routine and soon school will start.  I will soon have a lot of alone time.  I am trying to prep myself for that now.  Sometimes, it is good since I can cry or yell if needed.  And trust me, there are such days that I need.  Other times, it is hard and sad and painful.  But, I continue to try each day.

Over the summer, I received some lovely compliments from my loved ones that meant a lot.  One was that I am strong.  Another that I am a rock for my son.  I try to be both but do have my moments when I feel weak or that I am failing him.  I continue to try my best and provide as Kirk and I wanted for us and our son.

And I am trying to realize that I can only do so much.  So, I choose what needs to be done each day and go for it.  Some days are productive, some days are wonderful, some days are melancholy.  Then, when tomorrow comes, I can do more and hope that it all gets accomplished in the end.

May we have a blessed rest of the summer — however long that may be.  If you are grieving, may you be comforted.  May we realize that we cannot do everything and that is okay.  Let’s do what we can.  May we have those who are there with us in the good and bad times.  And, may we always, always love.