Saturday, May 26, 2012

A five year long Memorial weekend

This weekend has been played and replayed in my head for five years now.

Jim passed on Tuesday morning, after a long Memorial day weekend. I have been reliving the moments and speeding ahead and slowing them down for the last couple days. I decided to go away for a few days and get out of the house and the memories. Not to forget, but to remember.

The chain of days sort of both blend into each other and then moments stand out. Sitting in an ER room waiting for a doctor and not an intern or nurse to look at test results. Hearing about the surgery for the stents to go in his heart arteries. Sitting in the hospital cafeteria at 5 am and reading while Jim slept upstairs for the first time all night. His blood sugar level dropping to below 30 later that day and the nurses that were idiots. Coming home with him and getting a chance for both of us to relax. Monday was him not wanting to be trapped in the house and had to go out. Yep, to a movie, to the grocery store with me. We went to bed that night with him reading comics and me reading some Heinlein. Woke up to him in severe pain and holding his chest. It was just two hours later that he died.

When I see a death happening on tv - like on Grey's anatomy or ER or the like. I wonder. I have these things that pop into my head. The big one is why the HELL didn't I sit in the back of the ambulance with him. Why couldn't I do that at least. It was only a few minutes after we pulled into the hospital that he went into a full arrest. Why did we do those things on monday and I know it would have been better not to, but he had to, wanted to and had already gotten lectured from his sister about changing his life.

I want to recall the fun times with Jim not the terrifying moments in the ER. I was put in a small room and told to wait. At one point a janitor came in, emptying the trash and offered me a prayer for my husband. I want to remember him laughing as he watched the movies we both love, the moments that we both shared as one, the times we helped each other.


Jack B. Nimble said...

"IF" is the biggest word in the English language, Betts. You're right to remember the good things, but I know how difficult it is to keep the bad thoughts out.

Thinking of you this weekend.

Jack Nimble said...

“Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.”…G. Snow (as far as I can find)