There is a poster on the wall in the small room. Looking back on it, I am deeply bothered by the fact that I cannot remember what the poster says. For some reason I keep remembering a visual of the nutrition wheel (how much of your plate is supposed to be devoted to each of the four food groups). I know that isn’t right, but I cannot get the picture out of my mind.
Of course, it was the worst day of my life; it’s not unusual for my memory to play such tricks on me. But you and I both know that there is no way that the family waiting room in a hospital ICU has a poster of the nutrition plate on the wall.
That day, that day. I remember so much of what happened, even though if you asked me what happened yesterday there isn’t a chance in hell I’d get it right. I was tired in the morning, a result of a night far too late in the ER. I remember the moment that night when my aggravation at the non-urgent nature of the emergency room was replaced by the darkly sinister whisper of fear that roped its way down my spine and into my belly – maybe this is really serious. Like, a lifetime of care serious. I remember relief at a relatively benign diagnosis, how naively I accepted it and let go of that fear.
I remember the visit the next morning, laughing at the weird roommate. The oxygenation level seemed low still, but was easily explained away. I had to get back home to the kids. Left my wallet in the room; he called as I was pulling out of the parking lot and gave me shit about it. We laughed. We both said see you later, love you, and hung up.
And that was it.
I will not go through the rest of the day other than to tell you that if you had told me that the last conversation I would ever have with my husband, the father of my four children, the love of my life even when it wasn’t easy, was going to be about my wallet, I would have told you that you were nuts. How is that possible? We had all the time in the world, something I really believed that morning around 11:30, there was no way that our last conversation would be about something so pedantic. There would be time to say everything we wanted to say and put some closure to us. In like 40 years.
Because people do not die at 42. They just don’t. Especially regular people with a wife and four children and a house and a life full of many friends and family who depend on them. Especially my person.
We all know how this ends. We went from everything is fine to: there’s been a complication; to: you may want to get here; to: you need to get here now and by then the whisper of real fear had blossomed into something massive and sinister and raging and unstoppable. And when I finally figured it all out and got there he was intubated and comatose and in the span of less than 5 hours we had gone from doing well to having a conversation about contacting our daughter who was half a world away studying abroad so she could say goodbye. During which my husband, the father of my children, coded. And died.
I want you to know that I am not a therapist, and in fact am a deeply flawed human myself. These thoughts I share with you here will often be more therapeutic for me than for you, but I hope that by sharing some of what I’ve learned, one or two others that are all-too-familiar with the roar of dark and sinister fear can feel just a little, tiny bit better.
Just one thing before I go this first time. I never even considered that death was in the picture until very late in this process. And after he was gone, one of the first things for which I was, and still am today, eternally grateful, is the last thing I ever said to my husband is “I love you”. And I meant it.
So I sign off today as I always will. Because if the last thing you ever say to someone is “I love you”, you will never be sorry.
Talk soon! with love, from the Chaos.