Tonight, at moments to midnight one year ago, you died. This moment changed our lives forever. For you, it was the moment that your body was freed. No more tubes and machines. No more dialysis and needles. No more promises not kept by strangers in scrubs. No more false dreams about transplants and being home by June. You were released from your body on this earth. You were prepared for this part. You told me that you were at peace with God.
At that moment, I became a widow. I never wanted to be a widow and really never thought about it. Through it all, I clung to the fiber of hope that you could beat this, and we would be home by June. I wasn’t stupid or uninformed. In fact, I made myself learn more about organ transplant and transplant facilities than I really ever wanted to know. I became your aggressive advocate because I learned very quickly that the computer pushing white coats did not care about you like I cared about you. I watched them like a hawk and called them on their shortfalls. I chose to have these conversations with the arrogant medical staff as near to the nurse’s station as I could and one decibel below shouting. When you were transferred out of Hotel Hell, they were sad too see you go and expressed concern. Me, however, I am convinced they were happy to see me go. Well, maybe not the nurses They quietly celebrated my calling down the doctors and in their doctor arrogance having to admit that they had missed the obvious.
At the moment you died, WE became our past tense. We were what HAD happened, and our adventures were over. Our plans were no longer a promise and our dreams became my nightmares. Our future ceased to be and all I had was looking back to recapture the essence of a memory or glimpse of an experience. We were over and you were off to claim your eternal reward which you certainly earned. I know that your parents and grandparents greeted you in Heaven to congratulate you on a job well done on earth. You did well.
There was certainly no way at that moment to predict what my life might look like on this day, one year later. No, time does not heal. No, it does not get better with time. No, I am not over it. No, I am not strong enough to do this alone. No, I cannot grieve in private. It is not my responsibility that “people get tired of hearing your story”.’ (Let’s be honest, it is not all people). That I could not ferret out an ounce of compassion from “you are wallowing in grief, sorrow and self-pity” should not be surprising. They lined up to be experts on how they expected me to grieve and how they expected it to look to make themselves more comfortable. At that point, after losing my world, YOU, I could not concentrate enough to spell my name. I could never have imagined that I would have to create such huge barriers around myself, but it became a matter of self -preservation. I am not competent enough to fight all of these wars. I should not have to. Realizing that you are gone is enough to take my breath away and I have to plant my feet firmly on the ground just to steady myself. All of other stuff, in a way, by participating I am volunteering for more heart ache. For now, I am not a volunteer. I am doing the best that I can do just living without you.
On tonight one year ago our lives changed forever. You are in Heaven watching over the ones who love you. Mine has changed in indescribable ways. Some quite unnecessary and still beyond my ability to understand. The ones who abandoned me refuse to tell me why and hold this information out like emotional blackmail. Our family is destroyed, and I am not privy to why. I quit. Just how many times do you get kicked in the heart and go back for more?
The burning question remains for me. You are gone. Now what do I do? I believe that my joy is hardwired to you. I wonder if there is a point in my life if I experience joy, will I feel guilty as if I were betraying you? You want me to feel joy again. I know because you told me, but the wounds are still too open to even explore that place.
At a few minutes before midnight one year ago tonight I saw you take your last breath. I whispered in your ear “I love you” one last time and kissed you goodbye. One part has not changed in that year. I still love you.