Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The new normal.

Tonight we decided to do something that my wife enjoyed.  We made popcorn, sat on the couch fending off the cats and watched some of the new season's shows.  The dog lay peacefully on his bed curled up with my wife's jacket, finally sleeping well if the running in his sleep movements were any measure.  We enjoyed the TV shows, successfully defended our snacks from the feline menace and generally forgot about the stress and loss of the last week for just a little bit.  It felt good, but I worry that one day it will be too easy to allow that memory to fade.  I hope not.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Was this trip really necessary?

Friday I am notified that we have a court hearing on Monday to discuss my step-daughter's custody.  Due to the expense we were never able to put together the funds to move forward with the formal adoption.  Apparently the social workers worked quickly on these notifications.  As things were busy, I was unable to complete the game of tag with the lawyer, so I have to hope I bring everything I need to the hearing.

Two and a half days of frantic and stressful activity later, I walk into the court building trailing a rolling file box full of every scrap of documentation I can find relating to my step-daughter and my wife's custody of her. After three hours of waiting, we spend 5 minutes in the courtroom to be told "Our condolences, no changes, come back in three weeks." Was this trip really necessary?

Sunday, September 28, 2014


How do you deal with the loss?  My wife of 10 years has passed away.

I left her at the hospital in the evening, having had to argue with doctors about getting her heart medication re-instated and a new treatment started for her Crohn's Disease.  We had finally gotten them to stop trying to prescribe pain medications that she was allergic to, and finally gotten her nausea controlled.  Things were looking up.  My in-laws, our daughter and my wife's service dog were all there all afternoon.  My wife finally got clean sheets, a clean outfit and a sponge bath.  We washed her hair for her, which really brightened her day.  Being in the hospital sucks, but its the little things that make it better.  She was thrilled that everyone was there.

I had already taken the day from work due to the exhaustion brought by the previous 5 days and spent it all at the hospital.  In the early evening I kissed my wife and told her I would see her in the morning.  I took our daughter to get a bite to eat that was not hospital food and dropped her back off.  My wife posted her excitement on Facebook at finally getting a treatment that stood a good chance of combating the Crohn's.  She spent the evening exchanging texts with people about the treatment.  I went home, fed the cats, had something to eat and went to bed early.  All our shows were set to record and I would watch them with her when she got home.

After I got dressed in the morning, I saw that my daughter had called while I was in the shower.  I was expecting a call to tell me that she needed fresh clothing or that a doctor was being problematic and I needed to intervene.  Instead the phone was answered by a hysterical 15 year old telling me that my wife was gone.

I cannot describe the feeling at that moment.  I know I said "What?!?"  She repeated it.  I told her I would be there as fast as I could.  No thought was given about anything else.  I don't recall half of that 15 minute trip.  I recall thinking that she was wrong, that when I arrived I would be told that there was a scare but she was alive.  It was not possible.

She lay in the bed unmoving.  A tube still stuck out of her mouth.  There was no comforting movement of her breathing.  Our daughter turned and clamped onto me in a tear filled bear hug.  My question of what happened was explained, but it held no answer.  I was reduced to a quivering pile of tears for...  I don't know how long.  We asked that they remove the tube and then tried to comb her hair, but we could't.  It was hours before I could bring myself to leave, and then it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.  I kissed her on the forehead, told her that I loved her, squeezed her hand and then cried in the hallway.

My wife's service dog simply sat by the bed, wanting to jump up and see mom, but not allowed to and not understanding why.  I still don't think he understands that mom is not coming home five days on.  We let him say goodbye when we finally left.  He climbed up on the bed, sniffed around her head, licked her face and then lay down on her legs.  But when we finally left I really don't think he quite gets it.  He sleeps on her pillow and the jacket that she first wore when she met him.  She loved that jacket and wore it all the time.

My questions as to why are still not answered.  The doctors and nurses were shocked as well.  At 4 AM she was fine, vitals were normal and she chatted with the nurse.  At 5 AM she was not breathing and had a weak pulse.  Almost 2 hours of effort to revive her failed.  My daughter was stuck in the room the whole time and was forced to sit and watch her mother pass away.  And she feels it is her fault.  I can't dissuade her from that opinion.  And now I have to pick up the pieces.

I don't know how.

Just calling and notifying everyone who needed to know was almost impossible, even with the help of our daughter, my wife's parents and a family friend who arrived as soon as she could.  So many people that my wife touched.  So many people that had to be called so that their first notification was not a Facebook post.  And now that I am trying to pick up these pieces, accomplish the tasks that she accomplished while I was at work, I don't know how she did it.

She was my life, it completely revolved around her.  I know eventually this will get easier.  I know that eventually I will be able to look at her belongings and remember her fondly without being reduced to tears.  But that time is not here.  Not yet.  It will be a long time in coming.