3 1/2 years later and I’m now just able to reflect on the worst day of my life. When you go through something traumatic, you just survive. You go back to the basics. All the superficial things are no longer in your way. You cut to the heart of what matters – living, your family and your good friends, the ones that are by your side in the hospital and at your husband’s funeral. In some ways, going through something traumatic, can provide clarity. An instant shutter of all the things that get in our way, that tempt us, that distract us from who we really are and what is important to us. In an instant it all changes, and you go back to the basics. What is most important in life.
I remember debating whether I tell my girls how sick their father is, debating whether they should go see him on life support. I got a lot of opinions, but I went with my gut. I was their mother and now I must be the one to make all the decisions for them.
On March 7, 2013, I drove home alone to get my girls. I looked my two-year old and five-year old in the eyes and said, “we need to go say good-bye to your daddy. He’s dying.” I drove to the hospital with tears down my face, trying to pull myself together for what would be the hardest thing I hopefully ever had to do as a mother. I walked them down the hallway past all the sick patients in the ICU, and led them to a small room with lots of machines. Their father was hooked up on a respiratory with tubes and machinery in his mouth and a life support machine to keep his organs working. His arms were all bruised and taped and dirty from weeks of tests and machines. I remember sweet M stroking his one finger that poked out of all the mess. She kept repeating, “his eyes are closed, his eyes are closed.” R was frightened and didn’t know what to do. She was very quiet. I looked up and saw a tear in the nurse’s eye. All I could say was, “Girls say good-bye to your daddy. He’s going to heaven. We won’t see him anymore.”
No one thought it was a good idea for the girls to say good-bye to their father in that state. They thought it was too traumatic for us, but it was actually too traumatic for them. For the people watching. For the people fearing what we were going through. It would have been too traumatic not to say good-bye. We didn’t have the luxury of fear.