How do you prepare yourself to be in a car accident? You put your seatbelt on. You double check your tires. You try and stay one step ahead of every driver on the road. One step ahead and it won’t hurt, you tell yourself. Maybe it won’t happen, you say, all while knowing you can’t avoid the crash. You see yourself slamming head-on in the most dramatic slow motion but can do nothing but wait to feel the impact.
That’s the only way I can describe waiting for someone to die.
I called the chaplain, then he got here and I didn’t want to talk, then he found me anyway. I begged him to fix me. To make this better. If I pray can I avoid this pain? If I write more can I wash this sting out of of my heart? Where can I throw my focus to avoid what’s clearly right in front of me? He told me what I already know and that the crash is unavoidable. “It will get better, then worse again, then better, then really bad, then eventually better,” he told me.
Thanks, sounds amazing.
Even as I try and write this I realize Joe will never read this blog. I realize I have no one to do my grammar check. Who will tell me if I’m not as funny as I think I am? Who will tell me, “I’ve read better”, pushing me to dig deeper.
How in the world will I ever survive this?
Joe and I have talked about everything. What he wants and what he doesn’t. How things should go. I thought I was ready. But I never expected to lose him before I lose him. I want to throw myself on top of him and scream, “Wake up, please wake up!” Then in the next moment I find myself quietly asking God to take him. I cannot stand one more second of pain for him. Please tell me he’s not in pain. Please tell me I’m doing the right thing.
He’s had his semi-lucid moments where he grabbed my face and swept my hair back with his hand. The nurse reminded him that his wife was here and he said, “She is?” I said, “babe, I’m right here”. He buried his face in my neck and said, “I missed your smell.” Then would fall back asleep. Oh, my heart.
He was alert Monday night just enough to steal a few bites of my milkshake and make us all laugh. In his loopy state he talked about playing hockey, smoked a pretend joint and when his mom asked if he’d want some jello or pudding he responded, “Unless Amanda is walking out here in a whipped cream bikini, I don’t want anything.”
To be honest, I thought about running to the store to whip up if that’s what he wanted.
That was the last time he was awake. Is it weird it gives me some comfort to think his last meal may have been some mint chocolate chip milkshake?
I never expected to feel this kind of responsibility at the end. The nurses told me he’s getting restless, we may need to go up on his medications to try and keep him comfortable. I held Joe’s hand and got close to his ear to explain what was going on and I was going to give him some more medication to help him sleep, “Are you okay? I’m right here.” I said. He squeezed my hand and nodded yes for the first time in days. Even in his final moments he’s reassuring me. His mom and I looked at each other and relief swept over our broken hearts.
The day Joe became too sick to keep him home was the same day his cousin/business partner/best friend’s wife went into labor. Joe has been so excited to meet this baby girl. a cousin for Mira. He’d been coaching his cousin through what he’s learned and promising him we’d come and stay when the baby was born. I told Joe that morning that the baby was on the way and the disappointment on his face as he could hardly lift himself from his chair but said, “We have to get there”.
I was able to tell Joe the name of the baby as he settled in– Emma Josephine– “E.J”– the initials Joe and his dad shared and now this sweet little girl.
Only 3 days old they brought the baby to meet her uncle. Though Joe was sleeping we could feel the love in the room.
The beginning and the end? The light in this very dark time was seeing those two little girls by his bed.
Joe would have loved these moments, never taken a single one for granted.
Mira gave her daddy a kiss. She saw him laying there and exploded with smiles and “daddas”. My angel girl your daddy loves you.
I’m watching Joe’s steady breaths right now and with every one I wait, I watch, I wait for my own heart to stop too.
I saved a text message Joe sent me last month… now I keep reading it over and over. Wait for me.