Part I - -
I fell in love with a boy when I was 10 years old. I knew he was the one I wanted. The only one I wanted. 9 years later, he asked me, "So when do you want to get married?"
Ours was a love of the ages. He was my Sweetheart. I was his Beloved. Never once did either of question the love of the other.
The ups and downs of life - tears and laughter, joys and sorrows, good times and bad, even arguments, and making up *wink*, abundance and want.
In sickness and in health. For richer, for poorer. Life. 2 kids, 4 grandkids.
And then real life blindsided us -
He went into renal failure January 2012. It was caught early - with at least 21% of his kidney function remaining, and with diet and exercise changes prognosis was still a long life without dialysis. July 2012, he tore a rotator cuff at work. Requiring surgery. After much assurance from the doctors that yes they would consult with his nephrologist, they did not. The medication used during surgery (October 2012) destroyed what was left of his kidney function. December 2012 he went on home dialysis. He was more angry than not. Bitter about his body betraying him. No amount of counseling or talk would help. He told me, "You didn't want me to die in the hospital back in January, you wanted me to fight for life - then whatever needs to be done, you do it. I am nothing anymore." So I was the one to do everything needed for the dialysis, no help from him. He gave up into a mere existence.
Yes, we still had good moments and even good days. But the stress began to eat away at "us". There were times when we would sit and talk, with hope of a future. Then when we would walk away from that talk, some little something would happen and the downward spiral would hit him again. Punch after punch after punch.
January 2015, what we thought was a simple yeast infection was so much more. 21 days, 4 prescriptions, 1 doctor, 2 specialists later - he had a partial amputation of his penis, losing over 2/3 of it. The hospital screwed up his dialysis. A week out of the hospital and I could not get things right, so another hospital stay - and he was better. Then, A-fib showed up during a routine dr visit. Back into the hospital for a round of tests. Final on those tests - "Your heart is strong and well. No problems." We were told the first of April 2015 that he would be released from all care by June 1, and we could return to life and living, still on home dialysis.
A stomach virus attacked him on a Thursday. For 3 days he was so ill. Then he began to feel better. He was extremely weak, but better. I was in constant touch with the nurse and doctor on Wednesday. We were told if he was not stronger by Thursday morning to bring him to the hospital, and he agreed.
Somewhere around 7 p.m. on Wednesday evening, April 22, he was sitting there, tears streaming down his face. Alarmed, I asked him what was wrong. His answer, "Honey, I'm scared." "Scared of what, sweetheart?" I asked.
With a fear in his eyes, a tremble to his voice, he told me - "What if it hurts more to die than to live? I have already endured so much pain, I don't know if I can handle any more. I am so tired and weary. What if it hurts more to die?"
My heart constricted. For a moment my voice froze. I looked into his eyes, and I saw his soul.
"Honey, we just have to believe that God would not allow that to happen. That death would simply be a closing of the eyes here, and waking there. A simple step from pain into freedom."
Little did I know that in only 12 hours ...
Advised that it sounded like the first stages of dehydration. I was told to take his blood sugar and blood pressure every hour thru the night. I stayed awake to do just that. He would love on me, hold me, kiss me, tell me how much he loved me, and then he would sleep again.
6:50 a.m. - I was going to wait until the dialysis machine had finished it's last cycle of the night, then I was taking a shower and have coffee. He woke up - stretched one leg out, then the other. I said, "Baby what's wrong?" "My legs are cramping like crazy." Not unusual for him - he had always had leg cramps. Not unusual for a dialysis patient, and certainly not unusual for one having just had a stomach virus. I walked around the bed ... laid my hand on his chest ... looked into his eyes. Love and peace was what I saw. He moved his mouth to say something, I thought his mouth was dry. I looked around for his water bottle, my hand still on his chest. 3 seconds. 3 damn seconds. I looked back at him, he was GONE. His heart just stopped. CPR was started. 911 was called. EMT's worked for an hour. No response at all. He was gone. The EMT's could not stop working on him until they heard me say it - "Leave him be".
3 damn seconds. 3 damn words.
34 years, 7 months, 17 days, 11 hours as Rick's wife. Over in one heartbeat.
Part II later ...