And in that one moment, in that blink of an eye, in that last beat of his heart - I went from being a wife to being a widow.
Just as surely as his body changed from one filled with pain and misery to one glorified and with the Lord - my life changed. Just as sure as he went from this life into life eternal - my life changed. He is in a better place - I know this.
But I also know that sure does not feel or seem like I am in a better place!!!
I miss EVERYTHING about him.
But I realize also that I LIVE these words over and over and over again.
I see Rick that last morning. I hear his voice that last time. I look into his eyes that last moment.
I see Mandy and I lifting him, putting him on the floor, her kneeling over her daddy, the tears on her face as she gave him CPR. I hear the 911 dispatcher trying to direct her and calm me at the same time. I hear the desperation in her voice as she begged her daddy to breath, to open his eyes, to speak, to live and not die. I feel the panic rise in me as I called Joshua and said those words no momma ever wants to say - Your daddy is gone. I hear my voice in panic telling Rick's dad and mom to get down here cause I think Rick has just died. I see the ambulance lights, hear the siren, and the EMT's as they come in the house and find their way to the bedroom. I hear their voices and see them as they work over my husband, the love of my life. I feel the hand of the sheriff's deputy as he asks me to step out of the room. I remember just knowing deep inside that Rick, my husband, my sweetheart, was gone. And I see Rick when they brought me back to the bedroom to tell me that there was no response whatsoever. I hear my automated voice when they ask me if I wanted them to take him to the hospital - "Is there anything left to my husband? Will he ever be better than this?" And I hear that word - NO. I see the shake of the EMT's head. I feel the pressure of the deputy's hand on my elbow, his arm around me. Then, I remember saying the words I never thought I would ever have to say -- "Let him go. Leave him alone. He is gone." I see the love of my life lying there on the floor, bagged, covered with a sheet. I touch him one more time. I call his name.
And the sheriff's deputy leads me out of the room, into the arms of my daughter. The tears flow. I find myself trying to be momma even now. Loving my daughter. Talking to my son over the phone - loving him. Holding my grandchildren. Comforting Rick's parents. Feeling so surreal.
Yes, I LIVE these words ... these memories ... over and over and over again. Every morning at 6:50 a.m. - the memories begin ... and the movie seems to play. I wonder will it ever not be so crystal clear.
I love our kids and our grandkids. Were it not for them -- O God, thank you for our children and our grandchildren. Thank you God for their love and their attention to me. Thank you for all their laughter, their help, their memories. And yes, thank you even for their tears. I am so thankful that they loved their daddy and p-paw. That they were all on good terms with him. And I am very thankful to not have to walk this valley totally alone.
I keep reminding myself that I am not the only one grieving for Rick. His dad and mom are. His sister is. His kids and his grandkids are. His family and his friends - they all are.
But no matter who you are, grief is a lonely road. There are just some stretches of this journey, some mountains and valleys, that you must traverse alone. Just you and God. We all grieve differently, and separately. I don't think there is really a right or wrong way to grieve. The body and the mind have to deal with it.
There are moments that we share our grief, and our love for Rick. But then there are those times that we seem to hide it all away.
I wonder why I do that? Because others seem to be doing ok - and I do not want to make someone else sad when they seem like they are not? Is it because I feel so weak, even tho others tell me how strong I am? Is it because if I talk about Rick being gone he becomes gone, not just away? If I don't talk about him being gone forever, does that mean that he is only away and will be home again to me? Do I sound as crazy to others as I do to myself???
It's hard to know what to say to someone who has lost so much. Who cries so easily - cause honestly, most people do not know how to handle the tears.
Well, nothing makes the pain easier to bear. Nothing makes the sorrow less. Nothing makes the tears not burn so hot on the cheeks. So, if nothing makes it easier, or less, or better - what can you say? What can you do?
Just be there. Offer a shoulder to cry on. Arms to encircle and give a hug or two. A listening ear - yes, even to the story of death over and over and over again. Share a memory. Make me smile. Make me laugh out loud.
--Cooking. What do I cook? I have cooked for Rick for 35 years. How do I cook and not think about what he wants, or what he likes? How do I make something and no one here to taste test it for me?
--Going out to eat. To only sit alone? What do I order? Rick ordered for me for 35 years, what am I supposed to order? What do I even want? Rick knew me so well that often he didn't even ask what I wanted, just ordered and it was right.
--Sleeping. How do I go to bed alone? After 34 years, 7 months and 17 days of laying next to my husband? I thank God for a comfortable recliner!!! Sigh.
--Getting dressed. What do I wear? For 35 years, every morning I would ask Rick what he would like to see me wear, and then I would ask him how I looked after I got dressed. It wasn't something that I had to do - it was what I wanted to do. To please him. To honor him. And he would always tell me that I looked "hot" or "sexy" or "cute" or "fine to me" (with a smile and a wink) ... he would say how that a certain color made my eyes shine ... or that I looked like "one hot momma" ... He always had something to say - sweet and precious. So now - what difference does it make what I wear?
I don't know what God has planned for me - but I know He has a plan. Jeremiah 29:11
So, I pray ... and I trust Him.
--as I go thru things. Finding my way forward thru the tears and the smiles.
--as I wait to find out if I will be allowed to keep the Honda Element, or if I will have to surrender it.
--as I wonder what will I drive if I have to surrender the Element.
--as I wait to hear from Social Security about SSI and/or early widow benefits.
--as I wonder where I am supposed to be ... and what I am supposed to be doing.
--as I hope and pray that the RV sells. Not only do I really need the money, I really don't need the RV!
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
if I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, But when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.
But the greatest of these is LOVE.