Pushing Forward

Dear Ross,

The house is so quiet now. I didn’t realize what stirs that you caused among our household until now. The mornings were the hardest during the summer, because the kids slept later, and I was alone in my thoughts. It is what I needed, and I am grateful for that time to collect my thoughts, but it broke down my dam, and gave me permission to fall apart at the seams.

 

I still expect you to walk through that door.  I am still in disbelief.  Why You?  I know God needs you, too, but I want you here. Your children want you here. You wouldn’t have wanted to leave us.

Reagan is hurting so bad, and when I try to wrap my motherly arms around him, he shrinks away from me. At the same time, he is holding on tight, in his own way.  I can feel it. He struggles at school, and I was hoping school starting would provide him with some normalcy, relief.  Familiarity. But school only seems to enlarge that hole in his heart, because he is a child without a father, and a boy needs his father.

Bailey goes on as usual, and she appears to be unaffected, ignoring the emptiness in the room that used to be her dad, making her laugh with tickles and funny innuendos. But every now and then, I see an expression on her beautiful face….when one of the dogs push through the front door, and she looks over with anticipation, only to not see her daddy standing there with Starbucks in hand. She watches the carefully, processing. I know she hurts badly, but I know she will push it down. Her autism won’t let her feel the brunt of the loss, and that, is the one and only blessing of her disability.

Tyler has become a pro at pushing it down as well. It is too much for him, so he works a lot, and when he isn’t working, he is constantly moving. But in those seldom, solitary moments, he feels it, and it breaks him. It breaks him the most.

I am pushing forward, forcing down my walls and crawling out of the hole that I never knew I was in. Battling depression before the loss of my husband, and feelings of defeat as a mother of a special needs child. I cannot be helpless, a woman in distress, or a poor meek widow.  I cannot let my children look to me, and feel more lost than they already are. I am the sole parent now, and my job is to not only nurture, but ensure my children are taken care of financially as well, which is a new role for me. It terrifies me more than any parental role, but it’s not a failure I am prepared to make. It’s not an option.

I miss you. I will never be able to wrap my heart around the reality of your death. Life as I know it, is forever changed. I miss your little dances and the way you made me laugh.

I am moving us to New Braunfels. You and I always talked about that. It is where you are buried, and it feels like the right thing to do. Hopefully, the kids and I will get this house we love, and hopefully some hardships in the near future aren’t so hard, but if they are, then they are.

Everything is abnormal without you, and I feel like someone else is walking around in my body, handling all of these affairs, but the real me is still in bed, curled up in a fetal position.

I’m so lost, but at the same time, I can finally feel your presence. I know you are here. I know you laugh at me when I can’t find my car, when I lose my keys, and I know it hurts you to see us so sad and longing for you. I know you are there, especially in the mornings, after the kids have left, and I’m left in deafening silence. It hurts a tiny bit less, knowing I can finally feel you, but the blow of losing you, and our little bubble we lived in, is too much to bear. It will forever be me and my children, until they are grown and want to have their own families. There will never be another accepting, loving, and embracing man for me, and I am okay with that. I love you.

Your wife

 

A Million Broken Pieces

family2

It’s taken me some time to sit in front of the laptop and blog about what has happened to my family. Will there ever be a right time?  Probably not.

Ross and I had our own little bubble, where we felt safe and where there were no judgements. Every now and then, we would jump out of that bubble, for family interaction, movies, dinner, etc., but we did have our own sanctity with Reagan and Bailey most of the time. It was content, and it kept us sane. Looking back, I was happier with my little family than I thought I was. But that’s how it works, doesn’t it?  You don’t what you’ve got, until it’s gone?

Ross knew me better than I knew myself. He could finish my sentences, he knew my triggers and avoided them at all costs OR he would use them just to get my goat. He frustrated me till no end, and at the same time, I found security with him, that I’ve never had with anyone else. I knew he would never hurt me, never leave me, and he would always be there when I fell apart. I let him be my rock, and my glue, and the day that he left me, it was a fight to stay together, and not break into a million pieces.

Ross had a very stressful job. It was wearing him down for years, affecting his livelihood, energy, and his health was declining. He put on too much weight, even though we had changed our eating habits. He was battling on the phone with his partner, many times having difficulty with his asthma after these conversations. As a wife, I can’t help but feel resentment at these moments, but I struggle every day to not let it eat me up, but this has happened to me and my children, and there is no changing it.

His death certificate doesn’t indicate the exact cause of death, and this provides me no closure, but with his asthma, sleep apnea, and the weight gain, I imagine he went peacefully, or so I’d like to think he did.

He was sleeping a lot. More than someone who was overworked, so we knew something was wrong. I made a doctor’s appointment for him on August 1st, and on that day, we would start his new chapter, and we would make even grander strides to make him healthy again. That was our plan, anyway.

The morning that I found Ross on the couch, I had mopped the floors, done the dishes, and when I went to check on him, I expected him to grab me and tickle me, because that was Ross, always horsing around. I did notice, however, that he wasn’t snoring, which was my first red flag. Upon touching him, he was cold, and it made me shrink back, but I knew the ac unit was blowing right on him, so I threw a blanket over him, knowing he needed rest. He also had flu like symptoms all weekend long, so I was leaving him alone, and not being a nag about the house for once. He was overworked, fatigued, and I was always scared about his health because of this. I never knew it would be the death of him, though, and had I known that, I would have been more adamant to get him out of that situation. But there I go with more “what ifs”, “if only”, etc., and I really need to stop that.

When I realized he wasn’t breathing, and when I didn’t see him laugh and pull me in, I started shaking him frantically to wake him up. Was he really that tired? Could he really be sleeping that heavily?

I started CPR. It felt like a really long time. Bailey was at the dining room table, and at the time, she was playing with her toys, but now she was watching me. Reagan had fallen asleep on the other side of the couch with his dad, and he was stirring. I didn’t stop the CPR. I didn’t even know if I was doing it right, and I couldn’t see through my tears, and my heart was pounding so hard that I couldn’t hear anything but that.

I turned away to call 911. I didn’t want to stop CPR. What if he was almost breathing, what if I almost saved him?? 911 asked me to flip him over, which I couldn’t do without him falling off the couch, so they sent an ambulance within 10 minutes.

While on the phone with them, I turned around, and I found Reagan crying and trying to administer CPR himself. He was screaming, “DAD!”, “DAD”, over and over again, shaking from his cries, and he was trying to bring him back. It was something that I will never forget, seeing my baby boy, shaking his father and screaming for him to come back. It is something that Reagan will always have engraved in his mind, and I know it will haunt him forever. I wish that wasn’t so.

Fast forward to now, I am still in disbelief. It is still summer time, and I wake up to a quiet home. I lay there, and I remember. Those of you who have lost someone are familiar with that feeling, that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, and when you remember why you feel that way, it hits you like a ton of bricks. It comes in waves for Reagan and I.

I took Reagan to Game Stop the other day, and he is always happy to go there for a new game, but this time, upon reaching the door, there was a poster of the new 2016 NBA game, and he lost it right there. I knew why, but I sat with him, right there on the sidewalk, while he fell apart, and then struggled to collect himself. This new game that had come out……this is the game that Ross and Reagan had been waiting for, anxiously, to play together. That was their thing, playing video games. They had such a fun time together, talking trash. I wish I had recorded this, had I known this would happen. I wish I had recorded a lot of things, but I have to play over the memories instead, and no one can take those away from us.

Bailey is protected by her autism. She talks very light hearted about death, so I’m not sure if she has actually grasped the concept that he is never coming back. He traveled often, so maybe one day he will walk in the door, with Starbucks in hand, as he always did. He was dad, and he was driving all night, just to come home and be with his family. He was a stellar dad. He wanted to be with us all the time, and when he couldn’t be, he was always calling and checking on us.

He was our hero, our protector. He shielded us from elements that he thought would harm us in any way, and he worked so hard to keep me at home with our children. He worked so hard, that he died from it. He put himself on the back burner, always, and paid for it in the long run. Was he stubborn? Yes. Did he keep a lot of stress to himself, as to not worry me and the kids?  Yes.

I want a do-over. I want another life with him. I have many regrets during our courtship and marriage. I wish I had told him that I loved him more often. I wish I had been more stern about his bad habits, his work, and I wish I had been a more loving wife. I wish, I wish, I wish…..now it is the 3 of us, and his firstborn son, Tyler, who is now 21. I hurt for Tyler the most. They were partners in crime, Ross and Tyler. I wish that I could bring Ross back, just for Tyler alone, but there is nothing within my power anymore. There is only pushing forward, with this big gaping hole in my life.

I am more blessed than most. Ross’ family has been a godsend, and they are grieving as well. They need to heal by spending time with his children, and his mother and father have lost their son, and there is nothing worse than losing your child.

I keep saying the same thing over and over again. If my kids are okay, than I am okay. And that’s all I can do, keep waking up and living for our children.