I have so much to write. But i am Not in a position to write it right now. I’m learning (slowly, but progressively) trauma is a process. I am still working on SWT but the honest to God truth is, working on something that Dave poured his heart and soul in to–it hurts. It cuts to the quick. Missing him is a physical pain that feels like someone is squeezing my heart, tighter and tighter. working on SWT is acknowledging that loss, and acknowledging it’s just myself at the controls now; he isn’t coming back in this life.
Allow me to share something I wrote on a different forum to commemorate the year since he passed (10-25-17) and my dear, dear lovelies, thank you for your words and support and understanding. No point in bringing drama on to this page–but you’ll never realize how alone the kids and i truly are, and how much you have helped us.
Hell Week: Typically defined as the final week that separates the candidates who will succeed as a Navy SEAL from those who won’t.
So I guess I could say that it separates those who will survive from those who simply can’t hack it?
This is the beginning of My “Hell Week,” folks. Today was the day Dave and I had been prepared to go to Little Rock for his preop workup. We were literally loading up the car when the call came in that an emergency case had bumped Dave’s surgery, and everything was being pushed a day out.
So we shrugged, and left the suitcases by the door…and did beautifully mundane things together for that day. Things like shoe shopping. I had extremely bad plantar fascitis that wasn’t resolving and Dave was extremely concerned. A long nap wrapped up in each other’s arms in the middle of the afternoon.
I believe that deep down, he knew he was likely to not survive the surgery. He made several comments to that effect. He bought nice things for the kids, “at least if I die, they’ll have something good to remember me by.”
The weather was finally starting to cool this week last year, and so we also spent some time picking out more winter appropriate clothes for K and D. Pants, jackets, things like that.
Isn’t it funny how it isn’t the big things that set you off? I have a couple PM & hospital pics on my phone of Dave and i can look at them all day long and just marvel at how handsome he was, and wish with all my heart I could keep him with me for always, but my mind can reconcile an inanimate figure. It can guard much less safely against the memories that the million little things still connected to him in my day to day can evoke without warning. A Thousand little deaths, that can be died over and over.
Last night the official “kick off” was pants. The tiny little pair of 2T navy blue sweats we bought for K a year ago. I was folding them into the hand me down pile for D’s winter wardrobe and it all hit, like a freight train against a brick wall without ever attempting to brake.
Pants that Dave and I bought, that he never got to see K in. My two youngest babies getting a quick hug and kiss from their daddy on the morning of a routine surgery, and never seeing him again. I sometimes wonder what trauma exists in their little minds from that, what things they think but can’t express to me. Tantrums and tears are routine for toddlers at their ages, but is K’s fear of me walking away spurred by Dave’s disappearance? He was never like this prior to his death.
The memories…awash in memories i can’t stop or even control the direction of. Times like these my photographic memory is a curse, as i flash from one memory of us to another, and i can hear his laugh or his quiet voice, or remember the feel of his skin or his clothes as it touched me, and i ache, in the way you double over and cry so hard you are still crying, but you can’t make sound anymore.
D is his mini me. All of the children favor me more, personality wise. D, though…with those dark, wild curls, and her brown eyes that are his twin; when she smiles at me it is looking at pictures from him as a little kid. She is the most like him personality wise, as well–things she enjoys (like movies) to foods she likes, the whole nine yards. Sometimes it is painful to watch her as she moves about, navigating her childhood, because of their similarities. I am also blessed to have that little piece of him to hold so close to my heart for always.
I find myself wondering why this wasn’t a trial deal. Ok, this year really sucked even worse than i thought it would without him; so I learned a lot of good lessons but i want my husband back, now. Please. Then it slowly sinks in, there isn’t any going back. This is a forever deal.
Dave’s passing has been multi-faceted and nuclear detonation devastating in its impact on the children and I. The hardest thing that i have had to face is taking the impact of the awful news broadside, to protect the kids, as it came crashing at us like waves in a Cat 4 hurricane. I mentioned months ago that i chose to have an autopsy performed on Dave because the information that I was provided at the “post failed surgery” family conference did not match up with what i knew to be accurate physiological functioning.
The results took about two months to come in and the ME I assigned Dave’s case to, to generate the final report. The report brought me to my knees in tears: there is officially no doubt that medical negligence occurred and that Dave’s death was preventable. That said, because of the extremely conservative nature of medical malpractice law in Arkansas, the case would be almost impossible to prove. After several rejections from different law firms I have chosen to let this avenue go. I was never hoping to profit from his loss, but hoping that attention being brought to lack of standardized “best practice care” would force the facility Dave was at to amend their practices and potentially prevent other tragedies. Unfortunately, this view seems to be anathema to the medical field here, and rather than continue to body slam myself into a wall, i find it better to redirect my energy and efforts into myself and the kids.
Recieving the autopsy report was the most devastating part of this entire year journey, though. Not for the information it contained, but because of the horrible, synapse-short circuiting reality the simple existence of those pages represented: No matter what Dave officially died of? No matter what the autopsy confirmed or left blank, there was one bitter truth I had to swallow. Dave, the man whose life path I had aligned myself with, my best friend, the father of my children, my rock, my literal everything…was gone. Legally no longer in existence, and nothing I said or did, or asked others to do for me, was going to change that.
Irretrievably beyond my reach until the next realm. I can’t explain how watching our children grow up is the most poignantly painful beauty; to hear K start really talking and wanting to share the world and interact with it, or D run down the hall towards me, her little ghetto booty (Dave had one, too LOL) just going side to side a mile a minute and her little voice as she cries “mama!” with a huge smile and puts her arms up. S growing up, navigating his way into adulthood…and A with her cheerful demeanor and intelligence and sense of fun, and to not have him to turn to and share all of this “now” and the joy of the coming years with…that is a hard life sentence.
People tell me i am so young, i can start over. I don’t understand the meaning of their well-intentioned advice. I am aware every single day that I have had something happen that almost no one else can relate to. In many ways, this has led to feeling displaced from my life: In a world of late 30-somethings getting divorced from their spouses and itching to be free of their marital obligations? They simply cannot wrap their heads around the concept of losing a partner one had no intention of separating from; try as they might, they simply don’t relate to that loss or that pain, and it is isolating. I feel sometimes like i am a caterpillar who completed her metamorphosis to a butterfly before any of her friends…and so I am still trying to hang out with the caterpillars and pretend I am the same, and failing miserably.
I AM different. I’m a 37 year old widow who lost the love of her life far too young. Who doesn’t understand why people act like being widowed young is some sort of consolation prize…that not even being chronologically at my half life means i may live another lifetime and a half without the man i loved more than my life by my side. A true life sentence, without him or i having ever committed a crime.
So here we are at a year. I’m alive, and I am getting stronger, and the pain is lessening because i am getting used to it as my constant companion in Dave’s absence. I am finally coming out of the fog and pulling the pieces back together and lovingly smearing copious amounts of putty into the cracks, and then epoxying the whole mess, trying to keep it all from falling apart again. I try to keep Stitch’s words in my mind and heart “My family is small and broken, but still good.”
We are smaller by one critical person, and the kids and I are cracked and dented and fractured…but we are still good. We are still here, and still moving forward. That in itself is a huge accomplishment for us at this point in time.
So i cry. I ache for Dave, but I keep putting one foot in front of the other…if nothing else, knowing that each footfall on this path called life carries me one step away from our physical time together, but one step closer to my soul being reunited with his.
“Embrace the storms in life. Rain makes things grow.” I love you baby. I hope you’re pleased with the new growth after the terrible storm we’ve all endured.