I had switched to MealTrain for updates so people weren’t looking in multiple places and for those not on Facebook to have a place to subscribe to the latest on how Brad and our family were doing.
I feel called to share our journey and perspective because what I’ve realized is that young people dying with a hospice situation is 100% different than an elderly person. Beginning to End, Top to Bottom TOTALLY different. I feel like if I can share my knowledge and journey I can help others prepare and navigate.
Brad left us on Thanksgiving at 4:30pm after our precisely planned and executed dinner. We knew he was waiting for something and he always was annoyed by the cleaning up process so while the kitchen was loud with laughter and clanking of dishes he and I shared his last moment of breath. I was dumbfounded…I smiled and said to him “you chose me?!” We had waited for 15 hours…the last phase that usually lasts minutes or maybe a few hours lasted 15 hours! It was sad and exhausting and terrible. We all took turns sitting with him and talking to him. I remember sitting with Carter and Makenzie and saying to them and to Brad that “this can’t go one for days” I begged him to stop it, he needed to go. His body was grasping for air and hanging on for an agonizing long time. Selfishly I wanted him to go and stop the suffering he had endured his last year. I knew he wanted to stay for every last ounce of life with us.
So in that last moment it was beautiful, heartbreaking and heartwarming. My sweet husband, who I met when I was 18 chose ME to be in that moment and silently summoned me. We were so connected all day, I felt like I was in a trance. My brain didn’t work, I didn’t feel my body, I was moving through the day doing what I could to make things feel better for others and for him. Saying everything I could so that he felt like things had been completed. Forgiving for anything and everything, promising that we could do this for him. We played music and were all around, we stopped the music and gave him quiet but he still hung on. Then…he gave me 3 quick breaths and one long one. I have a little box in my brain to remember that moment but try not to relive it often. Was he trying to speak? Were the breaths an attempt at I love you? 3 quick breaths for the kids and one big one for me? Or was it all brain activity impulses meaning nothing? You all know me…I’ll spin it into something wonderful and those 3 breaths were different and intentional so I know he was reaching out.
So Christmas was a month exactly. Heartbreaking to some degree but we just sat in the day and did our best. We did the things he had planned, we rested, ate good food and leaned into each other. It was a quick trip for my inlaws as they had all been to our house for a long time and multiple times in the last few months.
I have been paralyzed by feelings and numbness and can finally feel like I can work. Between the two weeks of preparation for his service and then two week to prep for Christmas I felt like I could barely breath. I had days of paralyzing grief where I could barely even function, eat, exist. I was pretty much nauseous for a month except for the service day, I felt amazing and strong that day. All the forces of heaven carrying me through. Today I feel better, still can’t eat much but try so that I can keep sustained and have the energy I need to move through to another side.
What I will say for anyone in this position, the after feels like nothing you could imagine. The relief was a cushion at first, the relief that the mean things, the constant instructions, the questioning of my smallest decisions, the them vs us dynamic, the fight between him working and talking to me and the kids in his last weeks…all of that ugly and hurtful shit faded in an instant. The relief wore off and I was left with such sadness that my best friend of 32 years was gone. The guy that always planned the fun or brought the fun to ordinary days. The guy that pushed me forward even if it was challenging me to do better. I know in the end he was proud of me, appreciated all that I was doing and knew we had worked hard to get as much ready and organized as we could.
Here is a link to a video collage Whitney put together that makes me laugh and cry but remember MY BRAD the way he really was.
I’ve watched it about 5 times just to connect my brain and heart and the reality of pulling off such a wonderful day for Brad. I would build strength then it would drain out of me. Saying goodbye to all of our friends was so hard…they’ve stayed connected and reach out just when I start to feel alone. The thought of “widow” and “single mom” is too much so I just don’t go there. I’m a Mom of 3 kids and Dog Mom of 2 busy dogs plus a full time hustler as a Senior Recruiter. That is where I’m leaning into as my currently defined purpose. Care for my people and get people jobs. My two responsibilities for now.
God Bless you all, thank you for your prayers. I’ll be using this blog to update my experiences and share what I can to help.