A look at how one young widower balances moving forward with looking back
Thursday, February 26, 2009
On What Happened
It was a Monday. February 26, 2007. I don’t recall what the weather was like exactly, as the day began within the confines of the hospital walls. We arrived at our local ER shortly before 1:00 am. After being ignored all night, we finally got a room, which was followed by further hours of being ignored. Blatantly ignored. My wife’s medical condition was quite involved, and it seemed none of the staff had the time to take that into consideration when making decisions, so we sat. All night.
When the shift changed a new doctor arrived and things began to actually happen. It turns out on top of everything else, we were looking at a case of septic shock. Not the easiest thing to overcome, especially in a state of weakened health, but possible. While we were waiting for her to be transferred to a room, the unthinkable happened:
The crash cart was pushed into the room and I was pushed out.
But that was not to be the end. After about 45 agonizing minutes in a small room with flowered wallpaper, a nurse arrived to say that she was stabilized and had been moved to ICU. Not great news, but she was still here. And we’d weathered ICU once before, right after our daughter was born. Not the best of times, but she was still here then too.
The day dragged on. I drained my cell battery calling family back home with updates. Her parents arrived and sat with me in my daisy-infested prison cell. Some positive news came. She was responding to the new treatment and things were starting to look up.
Things always start to improve before a tempest strikes. Within two hours, she was gone.
It’s strange. I don’t know the actual time that it happened. I know it was somewhere close to 5:00 officially, but what constitutes that moment? Was she gone when they started trying to revive her? Was she gone when I had to make the decision to tell them to stop? When exactly did she go? There’s a number on the multiple copies of her death certificate, but what haunts me is not that split-second on the clock. It’s the calendar. It’s every month when I have to spend the day writing the 26th on documents at work. And it’s every single Monday.
At 23, I became a husband. At 26, I became a father. At 29, I became a widower. Not exactly the way I had planned for things to turn out, but it is what it is. At 34, my journey as a single parent ended when I married a wonderful woman, but my experiences as a widowed single father have forever changed my life.