We had just come home from a weekend of camping with our girls ages 3 and 14 months at the time. He went to work like every other day and we spend that late afternoon celebrating my brother’s 20th birthday.
John often helped his dad with a tree trimming service he did on the side. His dad was expecting him and had called a couple of times to see if he was coming. He was reluctant, he was almost to the garage when he turned around and came back into the house to kiss me and the girls goodbye. He did this everytime he left, but this time he was in a hurry and still took the time to come back into the house and say goodbye. He was supposed to stay home and put the air conditioner in our camper with the help of a neighbor.
I was downstairs doing laundry when I got the call from the police. John had fallen from a tree and was being taken to the hospital. I ran out of the house and threw my youngest daughter at our neighbor and asked him to watch the girls.
As I drove to the hospital I realized he had fallen only 1/2 block from the hospital and only 4 blocks from where we lived. He was still at the scene and the paramedics were loading him up. I figured he probably had a broken leg or maybe a little worse. Hopefully he hadn’t broken his back and wouldn’t be paralyzed. At that time, that was the worst I thought it could be. As I approached the paramedics his father said, “Don’t worry, he’s alive.” We drove to the ER and that’s when I saw how bad it really was.
John had cut trees with his dad since he was 14 years old. He could climb trees like a monkey. I often times begged him to wear a safety harness, but he complained that it restricted him too much. He had climbed trees twice as high as this one and much more difficult, I couldn’t understand what went wrong. To this day I don’t know. At some point he lost his balance, his dad thinks he was hit by a branch he was cutting down and was knocked unconscious and that’s why he fell. As he fell, the back of his head hit the edge of the house. He also broke both ankles. He was flown to a larger hospital by helicopter which was about an hour drive from where we live. When I got to the hospital and spoke with the doctors they said, “He’s in a coma, only time will tell.” His brain started to swell and one by one his body systems began to shut down. On the 9th day they informed us he was brain dead.
We had no choice but to shut off life support. His family did not want his organs donated although that’s what was on his driver’s license. I didn’t want to cause any more stress so I declined. Somedays I regret that decision, but in other ways I’m glad. I was able to be with him when his heart beat for the last time.
Never in my worst dreams did I think I would be coming home without him. I never dreampt that I would be raising two little girls who adored him on my own. Life is so cold and empty without him. I feel like the shell of a person, left behind to take care of things until it’s my turn. I never imagined the pain could be so intense. I truly understand how people can die of a broken heart.
Now I’m left, dealing with this pain and lots of questions from our oldest daughter. “Why did my daddy get an owie on his head and die?” “Will my daddy be at grandma’s for Thanksgiving?” Now I take my children to the cemetary to see their father. No child should ever have to go through this kind of loss.
I struggled for a long time with how I was going to keep going. I wanted to die and be with him more than anything. I realize now that dying is not an option. Our children need me to keep his memory alive. I need my children to keep his memory alive. I thank God every day for our children. They are my reason for living. They are the reason I get out of bed in the morning and cook supper at night. They are the reason I can smile from time to time.
I don’t believe this pain will ever go away. I think with time I will just learn to cope with it better. He is the love of my life and my soul mate. I love being at home where I feel his presense. Every room I walk into, I can picture him standing there, smiling at me, making a joke.
I am only beginning to realize how difficult the holidays and the rest of my life will be without him by my side. Again, my children will make me get through it. What choice do I have?
I believe he is here with us, holding us when we cry and laughing with us when we laugh. I anxiously await the day we will be together again for eternity.
I’m 29 years old and have been widowed for 4 months.