So, I was sitting one day, and I thought…….”I haven’t done anything with my blog lately”. Then, I opened it up and realized that my last entry was almost 3 years ago!!!! So then I started thinking (dangerous, I know) “how the heck am I going to catch up on 3 years, in one post”. Well, the answer is simple…..I’m not. So much has happened over the last 3 years, that it would be impossible to keep it to one post. So I will summarize (suddenly, I’m thinking of Inigo Montoya “Buttercup is marry Humperdink in little less than half an hour……).
Shortly after my last post, my best friend, and wife of (then) almost 12 years became ill. Unlike in years past though, she was finding it difficult to get better. Around February of 2011, she was put on oxygen, and we came to the unofficial realization that the time we feared would ultimately come, had arrived. Christina was finding it increasingly difficult to maintain an adequate amount of lung function, and needed the assistance of oxygen. At this point, she only needed to use it when she felt it was necessary. For her, this meant only while at home. However, she quickly progressed to needing it more frequently, and then ultimately, it became a permanent fixture with her. Even still, she didn’t let this stop her from doing things. She still went shopping. Still took the kids to school. Still maintained the house (although in a more “managerial” sense. She kept the house looking good, just used my hands to do it).
It wasn’t till the beginning of 2012 that she really started to slow down. She spent about a week and a half in the hospital toward the end of 2011. But the benefits of that stay were short lived. She quickly became weak again and needed another round of IV meds. This next round was done at home though, so that she didn’t have to stress about being in the hospital, and away from the kids and family. It was around this time that Christina’s parents moved to Florida to help care for Christina (a blessing that keeps on giving). And so began a ritual that would last for about 8 months. Between school events, doctor visits, me at work, after school activities (dance, scouts), we were VERY busy. A few days after the kids finished with school, my Mom flew in to help take care of the kids for the summer. Help which I am eternally grateful for.
In June, Christina again went into the hospital. This time for almost 3 weeks. It was during this visit that the doctor told us that if Christina did not have a lung transplant, she would die within the next 2 years. Naturally, this was a shock to all of us. Over the next few weeks, we spoke with several doctors, nurses, psychologists, and even a few pastors. Ultimately, it was decided that a lung transplant was not an option. Not only that, Christina wasn’t really healthy enough to go through with the surgery. She was sent home the last week of June, to be cared for by Hospice.
The next couple of weeks would become a roller coaster ride of emotions. About a week after she was home, I had a conversation with her nurse who told me that (based on her many years of experience) was surprised Christina was still alive. She obviously could not give me any real timeline, but felt that one year was a stretch, let alone two. She didn’t believe Christina would live longer than six months, if that. As the weeks went on, her assessments became even more grim.
On July 30th, I received a call from Christina’s nurse informing me that Christina was in respiratory distress, and that I needed to get home ASAP. My normal 35+ minute drive took me about 15 that day. I thank the Lord for clearing the way of any traffic (and law enforcement). When I got home, Christina had calmed down, but was still emotionally drained. The nurse informed me that she had talked to Christina about the prospect of dying, and that it appeared as though she had finally wrapped her head around the fact that she wasn’t going to make it. It was at this point that Christina and I made the decision to tell the kids that Mommy was going to die. This, as I’m sure you can imagine, was no easy task. We all shed a lot of tears, and the kids had a lot of questions. Most of which we had no answers for. Over the next week, we had many VERY scary moments. Christina’s body slowly started to shut down, and no matter how hard she fought it, she just couldn’t stop it. On the evening of August 4th, she got a burst of energy, and sat up on her own. She talked with those that were in the room. And even ate some ice cream (while simultaneously telling the Pastor to “get your own bowl” when he commented on how good it looked). I fell asleep around midnight, and woke up at about 8am on the 5th. My Mom had been up all night and made the observation that Christina’s breathing pattern had changed.
The next several hours would become a flurry of emotion, and activity. Christina’s parents were notified of her condition, and they came and sat with us. Friends from church came by to sit with us. And ultimately our pastor arrived as well (after he had finished with church services). The chatter in the room went from crying, to laughing, back to crying, to quiet moments of reflection, back to laughing. I remember thinking later that day that one of Christina’s biggest fears was not the fear of dying, but that she would die alone, and that it would be quiet. Well, she wasn’t alone. And it certainly wasn’t quiet. I remember lying next to her, with my arms wrapped around her. She had her back to my chest, and I had my face positioned right above her left shoulder. I was caressing her face, running my hands through her hair. I would whisper “I love you’s” in her ear, while also telling her that it was okay for her to go. At about 1:20ish, Alexys and Andrew came into the room and they both took one of her hands. They looked at me and asked “how’s mommy doing?”. I told them that she wasn’t well. They both told her “I love you”, and about a minute later, she took her last breath here on earth.
I laid there with her for a little while longer. The kids had a lot of questions. We cried. Then I got up and started making all of the necessary phone calls. I remember sitting on my couch, looking out the back door, and seeing two Sand Cranes walking up to the back yard from the pond. These were the same two Sand Cranes that Christina used to love watching from her bedroom window. They came up to the backyard, and stayed there the rest of the day. I found it interesting, since they never usually stay there more than 15/20 minutes. It’s almost as if they new she was gone.
The rest of the day was a blur. Someone cleaned my house. Hospice and The Funeral Home came and were both VERY professional and compassionate. Friends stopped by. And then all of a sudden, it was just me. The house was soooooo quiet. There was no voices from friends and family. No hum of the oxygen compressor. Just…….quiet. And even in that quiet, with the death of my best friend, wife, soulmate, lover, still fresh, I knew that God was there. And that we would be okay. I ached to hold Christina again. But I was comforted knowing that she left my embrace, to be embraced by Jesus. She took one last labored breath on earth…….and the longest, deepest, freshest breath she has ever known at the gates of heaven. She is suffering no more. She now has a heavenly body, free of Cystic Fibrosis. And knowing that, makes me happy.
A lot has happened since that day. But that will have to wait, as it is getting late, and I need to get some sleep. I am going to renew my commitment to this for many reasons. Mostly because I find it therapeutic. So over the next few weeks and months, I’ll try to get caught up on the last year, as well as keeping you all up to date on current events. Until next time…….