My reflective essay for my expository writing class.
| On February, 27, 2009, my husband passed away of myocarditis. He hadn’t been sick, not even a cold. He was exercising and simply passed out and never woke up again. Needless to say, I was devastated. For so long, I wished I could have been there or that he could have had the long suffering he would have had at home, just so I could have talked to him some more or made sure he knew I loved him. I still wish I could have had more time with him but sometimes I realize that he didn’t suffer this way, our children didn’t have to see daddy in and out of the hospital, and we ended on a good note, with no bad bones between us. Still, I have to wonder. Is it better to know someone is going to die or for them to go suddenly, with no warning?
If you’ve ever had a fight with someone before they died, you may have felt bad because you never got a chance to apologize or you may feel that you wasted time when you could have been enjoying their time and love. I felt that way for a long time and still struggle with it. I’ve decided that there is no right answer and that God knows what He’s doing when He decides how long we are on this earth.
My first tragedy came when my paternal grandfather died while I was 15. He was my favorite person in the world, and I was with him for the week before he died, and I was holding his hand when they pronounced him dead. I knew it was coming, but I still wasn’t prepared. I had asked him to drive me to a school function a few years before and I didn’t realize he wasn’t supposed to be driving. For the longest time, I thought that contributed to his time of death. There wasn’t anything else that I regretted about my relationship with my grandpa. He knew I loved him and I knew he loved me. Although I wouldn’t say we had much in common except for a love for music, we were extremely close. Losing him was like losing my favorite, irreplaceable possession. I was severely depressed for years afterwards but was so good at putting on a happy face that no one knew.
My next tragedy came when my cousin Christopher died suddenly in a car crash. I didn’t know him that well because my dad didn’t get along with my aunt for a long time. In the little time we spent together, however, I felt like we were close. Christopher was the only one of my extended family who approached me at my grandpa’s funeral to ask if I was ok. When I was seventeen and getting ready for the final concert of the school year, my dad got a phone call from my Aunt Penny. As soon as I knew she was calling, I knew something was wrong. It turned out that Christopher had not taken a medicine he needed and got angry and left in a rush to go see his girlfriend. He blacked out while driving and went over the edge of a road where there was construction. He died instantly. At his funeral, I was furious at my aunt and felt like it was her fault. She made him mad, and he forgot to take his medicine. If he had had his medicine, he wouldn’t have blacked out. I still struggle with that anger. I have thought multiple times that if it weren’t for her, I would have a very close friend. Luckily, James was there to hold my hand that night and convinced me I would be ok.
On Halloween of 2001, three tornadoes hit Oconto, my hometown. No one died, thankfully. But my mom was going up to the cafe she owned to make coffee for the emts and someone said the tornadoes were coming back. Never had I felt so much panic as I did then, knowing she was walking the streets into a coming storm. The tornadoes never came back, and she was safe, but it made me reevaluate for a moment my relationship with her.
On December 18th, 2003, I was in a single car accident. I flipped my car end over end and was actually quite lucky to have come out unscathed, much less alive. I had been wearing my seat belt and was driving an older car with a very solid frame. When I finally came to a stop, I was hanging upside down with my head about 1/2 an inch from the ceiling. Any closer and I likely would have snapped my neck. At that point, I felt that God was yelling in my ear that this was my second chance and I had better take advantage of it. Needless to say, I began thinking of my spiritual life and wanting to make sure I had mended fences with anyone who I had betrayed or hurt.
I found out in May of 2004 that I was to be deployed to Iraq. I was engaged and we had planned to be married in July. Because I would be gone for at least a year, we decided to move the date of the wedding up to June 8th. When people asked me why I didn’t just wait to get home to marry, my response was, “If I die over there, I don’t want to miss the chance to be married.”
My third tragedy came in May of 2006. I was pregnant with my second daughter and found out that my paternal grandmother had passed away. When my mom told me, she had me sit down. She was quite surprised when all I said was, “Are we going to the funeral?” My parents didn’t get along with my grandma for most of my life but they had decided to let me make my own decision as to whether or not I communicated with her. I did for quite some time by email but if I didn’t answer her email within a day, she would often get angry and accuse me of being mad at her too. I always ignored those emails and picked up where we left off. One day Grandma sent me an email saying that she loved me very much and that was why I couldn’t contact her anymore. I became angry because I thought if she loved me she would want to be in contact with her. However, I never replied to that email and didn’t ever speak with her again.
When I heard the news of her death, my anger had already been numbed to the point that I really didn’t care that she was dead. Why should I care? My husband, daughter, mom, dad, and brother were all with me at the funeral and dinner afterwards. My dad’s family were acting like Grandma was a saint and everyone was given a rose to lay atop of her casket before she was placed in the vault. I followed along with everyone else, but really I wanted to throw it on the ground and grind it to bits with the heel of my shoe. Years later I realized that I wasn’t mad anymore and I felt like I should have tried to contact her again, especially if I had known she was sick.
My 4th and most recent tragedy was when James died. We had an exceptionally good marriage and two beautiful children. But, like all couples, we did have our arguments. In the year before he died, we seemed to have more arguments than before, especially when he decided to join the National Guard. I had grown to hate the military and didn’t want him to join and wasn’t sure if I could handle him being away. After quite some time of mulling it over, I told him it was ok if he joined. Roughly fifteen months later, he was leaving for training.
I got the call that James was sick at about nine o’clock in the morning on February 27. My mom was driving my kids and I to Omaha and his mom, sister, and brother were driving in from Wayne. I kept telling myself that I was going to sit with him until he woke up and stay until he was released and then spend every waking second with him until he had to go back to training. We stopped for gas on the way and I took the kids inside to use the restroom and stretch their legs while I waited to pay for the gas. I got a phone call and it was my mother-in-law. “Nicki, James is gone.” I don’t know if anything else was said because at that moment I hit my knees, screaming. My mom came in and found out what happened and steered me back to the van.
We arrived in Omaha and were sent to the emergency room, where James’ body was. The second I saw him on that table I began screaming again. After I calmed down somewhat, I realized that his body was still warm. His eyes were closed and there was a tube poking out of his mouth, but he still had a little grin of sorts. I spent an hour touching his face and hands, smoothing his hair back, hugging him and rubbing my hand up and down his sternum, just like I would have done if he had still been alive. I kept expecting for his eyes to flutter open and for him to stretch and groan as if he’d just been taking a nap.
I spent the following few months wishing not to die, but just to be with James. I hated every argument we had ever had and every time I left without telling him I loved him or kissing him goodbye. I kept wishing that they would have found out what was wrong and sent him home. He still would’ve had a time limit on life, but I could have told him how much I loved him and how important he was to me.
Two days before James died, I had a miscarriage. At the moment, I really wasn’t too upset about it because I figured it was God telling me I wasn’t ready for another baby and I agreed. But when James died, I felt like I’d lost my chance to have another little piece of him with me. It turned out I would probably have had the miscarriage anyway, due to stress, but it still hurt and I grieve for that loss as well.
Recently, I found out that my mother-in-law is dying of cancer. She may live for two months, maybe a year. When I found out, I hadn’t spoken to her in six months because of an argument. Yet when I knew that she might not have much time, I didn’t jump up and run to her to apologize. In a way, I was hoping I wouldn’t have to see her again because I didn’t think it would change anything. Eight months ago I would have easily gone to apologize because I was so distraught over not being able to express my feelings to James. But now I feel there’s no hurry. I do want to apologize to her and also forgive her but I realize that any one of us could die at anytime. I could have an aneurism, my mom could have a heart attack, my boyfriend could crash his car. And I know that if any of them were to have a time limit on their lives, I couldn’t let them know anymore then that I love them than I can today.