Imagining a death in the family and my reaction to it.
|Jessica, Why did you leave so suddenly?
My daughter Jessica’s death came very suddenly and unexpectedly on September 2, of 2007. She was 21 years old and had been married just over a year. She and her husband Steve had recently purchased a small, starter home and had lived in it about one month. I wouldn’t say she was the picture of health. She had possible genetic heart, issues that caused weight gain and she suffered from unexplained anxiety attacks. My wife and I never dreamed that there may have been a connection from the anxiety attacks leading to her sudden death. All we could do is speculate in that regard.
Her seizures started just after midnight on September 2nd followed by a slow decline during the rest of the day. She and her husband Steve had been watching a movie that had frightened her so they turned it off and went to bed. Within a few minutes her husband heard unusual noises coming from her and movement on her side of the bed. He turned the light on and found her having seizures and breathing irregularly. He called 911 for assistance and the dispatcher guided him through first responder tasks of CPR and rescue breathing before the paramedics arrived. While the paramedics worked on her she coded twice. The EMT’s were able to successfully bring her back both times. After doing so they immediately rushed her to the hospital. My wife and I were notified shortly thereafter and we also quickly made our way to the hospital. We were greeted by the frightening sight of our oldest daughter seizing steadily and strongly. To make matters worse she was non-responsive to outside physical and verbal stimulus. We prayed that she would not suffer brain damage as a result of the seizing but my wife and I knew that was not possible. Brain damage was a frequent subject throughout the long night and continuing day. She was given anti-seizure drugs which caused the seizures to lessen slightly but still they relentlessly continued. Onward time marched as the medical staff followed a prescribed protocol to try to revive her. It became apparent as the day wore on that nothing could be done to bring her back. But still for our sake they continued to try. It was also obvious they had to explore every possibility. As the day grew closer to evening the doctor’s talk centered more and more on lack of brain activity. You can’t live very long without brain function. By this time she had suffered massive amounts of brain damage and was assisted nearly completely by artificial means. We were faced with the hard reality of turning off the machines to see if she could breathe on her own. Visitor’s and loved ones came and went. One of the nurses stopped by and adjusted the tubing leading into her body.
When he did so Jessica’s eye’s fluttered open and as she reacted slightly to the adjustment her breathing became erratic despite the ventilator attached to her. She coded once again so my wife was ushered out of the room as the medical staff rushed in to try to save her . She had started to swallow her tongue so an Oropharyngeal airway device (OPA) was inserted down her throat to open her airway. In the process they chipped her front teeth. It seems her jaw was clenched so tightly the medical staff couldn’t open her mouth unless they forced it open. In an emergency effort to stabilize her fluctuating heartbeat they sliced open her upper left chest area and inserted a pacemaker. Despite these extra measures she continued to fail.
I had left her bedside area during the earlier part of the afternoon and subsequent stages of the lifesaving process so by the time I returned she had expired. My wife briefed me of everything that had happened, which has previously been explained. It was very tough seeing Jessica lying there no longer breathing, her eyes open, her mouth ajar, and teeth chipped from the futile attempts to save her. The whole dying and death of our beloved daughter was a complete shock. It was something we never expected in our wildest dreams. My wife, our middle daughter and youngest responded with varying degrees of shock and sadness. We all went to bed on a Saturday night with three daughters, by 6:00 pm the next day, on a Sunday, we were left with two. We are all Christian’s and believers in the afterlife so we immediately started dealing with her death not with anger or shaking our fists at God but happiness and exaltation. We went through all the different stages in dealing with her death. Sure, we didn’t completely understand why the Lord wanted her so soon, but we accepted her death as going to a better place with no more pain, anxiety attacks or fears. We joined a class at our church with other members who had lost loved ones called “Grief Share”. This class was very useful in coming to terms with her death. It went a long way in giving us comfort and reassurance of where she ultimately would spend eternity. My middle daughter went a little bit wild for a while. She partied and stayed out late in dealing with her older sister’s death. She had a RIP memorial on her trucks back window she had written with a white, washable paint pen. She has settled down since. Her youngest sister, who was 8 years old at the time, was sad but not with the same level of understanding we as adults had. The death certificate reflected a heart attack as the cause of demise. My wife and I believe Jessica suffered a heart attack brought on by increasingly strong anxiety attacks and perhaps even the frightening movie she saw that night.
There have been tears since then as we continue to deal with her death these 7 years later. We rest in the calm assurance of her heavenly home where we will join her in the near future.
I must tell you now that when I married my wife she had two little girls from her first marriage. My wife and I often kidded around that I was in a daze for the first six months of our marriage as I got used to having two 2 small children in my life. I have always been a person of little emotions except around my wife. When Jessica died I found a side of me I didn’t know existed. I was overcome by grief and emotion when she died. She left a real void in my life when she passed away. Even more so for my wife as Jessica was her flesh and blood.. Jessica was a sweet spirited young woman who really was a dream of a child to raise. She didn’t go through a disrespectful phase like so many teenagers do. She didn’t stay out all night or sleep around. She fell in love with Steve her eventual husband, was a virgin when she got married, and she and he bought their first starter home together. These were her immediate goals although she did not have a child before she died. Hers was a simple life, without burning career objectives. She just wanted to be married and love her husband. I miss her more than I could ever know and still miss her as if she were my