It’ll be four weeks tomorrow since Dawn passed. The night before, I couldn’t keep my eyes open despite my fear that she would go while I was asleep. Her breathing was getting shallow, she was virtually unresponsive, she couldn’t talk. I tried my best to stay awake, but I just couldn’t. I napped for about an hour at a time, waking up regularly with just about any noise that wasn’t common to the oxygen machine. The oxygen machine became our white noise for the last two weeks in place of the box fan(s) we used for pretty much the entire 20+ years we shared a bed.
That night, when the boys went to bed, I made it a point that they kiss mom goodnight, and thankfully she was awake enough to do so.
The morning she died, she stopped asking to go to the bathroom every hour despite having a catheter. Her breathing was getting worse, which I didn’t expect, but which didn’t surprise me. There was no doubting her time was getting very short, and I did my best to stay by her side holding her hand the entire time. My mother and her mother came over because we planned on having an Easter egg hunt for the boys, since Easter came and went without that tradition happening. They both took their time with her then continued on to prepare the hunt. I sat by her side and held her hand. Eventually I leaned in and whispered in her ear that I loved her and would always love her, and I assured her that she could let go. With every breath she took, I somehow hoped it would be her last, but every time her chest went flat, I hoped it would rise again.
It was no more than a couple minutes after I whispered in her ear that she took her last breath, as I held her hand and kissed her. We were alone in the room. I am incredibly thankful for that.
The boys and I said goodbye to her then, not realizing we’d be saying goodbye to her many times after that. I still say goodbye to her pretty much every day, in hopes that one day I’ll get that she’s gone forever.
A Twitter friend, @califmom, lost her husband about three years ago to cancer. They were the same age that Dawn and I are now and I can’t thank her enough for her advice. One thing she told me was to get familiar with my shower floor and car, because that was where she spent most of her tear-filled times. My shower floor is the fucking recliner that I can neither move nor avoid sitting in; the one that now resides where Dawn’s bed was in the family room the last couple weeks. My car is, well, my car, where I drive home to an empty house every single day. This realization reared its ugly head just recently after going to dinner with some friends. I always drive home to an empty house. Even if people are there, the house is just empty.
My subconscious has kept me from calling counseling services. It’s kept me from selling her car. It’s kept me from doing just about anything related to Dawn or her death. Her jacket still rests on the floor next to my desk where we left it when we got home from the hospital. It’s paralyzing.
This weekend I went to a birthday party for a friend’s son. This was the first party, per se, that the boys and I went to since she died. These were my neighbors, and we’ve been great friends with them for more than 10 years. I can walk in their house any time of the day or night and raid their refrigerator, but I felt awkward this weekend.
Everything is just a little awkward. Watching Jeopardy isn’t fun anymore. Scrolling through the DVR is weird. Doing anything and everything with the boys is strange now. The worst time of day for me and the boys is nighttime, or more specifically, bedtime. At bedtime we can’t do anything but try and sleep. It’s time to stop reading, or playing with legos, or watching TV, and just try and sleep. That’s when we think about Dawn and struggle with sleep. Thankfully, the boys have gotten better about it and get to sleep okay now, but I haven’t seen the early side of midnight in a month. I sleep well once I’m asleep, so there’s that, but getting there is becoming more and more difficult.
Every day we get a little bit better, but every day also brings a different challenge or realization about my future. Widowed at 40 was never something I could’ve ever imagined, but here I am. I’m sad and upset that Dawn is gone and I miss her like crazy, and much of that is because I know how much she loved living her life. The business was very stressful but she loved so many things, the most of which were her children, and now she’s not here to see her son go to middle school, or to actually choose to wear jeans every day. She loved those boys in jeans. It’s just not fair to her. She was too good a person for this.
Ultimately, that’s always what I cry about. I hate all this, mostly, for her sake. It’s just not fair.