Day by day

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.

10 comments

  1. twobusy says:

    I’m not really sure what to say, mostly because my heart’s in my throat for you and your sons, and for Dawn, and for the impossible toughness of all you went through together and all you’re going through now.

    This is a weight you were never meant to bear, and for that – for all of it – I’m so sorry, Mike. None of this is fair, not in the least.

  2. Suzy Q says:

    That one day at a time stuff is hard, I know. I think about Dawn almost daily, and I didn’t even “know” her. But I will say this: I am glad to have known her through Twitter, to experience her humor and her warmth toward others, to have had had her in my life even just that little bit. I will never again get another skin check without thinking of her. I will never again see a blue or purple balloon without thinking of her. She lives on for me in these ways.

  3. thea says:

    Love beats us down and lifts us up, even after it leaves this world. I hope you find more lift ups than beat downs, but know that being knocked flat by the loss is a part of the process. I am rooting for you. xo

  4. liv says:

    exactly what twobusy said. especially the heart in the throat. there are times when even twitter makes me mad because she’s not there. her friends became my friends, but even now they seem different without the shade and context of Dawn being there. i can’t imagine another person calling me livi lou. sometimes things seem gray. and if i miss her this much, i can only begin to glimpse how you feel. love to you.

  5. Shine says:

    I can’t fathom what you and the boys go through every day and I don’t know if there will ever be a day that it will feel real that she’s really gone. I found myself thinking last week for a brief ridiculous moment that I should call Dawn because it had been too long since we had gone to dinner. And then my heart was broken all over again.

    I expect that it will take time to find your way, just take it one step at a time. Do things when you’re ready, though I think the counseling would be best sooner or later. Like Thea said, eventually there will be more ups than downs and you’ll get there, even if you can’t imagine it right now.

    We’re all here for you, ups and downs, awkward times or not, you’ll find your groove. HUGS!

  6. Stephanie says:

    I don’t know you, but I came to know your plight via Twitter over Easter weekend. I had to stop reading this in the middle to hold back the flow of tears, because it literally took my breath away.

    I simply cannot imagine what you’re going through, but from what I’ve read and “heard,” you shared a beautiful 20 years with your wife, and your children are very lucky to have you as their father.

    I am truly so sorry for your loss.

  7. It’s not fair at all. Let me know if watching Jeopardy ever becomes fun again.

  8. Angi says:

    I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but I do know that even from a distance I can imagine a hole that can’t be filled. A light that can never be turned back on…

    Day by Day.

    I’m so sorry. It’s completely unfair to Dawn, to you and to the boys.

  9. Brad Cook says:

    I saw a comment from you on Twitter the other day, and for whatever reason, I followed the link from your profile to this blog. You and I had talked in early April, when I sent you an OOTP code and you told me what had happened. That really hit me hard, and I felt glad I had done something good for you during such an awful time – serendipity is funny that way.

    Take care. My best to you, your boys, and the rest of your extended family.

  10. phenom says:

    Thank you, Brad. As insignificant as that may have seemed, I am thankful every time I fire up that game. It meant a lot in a tough time.

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