It was the night of February 9, 2009, a date I will never be able to forget. Mack and I had been having marital problems since October of last year, and were talking about separation and/or divorce. We had been together about 15 years, 13 years of that we were married. We thought that maybe if we took some time apart, things would get better.
I regret so badly all of the stupid arguments and things that I said and it hurts so bad to remember how I acted. I knew that Mack had been diagnosed with liver disease and yet I had taken for granted that he had gotten so well and had been well for so long. I was SO stupid. Anyway, we had been riding that Sunday on our motorcycle and had lunch together. We were actually getting along. He had started drinking again and I didn’t try to stop him, well, I felt I didn’t try hard enough.
We came home and went to the grocery store. After we got home, he said he wasn’t feeling well and went to bed. I was asleep on the couch and sometime around 3:00 a.m. my cell phone started ringing. I saw that it was Mack calling me. It scared me and I answered. I said “Where are you?” and he said that he needed my help and he was in his bathroom. I went running to the back of the house and there he was, throwing up blood. He had bleeding ulcers so I thought that is what it was. I helped him to his den and got him a cold rag and some medicine. In a few minutes, I heard him calling my name again and he was back in the bathroom throwing up blood. This time, it was worse and I knew something else was terribly wrong.
I told him I was taking him to the hospital and I rushed to get dressed. I helped him to the car and drove him to the VA Hospital downtown (an hour drive). He was quiet and dozed off to sleep. How I wish I would have taken that opportunity to talk to him and tell him how sorry I was for making him feel stressed or unhappy. We got to the hospital and he was taken straight back to a room in the ER. Three hours later, they finally let me see him. I sat back there with him for a while and he told me to go on home. He was sleepy and was waiting to be moved to a room; I knew he wouldn‘t be going home right away.
So I went home, called both our bosses (by now it was around 8:00 am) and packed him a bag of clothes and necessities. I went to see our grandchildren and take them a Valentine’s gift from the both of us. That day, my grandson learned that Papaw was sick and has said that ever since. I went back to the hospital and by the time I got there he was in ICU. I was terrified and wanted to know why. They said because of his liver disease, they didn’t want to take any chances.
He was coherent and talking, but very tired. I stayed a few hours, then we decided it would be best for me to go. He needed to sleep and I wanted to clean his bathroom and the bedroom of all the blood. I didn’t want him coming home to see all that blood. Around 9:00 something told me that he was not okay. I called the hospital and they wouldn’t tell me anything, so I drove to see him. By the time I got there, he was on a ventilator. They said he had started bleeding again and that the bleeding was coming from blood vessels in his spleen. His liver had stopped filtering his blood and it was filtering through his spleen.
I LOST IT. I called my friend and sister to ask them to come. That was the point at which they started asking my permission to do certain procedures to him to try to stop the bleeding, all of which had severe consequences. On top of that, I had promised Mack that I would never allow him to be kept alive on any form of life support. I didn’t sleep the first week that he was in the hospital. My co-workers were wonderful because I could not work, but I was sleeping in my car in the parking lot. There was no way I could stay with him in his room though, and I did not want to leave him like that. A surgery they performed on day 3 stopped the bleeding but he was in so much pain. I will never forget seeing him that night. I found out later they would withhold pain medicine from him to help his liver. He never would have wanted to suffer and I made them give him the pain medicine.
Every day I would go to see him, the way he was just laying there on that ventilator and he would try to talk to me and he could not. I would tell him to rest and that I loved him and that I missed him and that I wished I could just take him home. It was torture, for him and for me. And my guilt was growing because I could tell he was not getting better and the medications they were keeping him on along with the ventilator were keeping him alive. As time went by, my relationship with his doctors deteriorated as well as his condition. I still don’t think they ever told me the truth about what was going on. I went in one Friday night about 2 weeks before he passed away and he had pulled the ventilator out himself. He was able to talk to me though he didn’t make a lot of sense. He knew who I was and the last thing he said to me was “I love you.” The next day they forced the ventilator back on him because they said he wasn’t getting enough oxygen, and he fought so hard and he cried. That nearly killed me. I knew that he would not want to live that way.
Anyway, it was Thursday, March 5 around 3:00 pm when I got the call to come to the hospital and to hurry. He had been having more complications that week and was growing weaker and weaker. I knew it was bad. I called his friends and family and by the time I got there, several people were already there. The doctor explained that the medications that had been keeping him alive, were killing him. It was time to take him off and I had only a few hours with him. I called everyone I thought would want to tell him good-bye and I sat with him, and told him I loved him. By now, he was not coherent but I hope he heard me. I told him I was so sorry for everything and that I loved him and to please be there when I passed away. Nothing in my life has ever, ever hurt me so bad as when he stopped breathing. But his room was full of people who loved him and I knew he would have loved that. There were probably 40 people there. He was a wonderful man and we all were heartbroken. I wanted to die with him.
The next 3 days I spent making the wake and funeral plans to PERFECTION. I made sure every detail was taken care of to a T. He would have been so proud and I hope that somehow he was able to see how much he was loved and missed and honored. Little did I know that this was only the beginning of the hell that I would endure without him. Within 2 weeks, I lost my job, then I lost our home. Right now I am going through bankruptcy and all of this seems like nothing compared to his passing.
I miss him more than I can say and the pain that I feel is deep down in my stomach. Our friends have long since grown tired of my pain and my problems. He always said he worried about what would happen to me without him. I know what he meant. There are only a few left….. Even my best friend has disappeared from my life. I have discovered what being truly alone and afraid feels like. I have learned that the little things that I used to worry about don’t amount to anything and I feel guilty that I am here and he is not. At times I wish God had taken us together, then neither of us would be hurting this way. I am having a hard time praying. I believe, I just can’t pray like I once did.
Everywhere I look, I see him. I remember something we did or said. Sometimes a memory will hit me so hard, I feel like I cannot breathe. I was diagnosed with severe depression, anxiety disorder and post traumatic stress disorder. But somehow I have continued to work, though I am not making enough money to support myself. I have a few friends who have helped me to buy groceries and gas to get to work. My family turned their backs soon after he passed away, no surprise. We have never been close. He was my world and he is gone. I don’t know what will happen to me or where I will end up. I seem to just take each day as I have to, not as I should or would like to. At times I feel like my skin is on fire or that I will vomit. The day I moved from the house, I started having panic attacks which have subsided a bit but not completely. I cannot deal with any kind of controversy or stress. The least little thing will send me into a panic attack.
The only good thing that has come out of this for me is that I am no longer afraid to die. I only hope that will mean we will be reunited. I love and miss him so much. Everyone keeps saying that things will get better, things will get better, blah, blah, blah. When? How? By what miracle? I’m sorry that I feel stuck and not much inspiration to anyone else but maybe something I am saying will make someone else feel not so crazy because they might be feeling the same way.