I don't know who I am anymore. I don't see the same woman when I look in the mirror. Staring at my reflection I search for her. Perhaps she's lost as well, never to be recovered?
Bill died on a beautiful morning sitting across the table from me. One moment he was there, the next he was gone. I felt it, like something torn from my soul and I knew immediately. We did all the things we were supposed to. We called 911 and started CPR, but I knew he wasn't coming back. His blue eyes were vacant, not a spark of recognition or life. The chanting began. Please don't leave me. Please don't leave me. Please don't leave me.
I was only certain of one thing. If he could come back to me, he would. He loved me more than anything and he told me everyday.
Bits and pieces of those hours stand out and others are blurred and vague. The image of our granddaughter standing in the hall with her best friend, Laura, their arms wrapped around each other as they watched in silent horror will be forever imprinted in my mind.
I remember running out to the porch when the EMT's arrived and screaming over and over for them to hurry. It seemed as though the more I begged the slower they moved. Later Aislinn, my granddaughter, told me I had almost no voice, my cries had no volume. I find that really odd but I remember that as a child I would have nightmares and wake with silent screams.
I drove myself to the hospital, plowing out across the lawn and through the ditch to get to the road. There were cars and emergency vehicles everywhere. I don't remember the drive, only that I pulled up in front of the Emergency Room doors and left my car there running with the door open.
Bill was in Trauma Room One, the same room my dad was in when he had a massive stroke three years ago. They would not let me in but I could see Bill was surrounded with people trying to save his life.
Family was all over the place, our kids and grand-kids, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, close friends arrived, it was chaos. They took us to a conference room across the hall. We waited.
Finally the doctor came to me and asked if I wanted to come in. There was not enough heart activity to sustain life. Inside they let me stand next to him while they pumped his chest. She stopped every few seconds. No pulse. No pulse. No pulse.
Each time she pushed blood came from his nose and mouth. I kissed his forehead. It felt cool. I looked in his eyes. He wasn't there. I stopped chanting.
I turned to the doctor, saw the sympathy in his eyes and asked, What is the outcome of this? He shook his head.
Then stop, I sobbed, and call a priest. They all backed away. I whispered in Bill's ear. I love you. I love the life we made together. I have no regrets but for losing you. I kissed his forehead, his cheek, his huge hand, his wedding ring as a quiet nurse wiped the blood away.
Father Hearn came. He was very kind. He'd been called away from premarital counseling with a young couple. I asked him to wish that couple all the happiness Bill and I had for so many years.
I drove away from the hospital and went directly to my mother's grave. Getting out of the car I knelt and asked her to welcome Bill and show him around if she could. Sort of take him under her wing. She loved him so and he loved her.
I know I drove home, but I don't remember anything else from that day. In fact I don't remember anything else until we went to make the arrangements for his funeral. I guess that's a blessing.