Sometimes life throws us a curve ball so hard that we can’t help but cry out from the pain of the impact. That is what happened to me and my family on September 25, 2011.
Hi, my name is Julie, and this is my story. It’s strange how one day you have everything you ever wanted in life, and then the next morning you find that your whole life has been shattered into a million pieces.
It was hard to grasp the reality of it all … and even now, after two years, it is still difficult to pull myself back together. If it wasn’t for my children and my family I do not think I would have made it this far. Nevertheless, I am not here to tell you how I came through the tragedy. I am here to tell you about the day that changed my life forever.
John and I met in 1995 and married in 1997. Together, we agreed that we wanted a big family. After two sons and three daughters, our family was complete. John drove his logging truck, and I was blessed to be a stay-at-home mother.
Years pass, life is good.
The evening of September 24, 2011
After a long, hard day, John and I retire to bed. We knew that the next day would come with its many chores and demands. Little did I know that tomorrow would be asking for a lot more than I could handle and more than I wanted to understand.
September 25, 2011
As the sunrise found its way through the curtains, I just laid there. Why did mornings have to come so early? Unwilling to make myself get up, I lit a cigarette, inhaled deeply and exhaled. The smoke twisted around my fingers before floating upward. One of our daughters, Jackie, had came into our room sometime during the night and found a spot at the foot of the bed; where she apparently watched movies on the TV until she fell asleep. I half laid, half sat up, watching the program that was on.
It was the need to relieve myself that forced me to get out of bed. Walking to the bathroom took skill. We were remodeling , which meant a lot of things were scattered throughout the house. I tripped and cursed under my breath. When was John going to finish the project at hand? Oh well, all in due time I guess. Walking back to the bedroom, I paid careful attention to the obstacle course and managed to not trip or stub my toe.
As I crawled back under the covers, I knew that there were so many things I could be doing right now, but they would have to wait. All I wanted to do was watch the television and smoke another cigarette . I told myself that when John woke up, we would start the day together, but for right now, this very moment, I was going to be lazy.
I turned and stared at John. He was such a good husband and father. We were blessed to have him in our lives. I thought I saw him move; this would mean that he would be awake soon. I went back to watching the program. An uneasiness swept over me, as if there was something terribly wrong. I tried to shrug it off, yet it kept coming back like a tsunami. Not knowing what else to do, I reached over and laid my hand on John’s arm. He always made me feel safe. His skin was ice cold. I screamed and jumped out of bed.
My outburst awoke our other two daughters, they ran into the bedroom. Jackie sat up and rubbed her eyes. Time seemed to stand still, yet in the same instant, it moved in slow motion. All I could do was stare at my husband. The girls’ eyes followed mine. Jackie crawled over to her dad and laid her hand on his arm. She turned and looked at me with confusion on her face.
“Mommy, daddy is cold.”
She tried to shake him awake.
“He is stiff.”
Sadness crept into her eyes as she glanced down into his face.
“I think he is dead.”
I screamed again. This couldn’t be happening. This had to be a nightmare . I would wake up soon, but until then, I had to call 911. I ran to the phone and watched as my hand reached out for the receiver. It was as though my body was not mine.
We did everything the emergency dispatch told us to do as we waited for the ambulance. The person on the other end of the phone did not seem to be listening to me. John was dead; there was nothing we could do to bring him back. I threw the phone across the room and grabbed my cell phone. I called his mother, his brothers, and my dad. Even before the ambulance arrived, my dad ran into the house to find the girls and myself in the living room. Our eyes met. I opened my mouth but could not bring myself to speak the words out loud. My dad turned and went into the bedroom.
I will never forget the look on my father’s face when he walked out of the room. I wanted him to say that everything was going to be okay. However, what I saw in his eyes told me that my soul mate, the man I was to grow old with, was gone. My children no longer had a father. My world was shattered. I totally lost it. No matter how much I cried, the pain would not go away. The complete feeling of loss engulfed me. A disconnection from reality made me feel as though I was on the outside looking in on everything.
People slowly began to pour into the house. My sister and step-mom, John’s family, and our sons followed suit. I do not remember who else came, I was too busy blaming God for taking my husband and mad at John for leaving me behind.
The ambulance arrived and took John’s body away. The white sheet that draped over his face screamed death. Reality was squeezing its way into my foggy mind of denial. The funeral home called and asked us to come in and make arrangements. I yelled, “Seriously!”
To fast, everything was moving too fast. I knew the funeral home was just doing its job but still… Numbness became my best friend.
Just this morning I was waiting for my husband to wake up so we could spend the day together, and now I was asked to make arrangements for his funeral.
This is my story about the day I lost the love of my life and the father of my children. However, it is not the end of my story. Life goes on for those who are left behind; whether it is a smooth road or one filled with heartache. I miss you, John.