Wednesday, September 22, 2010

One year ago...

The angels were already here. I could not see them, but Heidi could. She was holding on by a thread, but holding on gracefully. Her sister, Heather was on her way with baby Lucy, and she wanted to see her. Lucidity was fleeting as the narcosis had set in a few days prior due to the shallowness of her exhale. When nerves don't fire, muscles don't know what to do.

One year ago today, I lost my beautiful wife to ALS. She was amazing and strong. She loved her girls, her family, her friends and she loved me. I loved her then and for the 18 years prior. I love her still and miss her greatly. Not every moment of every day, but in the quiet times and on days like today when the fugue of time and pain is washed away by stark memories, bringing back my own fleeting lucidity about these events.

On this day last year, she could not move. Her voice was a whisper and she mostly slept. There were times when she would awaken, look past me at something only she could see. She would nod her head towards a part of the bed where no one was, and look at me as if to say, "cant you see them?" Once she said "See the baby?" I don't remember my exact words, but I said something like "No, but I believe you." And I did.

Whomever they were, whatever spirits, they were there to take her with them on that cool night this time last year. She was not afraid of them, she was not afraid to go. She was only worried about me and her girls. She was not worried about herself. This was her character, benevolent and selfless.

Heather came with Lucy sometime in the late evening. They visited with her. Heidi recognized Heather and whispered her love to her. She smiled at Lucy and watched the kids play monster games on the floor of our bedroom. Family said good night and unwittingly good bye, as her time was now measured in just hours. We did not know she would pass that night, but all of us knew the time was nearing that she would go.

In the quiet of the night, I spoke with her. I told her everything would be alright. As she lay in my arms, her breathing became shallower and shallower, almost just a sipping of air. At some point, I realized that this was going to be our last night together. I held her in my arms and my last words to her were, "Don't worry, baby, we are going to be OK. It is ok for you to go now, I love you." And she did. Within moments of me saying that, she was not breathing anymore. I kept talking with her telling her things that I knew would comfort her if she could hear them. How she had been strong, how she was so loved, how she had done everything she could to prepare all of us for life without her.

I don't know how long I lay there with her in the silence. It seemed like forever, but perception of time has a way of eluding you in moments like this. I went to tell the family she was gone. We all came together and prayed over her.

After a while, I carried her downstairs one last time and laid her on the couch, wrapped in the bed linens with only her face exposed. As the color and warmth left her, the family gathered around and read stories about butterflies and how they transform. We decided to take the girls to my mom's house and all sleep together there, and not to stay for when they came to take her away from the house. My last vision of her was a close kiss. I closed my eyes as I pulled away, knowing that vision was the last I would have of her as she lay there in peace. Her torment was done, her spirit was free to dance, and to swirl and sing silly songs off key and to wear high heels, making her taller than most men in the room.

In June earlier that year, as family came to watch over her, her sister Crystal brought her 3 month old baby with her to visit. If you knew Heidi, you knew that she loved babies. She held little Parker in her weak arms, with a huge beaming smile on her face. She looked at me and said "Bill, would you want another baby if I could give you one?" And though we had decided mutually several years prior that we were "done", I said, "Yes, baby. If you could give me one, I would."

Love works in mysterious ways. No one knows the power of it and where it begins or what it can do. All I know is that a year later, I have an amazing newborn son. A blessing that I never thought I would have. I have found new love and created a new family. These are things that Heidi would have wanted for all of us. It has not been easy, as merging families never is. Easy no. Worth it, YES.

I have been much less active in the ALS community for some time. It has been hard to engage for many reasons. Not the least of which is the aforementioned merging. On this anniversary day, I am re-engaging. ALS is a disease that needs a cure. There is promise in some drugs now, and there is always HOPE that someday, no family will have to suffer this type of loss.

Our ALS walk is coming up. If you would like to participate in person on our team the "ALS Angels" please let me know. If you would like to donate, you can do so here. If nothing else, say a prayer for all of those suffering from and with this disease. Thank you all so very much.

here's the link: