The ultimate silver lining is what Tim did not know.
There are many many times for me, when how completely unprepared for this we were is crippling. Emotionally, and also practically. There is an incredible amount of paperwork that comes with death. I am not through it. I’m probably not even close. I’ll save that for another post.
When I was in the hospital from May 16th to June 11th, there were many times when I pleaded with him: If this is it.. if this is the end… just sit up and talk to me one. last. time. Please. Let me hear your voice again, let me tell you…
But that plea was entirely selfish. I know that, and I even knew it then.
If he had woken enough to talk to me when he was hooked up to all of those life support machines, he would have been so afraid. He would have had to face the possibility that he would die. He would have had to think about all the things that he would miss. He would have realized that…
- he would not see D’s first birthday
- he would not see A’s patriotic performance or her last day of Kindergarten
- he would not see R’s 2 end of the year recitals
- he would not see his children again
- he would miss so many firsts, so many lasts, graduations, dances, proms, recitals, GAMES, meets, performances, back-to-school nights, donuts with dads, Watch DOGS days, dates, anniversaries, weddings, grandchildren/new babies, our retirement plans…
He would realize that I would have to live this life we built together, without him.
The knowledge of his impending loss, of our loss… it would have shattered him.
Tim did not even know he had cancer. It was a week in the hospital before I found out. He knew he had no white blood cells. He knew he had pneumonia. But people recover from pneumonia all the time…. But he hadn’t reached out to his medical family members with questions. Which tells me he had no clue how bad things were. He was asking me about his phone charger, and whether I had brought a book.
When I had to accept that it was over, I briefly thought it would have been better if it had just happened that first terrifying night, so he wouldn’t have had to go through so much – all the transfusions, surgeries, machines, indignities. Certainly it would have been better for him. Maybe for me too when you consider the medical bills, etc…. But I quickly realized, no – I needed that time. That time that he fought so hard, every day – it was his last gift to me. Had he not been so young, strong, and healthy, we would not have had that time. Had he not kept himself so healthy, his heart and lungs would not have survived as long, even on ECMO. I needed that time to really understand what was happening, to process, to pour out all my love to him, to adjust, to be ready to hear those words when then came “Tim is dying”, to realize I could survive it. Somehow, I will survive it.
It is the ultimate silver ling. It is a comfort to me, and I hope to others who loved him, all the things he did not know.