Until death do us part

Until death do us part

Boricua Confidential   http://boricuaconfidential.blogspot.com
Edd and I at Couples Night Out, a church event. I miss praying together.

Today is my son’s 14th birthday and my late husband, Edd’s, 7th birthday … in Heaven. Since this has so much to do with my second suicide attempt, I felt it important to interrupt our regularly scheduled blog programming, and honor my husband and son today. It’s a little long so grab a cuppa and take time to hear about the day Edd’s music died. Enjoy.

For as long as you both shall live
I rolled over around 4:30 a.m. and checked on Edd, my husband. Lately, he had not been sleeping at night. I figured out he wanted to live as much as he possibly could before he died so he didn’t like sleeping any more. He would soak several times a day in the bath tub and keep all the lights on downstairs.
This particular evening, when I felt him next to me in bed, I was relieved until I noticed his slow and labored breathing. Perhaps he was having a dream about being underwater or something so he was holding his breath long periods of time. Regardless, it set off red flags.
I tried to wake him but he wouldn’t wake up. Hours earlier he awoke and sat up straight. I pulled him back down because I knew he needed the rest. He responded reluctantly and laid back down. However, this time hours later I got no response. I placed my hand on his chest. His heartbeat was erratic and hard as if it wanted to leap from his chest. Then it hit me like a mudslide: This is it. He’s in the final phase of death.
I called hospice and described symptoms. Hospice confirmed my worst fear. This is the final stage of death. I was speechless, dumbfounded. It’s our son’s seventh birthday. He won’t be able to sing Max one more happy birthday song. Oh my God, please NOT TODAY, NOT THIS MONTH!
Notifying his family
His oldest brother Steve visited Edd many several times a week so I called him first. I broke the news. He came right over to wake Edd up to no avail. Then it hit Steve: his younger brother would be dead in a matter of hours or days. I tried to call his parents but there was no answer. Steve informed me his parents were on their way to the airport for a Maui vacation.
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Edd and I at another Couples Night Out. My eyes
are bloodshot because we had argued on the way
and I was in tears before we made up.

We unsuccessfully tried to intercept their flight and get them off the plane before take-off. I called my mother who was visiting my sister in New York. I also called my aunt Melanie and a close friend who later came over.

Oh God, what about the kids?
It was fast approaching time for our kids to wake up and go to school. What do I do? What do I say? Should they go to school? Do I tell them their father is dying today? Then I knew what to do first. It was as if Jesus was walking alongside me whispering in my ear what to do next. I was a dingy without a rudder so Jesus stepped inside my boat.
I closed the bedroom door, put on my happy face and raced into Max’ room gleefully declaring “Happy Birthday to my big, big boy,” as I jumped on top of him in bed. He was all smiles, laughter and excitement while my heart was breaking deep inside. Tatiana heard the commotion and joined in on the fun.
All I could think was how do I not break their hearts? Where are the words? What do I do next? I usually fall back on doing the next right, loving thing but I didn’t know what that was but there He was reminding me to do get them dressed and prepare breakfast.
My closest, most reliable relative: Heaven sent
My aunt, a licensed clinical social worker who lived about 20 miles away, was there by 7 a.m. She helped me with breakfast and preparing them for school. We discussed how to tell them and whether they should go to school. When it was time for them to leave, we sat them down and broke the news. They stayed home that day.
I can’t remember the words but I’m sure they were fairly simple. I remember praying, hugging and crying together. My son had a birthday party scheduled for that night and I was determined to make sure it happened anyway. Life goes on and so would we just for that day. I made sure Max knew we would celebrate his birthday with his friends anyway … and we did.
Eventually, I gave our kids the choice to say goodbye and stay with their father in the room, or whatever they wanted to do. They said their goodbyes. It was heart wrenching. It was so unfair. They couldn’t sit with their father as he died.
It was incredibly awkward as I didn’t know what to do with myself or the kids. Was it appropriate for them to watch cartoons or hold vigil at their father’s bedside? My aunt swabbed toilets (gotta love her), minded the kids and called the mortuary while I intercepted calls from his other siblings and relatives. We knew hearing was the last to go so everyone said their goodbyes over the phone through their tears and pain as I held the phone to Edd’s ear.
Preparing for the inevitable
Steve later returned. We discussed Edd’s wish to be viewed in a casket. Edd sustained third-degree burns weeks earlier from smoking while oxygen flowed through his nasal cannula. I informed Steve it would cost thousands for morticians to reconstruct his face. However, if we didn’t like it, we’re out several thousand dollars. On the other hand, we simply could have a memorial service with photos of Edd the way we want to remember him and cremate his body. Steve agreed the latter option was best.
Our final, most intimate moments
After he and the kids left, I had my last most intimate moments with my husband. I told him how much he meant to me. I whispered in his ear something like:
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Edd and I en route to Half Dome summit

Thank you Edd. Thank you for saying “I do” to me. I never thought any man would love me but you did and you did it well. Thank you for two beautiful children. I will honor your memory by loving them with my whole heart, and protecting them from enemies foreign and domestic. For not even a single minute do I regret marrying you. I love everything about you even when you made it hard to love you.

Thank you for teaching me so much. Thank you for taking me to Lassen Peak and Half Dome summit. Thank you for defending me to my mom. Thank you for loving me and our two kids with your whole heart and soul. I couldn’t have asked for a better dad and husband. I will miss you. However, I release you. It’s time for you to go home with Jesus. Though my heart is heavy, I release you. You have my permission to let go of this life. You did good, babe. I’m proud to have known you. My life is better because you were in it. I’ll be here with you when you go.

I didn’t leave Edd alone. I couldn’t. I laid next to him. I pulled his arm around my waist as if to spoon together. I was in and out of tears as I remembered our life together, i.e., the good, bad and ugly. He was particularly difficult the last six months because as his cancer progressed, so also did his alcoholism. I never have been able to hold a grudge. Over time, it was easy to forgive especially that day.
Taken as a whole, we had a good marriage. We struggled, argued and all those things married couples do. However, we were wise enough to keep Jesus at the center of our marriage. At one point, I threatened divorce and he refused. Later on, he threatened divorce and I refused. His horns fit the holes in my head. We were perfect for each other.
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Edd and I at our first home

At one point weeks earlier he said, “I’m sorry I’m such a pain. I know it’s been hard and a burden.” I cut him off immediately and told him I was in it to the end. He could never be a burden no matter how hard it got. I was committed. I loved him. I didn’t know how else to love him except to bear all things. I promised before God and our family that I was in it until death. I could see the tears well up in his eyes. He didn’t want to die. All I could do was love him and he was hard to love toward the end … but I loved him unconditionally.

Jesus was here
At 1 p.m. I heard a rather loud, long and deep exhale. The sound was far different from the other breathing sounds. I got up immediately and felt his chest. No heartbeat. No breathing. He was dead. I instantly knew I was in a thin place. Jesus was in the room with me ushering Edd home.
I called hospice and notified them that he died. I went back downstairs and notified my aunt and the kids. My aunt led us in prayer because I had no words. She called the mortuary. I removed Edd’s wedding band, put our rings on a chain around my neck, took a shower and waited with Edd’s body for the morticians to come. When they came, I went downstairs and stayed with the kids as they removed his body. I informed his parents about two hours later when they called.
Happy birthday to Max …
Later that evening we had cake and ice cream with Max’ friends and their parents. I was so glad Max was still able to play video games with his friends for a few hours while I sat with a circle of moms who could only guess what was going through my mind.
Reality sets in
Later that night it hit Max like a ton of bricks and his body wasn’t cooperating. All three of us slept in my bed together that night. I secured the house locking doors, windows and turning off all lights before we went to bed.
An Edd visitation
When I awoke the next morning, all of the lights were on downstairs as if Edd was home again. I double-checked with the kids. No one had been downstairs yet and I don’t sleepwalk. I knew it had to be Edd so I chose to believe it was him.
Boricua Confidential http://boricuaconfidential.blogspot.com
Edd and Max hiking up The Mist Trail, Yosemite National Park.

Since his death, Edd’s father and various other friends and relatives have gone home to Heaven. Whenever someone dies, I tell the kids that our Heavenly greeting committee has grown by one more.

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Boricua Confidential chronicles my new life as a single mom of two kids after my husband died from cancer on our son’s seventh birthday. Join me on this journey of change, revival, reformation, discovery and new direction ordered of God. Being a widow ain’t easy, that’s for sure. I refuse to rollover and die. Quite the contrary. I intend to thrive from this crazy life. You can’t keep this woman down. If I’m down, I won’t be for long.

God created me to bounce back. Watch me.

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