17 Days… Chapter 7

wedding 1984           It was the summer of 1980.. (wow.. I can’t believe it was that long ago).. and I was working at the local summer fair waiting tables. One of my very best friends convinced me to do it because you got really good tips and I was totally up for that. Being only 12, almost 13, it was the only work besides mowing lawns or babysitting I could get. Money sure didn’t come easily to me or my family. I was a child of 2 divorces and living with a single mother who wasn’t very available and had issues of her own to contend with, so we scraped for everything we had. I had 2 younger brothers that I was hugely responsible for so it was very hard for me to get away to work or to even BE a child myself. I remember wanting Gloria Vanderbilt jeans soooo bad and we NEVER had the money for them and I have not forgotten how hard it was to go to school and never have the “IN” clothes.. but luckily I had really good friends who would occasionally let me borrow theirs and I had my moments of “cool” here and there. 🙂

So.. needless to say, I wasn’t the coolest most popular girl at this point. I was very social and happy and friendly, no matter what, and I LOVED school. I actually loved learning so I was also a bit of a “geek”… straight A student, even with my home situation the way it was. Being at the local fair where anyone and everyone in my teenage world hung out, I had a pretty good chance of hobnobbing with the local ever so cool of my home town.

It was time for a break from our little job so my friend and I went outside of the building to hang out and check out who was around and what was going on. At the time, she was dating a guy in high school who was a whopping 16! Whoa…she was REALLY cool. She was dating a guy who drove! 🙂 And according to what my kids think we had no form of communication besides smoke signals in my youth, but somehow my friend had contacted her boyfriend, probably on some weird device you had to put a dime in and dial numbers on, to come up to the fair and see her on her break. But, he didn’t come alone. He happened to bring his best friend…AKA “Hubby”.

I was not very impressed. I had not met this boy before but I did know he was dating a girl I knew from 7th grade when she was in 8th and I got this distinct feeling from him and I could smell a rat! The boys asked us to get them some water, of course so the cheapo teenagers wouldn’t have to buy a drink. So we happily complied. The boys had a very very goofy relationship..to say the least… and, to this day they STILL DO :). So they kept goofing around and Hubby didn’t talk to me too much but in my mind creepily stared at me a little too much…. especially when I knew he had a girlfriend AND she was a friend of mine.

They eventually left and we got back to work. I remember my friend saying, ” I think he likes you.” And I was like… “I would NEVER!! He has a girlfriend!” So, after that, about a month later it was time for the first high school football game. And, the big thing to do then was not to ACTUALLY watch the game it was to walk around the track and chat with all your friends…huge hangout. So.. that’s what we did. Next thing I know.. there HE is. STARING at me again!! I’m like, what is his problem?? Then another friend comes up and says, “You know he likes you. He wanted me to tell you.” I responded with the same answer, “HE HAS A GIRLFRIEND!” Well, she wasn’t there (how convenient) and he was a typical teenage boy with a wandering eye. I was very clear that there was NO chance and.. have a nice day!! So the message was relayed and I got another message from another little birdie later that night that he would break up with her. I STILL was not interested.

Then the school year started. He was a junior and I was in 8th grade. I continued to be pursued by him thru many channels then I heard they broke up. For some odd reason he all of a sudden became more appealing…and HE DROVE..an obvious plus!  I never wanted to admit it along the way, but he was ADORABLE. Word on the “high school street” was that he was the most popular, cutest guy in school. For that reason alone, he became more and more enticing to me. Especially since at that point, I desperately needed help climbing the adolescent popularity ladder. So I remember stewing on it for a while then I finally agreed to go out with him. YES.. I was allowed to date at 13!! I can tell you, no daughter of ours ever did or ever will!!

And I may eventually write another story about our high school years.. it was somethin! But, we will make a long dramatic story short and say that eventually with many many ups and downs we got married right out of school…oooooo so young and 32 years later here we are. And to this day we always celebrate and remember that day we met at that local fair every year that good old Ox Roast rolls around :).

I took all the family aside and explained to them what to expect when they went into his room. “Dad is under sedation and has a breathing tube and he can’t talk. I am going to act like he hears us. So please talk to him normally in case he can. Be happy and talk about everyday things.”

Everyone did surprisingly well and kept things positive. Hubby told me he doesn’t remember hearing us but I don’t think that means he didn’t. Why would you take the chance? If he was aware I didn’t want him hearing depressing conversations and all of us crying. How would that have helped him…especially when he wouldn’t be able to respond.

Day 3 of 17 Days…

I left my Mother-in-Law alone with Hubby as much as I could even though it wasn’t easy for me to leave. But, she needed her time with her son as well. At one point I came back in the room and she said to me in quiet tears, “I told God to please let me take his place. I have lived enough I am ready. He is just too young.” And, I struggled with how to respond. Because, on one hand I wanted to tell her not to say that.. but I can guarantee I would or any Mother would say the same thing. We would easily, gladly give our life for our child..at any age anytime. So I just tried to console her then I changed the subject. There was just no way to candy coat the situation we were in.. you just made it thru moment by moment and day by day..with bated breath.

And I remember anxiously waiting everyday for the doctor to arrive. Just hoping they would have better news. I would personally see no change in him but they always felt positive and looking back I think for that first week the docs were happy for everyday he made it thru because that’s just how critical he was.

By this time, other family members had come in to town. Uncles, lots of Uncles :), nieces, and Hubby’s sister. It never got easier…seeing everyone’s reaction to seeing him for the first time. I don’t think anyone expected what they saw. Like I said, to see a man like that, who was a total goofball, always crazy and full of life, lying there in that state, it’s rough and it stays with you.

I’m not completely positive how long he was intubated. Like I said, the days all ran together but I’m guessing it was a good week. They had to get the fluid completely out of his lungs then SLOWLY take away his sedation. I think that was the worst part for me was when he was waking up. He started to become aware of the breathing tube and he would try to grab it and gagged and gagged. Then they always had to clean the tube and that just made him gag more. It totally killed me every time. I am claustrophobic and I always told Hubby it would probably kill me if I ever had to have a tube down my throat and that’s what I kept thinking about. How it must feel to wake up and have NO idea what is going on and having this tube choking you. It was heartbreaking for all of us to see. I honestly don’t know how people do this long term with their loved ones who are critically ill. I have a new empathy for them I never thought about or realized.

Eventually, Hubby was pretty awake and it had become time to extubate him. As excited as I was for this to happen they explained to me that it isn’t pretty and they suggested I be out of the room. As bad as that sounded, this was all good. It meant he was improving and that’s all I cared about.

Back to the lovely waiting room. This time I decided to make a trip to the cafeteria for more coffee. It truly was overkill at this point. Caffeine was useless. I had become immune to it and I am assuming it had something to do with the 1-2 hours of sleep I got daily. I was the walking dead but still very much alive.

By now the kids and family were going home more which was a good thing. Our youngest had school, school activities and games and we wanted her to keep her schedule up. I think for her age that was the best way to handle it…keep her as busy as possible. So, they all attended to her and the house and the pets. Which was a relief to me for many reasons.

The outpouring of prayers and love and donations and volunteers was still blowing my mind. We could never PROPERLY thank everyone who was there for us and helped. It really hits you deep and restores your faith in this crazy world. People are mostly good and we need to remember that. I don’t know how we would have made it thru this without all the help. We are so grateful and so blessed.

I am guessing we are now at about day 9 of 17 days and I have not been home. The kids kept bringing me clothes and other necessities and I think I got in one whole shower when my Mother-in-law was able to rent a room for just one night at the hospital. They have some actual hotel rooms there but they are primarily for people going in for surgery so they are very rarely available and there is a waiting list.

When you spend this much time in a hospital you start to explore the place and you get to know it pretty well. I started to find myself helping people find certain floors and rooms. Ya know, the people who are like I was the first day I came.. helplessly wandering the halls with that sad lost look on their face with no idea where they are going or what they will find when they get there. It really made me feel better to help them. Of course, I always had to stop and talk to any child I saw. If you know me at all you know I ALWAYS gravitate to the children. I was always so happy to see a child hoping I didn’t seem creepy to the parents.. but, it just helped bring me joy at that moment and diverted my thoughts temporarily.

I got really tired of the waiting room bathroom. It was a single bathroom and had way too much traffic. You could never get any peace. Along my many journey’s thru the hospital I found a bathroom that for some reason was very rarely used. After I figured this out it quickly became my haven, my quiet place… my war room. Many times a day I retreated to my new hiding place. Most of my conversations with Jesus took place here. Sometimes for longer than any person should spend in a bathroom..well except for most men who think it takes a vacation to go #2 in there! I used it to change, cleanup, wash my hair, brush my teeth and think. All of you may be happy to know that most of my Facebook updates were created and posted from that bathroom. Ya gotta do whatcha gotta do 🙂

After a little while in the cafeteria I decided I would go back and see if the doctors were done yet. When you take up residence in a hospital the cafeteria workers begin to recognize you and they all treat you like a friend. That was always nice and there were some pretty cool people working there who really knew how to make you feel better every time they saw you.

When I got back he was done and looked exhausted. They explained to me that he did well and would still be groggy for a while until it all wears off. At this point he was able to converse and he was aware. I know the family was anxious to see him and they were on their way. Of course, he said getting that tube out was horrible but he was so glad it was gone. His voice was hoarse so he couldn’t talk much and rest would be his best friend for days to come.

As I held his hand he asked for a sip of water. As I handed him the cup..of course I had to help him with it.. I was out of the blue taken back to the memory of handing him that cup of water at the local fair that day we met. It made me smile. I didn’t tell him. He had enough to think about but it secretly amazed me how we come full circle in this life. How we begin is how we often end or how we see things yesterday or today isn’t how we will see them tomorrow. As those thoughts ran thru my mind I looked at him and I didn’t see the sick Hubby, I saw that egotistical young man who was naughty and stared at me and was as adorable as he could be at that football game. And I realized that my young self wasn’t able to see what was in front of me but my old self now can. And God saw it all along and wouldn’t let that vain young man give up.. because that’s how He works folks. God has it all planned out and we have to learn to play along. Good or bad it’s His plan..and we have to have faith and trust Him through it all. I myself have come “full circle” in realizing that.

Until next time… be a blessing.. share a blessing… be blessed xoxo wedding 1984-2





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