Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Our Story

Another Loss Part 9

In the days and weeks following Curtis's death I used to lay beside Craig and fight sleep. I am one of the "lucky" ones that can usually sleep pretty well even when tragedy strikes. The doctor prescribed me some sleeping pills, but I never took them. In fact, the only reason I ended up taking a few Tylenol PMs was because I was trying to force myself to stay awake when I needed sleep.

I was terrified if I closed my eyes, when I would wake up, the love of my life would be gone.

Because, let's face it, that is what happened to Curtis. A baby that is to be stillborn usually dies at night, while the mother sleeps and her blood pressure drops. There are other factors involved, of course, but that is the likely time frame and something I learned a few days after losing Curtis.

If Curtis could just die while I was sleeping, so could Craig. So I would lay next to him, listening to him breathe. He usually has a slight snore so if that ever stopped, I was leaning across him, laying my hand on his chest and feeling the rise and fall.

When life changes so suddenly it is normal to feel this way. But I didn't know what normal was. Honestly, my life had been pretty peachy keen when it came to death. Only great grandparents well into their 80s had died. I had a grandfather die when I was 3, but I didn't remember that. I had a friend in high school die, but she wasn't anyone I had been close to since years before her death and honestly, it didn't effect me that much.

So Curtis was my first taste of the unfairness death brings.

Diane was my second.

We drove towards my in laws from Red Wing, trying to piece this all together. What had happened? How is this possible? Craig's cell phone kept ringing. His brother had been the first to hear. Working for the city, he had a co-worker who was a police officer who knew our family was friends with her family. They figured it was her heart.

This is going to sound purely selfish, but it felt so unfair. Craig and I were trying to spend a few days together away from home before he had to go back to work. We needed an espcape from everyone and we ended up back into another hellish situation. We knew how horrible it was to think this, but it just felt so unfair. We had enough going on. This situation alone would have been horrible enough.

Craig went over to be with the family. His best friend Jer, one of Diane's son's, was on a business trip and hadn't even been notified yet. They couldn't get a hold of him. He was to be flying that night and Craig offered to pick him up at the airport.

I spent the afternoon at my in laws house with one of my sister in laws and my father in law. I remember speaking out loud about my fear that Craig would die while I slept. My father in law kept saying that would never happen. But in situations like that, it is obvious how it can happen all too suddenly.

The day passed. My mother in law was at a loss. She was the last person to see Diane alive. They had been out late, at the casino. Diane had dropped my mother in law off late that night, gotten home, and died while getting ready for bed shortly after. Her husband didn't find her until closer to afternoon. They always slept in separate beds due to his snoring, and when Diane had been at the casino late, she always slept in. I remember my mother in law calling, sobbing hysterically. Repeatedly saying "I cannot believe this. I just can't." In the span of 10 days she lost her grandson and her best friend. The friend who was getting her out of the house, the friend who would help her through her grandson's death. Life is brutally unfair.

Craig and another friend went to pick up Jer at the airport. He had heard at this point. On some lay over, in some grimy airport, he heard that his mother had died. He knew it was bad by the sound of his brother's voice. He was expecting his uncle, or his grandma, or heck, even his dad. But not his mom. Not the mom who he had seen 3 days prior at some big family gathering.

At the doors near baggage claim, Craig and their friend waited. Jer came through the double doors. He took one look at Craig and said "Well, I guess she wanted to go hold Curtis."


Mrs. Spit said...

I think that the fear of losing a husband or partner after losing a baby is pretty normal. We think "those sorts of things don't happen", but when we lose a baby, we realize that the unexpected, the inexplicable, the unreasonable, it does happen to us.

Kristi said...

It does seem totally unfair. Too much for one family, much less one person, to handle.

I have to admit though that I love Jer's comment about Diane holding Curtis.

sally said...

Yes, I can relate. Every time Simon has left the house in these last four weeks my heart has almost stopped beating. I keep waiting to hear a huge crash out the front with another car crashing in to him, or expect to see a police officer walk to the front door to deliver me bad news. I think that is half the reason I don't like going out - self preservation. I bet Diane is taking good care of your Curtis.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I have been following your story for a few weeks now. I got your blog from a girl named Natalie who also had a still born son named Devin. All of this just makes my heart ache for you. Ive lost 4 babies. This first one was at 5 months, he had potter's syndrome and had to take the baby while he was still alive....I think about him every single day of my life. I know have 2 healthy babies and I just wanted you to know that my heart goes out to you and your family. I dont know what its like to have a stillborn, but I know what its like to lose a child...and it hurts. You are a strong women for putting your story on here. I cannot even do that for my son, Zachary. He passed May 21, 2005. You dont know me from adam, but I am praying for you and will know someday you will get to see your sweet little boy again. God bless

Cara said...

I remember feeling of barely treading water (metaphorically of course) as we approached the six month mark of Emma's death. I, too, held on to my husband like a life boat. He's still here, my rock, but in February of 2001 I got the call that my favorite uncle was dead, a random heart attack, he was 48 years old. Life really is unfair, the funeral was brutal.

Cara said...

HisMom - you are doing a HUGE service through this blog. Just the fact that someone in such raw grief can feel comfortable posting their emotions is proof of your story and its power. You are such a wonderful mother to your son and inspiring others along the way!

I apologize in advance for using your comments section to greet another...but Sally, I really feel your pain coming through your words and can't link to you through a blog or email. I know you are reading and posting in your time just after a loss and would love to connect as my daugher passed in September eight years ago. Please check me out at my blog http://buildingheavenlybridges.blogspot.com if you like, then feel free to email me whenever you need.


Sally said...

Apologies also to His Mom for hijacking your comments section - Cara, I will check out your page. Sorry, I don't have a page (yet). I will drop you an email....

Sara said...

That last sentence just took all the air out of my lungs. You write so well I truly feel like I'm right there with you. My best friend lost her daughter to cancer and her father to cancer the next year... it is a consolation that they are together, but it doesn't stop the pain of missing them both.