A Chance to Say Goodbye

Today was an awful day.  There is no tiptoeing or skirting around it.  I was listening to one of the few morning radio shows I find tolerable since I’ve ceased listening to NPR.  I can’t stomach the unrelenting and emotionally draining dialogue about race riots, Ebola outbreaks and the beheadings of journalists by ISIS.   I also can’t handle the mind-numbing and ridiculous chatter about Brad and Angelina’s secret wedding, Justin Bieber’s latest cry for attention or Kim Kardashian (who is only famous for being a spoiled brat with a bountiful backside).

I tuned in to the only other acceptable station this morning on my way to work and they were discussing a recent story about a man who died on a flight because the AED (automated external defibrillator) arrived too late.  They made some jokes about the man having a hairy chest and not being able to get the pads to stick.  It should be noted that there is a razor inside the AED kit for just that scenario.  I just turned the radio off instead.  Unfortunately the term AED is a little close to my heart these days (no pun intended) because my husband died of a fatal and sudden cardiac arrhythmia.  The AED was used, unsuccessfully of course.

I have to walk by one every single day at work because it is mounted to the break room wall, and it stands between me and coffee, so there is no getting around it.  I was trained on how to use it about a year ago because it was suggested that at least 3 people on every floor had to be certified in CPR, and taught how to use the AED.  I was one of the volunteers for this task because I figured the likelihood of me ever having to use one was slim.  I don’t perform well in high pressure situations and the possibility that I might be responsible for saving someone’s life falls into this category.  I know now that I could handle the situation if it ever presented itself, especially if it meant someone’s wife, husband, father, mother or child would be able to go home that afternoon.

I remember the first day I returned to work just two weeks after Jason died.  I walked into the kitchen and there it was staring back at me, almost mockingly.    I wanted to kick the AED right off the wall and scream at it, as if it had personally failed me somehow.  The fact is that Jason was probably already gone before he hit the ground.  An AED would have been futile most likely.  The indicators are that he didn’t try to catch himself and instinctively break his fall, and the paramedics couldn’t find any pulse when they arrived at the scene only a minute later.  There was also a group of runners and spectators, some of them nurses, feverishly performing CPR with no luck.  This tells me he died very quickly without experiencing much, if any, pain.  I take some comfort in knowing he didn’t suffer however his sudden departure also robbed me of the chance to say goodbye…and that keeps me awake at night because I recite all of the things I should have told him while he was here.

What I realized tonight while talking to my counselor (turned #2 Dad) is that I would rather be forever haunted by the fact I didn’t get to say goodbye than to know Jason suffered, even for a split second.   I think about the families of the journalists cruelly and callously beheaded by an organization whose goal is to terrorize and frighten people.  I refuse to watch the stomach turning videos but my heart breaks at the display of inhumanity.  Sometimes it is challenging to find any good in the world…and this is why Jason rarely watched the news.  He couldn’t stomach the suffering surrounding us either…but he always found the silver lining to any cloud.  I’m trying desperately to hang on to his perspective but today I just had to turn the channel, and tomorrow I will listen to the sound of silence and know that the world is far better than it sounds on the radio.



5 thoughts on “A Chance to Say Goodbye

  1. I was very touched by your viewpoint on still being able to be a first responder for others. On behalf of those you may help, thank you.
    We rarely watched the news either… and now, just reading on my news app is overwhelming enough.
    It sounds as though our husbands faced similar circumstances…


  2. I never realized how many men, especially young healthy men, died from cardiac events until Jason passed away. I am continually shocked by the statistics and still can’t believe he is one of them.


  3. Thank you so much for writing this blog. I stumbled on it accidentally about an hour and half ago when I did a Google search on a quote from C.S. Lewis. My husband died the day before Jason in a very similar manner. (Only he was sitting beside me in our home.) If I were to start telling you all the things I’ve read in your blog that resonate with me, my response would go on and on. In just this post alone I found myself exclaiming “yes!” , “exactly”, “That’s how I feel” to no longer listening to NPR and the reason, turning off the radio to silence all the other babble, … The end of paragraph 4 through the beginning of paragraph 5 (“…he died very quickly – even for a split second.”) is so similar to something I wrote to a friend not that long ago. I am telling you all this because it is incredibly comforting to hear you voice it. I am not alone! I am lucky to have family and friends who support me that I can call on at any time, and I am deeply, deeply thankful for them. However, your blog fills a different space, one I can’t even articulate very clearly right now. I am eager to read through it all. (I’ll try not to comment on each one.) Again, thank you for writing this blog. I’m so sorry for your loss. (I still don’t know a better way to express it.) I’ll be thinking of you as you go through this holiday season.
    (The fact that you used a quote in your blog that I wanted and then I discovered that the date and cause of death for our spouses was so similar is one of those coincidences that amazes me a little bit.)


    1. First off let me start by saying I’m very sorry to hear about your husband. I would give anything to bring husbands and wives back so none of us have to go through this. Losing a spouse and losing a child are the two most stressful life events and the fact that you and I are still standing and functioning is an ode to our resilience. Remember that always, especially on the particularly tough days. I really appreciate you taking the time to read my blog and I am so glad to hear that it has helped you. Trust me when I tell you that you truly are not alone. I’ve found so many other younger widows through this site and I am grateful for those connections because it does help to know that we aren’t on this journey alone. I’ve had several days go by at a time when I haven’t written a word and I begin to feel the emotions building inside me with no real (or healthy at least) outlets, so writing is just as beneficial to me, but knowing that sharing those feelings is helping someone else makes this blog much more gratifying. I’m not exactly sure what I believe spiritually but Jason’s death has unexpectedly created many positive relationships and I’ve experienced some of those amazing coincidences myself, so maybe our husbands are watching over us and helping us through in any and every way they can. Again I am so sorry for the loss of your husband, and you said there really are no words to express it but just know that you aren’t alone. I promise you that. And if you’ve found my blog helpful in any way then you may want to read some of the blogs I follow as well. Unfortunately there are more widows and widowers on WordPress than I had imagined and reading their blogs have helped me through this as well.


      1. I’m sitting here reading this instead of getting ready to go to Thanksgiving dinner, but I wanted to say thank you. I’m glad that doing something for yourself (finding a healthy outlet) also gives something to others. I will return to this later, but you are appreciated.


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