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.