it began as a headache.
he couldn't get out of bed
had to have a dark room
quiet...no kids...no tv
lots of liquids and excedrine migraine
we tried everything
he just agonized in pain
slept when he could
we were miserable
did everything i could
brought him medicines, waters, cold compresses
made chicken soup
begged him to go to the doctor
bought more meds and herbal remedies
friends brought over migraine drugs
that's when we knew
something was wrong
driving to the ER
i was scared
he was dying
the doctor listened to his symptoms
and said "i don't think this is a migraine"
i felt relieved to have answers
but afraid to hear what they were
doctors came and went
scribbled on his chart
he had to stay there
specialists were called
we would not be going home
tears in our eyes
hands gripped in prayer
this is going to be hard
i had to go home
and wake the kids
called kelly on the way
"please give me the words"
we practiced together
i woke them from a peaceful sleep
sat their sleepy bodies up on jordan's bed
looked into their innocent eyes
and searched my heart for how to say it
to tell them daddy is very sick
but the doctors are taking good care of him
and he will be fine
but inside i wasn't sure
putting on a calm brave face for them
was the hardest part
lots of questions
i wasn't prepared to answer
they wanted to see him
was that the right thing?
i had no idea
was just clinging to instincts
but i brought them
to his bedside
katie stared and played with her hands
she gave him her sacred pooky bear
the bear she sleeps with every night and never lets anyone hold
jordan ran into his arms and laid his body across his dad's chest
tears streaming down, not saying much
it was like a scene out of a sad part of a movie
but it was us
it was real
they broke my heart
but i was glad they saw him
brought the kids home
they swooped in
kelly took over my mom duties
dad stepped in
mom and molly dropped everything to come over
family by my side
was never needed more than now
i brought his clothes home in a bag
because they had rushed him by ambulance to ft myers
the familiar scene and scents of home
were now a stinging reminder
of what would no longer be
for a while
gathered what i thought he would need at healthpark (??)
the drive to ft myers
the whole way
finally could let it out
i walked into the beautiful lobby
plants, waterfalls, piano playing in the distance
still wearing sweatshirt i wore to bed, teeth not yet brushed
red bulging eyes, asked the sweet-faced elderly volunteer man at the desk
"can you tell me the room for james briggs?"
clicking away on his keyboard
his eyes scan the computer screen
he carefully writes the numbers down
and gently explains that this is an icu room
and do i know how to get there?
my tears begin again, legs go weak
do i know how to get there.
i don't even know how i am standing in this lobby right now.
he directs me to walk through the lobby, over the bridge, under the lit sign, turn left after the set of wheelchairs, and the elevator is on my left...go to the fifth floor
it was like charlie brown's teacher was speaking
i mumble "but i didn't know he would be in icu"
he asks sympathetically if it is a heart problem
i can only shake my head no and point to my head
he looks like he wants to come around the desk and hug me
i wander through the lobby
frantic to find him
scared of what was happening to him
clinging to the paper with his room number
i make it to the elevator
push button number 5
people on the elevator take one look at me and then look away
it's not pretty
the doors open
to stark white walls
hallways in every direction
i don't know where to go
a random woman in scrubs asks me if i need help
i can only nod and show her the paper
she walks me the whole way, through endless hallways
and says in my ear, "it's going to be ok, he is in a good place, we are here for you"
i love that woman for that
a nurse stops us and asks me to wait in the family waiting room while she checks with his doctor
i sink into the vinyl chair and hold my face in my hands
fearing the worst
another family is in the corner discussing their loved one, but glancing nervously at me
it was the longest ten minutes of my life
finally i can see him
he is hooked up to everything
lights and beeps everywhere
and in intense pain
my sweet husband
my partner in life
fighting for his life
against a burst brain aneurysm
i hold him for a long time
we are scared
but we will get through this
we have to
in the midst of all the tubes, lights, beeps, monitors...
i notice something in his hand
i ask him what it is
he holds it up high in the air
it's katie's bear
i smile weakly
and somehow know
God will bring us through this
and He did.
after 13 agonizing days of pain, waiting, praying, testing, diagnosing, treating, angiograms, ct scans, mri's, medications, meetings with doctors, IV's, tubes, monitors, beeps, blood draws, sodium checks, worrying, planning, tagteaming with family and friends, phone calls, emails, texts, 45-minute car rides, bonding forever with doctors and nurses, depending on family and friends more than we ever have, and...above all...making this somehow ok and bearable for jordan and katie...
He did. Thank you God. Your blessings upon our family have never felt so sweet.
Hold your loved ones tighter than ever...life is precious...
...and thank you from the bottom of my heart for two weeks of endless love, support, kindness, generosity, thoughts, prayers, and GOODNESS bestowed on our family.
Our hearts are full of gratitude for the human spirit, and for God's grace in times of need.
God calms the storms in our lives
and sometimes he just rides them with us.
Thank you, God...
and Kelly and Molly and Mom and Dad...
and more than a hundred dear friends, near and far...for riding this storm with us.
Jennifer, Jamie, Jordan, and Katie