Remembering #myKevin Day 3 Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Day of the Fire…

When I awoke Sunday morning, December 17, 2017, Kevin didn’t speak to me when I said “Good Morning” to him. I knew he wouldn’t but I always tried to show him my willingness to move on. I was determined have a good day.

This was the 3rd Sunday of the month. I wasn’t scheduled to work in the trustee office but I was going to church anyway. My son and I. After church, I wasn’t ready to go back home to deal with the tension-filled, silent environment, so Nate and I went to the movies.

We returned home about 4 o’clock. Kevin was in the bathroom, a place he treated like his private office. He had his MacBook, his keyboard, and a beat machine that he creating original beats with. About a month before he’s started uploading his creations to his page on a site called Soundboard.

I didn’t have to worry about cooking dinner. On my caregiving journey, I’d finally learned how to ask for help. I’d enlisted the help of my in-laws to help me out with meal preparations. One of Kevin’s was cousins was a caterer. He’d hooked us up with a pan of baked chicken, green beans, and roasted potatoes. I ate some food and propped myself up on the couch to watch a few Hallmark holiday movies, something I was entertaining for the first time ever.

Kevin remained in the bathroom for the remainder of the evening. I was on the couch. Nate and Tya, my kids, and our two dogs were upstairs. Around 10pm, Kevin emerged, appearing in better spirits. He was going to go out for a drive and asked me to make him a couple of tanks. I did, knowing he’d be in even better mood when he returned. He always was after getting some fresh air.

I returned to the couch for my Hallmark holiday and eventually drifted off to sleep. When I heard Kevin come in, I got up to assist him with connecting back to the home oxygen tanks. Before he walked back to the bathroom, he kissed me softly on my cheek and said, “Thank you.”

The small gesture of kindness was monumental. My heart smiled.

Less than an hour later I was awakened by the smoke alarm blaring through the house. Though I’d heard it before, for some reason, that night, I knew something was wrong. I jumped off the couch and ran into the entryway of the kitchen and saw Kevin holding himself up against the wall, looking down. I looked down to see what he was seeing. One single flame coming from the oxygen cord that would change the everything.

I wanted to ask, “What the hell happened?” But that wasn’t the time for questions. It was a time for action.

After our efforts failed to put the the flame out, I found the courage to pick the cord up and carry it through the living room, and then out the front porch, dropping it on the bank of snow of the porch.

The flame was extinguished. I breathed a sigh of relief. I thought the worst was over.

It wasn’t.

Everyone made it out of the house, including Kevin. But he wouldn’t come off the porch. When I urged him to get in the truck with the kids, he said, “I can’t.”

Those were the last words I heard from my husband.

When he sat down on the porch I thought he was waiting for help to arrive. That’s what I was waiting for. We literally lived less than a block away from the fire station.

The fire trucks and ambulance finally arrived. I immediately directed them to Kevin.

“He needs his oxygen,” I instructed them like I was the professional. As the tended to Kevin, I watched flames tearing through the little cute house we had just moved into.

In hindsight I wish I had run to Kevin’s side, grabbed his hand while it was still warm.

By the time the fire inspector finished questioning me and I was able to get to hospital where they’d taken Kevin, the doctor told me Kevin had gone into cardiac arrest and was on life support.

By this time it’s nearing midnight. The hospital transferred us to another one. They gave me hope that Kevin could come out of this state. I wanted to hope but I felt like he was already gone.

Remembering #myKevin: Day 2 Saturday, December 16, 2017

I can’t properly remember my husband without remembering the bad times. As a married couple, we had just as many of those as we had good days. And even more as his health worsened.

Having a great night like the one we’d had the night before didn’t prevent me and Kevin from have a typical Kevin and LaCharmine argument. The kind where the real small things blows up into something much bigger.

After Kevin and I got home the Friday night, he went back out. Apparently his car wouldn’t start so he asked if he could take mine. I’m like, “Sure honey.” He goes about his business. I go to sleep.

The next morning, per usual, I’m up early, preparing to go out for my morning errands and such. I go outside and immediately notice my truck kinda hanging off the driveway . My first thought was like, “Hmm.” I get into the truck, crank up the engine, put in the reverse to back out the driveway. The wheels were spinning on the snow covered driveway but the truck wasn’t moving. Then my thought changed to , “Kevin, what the F$ck?”

I go in the house, fuming. Just not understanding why he couldn’t turn into the driveway like a normal person.

I say, “Kevin, my truck is stuck. I can’t get out the driveway.”

He says, “Oh yeah. I meant to tell you that. We’re going to half to call AAA.”

I think to myself, You forgot to tell me this important detail as I walking out the door.

But what I said was, “Well we don’t have AAA anymore. The membership expired. Are you going to pay it today?”

He says, coolly, “Nope. I paid for it last time.”

This ticked me off but I kept my mouth closed. I called AAA, paid the membership and put in the service call. The tow truck arrives in 20 mins.

Cool, I think. I can get out of here.

Now this is where the day went downhill…

Kevin says, “I need you to take me to  get this part for my truck.”

Blank face…What, sir? I think to myself. Then I say something like, “You didn’t want to pay for the  AAA to get the truck pulled out the ditch BUT you want me to put you above my plans for the day and do what you need me to do. I don’t think so!”

The yelling and cursing began.

I eventually caved and took him where he needed to go. But I was not happy about it. In the car, we continued to argue. At one point he threatened to get out of the car! LOL. I think I literally laughed at him on that one.

I dropped him off at home to tend to his car and finally got about my day. I knew I would pay for mouthiness with him later. Kevin was a silent treatment kind of guy.

That particular day, I was like, whatever. It was my 5th Deltaversary. I was going to enjoy my day with my line sisters.

My line sisters and I met at a local Applebees to have our annual toast for our Deltaversary. I was having a great time but Kevin was not far from my mind. I really hated arguing with him. Particularly because he held on to anger like a dog holding on to a bone.

Back at home, like I suspected, Kevin wasn’t speaking to me. I remember going to bed thinking, Damn. There’s goes our Merry Christmas…

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

 

Anytime, Any Place: Journeying Through Grief

Neither are my favorite places to dine–well, IHOP used to be–but after November 2017 they will forever be in my heart. That was the weekend Kevin and I attended our first Weekend to Remember hosted by Family Life Today Ministry.

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Comfort in the Midst of Grief

It’s Saturday night. Ten o’clock but my clock is set for eleven in preparation for daylight savings time. I’m laying on the right side of the bed–my side of the bed–with a cup of warm lemon ginger tea on the nightstand in the special cup given to me by a dear friend in my first days of settling into my family’s temporary home.

If Kevin were still with me, I’d probably still be in bed or laying on the couch, in for the night. Even before sickness invaded our lives, we weren’t a couple that engaged in too much night life. Though he was the life of any party he went to, he was really a homebody, where he could be himself. So sitting up in my bed, binge watching the Murder She Wrote marathon on the Hallmark Channel is not out of the ordinary for me on a Saturday night. However, tonight  the volume on the T.V. is turned down low as I sing along with some of my favorite R&B jams playing on the Whitney Houston station on Pandora radio.

Kevin loved to listen to me sing.

“Girl, I love to hear you sing,” he’d said since the first time I sang with him in my car. I was singing Tamia’s song, Last First Kiss. He said that was the day he knew I was a keeper.

It was no accident that I was listening to that song when Kevin got in the car. We’d been seeing each other for a couple of months by that time and I had fallen so hard for him. It’d been quite some time since I’d felt so strongly about a man.

No lyrics ever rang so true as those did for how I felt about him then and throughout our relationship:

“When it comes to you I wouldn’t change a thing…I wouldn’t even change the things I could change. ‘Cause babe you’re perfect, perfect to me, simply means that you’re perfect for me…”

I never mistook Kevin’s feelings about my singing. He said he loved to hear me sing, not  necessarily that I could sing particularly well. The love he had for me made my singing  music to his ears. He was the one with the real singing talent.

Now, alone in my bedroom, turning pages of photo album filled with pictures of us, I’m singing my heart out, comforted that Kevin is resting well. Comforted by the love that we shared, the love that will always be in my heart.

Happy New Year Somehow

Less than a month ago I was contemplating my end of year post. I didn’t want to follow the usual course of declaring what I’d planned to do in the new year. Instead I began compiling a list of what I was leaving behind in 2017.

Stressing over weight loss

Lack of confidence

Indecisiveness

To name a few…

But the night of December 17th changed all of that. After a day of church, movies with my son, and an evening stretched out on the couch watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel, I fell asleep easily on the couch feeling that it had been a good day.

Then at about 11:30 that night, not long after I’d fallen asleep, the fire alarm broke through my restfulness. I leaped from the couch and came upon a torch-like flame blowing from my husband’s oxygen tube in the hallway of the kitchen.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. From there everything went so fast.

My husband was standing in the doorway of our bedroom. Not panicked at all.  He calmly told me to get the fire extinguisher. I did. I pointed it toward the flame, squeezed the lever and hardly anything came out. I didn’t waste anytime with it anymore. My son was there too. Both of us tried to extinguish the flame to no avail. I thought I saved the day by carrying the burning cord onto the porch, throwing it in the snow, where eventually that flame went out.

But, apparently, something else was burning. When the fire department arrived and I stood outside hoping that they arrived in time to get our dogs out of the house, I saw a flame coming through the other side of the house. Obviously, the firefighters were as cautious as I was about entering the house with oxygen inside. Still, I thought we’d only end up with some smoke damage in the back of the house.

Not so.

Within a few hours I’d lost my home, my two dogs, and my husband.

My husband’s scarred lungs and heart couldn’t handle the smoke inhalation and trauma of the night. He suffered cardiac arrest, I believe, before the fire department even arrived, which was within 10 minutes of me calling. From one hospital to another, he never regained consciousness.  He was never able to tell me what happened, what caused the fire, if he even knew. He was never able to tell me that he loved me. Not that night. But luckily he expressed his love to me all the time, even when the frustration of his illness got the better of him and he wasn’t so nice. I never doubted for a minute that he loved me and appreciated me for being there with him during this challenging time in our life.  And he knew I loved him.

Now I’m beginning a new year without him. Totally didn’t see that coming. Nothing in my plans for 2018 included him not being apart of it. I had bought into my own optimism that my husband wasn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. God knew better.

My husband departed his earthly body in a hospital room with myself, my children, and his two daughters by his side. I know he didn’t want to leave. But when the Lord says its time, it’s time.

My heart is broken. I miss my husband. Still I was able to receive Happy New Year wishes and express the same because I know healing and restoration is coming my way.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.