In the widow group I belong to on FB, I learned a new term of endearment for to refer the anniversary of my husband’s death. In my previous three posts, I’ve share the story of the days that preceded the day Kevin was called home. Today, in my Life After vlog series, I share how I plan to spend this actual angelversary and how some others have spent theirs.
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.
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.
What does 45 days of being a widow look like? At the same time that everything has changed, so much is the same. The very next day after my husband passed, I had to get up to take my son to school. Crazy, right? Well, it made perfect sense to me at the time. It was semester finals, only 2 hours over 3 days, and then he’d be out for the two week Christmas break. The first day and week was spent with phone calls from family, friends, expressing condolences and investigators from the fire department and insurance company asking me the same questions over and over again. That was annoying but obviously necessary. I was glad when it came to an end.
Thanks to all those phone calls and the pressing need to shop for all of the necessities we’d lost, the days were busy but not long enough. It was the early morning hours and late nights when my grief wouldn’t let me avoid her. It was then I had no choice but to acknowledge that Kevin was gone. Now that I’m in my temporary rental home, away from the full home of my sister and her family, thus having more time to myself, those moments are more frequent yet sporadic. I’ll been browsing the cable guide and become sad, my eyes are filling with tears as I see the programs that he enjoyed—namely MSNBC and Supernatural, and Young & the Restless. He was a All My Children guy until I decided started back watching Y&R a couple years ago. Then in true Kevin fashion, it took over. I’d just get the highlights from him. Now I watch hearing his commentary in my head.
My news junkie is gone. Now I have to force myself to watch more news since I don’t fall asleep and awake to MSNBC.
The first couple of trips to the grocery store were tear jerkers. Whether at his favorite spot, Meijer, or mine, Kroger, all I can think about is stuff I don’t have to buy or think about cooking because based on his needs and wants. Will I ever buy tuna again or Crystal Light packets?
It hasn’t been all sadness over these first 30 days. The journey of mourning the loss of a loved has also included joyful laughs and some guilt along the way. The week he passed I went bowling with my daughter, her boyfriend, and my son. I felt ashamed and guilty for having fun, though I could hear Kevin saying, “You better live Char! You know I’m just chilling up here with the Lord and my boy Job.” That same day, we ate dinner at me and Kevin’s anniversary spot, Cheesecake Factory, ironically, seared at the same table as Kevin and I did on our last visit. Rather than request to be moved, I recalled fondly our time there on our 5th anniversary last March. On the flip side, the kids and I have shared genuine laughs recalling our favorite “Kevin” moments and sayings. One of mine is, “You don’t think fat meat is greasy.” My son’s should be, “Going to see a man about a dog,” Kevin’s reply whenever Nate asked where he was going.
As I prepare for the rebuilding of our home I feel guilty for looking forward to having virtually a new home. When the word “widow” fills my mind, I feel stuck in quicksand, unable to move. Kevin thought telling me frequently about his imminent death that he could prepare me for this time.
Nope, epic fail.
It’s just one day at a time kind of thing. But each of those is filled with missing various aspects of him….us.