Moment by moment, day by day
“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal;
Love leaves a memory no one can steal”
Hi friends, Crystal here.
First & foremost, I would like to take a moment to attempt to thank you all for your overwhelming support & love during this horrible time in my family’s life. I never imagined that so many people that I’ve never met face to face would show my family so much love & generosity and I don’t think I will ever manage to gather the words to express to you all how thankful I am for each & every one of you. All the thoughts & prayers have been so appreciated.
On top of that, y’all have gone out of your way to share my blog all over social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, etc) to keep it going in my absence so that I can continue to provide an income for my children and myself during this excruciating time.
I’m going back to July 14, 2015 now – the day I found out my husband had passed away. I’m writing this, for one, to give you all a sense of what has happened as you’ve all done so much for my children and myself… and I’m also doing it for myself, to type this out somewhere… a form of a journal I guess you can say.
July 14, 2015. The day before, I had just flown to NYC from my home in North Carolina to meet my friend Jennifer. We were going to the BlogHer blog conference together & flew in a little early since I’d never been to New York City before. Everything seemed great when my husband dropped me off at the airport. We joked & talked – and after checking my luggage, I saw him still in the parking lot so I ran back out to hug & kiss him again before I left. I landed in NYC that afternoon & I was sending him pictures of different things so he could ‘be there’ too. You see, my husband had a form of spina bifida called spina bifida occulta that impacted his back pretty severely and made it painful for him to walk, so he didn’t travel with me often because of this – so I always made sure I sent tons of pictures when I had to travel. That night, I called him and talked to him, and the last thing I told him was ‘I love you’ and of course, he said he loved me too. He was in a great mood, and had actually played games with the kids ever since I left. They had a wonderful day.
The next day, Jennifer & I decided to take the subway to Chinatown & we found this cute little Chinese tea shop. My husband loved oolong tea, but it’s hard to find in our area, so I went in to buy him some. I hurried out of the store & immediately called my house because I was so excited to tell Michael what I had gotten him. My oldest daughter (15) answered the phone & she said that Michael was still asleep in the bedroom. My husband certainly liked to sleep, so I jokingly said ‘still?’ – and told her to go wake him up. I heard all 3 of our children (ages 5, 14, & 15) knock on the bedroom door to which they got no answer, so I told them to go inside – he was a pretty heavy sleeper. I heard my kids say ‘Daddy, wake up – Mommy’s on the phone’ – followed by a brief silence… then I started hearing these horrible crying screams. I could hear them all saying ‘Mommy, Daddy won’t wake up. He’s not breathing. He’s cold. He’s white & all his veins are showing. I think he’s dead! Should we call 911?’
My heart sank. My knees gave out & I collapsed & immediately started bawling. I told them to call 911 & hung up the phone so they could. My friend Jennifer was telling me ‘Maybe he’s just passed out’. She hailed us a taxi so we could go grab my stuff from the hotel & get me to the airport – and I kept hitting redial on my phone, waiting for it not to be busy anymore, praying that the EMTs would be able to revive him & he was just passed out. Finally, I got through – and a police officer answered. He said, ‘Ma’am, we can’t tell you anything right now other than they are in there working on him & he’s unresponsive’. After what felt like forever, an EMT got on the phone with me and broke the heartbreaking news to me – Michael had passed away. He had most likely died in his sleep of heart failure & had been gone for about 10 hours. Our 5 year old son slept with him that night, & he had unknowingly crawled over his father’s body to get out of bed. (He is having a super hard time with that and asking me the most heartbreaking questions about why his dad looked the way he did.) My 15 year old & 14 year old daughters figured he was still sleeping & they decided they’d watch our 5 year old and let their Daddy sleep in for once, not realizing he was gone.
That whole day is almost a fog after that. I got to the airport where I was bawling & begging for a flight home. I had to call a friend to come get my kids out of the home so they could transport my husband’s body – and so they had a place to go until I got back. I finally got back in NC early that evening, I had bawled the whole way there. My dad drove up as soon as he heard, & he got a hotel room where myself & my 3 kids stayed with him because we couldn’t bare to go back inside of our home. We barely slept that night – just stayed up most the night crying.
Thank God my father was there because having to make my husband’s final arrangements was more difficult than I can express. I was a crying mess the entire time, so bad that at points I had the worst panic attacks where I couldn’t even breathe. Daddy was my rock & helped me handle every single thing of planning Michael’s funeral, as heart wrenching as it was.
My husband was only 33. We got married at 18 years old & I never in a million years expected anything like this. My heart feels like someone has ripped it out and shredded it into a million pieces. People keep telling me to be strong, but I can’t be strong right now. Now is the time to be weak – to cry and to scream. To hold my kids while they cry and scream too. They need to know that I hurt just like they hurt, and nothing is wrong with crying and screaming and feeling like it’s unfair. It is unfair. It is sad. It is heartbreaking & hard to handle. Of course we’re going to feel like that.
I get asked a lot by friends & family – ‘how are you doing?’. Honestly? I’m not doing well at all right now. I’m just trying to get through each day. I cry a large portion of each day. I get told that I shouldn’t cry so much because my husband wouldn’t want me to be so sad, and I know he wouldn’t – but I am that sad. All I can say is that I’m doing the best I can & so are my children given our circumstances. We’re grieving and our hearts are broken.
Moment by moment, day by day – that’s how we’re living. It’s the only thing we can do.
I wear his wedding ring around my neck along with a small pendant with some of his ashes inside. My 5 year son leans forward & kisses it every night & says ‘Good night, Daddy’. I smile at him & give him a hug, but it just breaks my heart.
Again, we appreciate everything you’ve all done (and are doing) for us. Please continue to keep us in your thoughts & prayers, we’re big believers in the power of prayer. Thank you all for being there for us.