A community of peers created by the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation
I've been at this site for over six weeks now and I have heard a lot in various places about letting go and moving on. After thinking on this, I realize that I knew the moment that I let go of Joyce.
In August 2004, our family was coming home from a day trip to Duluth and the north shore of Lake Superior. I don't know what caused the accident, but our minivan spun and flipped and ended up on its side in the median of I-35 just north of the Twin Cities. I told everyone to get out of the van. Joyce told me that she couldn't move. I stayed with her and held her in place until they could cut open the van and get her into an ambulance. We got to the hospital and found out that her spine had dislocated and there was damage to her spinal cord. The surgeon was able to repair the dislocation, but nothing could be done about the spinal cord damage.
The accident had left Joyce a quadriplegic and in constant pain. She spent over a year in long term rehab and came back home in January 2006. Many different methods were tried to alleviate the pain and improve her hands, but nothing worked. We did the best that we could for her. She was most comfortable riding in our minivan, so we were still able to travel. We almost finished her goal of seeing all fifty states (Alaska eluded us), and I was able to take her someplace new every year.
In February 2011, Joyce was hospitalized with an infection that required massive doses of antibiotics to cure. She lost weight after her stay that she never got back. In January 2012, she was sent to the ER due to low blood oxygen levels, but she seemed to recover and went back home. That weekend, she complained about the house being stuffy, so I took her to the doctor on Monday. Her oxygen levels were down and they were worried about the carbon dioxide levels in her body. She came back home and we were told to go to the emergency room if she felt worse. She felt worse early Wednesday morning and I took her in early that afternoon. We were talking all the way in and she still wasn't sure about going to the hospital when we got there. I told her that we should as long as we were here. She checked herself in and we went back to the ER.
Within 30 minutes of getting there, she went into a coma. The doctors said that she was going to die soon but they didn't know when. I called the family, and everyone that could get there came and saw her that evening. I stayed the night with her and I was in bed with her when she died at 6:15 on Thursday, February 2, 2012.
I told all of this to say the moment that I let go of Joyce. After she went into a coma, the doctor told me that they could keep her alive by connecting her to a respirator. I thought about her injury, her pain, and being on a respirator for what was left of her life. The moment to let go had come. I told them no.