This blog is long and I wrote it shortly after the accident that took my husband's life. It was therapuedic for me to release it on "paper".
It was a sunny, beautiful Tuesday. I didn’t take a lunch that day because Lucas was scheduled for his 9 month old check-up at 4 that afternoon. I called Tim to make sure he was awake. It was to be his 2nd day on 2nd shift, and I missed him. Lucas and I had actually been staying with my mom for a few days at this point due to a gas leak issue in our home. Tim had stopped by to see me the night before to kiss me goodnight. Despite my begging that he stay with me, his conscience told him to go home to be with our dogs. It was to be the last time I kissed my husband. So, sitting at my desk thinking about him, I called. Our conversation was brief, but I remember almost every word. I inquired if he was going to go ahead and drop off the high chair and a video I needed to my mom’s before work. He told me he was planning on it. There was something funny in his voice, and when I questioned it, he said the one phrase that will stick with me for eternity “I just feel like I’m rushed today and I don’t know why”. In response, I told him not to feel that way and take his time. I told him that I’d see him later and the last words we said to one another was “I love you”. I thank God for the comfort in knowing that the last conversation we had was a peaceful one and the last thing we said was “I love you”. I will always be thankful for that.
By the time 1pm had rolled around, I still hadn’t heard back from Tim letting me know that he had dropped off the items. I continuously called his phone, getting irritated at the fact that he was not answering. It was definitely a common practice for him to either forget his phone or not hear it ring, but for some reason at that moment, a pit had started to grow in my stomach. I called my mom to ask if he had been at the house by that time. When she confirmed that he had not, I asked her to drive to his work just up the road to see if he went there first. The longer it went, the harder my heart started beating. A few short minutes later, my called to say he was not there either and that she would drive out to our house to see if he had had car troubles. Mind you, that was also a common thing in our lives. The van that Tim always drove decided that it was out of commission a few weeks before the accident. Tim was forced to drive his mother’s car back and forth to work. It would not have surprised either of us to find that the car wasn’t working either. It was after a half an hour before I started calling mom again to see if she had found him. When she wouldn’t answer my incessant calling, I knew something was terribly wrong. I kept telling two of the girls in the office that I felt that there was something wrong, and although they kept comforting me saying that they were sure everything was fine, my heart knew better. At 2:30pm, I gave up waiting. It was almost time for me to leave and get Lucas, so I flew out to my car and headed northward to the house to see what was going on. I only made it less than a half a mile before my mom called. “Where are you,” she asked. “On 800 W heading towards you,” I responded. “You need to come back to the office,” she implored. My mind was reeling. Why in the hell was she at my office? “What the hell is going on?” I demanded of her. “There’s been an accident….” she whispered. “What? Tell me he’s okay”. The last thing I heard my mother say was “I can’t do that, he’s gone baby.” The feelings of dread, disbelief, shock, horror, and sadness completely washed over me. I did the only thing I could do, besides manage to turn the car around and drive back to the office, I started making calls. I first called Jamie, although I’m not sure what I said exactly, I knew she was coming back to the office to be with me. I then called Jen T. When she answered she started to say “I have to call you right back”, I started screaming into the phone that Tim was dead. Like with Jamie, I do not remember the rest of the conversation, other than Jen would also catch up to where I was. As I drove back the less than half a mile, it was the longest seconds of my life. I was fighting to breathe, fighting to stay conscious, trying to grasp at reality, and yet saying “no” over and over and over and just thinking “this isn’t real.” As the plant came into sight, there sat my mom’s car next to a sheriff’s jeep. It was in that moment that my heartbeat took over my hearing. I pulled in beside them and climbed slowly out of my car. As the officer walked towards me, I lost control of my legs and collapsed on the blacktop. The waves of tears were unstoppable and the moments that followed still blurry in my mind, almost as if I was watching from afar. I can’t remember the words he used to tell me, but I know now that they weren’t quite correct. He told me that a semi hadn’t seen Tim, that he had hit him without realizing he was there. I’m not sure when he left my side, but at that point, I remember my office manager running out and embracing me and then helping me inside. I was seated in the lobby and someone pulled my hair up. I don’t remember who told the news to my coworkers, I just know that they were all standing around as if the moment had been frozen in time. I know now that it was simply because people do not know what to do or say. It was a reaction I had to get used to.
After some time, I don’t know whether it was 20 minutes or an hour, I had to be transported to the sheriff’s department to confirm that the man killed in the accident was indeed my husband. On the way there, I had to make the two phone calls I did not want to make, but knew I had no choice. The first was Tim’s father Bob. I told him as gently as possible everything I knew. He did not say much, but did say he was on his way to Angola, which was about an hour and a half drive for he and his wife. I then made the call I dreaded above all others….Tim’s brother Dave. When he answered, I asked him if he was driving his semi at the moment. He said he was. I told him that he needed to pull the truck over and to call me back. He refused to let me off the phone without telling him what was going on. The more he pleaded, the more his voice cracked and waivered. I know now that Dave had originally thought that something had happened to my son, Lucas. As he finally pulled over, I told him the story. The wails of pain that escaped from his lips will haunt my memory forever. Strangely enough, I blamed myself for having to break Dave’s heart, as if it were my fault that Tim died. It’s difficult to explain the way one’s mind works when it’s been set into waves of shock and drowning in sorrow.
Before we proceeded onto the sheriff’s office, we stopped to pick up Lucas from Tim’s mom Pat. She was the only one I was able to tell face to face. As she saw Jamie pick up Lucas and take him outside, she knew before I said a word what had happened. All we could do was cry and rock each other. She decided to come with us to identify him.
We finally arrived at the Sheriff’s department. At this point, I vividly remember my body feeling like lead. As I clambered out of the vehicle, (which at the moment, I don’t remember what car we were in), I saw Lauren, a police woman who I play pool with on occasion, came up to me and hugged me. It was not until she saw my face did she realize that Tim was my husband. She directed us to the main lobby to await the arrival of the coroner. A few minutes in, another officer requested that we go to the County office building, (mind you, a place where I spend a portion of my work at), to meet the coroner there. I was slightly irritated by the shuffling that was occurring. So we drove the whole block and a half and waited for Mr. Snyder, the coroner, to arrive. His face was solemn as he pulled up. You could tell he hated this part of his job. He requested that we give him a few minutes to clean up…those words sent shivers down my back. We waited for what seemed like an eternity for him to open the door and beckon us inside. As the world blurred around me, and my heartbeat echoed in my head, I slowly followed the man in front of me. I kept saying “it couldn’t have been Tim, this can’t be real” over and over again, hoping that I would wake up from this nightmare. Mr. Snyder opened what was apparently a cooler door, and there lying on the table was my beloved. I couldn’t breathe. I remember weeping and saying “oh, honey” to him as if he could hear me, as if those words could comfort him now. I laid my hand down on his, and just for an instance, I still swear I felt his fingers gently close around mine. As I looked at him, I just couldn’t understand how he was dead - he showed no worse signs than bruises and scrapes. Nothing made sense to me. How could he be dead? How? My mom and Pat could not handle it, so they both left quickly. I was left in the room alone with him for awhile. I gently touched his face, ran my fingers through his hair, wept and told him that I would take care of Lucas. The realization of single-motherhood hit in that moment. Oh God! I had to raise my son without his father! What was I going to tell him? Millions of questions bombarded my mind from all angles. I realized it was time to walk back outside, because I could not bare to look any longer. I kissed his face gently before informing Mr. Snyder that I was finished. He came into the room and handed me the belongings that had been with Tim. I then left to rejoin the friends that awaited me outside.
The following few hours I don’t remember. The details have left my memory. I know that my house swarmed with visitors, including Bob and Jan. They assured me that they would take care of everything financially, and for me not to worry. Weicht’s funeral home was contacted for arrangements, the meeting was set for the following morning. At some point, I fell into a fitful sleep.
The next morning, Bob and Jan picked me up for our appointment at Weichts. Knowing that they were handling the financial portion, I attempted to take a back seat in the arrangements only nodding my head when asked if the choice was alright, and signing the documents laid before me. A beautiful blue, steel casket with four, personalized corner pieces and a matching vault was chosen. The corner pieces included a deer, a fish, a mountain that said “dad”, and a set of golf clubs. Four of Tim’s favorites in life.
At some point in the evening, I was driven over to Dave’s house (Tim’s brother) by Carrie to meet with the rest of the family. We, as a family, had to choose some 20 plus photos to place on a memorial DVD for Tim at the funeral home. It was, as expected, an extremely emotional time.
The night before the viewing, several friends showed up at the house to support me and the family. As nice as it was to realize the friends you have in life, I felt myself wanting to hide in the background and watch. I didn’t want to be alone, but yet I wasn’t wanting to talk. Everything was just a blur. I look back now and try to find the faces of the people that were there, and I find it difficult.
We had two viewings for Tim on Friday. They began at 2pm, but the family was to be there around 1pm to make an important decision….open casket or closed. There had been questions concerning a wound above Tim’s left eye, and an issue with blood coming from his right ear. There had also been some swelling issues on his left side of his face. As I walked to the casket at the front, I was amazed at the work the funeral home had done. Despite some imperfection with his lips (a sight that still bugs me), it was Tim, my love, my husband, my other half, lying there sleeping. We decided to leave it open. We then sat together as a family and viewed the memorial DVD. It was beautiful.
Over the next several hours, over 200 people came in and out of the funeral home paying their respects to my husband’s memory. I was hugged by so many people, my neck and arms hurt. My poor son Lucas, was so sick that day. My friends took shifts taking care of him. When I could break free from the embrace of yet another person, I would run off and find him, clinging to him, hoping to not only comfort him, but also myself. I may not remember all of the faces, but I a few come to mind as I sit here reliving those moments. My dad, whom most of you know was worthless growing up, actually flew in from Arizona to be there for me. Jody, Tim’s first love, showed up…I actually walked up to the casket with her. I also got to meet countless other friends from Tim’s past that I had never had a chance to previously. It was nice to put faces with the stories he used to tell me all the time about his Bluffton days. There are countless others that came, but those are a few samplings of the ones that stand out in my mind. I also had 7 girlfriends who did not leave my side for the entire thing. (You know who you are….thank you again.)
The funeral was the following day. The service was so full of people, the funeral home had to open up a second wing to seat everyone. I remember looking around at all of the familiar faces. I was touched to see three of my good guy friends actually all wearing suits. It’s one of the only moments of that day that make me smile. The pastor, Pastor Don Meyers, was there by request to officiate. Tim also thought of Pastor Meyers as Sean Connery. Not only did he look like Sean Connery, he sounded like him too. That was brought up during the service…talk about laughing through your pain and tears. It was a good sermon. Tim was not a fan of singing, so no songs were played for his sake. The service then proceeded to the place Tim came to rest in Orland. I honestly do not remember the service there at all. I remember being handed a rose from the casket and then slowly walking away from the service and being led home.
My office gave me a full two weeks off work from the day that Tim died. I spent the remainder of those days moving into my mother’s because I could not stand to be at the house without him there. Most of my memories from that time are faded and mixed. I really don’t remember much until after I finally returned to work.
Although I am doing well these days, I have moments where I still find myself in disbelief. I continuously reach for someone who’s not there. My mind is still foggy, as if the stress of everything short-circuited my thought process. I find myself easily tired and easily stressed…emotionally vulnerable as I’ve taken to call it. I wonder where my life is going? I contemplate the things I need to tell my son and the things I need to do to embrace the roles of both mommy and daddy. I worry about never finding love again, never finding another man that looked at me like Tim did. Am I going to run the other direction if the opportunity presents itself? Will I always feel like I’m cheating on him if I think of another? I plague myself with too much worry and too much thinking. No wonder I’m tired. I suppose that eventually, all these thoughts will subside. The stone is up now, so I’ve found myself visiting a little more often these days. I’m able to sit and talk at my leisure, while looking at his face etched into our stone. It’s as comforting as it is final. I miss him more than anyone will ever understand.