Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Passing of Time

Six years ago today.

Six years ago today started with a horrific shock at about 1 in the morning. It happened so quickly I can hardly believe I was there for it, or that it was real. One moment I was laying with my head on Daniel's chest listening to his heart beat, and moments later the ER staff were in our room fighting to save his life. They were not successful.

In my day to day life now, that time seems like a terrible nightmare lived by another woman. A woman who doesn't exist anymore. In my quietest moments, if I allow myself to go there, like right now, it is as if I'm right there and it is still happening. I'm 36, my husband is 35, our son is 5, and Daniel is fighting for his life with every ounce of strength he has. For the first year, nothing was real except that moment. I relived it constantly, replaying it, trying to look for some meaning in the moments. I wanted to review it to see if Daniel knew I was there, if he knew I refused to leave his side while they worked on him - even when they asked if I wouldn't rather wait outside.

The horror of the scene and the terror I felt in those moments is still there, permanently imprinted on my brain and in my heart. If I think about it now, I still feel the urge to cry and throw up at the same time. I still want to know how it was for him. I want to be reassured that it was a hell of a lot more peaceful for him than it looked. I want to know he's okay and that whatever heaven looks like it is so wonderful that he isn't up there somewhere sad that he didn't get to finish his life here the way he planned. I want to know that my vision of him laughing and enjoying his ever-after life is true.

I won't know the answer until I go there myself - which is why I don't allow myself to contemplate it very often. What's the point? I may never know. I have learned to live with that. It's during the days leading up to this anniversary that I can't control the memories and I have to wade through them. Starting in about mid-September, I put the memory hip-waders on and prepare to gut it out.

It is an amazing process each year and this one has been no different. Six years ago today I unknowingly said my final I love you to a great man. I did not get to say goodbye or a final thank you, and I'll always regret that. How do I feel 6 years later? Still sad. I'll always feel sad that things turned out the way they did. It wasn't fair to him or those of us left behind. But six years later I also feel incredibly blessed and grateful. Thank you Daniel Dippel for the years you spent with us. It wasn't enough time, but I'll always be grateful for every moment of it. It was a lovely cruise indeed.


  1. Do you think we'll ever stop the march in the years to come. My husband died five years ago Oct 30th. I feel the change in me when the nights get cool. I hate this every year. It's hard enough missing him but this is torture. I had 40 years and it was quite a ride. I thought we'd get to sail into retirement but it was not to be. I too am grateful for what I had. I guess we know none of us are alone in this.It just feels like we are.

  2. Michelle, your post absolutely brought tears to my eyes. In March 2010, I suddenly lost the love of my life and to this day I try not to go "there" often. I am growing stronger each day but the events surrounding his death will be with me forever. They refuse to be buried with him.

    What a tribute.... "a lovely cruise indeed". You are a special lady!!!!

  3. Thank you. Yes, I think sadness will always be there that things turned out the way they did. Our spouses are no longer here and I miss mine every day. But that a good marriage existed can make for gratitude in times of sorrow and I have found that helpful.
    A virtual hug comes your way.

  4. Beautifully written Michelle. My husband will be gone....and I still can't believe it as I write it....10 years in June. I can still relive the final moments like it was 10 seconds ago. Thank you for sharing today.

  5. I love you.
    And I share this time of year as my "death march". It's been a bit easier, so far. Emotional, yes. Overwhelming, no. Not yet anyway.
    We shall see.
    I wish I'd known him.
    But it's enough that I know you.
    And love the person you are now.

  6. Thank you so much Michelle for sharing your pain. I just lost my husband on the 24th of Oct 2011 and was looking for a small measure of comfort. I feel like I am watching a movie and I am going wake up any minute laying next to the love of my life.

  7. My year one is Monday. I could have written this. I feel like I woke up to words and feelings this morning that were only mine. I even read it to my mom who was stunned as well. At least she now knows that my feelings are normal. I'm sad to think that I will still be sad in 5 years but I believe it. I'm learning to live with it. But this reliving were I was 1 year ago is exhausting. I miss him so much. I year ago I only had 4 days left. I had no idea despite how sick he was. Thanks for being here for me every day since about two weeks after he left this place. I will start to be able to say in a few weeks....1 year ago I found my people.

  8. "In my day to day life now, that time seems like a terrible nightmare lived by another woman"
    So true. The last few hours of Dave's life really just seem horrific in retrospect. His cancer was terminal but I thought he had more time and so did he.
    Although we told each other "I love you" multiple times a day - I don't remember the last time. When I revisit his last moments all I can remember is seeing his breathing stop, then me desperately begging him to keep breathing, watching him take one last gasp of air, and then he was gone. Still so surreal.
    I certainly didn't see that coming when we vowed 'til death do us part'.

  9. Its was just 2 yrs for me recently, and all the feelings are so true, the days before the actual day, it's all so vivid in my mind.....A movie that replays over and over this time of year and the pain & grief is so deep there are no words to describe. The scar of what we saw and lived thru is unmeasurable,There could be nothing worse. I too wonder did he know I was there, that my love for him was so deep that it will last my lifetime till we are together again. I've changed so much since that dreadful day slow changes but I am so different form the women, wife, I was when I enjoyed being married to man of my dreams....I don't even recognize who I am now. I don't like it much either, I am existing and trying to enjoy some moments of times now, but it all feels temporary, I don't feel like Im really living anymore. More than 1/2 of me died along with him that day. But what I do know and can smile about now, is that I was loved by a very special man, we had a very special loving &happy marriage and for that gift he gave me by his love and spending his life with me I was blessed for that gift that many never get to see or feel or ever have, and for that I feel blessed and thankful to be able to say it and live it for over 30 years of my life.Until we meet again to be together forever....

  10. Yesterday, 11/02/11, was one year for me. I keep reminding myself of two words: gratitude and trust, gratitude for the life we had together, which has allowed me to have the life I have now, and trust that the future holds good things. The past year has been incredible, one year ago today I would've never thought I would've made it this far.

  11. Donna ..... I'm so sorry that you have so recently experienced this. I hate it when I notice that there are "new" people here .... that anyone has to have a reason to be here. But I'm thankful that you've found us .... and that you can get some small ounce of comfort from knowing that everything you're feeling and going through is "normal" .... for whatever that's worth. Please keep coming back. We want to be here for you, as much as we can .... which isn't enough .... not nearly enough.

    And to KitKat, Valerie and Anon ..... thank you for sharing your hearts with the rest of us. I cannot imagine there ever being a day when I don't feel the sadness again. I think it will always be there .... no matter where I am in life, or who is with me. There's no way to replace someone. Yes, we can love more people, but I think there will always be a hole in my heart where Jim used to be. And Anon .... you're right. Those of us who had such wonderful love are very blessed indeed. I have discovered that it's mostly a rare thing .... and I'm thankful that I had that gift in my life, for as long as I had it.

  12. Thanks everyone for the great comments, so nice to hear when a post speaks to someone. I'm sorry you have to be here, and so glad you found us. The good news is that it does get easier. The anniversary and a few other days are tough, but overall - life can be beautiful again. I am still surprised by that. Love to you all on this journey, and I'm so glad we have each other to walk it with. (Michelle - for some reason I'm not able to log in....)

  13. I just had my 3 yr anniversary of my husband's death, and even before I take steps to acknowledge this anniversary, the feelings of sadness and lonliness start to creep into my awareness and I find myself crying easily. After I tend to these feelings, etc, then I find myself feeling better after the day passes. And I always make this day public, in that I send out an email to family and friends re how its going for me and I plan a special celebration of my husband's life, which is usually going out to dinner with family and sharing good memories. i think that these annual special days are part of the grieving process. Speaking for me, I'll never forget him and the pain of his loss will never go away. I'm just trying to learn to live without him day by day.