Thursday, July 23, 2009

Letter to Darrell


I have survived without you, but you knew that I could. My independence worried you in the beginning of our relationship, thinking I didn’t need you because I could take care of myself. Yet you mistook surviving for living my darling. They are two completely different things. Yes, I have survived, how could I not? What choice did I have? I had four children who needed me. The lives of our three children at home where shook out from underneath them. Our children lost their father, as their mother it was up to me to pick up the fragments of our lives and put them back together.

I’ve trudged on, doing what needed to be done but with a heart so heavy and broken that some days I had no idea how I would get through the next hour let alone the day. So I kept busy because a busy person has no time to dwell on their broken heart.

You always said if something happened to you that I would find someone within 6 months and I always protested that would never happen. I remember when you’d been gone 6 months, as I was slowly emerging from my bottomless pit of grief and despair, laughing at the irony of your statement. I even told you “I told you so.” You see Darrell, you’ve ruined me. The part of my life before you seems so long ago. I was a completely different person then. You made me the person I am today. You made me feel beautiful, smart, talented, and above all loved. You did everything within your power to give me everything you thought I wanted or needed. I always said if I had asked for the moon that you would have found a way to give it to me. People accused us of being newlyweds, even after almost 10 years of marriage. Not that our marriage was perfect, you know we had some very rough patches were we wondered if we would make it. But we loved each other too much to give each other up. I find it so bitter sweet that we had reached one of the most blissful points in our marriage before your accident.

No Darrell, I haven’t found someone else. How could anyone measure up to you? I admit that I’ve been on two dates since you died and even after 3 years it feels like I’m cheating on you. Isn’t that funny? You’re the one who left me yet I still feel loyal to you. The loneliness is overwhelming some days but I’ve tried to learn to accept it, the inevitable presence that it is. My days are filled with children yet you of all people know that children can’t fulfill all of our emotional needs. It seems so unfair that I waited 31 years to finally have someone love me, to fill the dark corners of my heart with love, and then to lose it a mere 10 years later. We were supposed to grow old together Darrell Swank. You promised me you would never leave me. You promised. Now I’ll grow old alone.

I know you tried to stay with me. I watched you fight for 5 weeks, 5 long, horrible weeks. I look back on that time now and can’t believe it’s real. Did we really live through that nightmare? Sometimes out of no where a memory will pop into my head catching me off guard. I think of the pain you endured, the fear you must have felt, as a doctor knowing full well what the significance of you injuries meant. For 5 weeks I watched you suffer. I think of my weariness from trying to make sure the kids were taken care of, of trying to be there for you every moment I could. Some days I woke up and cried my heart out trying to process the reality of it all and protesting “I can’t do this.” But of course I did it. You needed me. The kids needed me.

After you died and I adopted Emma from Vietnam and she was hospitalized with RSV 10 days after coming home, I was so scared and wished so much that you were there to reassure me, to take over, but I was alone. This time there wasn’t a waiting room full of people like there was for you. It was just me and a 4 month old baby. I watched her fight to breathe and almost die in front of me on Thanksgiving morning. After they rushed her to the ICU and I finally got to see her again, I remember walking down the hall to her room. The rooms looked exactly like yours and when I walked in and saw that tiny baby on the bed with ventilator breathing for her, just like you, I couldn’t be strong anymore. I spent most of Thanksgiving Day crying for Emma, the baby we talked about adopting but you never got to see or hold. I cried for you and what you went through. I cried for me because I couldn’t understand how God could do this to me again. How much pain can one person endure in a lifetime?

I was angry with God when you died. I really felt like He was telling me that you would survive so I felt betrayed. Truth be told, I think I’m still angry. I wonder if my anger will ever go away.

Yes, Darrell I have survived and I am trying to live because I’ve learned how precious life is. I have regrets. I wish that I had let you eaten that piece of chocolate cake before you left the day of the plane crash. I wish I could have heard your voice one last time. I wish I could hear you say I love you. I wish we could have really sad goodbye instead of me watching you die while you were in a deep sedation. But that’s the selfish part of me. In truth, I’m glad you were unaware of how it ended. But what I would give to look into your eyes, just one more time and see the love that used to fill my heart with such joy and such assurance. To know, without a doubt, that you knew I was there for you those 5 weeks. To know that you felt as completely loved as I did.

You were the love of my life, my soul mate as corny as that sounds. You knew me better than anyone ever has or ever will. Sometimes you knew me even better than I knew myself. I laugh and I do live life now but a piece of my soul is missing and can never be replaced. Sometimes I’m furious with you for that. I no longer reach for the phone through out the day but my heart still reaches out to you.

I’m not the only one who misses you. Your sister Karol, Jamie and Christy, your best friend Jim-- sometime they seem to be stuck in their grief for you. Maybe it’s because we live the daily loss of you while they are still waiting for you phone calls, emails or visits. Your loss has affected so many more people than you would have ever realized. You reached so many lives, touched so many hearts. I often forget that your death wasn’t just my loss and the children’s loss. So many more people are trying to come to terms with your death.

Lastly, I hope you know how much you meant to me. There’s never been anyone like you in my life and I’m sure there never will. I hope I showered you with the love you had been missing for so many years, the love you craved. I hope I filled your days with happiness and joy.

All my love,