Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Non-Hollywood Not So Happy Ending

Doggone you, Hollywood!  Why do you keep doing this?  Especially when I'm at my lowest?  Why is it that you always have to show a happy ending?  You know real life isn't like that.  There are so many people hurting, and you always have to take the unrealistic route.  Either tell a real story, or don't tell it at all.  Just don't create false hopes.

So what am I ranting about?  I had a rare day at home today, and found myself unintentionally watching a movie.  I don't know what it was called, but it's a pretty typical scenario for Hollywood movies.  A man and woman get married, then they find out that they're expecting, and then the wife dies during childbirth.  The husband then has to raise the baby all by himself, ultimately finding a new love that has no issues with the fact that the man is still pining for his dead wife.  And they all live happily ever after.... the husband, his new wife, the child, and the ghost of the dead wife.

That's not necessarily how it works in real life.  It really isn't as easy as Hollywood makes it seem.  The death of a spouse is such an awful experience.  It hurts to the depths of your soul.  Unless you've experienced it, you have no idea how devastating it is to lose the one person in your life who you share everything with.  It's like losing half of yourself, as, literally, your marriage is torn apart.  It's so different from divorce, since in the case of death, the person is gone, never to return.  And it leaves the surviving spouse alone.  And that loneliness impacts you to the core of your being.

In my case, my wife, Teresa, and I were walking around with our infant daughter one beautiful Spring evening over at Reservoir High School in Fulton, MD, where my wife taught 9th grade English, when my wife suddenly collapsed.  I watched her face drain of color and her eyes glaze over and slowly close.  Air escaped from her mouth causing her lips to flutter.  I didn't know what was happening.  I was fortunate that there were people nearby, and someone called 911, and another person, a nurse, came over and began administering CPR until the paramedics arrived.  The principal of the school, a close friend, took care of our daughter for me, so I could give Teresa my full attention.  The 911 operator kept trying to keep me calm, but when the police arrived, they had no way of knowing that there hadn't been foul play, and they immediately led me away from Teresa (at the time, I didn't know that I was all of a sudden a suspect in her death, since no one had seen her collapse except me).  It seemed to take forever, but they finally moved her to an ambulance.  I thought I was going to be able to ride in the ambulance with her, but a police officer took me in his car, and we followed the ambulance over to Howard County General.

Even after we arrived, I wasn't allowed to be near her.  The paramedics took her into the Emergency Room through the emergency entrance, while the police officer took me in through the main entrance.  He escorted me to a little room next to the emergency room.  It had a table, several chairs, and a Bible in the middle of the table.  I was left alone.  A few people came by over the next 15 minutes or so to check on me, and I kept asking about my wife, but no one would tell me anything.  I had called my in-laws and my parents during the drive over to the hospital to let them know what had happened, and they were all on their way.  I found myself paging through the Bible looking for verses that could comfort me, but the uncertainty of the situation made it hard to think clearly.  I prayed.  I was certain that Teresa would be okay, but I was concerned about how long she might be in the hospital, and how I was going care for our 5 month old daughter.  Finally, a doctor and a hospital employee entered the room.  They told me they had tried all they could, but Teresa couldn't be revived.  She was dead at the age of 31.  Though they wouldn't know the cause until the autopsy, it was determined that she had a massive heart attack due to complications from mitral valve prolapse and an enlarged heart, which may have been caused by the strain of childbirth.  We'll never know for sure.  Only that she was gone from our lives for the rest of our days in this life.

I was a mess after that.  I started to sob.  I couldn't imagine how I was going to make it without her.  How could I take care of a 5 month old baby?  This wasn't supposed to happen.  We had been married fewer than five years!  I was so fortunate to have so much of my family nearby to help me.  With them, we were able to get through the days, weeks, months, and years following Teresa's death.  My daughter is now ten years old.  I greatly desire companionship.  It's really hard being alone, especially after having such a wonderful marriage relationship that had God at its center.  I've had a few dating relationships, including one that came very close to marriage, but nothing yet.

If this was a Hollywood story, and to this point it very well could have been one, I would meet that wonderful, sweet young lady that would warm this widower's cold heart, and they would live happily ever after.  Maybe that will still happen.  Who knows?  But, you know, it just as easily may not happen.  Maybe God feels that it will be better for me not to marry again.  Maybe I'll have to wait until my daughter is all grown up before I find someone.  I just don't know how my story will go.  And that's why the Hollywood happy ending story is so hard to watch.  I may never get to have one.  And maybe, eventually, I'll even accept that and be content with it.  But right now it hurts.  I hate not having a companion to share things with, to be intimate with, to grow old with.  I pray every night for God's will on my life.  I remain hopeful.  And I think Him for my life.

Have a great evening, everyone!

1 comment:

  1. Eric, I felt your pain as I read this, and my eyes filled with tears. I hate that you were separated from your wife that way and that you are lonely. I truly wish the best for you.