The Kids and Their Dad

I guess I’ve been feeling kind of uninspired to write this week, but that also has to do with being super busy, and also being involved with Mr eHarmony, so I find myself not really having too much to say sometimes.  But after last night’s conversation with Mr eHarmony, I realized that maybe I do have something to talk about.

First off, I have to thank Mr eHarmony for being so wonderful and understanding, and open about talking about my late husband with me, and death, and parenting kids who have lost a father such as mine have.  I really am amazed by him to be honest, and I believe it takes a really special man to be able to talk about that with his girlfriend. Thank you so much ❤

I don’t know how we got on the topic last night, or it could have just been the fact that he was mentioning to me how he wondered if he would be a good father (the answer is a resounding YES), but I mentioned the whole deal with my late husband and how I had wondered sometimes if I did the right thing by NOT letting the kids say goodbye in the hospital.

When he was in the hospital, he was the sickest patient there.  Kind of hard to believe, but it’s true.  The first day he was admitted, the older three kids were in school, and I just had the baby with me, so I took her with me to the hospital to bring him his laptop and a couple other things so he could do his school work.  The staff at the hospital were a little upset I had brought her with me, but I had no other choice.  Her and I gowned up, and she stood just on the inside of the door of his room while I gave him his stuff.  That was the last time she saw him alive, and she talks about it sometimes, how she saw Daddy in the hospital. The older three kids saw him alive the last time just the night before that, when he drove up to our house in his truck, waved at them from the seat, and got straight into our minivan so I could bring him to the hospital.  He was too afraid to get them sick, so all they got was a wave.

The day he was intubated, which was the day after I brought him his computer stuff, I was talking to his doctor about the kids, and was informed that kids were not allowed in the CCU/ICU at the hospital.  And then I looked at his doctor, and told him “I don’t care what you say, if he gets worse or you think he’s going to die, I am taking these kids in here to say goodbye to their dad”.  But he got better, or so we thought, and I didn’t worry about that anymore.

Two days after that, he was extubated, but still in the ICU.  We felt such relief because this was a real turning point in his recovery and felt he would be coming home less than a week later.  I felt confident in my decision not to have the kids come and visit, partly because he was so cranky and irritable, and I didn’t want to subject the  kids to that, and have him put them in a bad mood.  I figured we’d give him a few days, and then they could come visit once he was doing even better.

Two days later he died.

I was standing in the cement stairwell with the chaplain and a lady named Deb, when his Doctor came in and told me they couldn’t find a pulse.  He had been without oxygen for 40 minutes at that point.  I’ll spare some of these details, but I did burst into his hospital room, screaming and yelling at the doctors that I was too young to be a widow, that this wasn’t happening to me.  Doctor Christensen stood on my right, with his arms around my shoulders, talking to me as the other doctors performed CPR, and told me they could put him on life support, but that he would be a vegetable for the rest of his life.

My response was “No, he is too strong for that.  He wouldn’t want that”, and then I said goodbye and let the doctors call the time of death.

At the time I was doing what was right for me, right for the situation, right for him, and right for our family. I know what I said to the doctor about disregarding the rules, and taking the kids, but in that moment that he died, I had to make a split second decision based on the circumstances at the time. Since then, I have wondered if I did make the right decision. Should I have let the doctors put him on life support so that the  kids and the rest of the family could say goodbye? I don’t have any regrets I don’t think, but I hope one day the kids will understand why I did what I did.  I did it to protect them from these awful memories.

2009 was a good year for the six of us, up until he died.  We did a lot of things together as a family, we went on vacation, we got to celebrate our 10th anniversary early….it was meant to happen that way I think.  The last memories the kids have of their dad are good ones, happy loving memories of our time together.  I could NOT, in good conscience, let the kids see their father like I did.  Hooked up to machines, blue lips, shock paddles on his chest, blood pooling in his shoulders.  I just couldn’t do that to them, I had to protect them from that.  I still have vivid images of him laying there, and since our children were so young, I just could not not not NOT do that to them.  At the time of his death, the baby was 3.5, our middle daughter turned 7 two days before he died, and the twins were 8.5. Imagine having to live with that for the rest of your life?

They have asked me why I didn’t let them see their daddy in the hospital, and all I’ve been able to tell them is “because I didn’t want you to have bad memories of daddy, and to see him sick.  All your memories of him are good ones and I want them to stay that way”.

I hope one day that all four of them will understand why I did what I did:

To protect them because I love them.


2 thoughts on “The Kids and Their Dad

  1. Joanna … You absolutely did the right thing. When your kids bring this up, your response is a good one – just keep saying it … and believing it. They did not need to be there. They did not need to see all that you saw. Barry wasn’t able to respond to them, to hug them or tell them he loved them. Those last moments are memories we cannot erase and little ones just don’t need to carry that burden.
    PS … I’m so happy Mr. eHarmony is working out for you!

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