anxiety, death, Getting to Know You, Mental Health

DEATH

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Death…. it changes everything…

Your perspective.

Your actions.

Your emotions.

Your daily thoughts.

Your goodbyes.

EVERYTHING.

High school was when I experienced the death of a friend for the first time. It changes you. Kevin had leukemia. All he wanted to do was graduate from HS, he made it to April. I WAS SO MAD! I wanted him to make it to graduation, just because that was his one goal. Over 25 years later, I’m still mad.

When I was 19, I lost 3 friends in 6 weeks…. That was reeeeaally rough. When my mom told me about Ashley’s accident, which was the 3rd one, I just lost it. The whys, the yelling, the crying… ugh, it was painful.  This time, death came knocking on their door in the form of auto and motorcycle accidents. Raises your anxiety level a bit on the roads… well, mine anyway. I was adamant that my boyfriend (now my husband) call me when he got home at night, so that I knew he was alright. We had the old “one ring signal,” kinda like all’s well; only then could I go to sleep at night. No texting or cell phones back then, just a telephone. Twenty years later, I’m still anxious.

The next one was a HUGE blow… Drew. This one put me on my knees. Drew was my husband’s cousin; but, they were more like brothers, one year apart, neighbors, always at Grandmom Kathryn’s house right next door. And, Yes, our Drew Elizabeth is named after Drew Alexander. My husband and I were not actually dating at the time, but had off and on for many years, and I knew Drew well. I also knew this was going to almost kill Mo (my husband). And, I wasn’t with him. That was hard for both of us. It wasn’t long after that we were back together for good. We joke that Drew and our friend Chris (one of the 3 accidents I mentioned above) had something to do with our happily ever after. To this day, Mo thinks about Drew every day of his life, it has truly scarred him. The pain I see in his eyes when Drew enters his mind brings me to tears. This truly broke a piece of my husband’s heart that nothing will ever mend. That makes me sad. It’s been over 17 years, we still cry.

Life as an obstetrical RN was thrilling and exciting and happy… most of the time. The day you lay in bed with a close friend mourning the loss of her stillborn child is heart wrenching, exhausting, and physically painful. I wish this on no one. To this day, I have a real attitude towards people that have a major preference for a boy or girl when they are expecting a baby. I kindly try to say, “it’s most important to have a healthy baby.”  My heart still breaks when I think of Abby. 

When my son was 6 months old, I watched a father cry on his knees begging God to save his newborn daughter in the wee hours of the morning. I was their labor and delivery nurse. While the mom was in labor, he was actually complaining that this 3rd child was another girl, he wanted a boy. I’m sure you can imagine how I felt about that, but to this day, there is part of me that feels sorry for him, there is no doubt he carries guilt about the loss of that baby girl. I couldn’t get home fast enough to hold my own baby. I don’t think I put him down the entire day, I was heartbroken thinking about how that mother must feel. I will always cherish the privilege of kissing my kids goodnight every. single. night.

Watching a best friend lose his sister was devastating. Especially since she left behind a 22 month old and 5 day old. They were both in my wedding. I shed a tear every time I look at Abbie in my wedding album. Children need their mothers, and these 2 girls will grow up with plenty of family, but there’s nothing like the love of a mother. Heartbreaking.

There have been other deaths that have touched me, one being one of our bravest heroes in uniform. He died saving others when his helo went down in the Middle East. It’s unbelievable what this kind of loss does for a small town. Everyone knows someone that knows that special Hero. Our Hero is Adam. I grew up standing at the bus stop with him. He left behind a beautiful little girl, and loving family. If your hometown has ever experience the loss of a soldier, has a family that has a missing father, son, mother, daughter, brother or sister that gave their life serving and protecting, you get it. It’s sad, especially when I see his dad. Adam’s dad wears his grief all over his face. 🙁 

Ever lost the parent of a best friend? That’s a really tough one too, especially if you aren’t in the same town or same state, and can’t help. That’s unfortunately what happened to me. I cried when Ms. Connie died, it truly broke my heart. What broke my heart even more was that I was several states away and couldn’t get home to be there for my friend and her family; they were like my family when we were in high school. I can still hear Ms. Connie saying, “Hiii, Kate!” with that W. Va. accent that was so sweet. She was a special soul with a heart of gold. She always made me smile, no matter what was going on in my world. I smile every time I think of her still to this day. I can’t imagine the pain it has caused her daughters, they are amazing and strong women, I admire and adore them both. But, the death of their mom… life changing.

Oh… the unexpected call about a friend that hit a place so low he thought the only option he had was the wrong end of a gun… Again, life changing in so many ways. That story is still pretty fresh and very tough to swallow. Some things will never make sense. You can never know the thoughts and fears that someone is living with. We just wish he would have called, so many of us would have stood in line to answer the phone. These kind of deaths leave so many unanswered questions. Mo and I still get pretty choked up talking about Greg.

This week, I watched another parent, fiance’, group of friends, and a small town say goodbye to an amazing soul. Cancer. CANCER! UGH!! Cancer is so poisonous! Why? Why Mel, why are all of our other friends that have been diagnosed (and there are way too many) become survivors, but not Mel. It’s hard to understand. I’m so grateful that my other friends can say they are survivors, but they have no guarantees.

None of us have a guarantee. We don’t know if we will be here tomorrow.

So, PLEASE, live the “Golden Rule.” Treat others they way you want to be treated. Don’t judge. Always smile. Say “Hi” to that stranger you pass on the street. Hug your loved ones. Tell your friends and family how much you love and appreciate them. Live generously. Love completely. Hug like you mean it. Kiss the love of your life passionately. Kiss your children goodnight every.single.nightDon’t take anything for granted, EVER! 

This journey is full of ups and downs. Regardless of what life has thrown at me, I try my best to make the best of this journey. I hope you do too.

2 thoughts on “DEATH”

  1. Katie, what eloquent writing, you put into words how a great portion of the people in the world feel and what they experience. Death definitely changes things and tragic deaths change you even more. It does leave you with intense anxiety and worries about what is going to happen and you tend to try to control as much as possible to keep bad things from happening to the ones closest to you. Ultimately, you have no control over most things. Again, thank you for writing this. God Bless You Sweet Girl……… and yes I will always see you as the little girl I used to take with Ami-Jo to gymnastics meet. I’m so blessed to know you.

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