Gratitude

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November 20, 2008
Gratitude List
November 26, 2008

Gratitude

This grief and mourning is constantly taking on new shapes.  When I think I’m reaching a tolerance for the feelings and issues I’m dealing with, the wave ebbs and then flows again, first crashing wildly upon me.  Each time, it hurts, it’s raw, and it’s deep.

My emotional brain is only allowing me to handle what I can.  It has taken over my normal thinking and is slowly receding to reveal what I must now face.

I am so fully aware that I am not the only one in this world who is feeling this way or has ever felt this way.  That is an aspect of this mourning that I’m struggling with–it’s forcing me to become more “self-centered” in order to face it and work through it in my own way and in my own time. My way tends to be all out–talking, writing, feeling, crying.  Thank you to all of you who allow me this!

Before Pat’s accident, I had considered the possibility of losing a loved one.  I came to the conclusion that I could only accept the loss as a part of life and feel immeasurable gratitude for the time I had with that person.  I could take the time, when life allowed, to appreciate that person while my loved one was still with me.  I did do that with Pat.  We did have hard times, but I don’t regret them–they were all a part of us growing together.

The night Pat died, around 2:30 in the morning, after the doctors worked on him with CPR for more than 45 minutes, my brother-in-law, a local doctor and best friend of Patrick, came to the waiting room where I, two of my sisters, and our good friend, Kelly, were anxiously and sickenly awaiting, huddled together shaking, shivering, crying, yelling.  The room was dark, and we heard his shoes clicking toward us down the hospital corridor.  “It’s over.”

I don’t remember precisely the details of what we did next.  I know we began calling the multitudes of people closest to Patrick–his ten older brothers and sisters, his parents, my parents, my five other brothers and sisters, Pat’s nursing classmates.

I remember going into Pat’s hospital ICU room when it was all over.  Just earlier that day, I had tip-toed into his quiet, dark room and showed his parents his still, quiet body struggling to live.  We had spoken only in hushed whispers.  Now, when I went back to his room, the doors and curtains were wide open, the lights were glaringly shining on Patrick’s lifeless body in stark contrast to the way it had been that day.

With all the IVs and tubes gone, I was able to climb onto his bed and lay beside him.  I don’t remember everything clearly.  I remember the nurses needing to close the door so my wailing would not disturb the other patients.  I remember my sisters and friend being present, wrapping Pat’s still-warm arms around me.

I remember crying to him, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!  Thank you for your life with me.  Thank you for our children!  Thank you for who I am now!”

I remember touching and kissing every feature of his face, his strong chest and muscly arms–deeply imprinting the feel of him in my heart and soul.  I remember his strong and always-warm hands slowly getting colder.  He was not there any more.

Thank you, my dearest, loving husband, Patrick!!!

I began this post with the intention of simply listing everything I am grateful for since Pat’s accident.  I have only made it as far as this.  It was going to be a long list, but I will save it for another post.  This one has taken a lot out of me.

Give your sorrow all the space and shelter in yourself that is its due, for if everyone bears his grief honestly and courageously, the sorrow that now fills the world will abate.  But if you do not clear a decent shelter for your sorrow, and instead reserve most of the space inside you for hatred and thoughts of revenge–from which new sorrows will be born for others–then sorrow will never cease in this world and will multiply.

From An interrupted Life:  The Diaries of Etty Hillesum 1941-1943

3132 Comments

  1. hathomas says:

    nancy–
    you and your children are so strong. i’m so glad that you are able to share your feelings and put them into writing.

    what i remember from that morning is you laying next to patrick and putting your ear to his armpit. you said, “it’ still warm. he’s still warm.” we all stood there with you and him, but we could have been a million miles away. your love at that moment was impenetrable. that image still runs through my mind a hundred times a day. the love the you both have for each other is an example to us all.

    so let me help add to the list of things to be thankful for since pat’s death:
    1. we’ve all gotten to learn from your love, wisdom, and forgiveness.

    i love you and continue to listen. keep writing.
    -hannah marie

  2. martyyoung says:

    I will pray for you, your children and the whole Sawyer family. I am so very sorry…

    God bless,

    Marty Young