Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Monday, January 12, 2015

Dear Friends

Most of you know, but for those who might not, my name is Dwaine.  I don't maintain a nom-de-net to fool the government but so that I do not embarrass my wife, who is, in many ways, a very conventional person.

Friday, just after noon, a young man, a neurologist came into my wife's hospital room.  He had ordered an MRI.  He wanted to talk to me.  The first thing he asked was if I wanted to sit down.  I didn't, but I didn't really want to hear what would come next either.

The results were very clear.  My wife, Vickie, had suffered a massive stroke.  The bleeding and pressure was such that, in his opinion, she was brain dead.  I looked at her, quiet and calm, a machine forcing air into her lungs, the monitor showing her heart beating rhythmically, endlessly.

The face I will remember forever, the one I will seek first when I come into light on the other side of darkness, looked the same.  She seemed to be asleep.  I thought of the words of the Disciples about Lazarus, Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.  For the first time, it dawned on me that, even in their misunderstanding, what they had said was true.  We will all sleep, and, in that sleep, we will recover something we have lost as we entered this world and took our journey through it.

After her trials throughout the past year, she had insisted on seeing an attorney to do some estate planning and to set up up living wills.  Mine was easy.  Don't do anything special to keep me alive especially if I'm not going to be able to take of myself because my wife can't take care of me.  I begged her to make hers more restrictive.  She refused, not that it would have made any difference in this case.

They ran an apnea test to see if she was breathing on her own to confirm the diagnosis.  I stood and watched as they disconnected the ventilator.  As the seconds ticked by, I cannot describe the emptiness and dark despair that seized me.  The only thing I wanted was for the vent to be reconnected, to see the steady rise and fall of her chest start again.  When it was reconnected, though, I knew it was only temporary.  I called the kids and told them what was happening.  Then I waited.

The chaplain came by, a quiet, gentle man who prayed with me.  A little later he brought a young woman by.  She was asking about organ donation.  Vickie had never signed her card, and she had made it clear to me that she was opposed to it.  I told the woman that Vickie had been very squeamish about blood and that the idea of someone else looking through her corneas or living by the beat of her heart disturbed her.  But I said that I would talk it over with the kids.

As the grandchildren began to arrive, I heard a call for a rapid response team to the front entrance.  I knew immediately it was our daughter.  By the time I got down to the lobby, they had her in a wheelchair.  She could not close her hand and was rapidly losing the ability to speak.  She's had hypertension for years and is bad about refilling prescriptions and taking her meds.  Another stroke.

Our intent had been to gather around Vickie that night and let her go.  We decided to wait until the next day as she was not suffering in any way that was discernible.  By Saturday afternoon, more family had gathered.  Calls and messages, most expressing disbelief, came in.  Our daughter was allowed up to her mother's room on a bed with a nurse constantly monitoring her blood pressure.

The only good news was that bleeding had ceased, no surgery was needed to relieve pressure, and there would be benefits from rehab.

Before noon on Saturday, the young woman from donor services again came into the room.  My heart sank.  Don't these people understand how we feel?

She had heard about our daughter's stroke.  "I couldn't stop thinking about it," she said.  "If that had happened anywhere else, your daughter would have died or suffered much greater damage.  You told me your wife was squeamish, and I understand.  She has already saved a life."

So, I thank you all for your prayers and the love that I have sensed even under that shadow.  My wife's passing was peaceful.  Her heart remained indomitable to the end.  She is so beautiful. 

We don't look like that anymore.  In fact to look back is almost shocking, but day by day, you never notice.

Except today.


On a practical note, everything is paid up.  She will have a very nice service with all the stuff she picked, and the spot she picked a couple of spaces over from my parents.  It's rural, and small.  The maintenance is mostly voluntary, often by some of my myriad of cousins and shirttail relation.

We don't need anything.  But, if you just can't help yourself, email me, and I will give you information about the cemetery fund.  These boys don't have Paypal; they think indoor plumbing is a passing fad.  If you have my work address, email me there.  If not, email  Again, there's no need to do anything, but I'm always happy to hear from you if you just want to email me.

I love you all, and I cannot tell you how much it meant knowing that you have been praying for me the last few days.  I would just dissolve then something (Someone) would come over me, and I would be able to go on.  There are still things that have to be done.  My mom used to say that she felt like crawling in a hole and pulling the hole in after her.  That's about how it is.  May God bless you all.


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Dwaine, my heart goes out to you, brother.
My condolences to you and your family. I will pray for your daughter's health, and for you all to find some peace and comfort in this time of grief.
If you ever need anything, even if it's just to talk or write You just name it.

Your beautiful wife is with the Lord, now and she will meet Patti if she hadn't already. I'm certain they'll both become fast friends.

God bless you and your family, dear friend.

Paul Griffin said...

My prayers and condolences, Dwaine, you have been on my mind an awful lot of late. I don't really know what to say, so I won't bother trying. Just know that there are more people than you know out there praying for you.

Van Harvey said...

Dwaine, my condolences and prayers to you and your family. Words. It's difficult to wrap the mind around what you must be going through. The love you know with your wife and daughter, that's real, that endures, all I've got here are words. But if any comfort can be passed through from here to there, it might be as an additional reminder to hold fast to what you know to be true - through that your connection to your wife and daughter doesn't falter or fade.

God bless you my friend.

julie said...

Yes, Dwaine, the prayers are unceasing. Just as with Ben, how I wish we could be there with you, shoulder to shoulder; in such sorrow that your beautiful Vickie has passed, but also in gladness that your daughter is still here.

Rick said...

Dwaine, such news. My heart. I am so sorry. I'll pray for your daughter and your wife and for you that you have strength enough and comfort is there with you from the Lord and that peace returns.

John Lien said...

Aw Dwaine, Just so sad. Still praying for you and Vickie and now your daughter. The whole situation seems unbearable. May God give you more strength to bear it all. Thank you for sharing this.

Joan of Argghh! said...

So many on this side waving goodbye and so many on the other side waving hello...

Dwaine, thank you for the gift of your name, and the gift of your wife's loveliness in this tremendous time of grief and upheaval. Your family remains in our prayers, that the God of all comfort would be your anchor and stay throughout this time.

Leslie said...


Anonymous said...

Prayers and good wishes to you and your family. God bless!

Peter Andonian said...

I have read your blog for years and never commented. I really have come to like you through your writing. You think a lot like I do. I am praying this morning that Christ will put his hand through the darkness of your grief and give you some comfort. I can only imagine what it is like to be wrapped in this darkness when you wife goes on ahead. I pray it will lift soon.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Dwaine,
Been thinkin about you a lot. I hope n' pray you are wrapped in the arms of God.

Tobias Hatch said...

I am so very sorry for your loss. May peace come to you in its time. Thank you for the gift of your words.

mushroom said...

Thank you all so much.

Leslie Godwin said...

Dear Dwaine,
I hope that you felt God's grace with you today at the visitation. And tomorrow at the service for Vickie.

I pray with all my heart that you have moments here and there of God's peace that turn to days, weeks, months, ...

I wish I could express what is in my heart better in words, but I will continue to pray for you and look for your updates. Let us know if you have any specific prayer requests or anything more concrete that we can do.

Blessings to you and your family,
Mrs. G

julie said...

Hi Dwaine,

Just thought I'd check in with you today, and echo what Leslie said yesterday. You and your family have been in my prayers all day. I hope the service was beautiful. And I hope your daughter is doing okay.

May God's comfort wash over you, especially when you need it most.

Love to you and yours,

Don Johnson said...

I've been so shocked and stunned I couldn't even think of what to say, so didn't.

I still can't, but words fail anyway. You've given so much of yourself to so many and I just can't stand that you've been asked for so much more, and that no man can stand in your stead.

If only. You'd have an army.

May our God uphold you, Dwaine, as He only can.

Bob said...

Yes, shocked and stunned. Praying for you and your daughter. So sorry for your loss. Also happy to know you experienced such love with your beloved wife.

mushroom said...

We made it through everything, and I know a lot of it had to do with the prayers you all were offering on my behalf. Everything just seemed to come together -- because I'm the world's worst organizer. If our daughter had been able to help, she would have taken care of it.

As it was, Somebody else put it all in place to encourage us and remind us of the hope that we have.

And, again, I can't thank you enough for your gifts and prayers. The roses and the vase from Bob and Mrs. G were really beautiful.

Our daughter is doing much better. She's out of ICU and in a regular room. She's been up on her feet a little and getting stronger every day.

Thanks sounds redundant after a while but I don't what else to say. God bless every one of you.

Rick said...

That's good to hear.
We miss you, Dwaine.
Very much.