Let me be honest with you and give full disclosure. We were not together. But we were very much together. Not sexually or romantically – but in every other way possible. We were a unit. He was my husband and the father of my daughter. We were madly in love and we fought equally as hard as we loved. But we couldn’t make it work because we had separate issues. When those issues aligned, they exploded and caught our lives on fire. We were, as the prolific Eminem says, “what happens when a tornado meets a volcano.”
We were even openly dating other people. I would tell anyone who was interested in me, “If this is going to work, please know you’ll not only be dating me, but you’ll be dating my husband and my daughter.” I’d ask him who he was sleeping with and if they were any good in bed. No one understood us, not even ourselves.
We never divorced and we took our vows very seriously, even if we weren’t fucking. He was still wearing his wedding band when he was found unconscious on a basement floor. I was still wearing mine an hour later when his Uncle called me to tell me things didn’t look good.
Less than 12 hours before that phone call, he and I were eating dinner at a Japanese restaurant with our daughter. We both had soup and split a sushi roll like we always did.
Our daughter was 5 at the time and said, “I like it when it’s just the three of us. We should do this more often.” He and I both nodded in agreement and I told him I’d like that very much. Maybe we could have figured out how to fix the mess we’d made, but probably not.
He mentioned needing to the grocery store to get some things for our daughter since she’d be spending the night at his place the next night. So we went together. I remembered how out of it he seemed to be. After he put only one item (strawberry shampoo) in the basket, he shrugged and said he’d get the rest later.
By then it was raining and he walked us back to my car. As he walked away I said, “Dude, I don’t even get a hug?” and he hugged me in the rain. I told him to be safe. The second I got home I called him to make sure he was home safely. He told me he loved me. I told him loved him, too.
I didn’t hear my cell phone until the second time his Uncle called because it was on vibrate. When my husband didn’t make it to work that morning, they went to check on him and found him unconscious. Paramedics broke his two front teeth trying to insert a breathing tube because his teeth were clenched. They couldn’t determine how long he’d be without oxygen. They couldn’t figure out what in the hell happened.
The whole drive to the hospital, I was convinced it would end up being an overdose or alcohol poisoning. I yelled and I screamed the whole way there. I cried. I told the universe if it took him away from me, I’d fucking kill it.
As it turns out, his system was completely clean. No drugs and the only sign of alcohol was so trace, they said it could have been from using mouthwash after brushing his teeth.
They spent 4 days running tests on him to figure out what happened. Four days on life support. Four days of not sleeping. Four days of seizures, which I thought was a good sign (I was wrong). Four days for friends and family to trickle in. He was only 25 and none of this made any sense.
I rubbed his feet. I told him stories. I teased him. If he could hear me, I wanted him to know that, like I promised him, I wasn’t going anywhere.
On the fourth day, they fit us all into a little room and told us there was no hope. He was brain dead and, oh yeah, they had no idea why. They might be able to tell us once an autopsy was performed. We made the unanimous decision that he would never want to live on machines.
On that fourth day, they wheeled him into an OR and removed all tubes and machinery. They said I could stay until he took his last breath and at that time I’d be ushered out so they could retrieve the few organs I approved.
I held his hand and quietly sang to him. I told him I didn’t want him to go, but it’d be okay if he had to. My face mask filled with snot and tears as I watched his breathing stop and fade out into the silence in the room.
I went to the liquor store and the guy behind the counter said, “Jesus, who died?” Slinging my bottle of vodka, I crawled into bed until the world stopped making so much noise. It never has.
The days and months following I heard some lovely gems:
“You weren’t together anymore. Why are you so upset?”
“We should get the ashes until your daughter turns 18. Then she can have them.”
“You’re not his wife.”
“Why was he wearing his ring if you weren’t together?”
“Weren’t you guys dating other people?”
“Why are you listed in the obituary?”
So let’s get this straight:
I wasn’t really his wife anymore, but I was wife enough to pay the medical bills (because he was on MY insurance), pay for half the funeral service, get all documents in order and pay off all the remaining debt he left behind. I could answer any question you’d ever ask about him. I wasn’t really his wife? Fuck you.
I admit we weren’t normal or conventional.
But let me be honest with you. Full disclosure. I loved that man with a depth, passion, and ferocity I could never explain. I hated him because he was everything I wanted and we couldn’t make it work. He was my best friend and knew everything about me – and loved me anyway.
He loved the smell of pumpkin and drank coffee at all hours. He wanted tattoos but never got any. His entire life was dedicated to our daughter. He was a chef. He smelled like mint. He had the most beautiful brown eyes that he passed down to our daughter. He dressed really well, except he had awful taste in hats.
Losing him is the worst thing that has ever happened to me and it has stolen a chunk of my heart forever.
He was my husband.