Tuesday, March 16, 2010

firsts and lasts

When my children were born, I remember vividly the first time I held them. In fact, that entire first year, I spent countless hours documenting and savoring all those “firsts.” I remember the first bottle, but I don’t remember the last. I remember the first diaper I changed, but I don’t remember the last. I remember the first time they crawled and the first steps they took. I remember their first teeth. I remember the first time I fed them baby food. So many wonderful "firsts."

I wish we would carry over that savoring of the precious moments into adulthood. Some of the firsts and lasts.

Today, I have been thinking so much of the first and lasts of my relationship with Brian.

I remember vividly our first kiss. I do not remember our last.

I remember the first time he told me he loved me. I also remember the last.

I do not remember the first or last time we held hands, but I can recall the countless times in between.

I remember the last night we slept in our bed together.

I do not remember the first words Brian spoke to me. I DO remember the last.

I remember the first time we had sex. I do not remember the last.

I remember the first time we flew together.

I can’t stop thinking about the last day of Brian’s life today. To me, he died on the 16th of March. That is the day his body started seizing uncontrollably and he lost the ability to communicate with us. It is THE ABSOLUTE SINGLE worst day I can recollect. I am trying really hard not to recall it over and over today(Brian would hate it if I dwelt on something like that. He'd call it a waste of time and energy), but if I stop for even 5 minutes I am flooded. I am forced to face that day and the entire last week of Brian’s life again. I was numb last year. I would like to remain numb forever.

If I would have known it was Brian’s last week of life, I would not have gone out to dinner with friends on Friday night just a couple days before he would breathe his last. If I had known it was his last night, I would have stayed up all night singing to him and gently talking to him telling him how much he has meant to me. I would have held his hand and stroked his hair. I would have gazed into his eyes and mentally recorded every single square inch of him that I could.

If I had known it was the last time the boyz would see him alive, I would have at least taken a picture. For ALL THAT IS HOLY, the last picture I have of them together is a few weeks before he died. WHY? I sent my boyz away for the weekend. They left and it was the last time they would see his body when it was not lying in a casket. I do not remember the last thing he said to them. I think it was along the lines of “give me a hug, buddy. I love you. Bye bye. Have fun.” But I DO NOT REMEMBER!

Thing is, I should have known. I knew he was dying. I just didn’t know when would be the last. We were told he would drift to sleep and sleep more and more til he didn’t wake. Brian did exactly the opposite. He stayed awake for nearly 4 days on end. His eyes would wander around the room looking for non-existent noises. He spoke to people who were not here. He was dying and we all knew it. How did I not treat every single solitary second like it could have been the last? I was so petrified of being tired and therefore being a bad mom to my boyz that I gave so many duties to our family and friends – including staying up at night with him.

I was ready for the sleep. I was ready to sit next to him and watch him peacefully drift out of this world. I was prepared to hold his hand, stroke his hair, sing him songs and pray with him as his soul left this world.

It didn’t happen like that.

I don’t know why.

I don’t know if I will ever overcome the regret of how I spent those last few days.

I think I will.

I have to.

I don’t remember the first words I said to Brian. I do remember the last.

I told him I loved him. I told him that I was a better person for having known him. I told him the impact he had on my life and so many others is immeasurable. I told him it was okay to go. I told him that Jesus was waiting for him. It was okay to go now because the boyz and I were going to be just fine thanks to how he has shaped us. I told him I loved him.

I don’t remember the first words Brian said to me. I do remember the last.

He said, “Yeah, I love you too.”

Those were the last words Brian ever spoke.

He loved me.

He loved me.

He loved me.

I loved him.

I loved him.

I loved him.

If we could all be so intentional in words and actions as though they could be our last, the world would be a better place.

Our first photo together. February 1993

Last photo we took together, February 14, 2009. An entire month before he died.


I apologize for this post being all over the place. I lost my original. I have been so BUSY today intentionally. If I stop, I am overwhelmed. I stopped just long enough to write this. Now, I am off to being intentionally busy again.


  1. I've been thinking of you Angie. And don't beat yourself up. There is no way you could have known it was the "last" on many of these things.

    Again, still thinking and praying for you and your sweet boys.

  2. Simply praying for you Ang!

  3. Its ok if its all over the place..that's what a blog is for. Thinking of you with tears in my eyes and love in my heart.

  4. I think a part of us doesn't want to admit it even when we know our loved one is dying. Or else we are too close to it or too tired to realize? For both my mother and my husband's mother, the closest caregiver called us and said, "Mom hasn't opened her eyes all day" or "Mom's been sleeping most of the day." And we'd say, "Wait a sec - this sounds bad - is she dying?" And the caregiver would say, "Oh, I don't think so." Both times, Mom passed away within 24 hours of the phone call. I think what happened with you was normal.

    And the boys didn't need to see that sort of end, you know? They saw enough and they knew he loved them - that's what is important.

  5. Loving you very much, and praying for you.

    Angie, nobody took a picture of me holding Angel. I have just a few grainy polaroids of her, alone in the bassinet. None of me holding her.

    I wasn't thinking straight. I didn't know I'd regret it later.

    We're human.

    We do the best you can in the moment.

    And we have new moments for the rest of our lives.

    By the way, the words you said to him near the end were beautiful and full of love and peace.

  6. I know that having someone else affirm you won't change how you feel, but I hate to see you regretting anything at all. I think you handled everything exactly the way you should've.

  7. It's a hard day for sure. You put your focus where it should be at the end of the post.

    You loved one another and your boyz.

  8. Oh Angie....my heart is so with you, praying.

  9. Angie, Sweet Angie,

    God doesn't prepare us for the end of anything. You couldn't know. And if you had - you would have been miserable - and second guessing everything you did or said trying to make it perfect.

    God doesn't prepare us for the end - He prepares us for Eternity. I'm guessing you know exactly what you would do with Eternity with Brian.

    I think I've shared before that my sister was murdered just before her 23rd birthday. I was 15.
    She took me bowling the night before.
    That morning, she held the halter lead of the horse (which was given to her as a gift from the kind old man who shared an ICU room with her 14 years earlier) while dad fixed his (the horse's) shoe.

    If we had known it would be the last time we'd see her - we wouldn't have let her go.
    And that wasn't God's plan.

    I suppose that sounds odd... suggesting it was God's plan for my sister to be murdered. But my sister knew she would die young. I believe, in some way, she was ready. Sometimes I think if she hadn't been murdered that night, she might have been a car accident the next day. It was her time - and I think she knew it. Nothing would have changed it.
    Though changed circumstances would be nice.

  10. You are a beautiful woman, mother, wife, friend and so much more. You did the best you could and should feel proud that you made it through. Thoughts and prayers.

  11. Prayers and tears. Your sister in Christ. Karen W. in S.W. Ohio

  12. Sending you peace and love. Brian knew that he was loved. He knew that his family would be okay. Those are amazing gifts you gave him. I hope I'm as lucky to know those things when my time comes.

    You were lucky to have each other...even if it was for far too short of a time.

  13. 3 of my closest friends AND my mother in law are chi omega girls. I love these pictures and I really love the one of Brian in the Underdog shirt. I'm sure I would have liked him a lot.
    (My husband has a Mighty Mouse t-shirt.)
    I still think of you all the time and hope for your peace.

  14. My heart goes out to you. But you know, you were a wonderful wife in all the days, weeks, months and years prior to that--in so many ways. Please don't have regrets. He loved you for who you were!