Thursday, December 18, 2014
I never imagined that I'd be writing a post like this so soon. I also never imagined that the first time Ava met her great-grandfather would be her last. Yesterday was a rough day. No, rough doesn't begin to describe the knots, the tears, and the heartbreak that yesterday brought on. It started in the morning, at 3:56 a.m. Justin's phone began to ring and he instantly hopped out of bed. I'm sure he thought it was work related, but when he grabbed his phone his sleepy eyes had a look of complete confusion. I was awake at this point and I remember my husband saying, "Why is my mom calling at this hour?" I immediately felt a pit in my stomach. My mother in-law has never called us this early. I knew something was wrong. Justin went back to bed as if the phone call meant nothing. I knew better. I called Arleen back immediately, and I knew from the tone of her voice, that what she had to say was not good. She told me that she was on her way to the hospital. She mumbled something about Papoo, a lost heartbeat, and paramedics. My mind was a complete blur. In all the calls I'd received pertaining to Pop's health, they never once said that he wasn't breathing. They'd never once said he didn't have a heartbeat. I knew this time was different. I collected myself in the final moments of our conversation, I told her I'd tell Justin, and we hung up the phone.

Walking back to my bed took much longer than it should of. I could tell Justin wasn't completely asleep, and I'd wondered if he'd heard part of my conversation. I nudged his arm and I said his name. Once he acknowledged, I shared the information that was just given to me moments before. I wasn't surprised when my husband wasn't an immediate wreck. His Pop is a tough guy and again, we'd been down the hospitalization route with him before. Little did I know, when Justin did leave for work less than half an hour later, he fought back tears on the drive. I tried to go back to sleep because Ava bug wasn't due to wake up for at least three more hours. I remember waking up at a little after six and giving my MIL a call back just for an update. At this point, Papoo was on a ventilator because he wasn't breathing on his own. Apparently, Pop's heartbeat stopped for the twenty whole minutes that it took for the ambulance to arrive. This meant that he was facing potential brain damage, and all of his organs had shut down at this point. I didn't want to believe it. I also didn't want to face the fact that I was the one who had to deliver the news to my husband.

I allowed myself to let warm tears run down my face before I mustered up the courage to make the call. I kept thinking about the first time I'd met Arthur. He was so nice to me from the very start. He called me kiddo, California girl, and he was always willing to engage in conversation. He told me his Navy stories, biker stories, he even shared advice on certain cooking tips. He had light blue eyes and such a warm smile. I remember thinking back on the first trip we made to New York... Arthur had a lot of friends. There were always visitors at their home. People laughing, sharing coffee, and tons of funny conversation. He was the example of what a grandfather should be. I never got the chance to meet either of mine, so Papoo was always a special guy to me.

Once I snapped out of those happy thoughts, I called my husband. When he answered, I felt a lump in my throat. I staggered a bit, but I finally got the words out. He was silent. I know he was taking his time to let the news sink in. He waited a moment longer before he said, " I can't believe this." I could tell how surreal this was for him. His Nana and his Papoo were always vital parts of his life, and for the first time in 23 years, his constant was being shaken. That's pretty much how the rest of our day went. I would get an update on Arthur's situation, and then I'd call Justin and let him know. At one point I starting thinking about Justin's Nana and if she was alone in the room with her husband. I immediately called the ICU unit of the hospital and got them to send me through to his room. Nana picked up and thankfully she let me know she was in good company. Almost all of the immediate family showed up to the hospital for Arthur. That was just a clear view of how loved he was. Nana told me that the specialist was coming in shortly to remove Pop from the ventilator. He signed a DNR form so we all knew what removing him from the ventilator was.

This woman is tough as nails I thought to myself. She held it together, and I can only hope that I have this same grace if (God forbid), I am ever in the same situation. I immediately called Justin to let him know this final update, and I told him that he should definitely come home. I told him that we should try to see if a family member could face time us, so we could see his grandfather one last time. I could tell after this last call that my husband was far from okay. He sounded jumbled, he sounded a little disoriented. He finished up some paperwork and then he headed home for this inevitable part of the day. Before we could even think about doing anything, we got a call from Justin's brother. Arthur passed just minutes before he called. According to the family, he went peacefully. Our home was really quiet after that. I cried, Justin was completely heartbroken, and our baby girl was so confused. She dished out hugs, kisses, and smiles.. still she couldn't quite wrap her mind around why mommy and daddy were so sad.

I tried my best to make it short. I don't like shifting Ava's mood when she can't understand what's going on. I've never seen my husband sad in this way before. I'v never seen him look so broken or misplaced. I could feel the guilt of not being in his home state seeping through his eyes. I could feel the guilt of not being in touch more in his embrace. Everything he felt, I decided to take the weight of. I still wish there was a way that I could shield my husband and our baby from this type of ache. The shock has yet to wear off. I didn't think I was going to share the details of yesterday, but writing is the only way I know how to cope.

Here's a video from our last visit with Papoo. I thank the heavens above that we were able to celebrate his 70th birthday with him and our (then) two month old baby girl. We love you Papoo and we will miss you for the rest of our days! I promise to tell all the future Howland babies and Ava bug all about you.

♥- Leilani

Post a Comment