Last Sunday night after a perfectly normal day, in fact better than most normal days, my husband Glenn suddenly felt like he was going to throw up. About a half hour before this happened, he asked me to bring him a Tums on my way to bed, because his stomach was queasy. We attributed it the rib eye steaks we had for dinner, since we are not big meat eaters. After he was sick, I took his pulse which seemed okay, and decided to sit up with him until he felt better. I assured him he must have gas. Seriously, what was I thinking? About two minutes later his head rolled back and his breathing was erratic and sporadic. Enter a crew of paramedics and police. Shortly after their arrival I began to hear words coming from my living room that you only hear on tv shows, such as "Clear!" . Because our dog Abi was literally frothing at what she perceived to be an assault on her beloved Glenn, I was stuck in our bedroom with her and Boo. Every now and then a police officer would stick his or her head in to tell me that Glenn was still was without life, and that there had been no progress, despite incredible efforts.
And then grace revealed its beautiful head in my life once again.
As Protestant Christians, we believe that grace is defined as a gift that is generous, freely given, totally unexpected, and undeserved. It is the love and mercy and salvation that God has given us, not because of anything we have done to earn it, but because of God's love for us. Glenn and I always felt that our marriage was evidence of God's wonderful gift of grace- the gift of second chances.
As my life changed forever that night, I was hysterical, terrified and not in my right mind, and it was 11:30 at night. I tried to reach our children first, deciding rather rationally that birth order would be a good thing. I called each of our two oldest children and let them call their siblings. Soon Emily and her husband Paul were on their way from St Paul. Apparently I dialed one other number because suddenly the door opened and there was my friend Misty. She physically picked me up off the floor and emotionally held me up and spent the rest of the night with me, driving me to the hospital to view his body , and then to my mother's bedside to be comforted by the love only a mother can provide, and finally back to our home to wait for my children, the event still evidenced by disarray and frantic pets. She cancelled her family vacation because of Glenn's death.
Grace continued to reveal itself to me the next morning. Being the Sears Charm School graduate I am :), I waited until a decent hour to call a few other close friends. I never asked for a thing, but by 8am a crew arrived with cleaning products, and food, and wine and coffee etc. etc. By noon the house was spotless, the carpets shampooed, and the doorbell rang all day with more and more dear friends.. They held me when I cried and laughed with me at some of the macabre. My dear friend Sandy ...there are no words for her tirelessness. She cleaned, and organized and bustled and got more done than in all the years I've lived here. But when I fell apart, she stopped and held me. Everybody just came...and fell into a role that day, and the love was all given so freely and undeservedly. It was a true old-fashioned wake that lasted 4 days.
Monday my children made a plan so that one of them would be with me all the time. Christopher and Rianna got the night shift, which included pj's, 3 dogs, and seasons of sitcoms I'd never watched before. When at 3:30 a.m. I started to feel a bit tired, we slept. If I awoke at 7, so did they. They kept me alive. Literally. Seriously.
My daughter Emily returned to Brainerd to discover that I hadn't showered or changed my clothes in 3 days. She gently guided me back to consciousness and helped me pick out something to wear to the funeral. She planned several lunches at places we use to go as a family when she and Chris were still at home.
Emily organized and planned the family dinner and hotel accommodations for a blended and not very cohesive family. I had nothing to do but nod and show up. All this while taking care of my very precious grandsons and trying to help them make sense out of something beyond way their grasp at 5 and 3.