Today marks my best friend, soul mate, and hero’s birthday.
In honor of my husband, Derek, who is one of the largest driving forces behind my writing, I share, his story…. the past almost 3 years.
The next several series of blogs, will be on Derek’s journey….that led me to my conversations with God…. To WRITE.
I will unveil, his journey, and what is yet to come.
On an early Friday morning, December 14th, 2012, my husband Derek and I were driving to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to the hospital for a minor day surgery for Derek. We were both exhausted, just having returned a few days earlier from a trip of a lifetime to Ireland and Africa.
Still feeling the effects of jet leg, we had both been awake since 3 am. Our conversation was light- hearted on the hour drive as we reminisced the experience of being with our most treasured friends and business partners; as we had worked with the Green Belt movement, planted over 2000 trees, visited Mukuru Slums in Nairobi Africa and also had the privilege to sponsor 2 children and send them to school for the next year.
Derek and I had worked so hard the past several years, overcame so much, and well to be honest, we finally felt, all our hard work had paid off. We felt at the top of the world. Our business had taken off, and the blessings were finally pouring in all around us.
For the first time in my life, I felt like I was on the top of the mountain, instead of climbing the mountain.
The view… was magnificent.
We talked more about our future, our plans and, really a sigh of relief over all we had overcome. Both agreeing, it was worth every moment. Our conversation quickly turned to Christmas, as it was right around the corner, and we were both anxious to return home and catch up on all the hustle and bustle of the beautiful season of Christmas.
Upon our arrival, we checked in to the hospital, sent to a room, and went through the typical routine of hospital admittance. As we waited for Derek’s turn to head into surgery, I crawled up next to him on the bed, and we turned on the T.V. We both wanted to see what the weather was going to be for the weekend.
But as we were watching the news, it was interrupted, by BREAKING NEWS!
A report of a possible school shooting was coming in and as we turned the channel, it was on every single channel. Derek and I sat there, as we waited with the world, to see, if yet again, there was more loss of life, to children killing children in our country. Before we could find out the details, the Doctor came in and it was time for Derek to head into surgery.
Even though this was a minor surgery, really no big deal, I remember, my heart feeling like it was in my throat, as I kissed him good bye. I whispered into his ear, “I love you, and I will pray for you” and said our good-byes.
I stood there in the hallway, watching him be wheeled away on his bed.
This was the part I disliked the most. I knew this was a minor, no big deal kind of surgery. But for some reason, my stomach was in complete KNOTS.
When he was finally out of sight, I walked to the lobby where I was told to wait.
I can’t explain it, but the knots in my stomach now turned to this sick feeling in my stomach. Mostly because I was hoping that there was no loss of life with this latest school shooting. But for some reason, that I cannot explain, my mind was on Derek, almost like something felt wrong.
Upon waiting for the next 1 ½ hours of Derek’s surgery and recovery, I watched the horrific news unveil itself of the Sandy Brook Elementary school shooting.
In that next hour, there were dozens of health care professionals, visitors of patients, patients, you name it, gathered around that lobby, glued to the T.V. The lobby became so packed with people, there was only standing room available. The quiet eeriness of the room reminded me of the horrible day of 9-11.
A small group of people formed into a circle and prayed. Others were crying, and had this sick look all over their face. Strangers were talking to each other, and acting like they had known each other all their life. Observing all this, I myself, prayed for all involved. This horrible sick feeling again washed over me, when I realized, I would have to tell Derek this when he came out of surgery.
Before I knew it, I was being led back to Derek’s room, my thoughts remained on the poor families who were just finding out their children had been murdered right before Christmas. Guilt flooded my own thoughts when I would catch myself drifting to all the ‘Christmas Chaos’ I had to get done that afternoon. Somehow, on that day, it felt wrong to think all my ‘to do list’ back home.
But as I entered Derek’s room and saw him, all that mattered in that moment, was Derek. He was just waking up. I walked up to his bedside, reached down to touch his face, and as his eyes, were trying to focus on my face,he all off a sudden…….
stiffened his body, sat up, screamed out my name, “SARAH” and then began to projectile vomit.
It was like Derek had absolutely no control over himself!
The rest became a blur!
Nurses came running in, I was moved aside. Derek just kept crying out,
“Oh God….. Please God…… help me!”
I had never seen Derek like this… honestly everything happened so fast, I didn’t have time to think! It looked like the nurses gave him something in his IV, cleaned him up, and made him just lay back down.
Derek just moaned. He just kept crying out,
“Everything is spinning, I can’t look, I don’t want to open my eyes, what’s happening to me? Please someone help me.”
It was the tone in his voice, the shouts he was shouting out. I had never in all the years I had been with him, ever, heard or seen him react like this. I felt like my life, like a light switch just turned on, turned into a horror movie, watching the person I loved the most being tortured.
I had never felt so helpless in my life for this poor man. I was shoved in the corner as many people were rushing into his room. Within minutes his Doctor came in, assessed Derek, and simply said, “Sometimes this happens, where people suffer from short term vertigo. It only happens in about 20 % of the cases. We will just keep him overnight. By tomorrow, he should be fine.”
I had no reason in the world to not trust this Doctor or think any different, so he completely calmed my fear at that moment.
As the Doctor left, Derek, reached for my hand and I sat next to him. I could tell he wanted me close, but whatever he was feeling, he didn’t want me touching him or laying next to him. I could only hold his hand.
He wouldn’t move or open his eyes, he was very ‘ROBOTIC’ in his gestures and just laid so still…. so very still.
Whatever they gave him in his IV had calmed him down. He was very groggy now.
I sat by his bedside for a long time holding his handing and finally in a shaky voice, he asked “What happened at that school, was everyone ok?”
That afternoon, I shared with him the horrific details, that were revealed as he was in surgery. Derek, I could tell, even though miserable himself, was devastated by the news. That was Derek… he was and IS always, and I mean always thinking of others before himself.
As the afternoon went by into evening, Derek didn’t want to eat the rest of the day, or he would throw up. Any time he even tried to sit up, or move, he would become completely agitated…. and throwing up uncontrollably. The nurses just kept putting meds into his IV to calm him and make him sleep.
There was no way, he could walk at all, so for the first time ever, I along with the nurses helped him use a bed pan. I had never in 20 years, seen this man like this.
It was HELL!
All I could do was just trust and pray that tomorrow would be better.
I had nothing with me. No clothes, nothing for overnight, because we weren’t expecting this. There was no way I was leaving him like this. All he wanted was to hold my hand.
So, I called my three kids back home, assured them everything was ok, explained they were keeping Dad overnight and we would be home in the next morning.
The rest of the day, there was nothing else to do, but hold his hand, and every station on T.V. was plastered with the gruesome details of the shooting that morning and like clockwork, when his meds were wearing off… he would be sick and crying out to me.
By evening, Derek was so exhausted, I think from all the drugs. He was finally knocked out good. I was relieved for him, hoping that I would never see him like that ever again.
He was sleeping peacefully now, and not feeling whatever it was he was feeling before.
Climbing into the most uncomfortable cot that night, wearing the same clothes, the only clothes I had, reflecting all that had happened,
I realized that none of this day….. at all …….
went as I had planned.
This was a horrible day.
Forcing myself, to end it on as good of a note as one could on such a horrible day, I reflected on what I witnessed that day. I witnessed that day, the courage, strength and FAITH that comes out in most people through the most difficult of times.
Just like the day of 9-11.
Through horrific loss of life, the worst tragedies imaginable, it is then, that the people in this great country, the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, always seemed to go back to our country’s roots of foundation.
‘One nation under GOD’ becomes important again.
I witnessed that personally in the lobby that day, watching all those people gather around the T.V. become UNTIED. Strangers became friends with strangers, people who wouldn’t have been praying an hour ago, were now in deep prayer. In times like these, even people who don’t want to believe in God or question him, were now praying, because in the worst moments in life, deep down within, everyone wants to believe in something, or they have absolutely no hope.
Life without HOPE is meaningless.
I found myself questioning why does it take a tragic event to change people’s hearts towards one another? Through tragedy, people’s obsession for themselves, what they feel, want, and think they are entitled to, vanishes……and instead their hearts are filled with love and kindness.
Its like they are forced to choose.
To UNITE or stand alone.
I saw more people UNITE that day, than stand alone. It was amazing. I pictured in my mind, people all over the world praying for those families and the true power that lies within prayer. It was this thought, that finally painted the most calming picture of peace in my mind. Before I drifted off to sleep, the last thoughts I had was for Derek, that tomorrow he wakes up the Derek that I know, and we can head home.
What I didn’t know that night…..in that moment………was how the events of this day was about to change the course of my entire family’s life.
Our own BREAKING NEWS…. Was right around the corner!
To be continued………..
This first blog is also dedicated to the families of the Sandy Brook Elementary School shooting and the great loss of life that took place on Dec. 14th, 2012.
This great nation, continues and always will, to lift all the families up in prayer and strength. To not let evil win, but faith, hope and love sustain you all giving you the strength to move forward in honor and great memory of your loved ones.