Monday, June 20, 2011

Heartbreak, and the Opposite

We've all felt them. When Dan died it was as if I was having daily heart attacks because of the severity of the pain I felt within my chest. A stubbed toe was momentary relief of the physical pain I felt in my heart. I used to wonder if the pain I felt was anything like what Dan felt the last moments of his life.
Today, those severe heartbreaks/aches are few and far between, however, my heart is far from being above aches and pains for various reasons, and every time they happen, it takes me back to the realization that none of us have any control.
I've struggled with sharing this piece of information, but with careful thought, I do not believe I am dishonoring Dan by divulging it. Dan's cardiac arrest began on the treadmill at Lifetime Fitness, but it didn't end there. He sat down on the treadmill with his head between his knees. He then got up and went to the restroom. Evidently, cardiac arrhythmia can at first disguise itself as nausea or the onset of a very upset stomach. Dan was found slumped over in a stall by a Doctor who had been running on the treadmill next to him and carefully watching his actions. The doctor began CPR immediately, but we all know it was already too late.
Fast forward to last Saturday night, the 18Th. Nick and I went out to a restaurant/bar in Edgewater. There was a point in the night when I happened to look over at Nick as he was walking inside. I watched his tall frame move into the bathroom with a smile on my face, giving a silent thank you to God for my courage and my ability to allow myself to love again. I continued with my conversations and soon was lost in laughs and jokes with friends. I looked over again a little while later, and didn't see Nick.
A rational person wouldn't have given this a second thought. A person who lost her husband begins to feel the rapid beat of her heart. A rational person thinks that he is fine and will meet up with him in a while. A person who remembers watching her husband walk out of the door, never to return again, walks briskly inside the bar. A rational person would glance around and then resume activities with friends, not putting too much thought into the whereabouts of her social boyfriend. A person who lost her husband in a bathroom stands stalkerishly by the men's room door, fighting the urge to rush inside, fully ready to administer CPR. A rational person never would have gotten to this point, so the rest comes from a person who is terrified that the ones she loves will die tragic, untimely deaths. I rush back and ask everyone if they have seen Nick. They haven't. My fears are confirmed, I just know it, he is sick or dead in the stall of Coconut Joe's.
I find Nick listening to the band. It's been a total of fifteen minutes, yet I've worked myself up to the point that I throw myself into his arms as the lump in my throat tightens and my eyes ache as I fight back the tears. I am holding on entirely too tightly to this rational person. This rational man who is looking at me wondering what is so wrong. I wanted to suck the words right back into my smiling mouth as soon as I said them, but it was too late. "You're not dead."
This type of heartbreak is stealth and is brought on by deep fears mixed with panic. It starts as a rapid heartbeat and thoughts that you can't control rushing through your mind. Thoughts that you know are irrational, but you can't help but to think them, and then you can't help but to believe them. Your head is spinning as a rubber band is placed around your heart. Someone is pulling the sides of the rubber band as far as they can extend and letting them go at a milliseconds pace. Your neck tightens and lips quiver even if you are not crying. Sometimes the eye will twitch. When the episode is over, and the things you knew were OK in the first place are really OK, it might end with a few relief tears. Most of the time I can stifle them to only a gloss of the eyes. The heartache is far from over, even if the "episode" is. Your loved ones are OK, so the embarrassment of your panic sets in. The sadness that you have these episodes in the first place, takes you to the dark place where they began. You wonder when the next one will take place, and if you will be able to get through it. You pray.
Sunday afternoon, the 19Th. My sister has a father's day barbecue and I feel no such heartache. The rubber band has snapped in the night, and no longer constricts my heart. The muscles in my face are relaxed until a smile erupts from the love that is presented at this event. I watch as Lilly chases bubbles, knowing that the only worry in her world is whether or not she would catch the bubble or if it would burst before her perfect hands could make the grasp. My heart sang as Carson and Dillon swing as high as birds and slide down the slide. I hold my heart and face as if trying to keep myself on the ground as I watch Taylor stretch and squeal as her Daddy lifts her in the air. I want a million of these days. I want children to protect, and love, and lift. I want to feed off of their innocent fearlessness, their lack of panic, their sense of security.
This is the opposite of heartbreak, I wish I knew the perfect antonym for the word. Then again, maybe I do.... Faith, love, hope.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Craig Coyne

It happened 3 days ago. Just around the same time it happened last year. I went to the mailbox, and there it was. It was addressed, (as always) to Dan and Lilly Shriner. There are only a few people on this Earth that don't know he has passed, and only one that has always thought my first name was Lilly. It was Sam, the jeweler from Craig Coyne, in Ellicott City. The inside read, "Dan and Lilly, Congratulations on your wedding anniversary, our best wishes to you both, ~ Sam." Two days from now, on June 7th, we would have been married 3 years.
I think I was the one who drug Dan into the jewelry store on a beautiful day that we played hooky together. I think I had made up my mind that it had been long enough, and he needed to know what kind of ring I wanted, even if he didn't think so. We met Sam, and fell in love with his style, his people skills, his interest in Dan and I as a couple. What I wasn't aware of is that Dan went back there the next day to start "building" our forever.
This past Friday night was a night spent on the town in Ellicott City. Nick, Cara, Ryan, John, and I ate and hopped to a few bars up and down the quaint streets. I knew I was getting close to it, as we walked down the hill. I felt my heart start to race. Tiffin, this is natural. It's been a long time. It's close to your anniversary, you just received a card from them, it's okay to feel like this. Don't let them see your eyes. Look away, stop slowing down, don't look in the window, don't look at the "Craig Coyne You Ware" on the door. Why did you slow down? Don't linger, they will know something is up. Keep walking and enjoy this night.
It was more than I could bare, and I did break down. Thank God for the girls bathroom. Thank God that I had Cara that night, and she knew just what to say, she knew to just listen. I guess I am also thankful for good crys, even as inopportune as they might be.
Cara and I hugged and joined up with the boys. I saw Nick before anyone else. My throat got choked up again. What if I lost him? What if something dreadful happened to him? What if I had to do this all over again? Could I? I couldn't. I'm scared.
I am still scared last night. I can't sleep. I watch Indecent Proposal, I watch Investigation Discovery, I watch the beginning of Crazy Heart, then the TV timer turned the television to off. I laid there with my eyes open. Nick isn't snoring, is he breathing? I get really close to his face to feel his breath. Am I psycho? What if he opened his eyes right now? Why do I feel like this? Why am I crying, again? The warm tears run out and down, and I can't stop them. I am stifling my sniffles and breaths, but it's hard. Roll over, and go to sleep. Why can't you ever sleep? You worry too much. You can't control ANY of this, Tiffin. Worrying isn't going to change the course of the universe.
Today: Sadness. That hint of depression that says, "all I want to do is sleep." I manage to shake it somewhat, but not the stomachache that accompanies it. Nick has an idea that we should go for a walk, so we do. We wondered down by the river in Savage and walked side by side. We had a conversations about anticipatory anxiety. The wait of something that might scare you is more of a nuisance than the actual event. We spoke of how life can throw something at you, and in an instant your "normal" is something severely feared. It's crazy. What a lame way to describe something so big, but crazy seemed to explain how we felt about the unexplainable during our walk today.
Tuesday, and my would-be anniversary will come and go. I will most likely smile, and have a "normal" day. Besides visiting Dan at the cemetery and spending some time with my girls, on a week night, nothing else will change. I will still hold Dan near to my heart, but I will also continue to love this new, strong, wild, love I have now.
At some point, before this happens next year, I am going to inform Sam of this world's tragic loss. We will most likely cry together, and then laugh and smile as he shares his memories of how picky and choosy Dan was. Sam doesn't know it yet, but eventually I want him to make me a piece of jewelry that incorporates both of my rings, as well as his. I know he can do it, and I'll ask him when I'm ready.