After reading the letters, I went through a reflective period. Mostly I had questions, a lot of them. As someone who thrives on fact finding, truth, answers, and closure…this bombshell revelation left me spinning. I wondered about Bonnie and if she did go on to marry as she advised in her last letter. I wondered and hoped that Lee and her went on to live happy and blessed lives. And I wondered what those lives were like and where they are today. Unfortunately I know very little about my father’s life prior to my entrance into the world. He was very private about his life before meeting and marrying my mother. And his side of the family seemed to honor his wishes that I was not to know. As I said in a previous post, the information I had about all of this was murky at best, and influenced by those who worked to keep it from me. I don’t know the intentions and with most of them gone, it’s a closure I don’t think I will ever get. When I think about it, I guess it doesn’t matter because there is nothing I can do about it. It is what it is, and that is history that cannot be changed. I have forgiven them because I don’t think anything was done with ill intention. And I was truly thankful to be given the letters and photo despite the timing. I firmly believe that my father had chosen to respect Bonnie’s wishes and he was going to honor that to his death. He was an honorable person who kept his word. Like I said before, I don’t know what he was like before I came along, but I know the amazing Godly man he was in my life. He was young when he and Bonnie shared a relationship and people grow and evolve with time and life lessons and experience. I would hate to be judged from just one period of my life and I extend that grace to others.
Armed with the letters, a photo and finally some information, I set out to search. I had no game plan, which was not wise. I think I was just so happy to have concrete evidence that I lost my bearing and didn’t originally approach this with a solid mindset. I quickly discovered that my searching was getting me nowhere and I quickly grew frustrated. I would tuck them all back into their manilla envelope and time would pass and I would pull them out again and try to search. This went on for 7 years, with that manilla envelope tucked away on a shelf more than I care to admit. Time just has a way of passing so quickly. As I admitted before, I have been guilty of taking time for granted. I think we all do, sadly.
The year 2020 arrived and we had been living in Florida since May of 2018. The manilla envelope was in a moving box, unopened. Life was just going along and we had absolutely no idea of the hell we were all about to endure. It started with the Covid-19 pandemic. Our world as we knew it was turned upside down and we went from living happy healthy social lives, to living in lockdown separated from family and friends. The news was a constant barrage of Covid-19 information which seemed to constantly change creating a lack of trust and consistency with the media and the various medical experts who seemed at odds with the correct course to deal with the pandemic. It seemed no matter where one turned, there was doom and gloom and non-stop scrolling of infected and death counts. One thing that stands out to me the most during all of that time was the sheer lack of emotion, empathy, and concern by the media in their coverage. It was obvious they were more driven by their quest for sensationalism with no regard for ethical coverage and no respect for the truth and little regard for the human stories they covered. It was all about the ratings and it was obvious. It’s pathetic and soulless how they had no empathy. It got to the point, we just turned the news off. Ironically we didn’t miss anything and we felt better mentally for tuning them out. The media had been losing my respect for years and I think that their coverage of the pandemic was the final straw for me personally. Everyone has the freedom to think, feel and say what they want, and that’s my two cents on it. The thing that I felt was so wrong during the pandemic was the isolation of people from one another. I understand and respect the need to limit exposure and therefore slow or inhibit the spread of an infectious disease, but I disagree with how certain things were handled with this pandemic. It has created an unprecedented mental health crisis and the long term effects of how this pandemic was handled will unfold over time to most likely reflect a host of issues and afflictions that had nothing to do with the virus, but with how it was handled. I will never forgive those who made the decision to not allow family members to be with their loved ones during this. In my opinion, far more deaths occured due to not being surrounded by a loving family. There is something about the love of family that medicine can’t touch. As I mentioned, I do believe much of this will eventually be addressed and changes made for the future, but it does little to help those who have already suffered so much.
As we tried our best to live in a pandemic, we found ourselves at home, and in my case that meant that both my husband and I were working remotely from home and our daughter returned home from college to take her classes online. At that time we felt very uneasy with the world and we resorted to an exist and survive mode. I remember being so grateful to be with my family and yet sad that the world had seemed to become a nightmare. It was hard to feel so helpless living in a world that was hyper-focused on impending doom constantly. And I really remember feeling so hopeless as I witnessed so many lose loved ones all the while being forced into isolation and seclusion. My heart still aches remembering the stories people shared with me regarding how they felt robbed of being able to be with their loved ones, especially those who lost their lives. Day in and day out, this was the living reality of 2020 and just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, they did.
July 29 started just like any other pandemic day, with my husband and I working remotely from home. Our daughter had gone with a friend to get breakfast. I was working in the home office and my husband was working in the kitchen. I walked out to the kitchen to share with him some trivial event that had occurred reference something I was working on. He was slumped over the kitchen island. I rushed to him and noticed he had a small fan in front of him. He was drenched in sweat. When I touched him, he was clammy and cool. He responded to my questions but it was obvious he was in distress and he appeared confused and disoriented. My mind raced with possibilities…is he having a heart attack or a stroke? I told him we needed to go to the emergency room. He is one who hates going to the doctor for anything and I expected to get pushback from him but he wanted to go too. I was planning on driving him but he couldn’t move so I called 911. The fire department is practically across the street from our subdivision and they arrived within what seemed a few minutes. It was such a blur. The paramedics were wonderful and quickly had him ready to transport and they were asking me if we had a hospital preference. Had we still been living in Ohio, I would have had an immediate answer, but having only lived in Florida for a couple years, I didn’t have experience. A frantic call to my mother provided me with the answer and also set in motion helping me to gain some calm. My mother is a strong, resilient woman who can handle anything. She calmed me through her strength. Once I advised of our hospital preference I started asking if I was going to ride with them or should I meet them at the hospital. The look on their faces told me before I even heard their words that due to Covid-19 protocols, I was not allowed to go to the hospital with my husband. As I looked into his eyes, I felt helpless and terrified at the uncertainty of what was going to happen and if this would be the last moments we would share. I handed over his wallet, cell phone and charger, gave him a hug and a kiss and watched through tear filled eyes as the ambulance drove away.
They had told me that other than him being able to use his cell phone to stay in contact with me, that the only way I could know what was going on was to call the emergency room for updates. This was a recipe for disaster and one of the things I mentioned earlier that I believe to be a horrible decision in terms of Covid-19 protocols. As a victim advocate, I take it very seriously that people should have someone present to help advocate for their best interests especially when they are not able to do so for themselves, no matter the reason. Trying to text and call my husband was becoming more difficult. He was losing his ability to respond due to what was happening to his body. Had I been there I could have been able to answer questions that he was not able to which could have helped with quicker more accurate treatment. This is where an environment is created that opens up a recipe for disaster. It creates the possibility for mistakes to be made that can prove fatal. I was no longer able to communicate with him directly as his condition deteriorated. I cringe recalling these moments. Through numerous calls to the emergency room for updates, I was told he had been moved to a floor that acted as a kind of triage where they are still trying to figure out the cause of what is happening as they are actively treating the symptoms as presented. His heart rate was dangerously low and he was suffering from numerous issues at that time, one being severe confusion and disorientation. A doctor assigned to his case made a decision to sedate him apparently in an effort to calm his confusion. I’m not sure why this was a good decision for someone who’s heart rate and blood pressure were so low that I didn’t even know someone could live with those numbers. All of this was happening and I was unaware of it at the time because I was not there to observe and advocate and they were a busy hospital trying to treat every day patients as well as Covid-19 patients during a pandemic. As you can see, it creates an environment ripe for disaster. I am a very detail oriented person and I kept an ongoing log book of who I spoke to and what they advised me was being done to my husband. It was my futile attempt at having some kind of advocacy on his behalf.
My daughter and I would call for updates and we would use our speakerphone option so we could both hear. We had made numerous calls throughout the day to get updates which were limited and not really helpful to us to calm our fears and concerns. We were making another one of these routine calls and we waited to be transferred to his nurse. She started to fill us in on how he was doing as she made her way down the hall to his room. We could hear her walking into the room and saying his name and telling him the cardiologist that had just been assigned to his case was there. My daughter and I could hear another voice which we assumed was the cardiologist as the nurse had just referenced. The tone of their voices suddenly took a drastic change as we listened to them talk to each other. And then we heard them call the code. Code Blue. We literally were on the phone when we heard them call the code. We heard all kinds of commotion, alarms, and the code announcement, and then we were disconnected. My daughter and I just stared at each other in shock and confusion. I couldn’t breathe. What was happening?!?