The amount of time it has been since I got to hold my sweet husband tightly in my arms.
By this time one year ago I had already starting planning funeral arrangements. Did you know it happens that quickly? I woke up in the early morning to my husband dying next to me and only hours later was forced to visit a funeral home to talk about how we would be remembering his life.
Remember his life?
I barely had a chance to remember that his life was no longer with me, then ever so quickly had to think about how others would be remembering it. You don’t receive a week to first allow yourself to grieve over your world being taken from you. You don’t even receive so much as a day, or even part of a day for that matter. You just get to swallow your emotions up, take a deep breath (or 10), and get on with the planning.
As I’ve mentioned previously, for some reason that “fog” that typically takes over a person’s being in dreadful life events never came to me. The amount of details I have ingrained in my head from those three weeks leading up to this day, this day itself, and the days to follow are terribly scarring. I can barely remember conversations I had yesterday, but all of sudden when the worst thing I could ever imagine decides to take place I just so happen to have to sharpest memory in the land. I have shared a lot throughout my writings, but I noticed in all of them I failed to share much about this day itself just one year ago.
After the doctors told us Brady’s days were now being counted I couldn’t stop my thoughts from asking dark questions. When would it happen? How would it happen? Would he be at home or in the hospital? Would I be there? Would I want to be there? Would he be in pain?
Mind you, these thoughts definitely came from the darkest of places in my head. I wanted so badly for them to become thoughts I would never actually have to deal with because Brady would somehow find a way to overcome it all.
I awoke that morning to Brady breathing rapidly while ripping off his oxygen. As I continually asked him to put it back on I turned on the lights. I wanted him to see my face. I wanted him to look into my eyes. I wanted him to know that my request was not coming from me as a nagging wife, but from the deepest depths of love in my heart. His body was restless as his breathing began to move faster. All I could do was beg. I went to grab his oxygen myself in attempts to forcibly put it back on. He looked at me with his heavy eyes and quickly grabbed my arms, stopping me from doing so. He didn’t speak, but I felt his pain. We held each other close as his rapid breathing suddenly disappeared.
In that small moment of time, from one second to another, all of the pain, suffering, and heartache my sweet husband was feeling left his body..
only to crash like a freight train into mine.
My panicking self ran out to the living room to get Brady’s mom who had stayed the night with us, but she was no longer there. She had already left to take her youngest child to school. I immediately called her to return home. All in row I had to make three of the worst phone calls of my life that consisted of me saying, “Get to my house now.” I screamed, I sobbed, and I talked to to my husband as I lied there in bed holding him. Little did I know how precious those moments were. They were the only ones I would get to have. I don’t show many of my emotions (the sad ones that is) off to people. So when Brady’s mom arrived back to the house my demeanor instantly changed. There were still tears, but the sobbing time was over for me. It was time for me to find my inner Brady strength, so that’s what I did.
I sat next to my husband in bed as loved ones began to arrive. His parents, my parents, and our siblings came in slowly. Then it never stopped. I watched as my tiny, one bedroom duplex began to fill up with people. I refused to leave Brady’s side as I sat there in a haze watching my house turn everyone else’s own personal showing. I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t do anything besides sit and stare blankly. I had to watch the reactions of, I’m guessing, well over 100 people as they came into my house, into my bedroom, and reacted to what they were seeing one by one. I sat there next to my husband in a fishbowl as people came in to “greet” us. While I’m guessing all of their intentions were meant to be good, it was miserable. I hated every second of it. Brady would have hated every second of it. The little strength I had needed to be spent focusing on holding myself together and protecting my husband’s body while my house turned into a circus. I sat there with him enduring this for around 4 hours straight I’m told, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. There was no way I would have left his side.
Nothing went the way I would have wished for it to that day. I only left after being told his body would be being picked up shortly. Watching his physical self leave was something I had no interest in seeing. Truly, it’s something I had no interest in anyone seeing, but what could I do? I asked for my last moments with him to be alone. Thankfully, I was able to have that but how alone can you really feel with a house full of guests. After saying my goodbyes I left my room to walk out and face the sea of people. I hadn’t even actually realized how many were there until that moment. There were people standing shoulder to shoulder in every crease of my house as I attempted to make my way to the basement. I was stared at like some sorrowful celebrity as I passed by all of the faces. The only person I wanted near me was Brady’s youngest sister. I fought through the crowd to find her. I don’t even remember speaking when I picked her up and took her with me to my unfinished basement. I spent most of that day in a blank stare without saying much at all. When I finally went back upstairs I had to ask people to leave my own bedroom just to change my clothes.
From there I had to start planning the funeral with my entourage. It went relatively smoothly considering we were trying to please the ideas and choices of 8 different people throughout the process. The day of the showing I stood for almost 6 hours straight to greet over 1,000 guests, only taking one 10 minute break to snack. I’d say it was tough, but I really had no concept of time. I was basically a robot on repeat as I continually thanked each person for coming and for their kinds words. It was shocking to see just how many people came, however it brought me joy knowing just how loved my husband was.
The day of the funeral finally came a small amount of fog. I don’t remember it in quite as much detail. I do remember feeling lots of anxiety that day. I was particularly anxious about going to the funeral Mass itself. We planned the service to be at the same church where Brady and I had our wedding only 6 months prior. It would be the first time I entered that church since our wedding day. So if that were not as awful as could be anyway, that little fact was the icing on the cake. Walking in was a blur. I kept my headed down the entire way to my seat. I didn’t want to see the crowd full of sorrowful faces looking back at me. It would have just made the sting worse.
So what does it mean to be #BradyStrong? It means that everyday life is a constant battle. It means some days the emotions aren’t so easy to hide. It means finding the nearest bathroom, corner, or any place at all to duck into just to let yourself cry for 60 seconds. It means pulling yourself back together to face the people at your family party or the little faces in your classroom. It means doing a whole lot of things you have no interest in doing in honor of your husband. It means finding the right words to say each time some put their hand on your shoulder to ask “So how are YOU doing?” And it means that every time someone tells you how strong you are, you take a deep breath, say thank you, and pretend that it’s true because you know on the inside you’re actually crumbling to pieces.
I believe Brady instilled this strength in me.
I work hard to show that I am #BradyStrong for him and him alone.