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Who am I to Talk?

Our long day was wrapping up. The night was bitterly cold but inside the KIA we were warm. In the back seat, Errol was anxious to get home. At the Wilkie corner he asked how long it would be until we got home, “Only about 15 minutes,” I answered. “Are you ok? Do you need to stop or need anything?”

“No,” he said, “just want to get home.”

“It won’t be long,” I assured him.

The rest of the drive went quickly and soon we found ourselves in our driveway. The tough bit between us and relaxation – getting up the deck steps and into the house. Errol’s broken ankle was now encased in a Controlled Ankle Motion boot and the Dr. said he could put partial weight on it, so the obstacle that had been such a challenge should be somewhat easier.

Craig came out and prepared to help Errol navigate the steps.

I grabbed the items from the car that needed to go into the house, the supper of Mexican food included and headed in while Errol made his way to the driver’s side from his perch in the back seat. I dropped the bags and my purse in the house and went back out to see if I could help. Dylan had come out to see if he could help too. By this time Errol was at the top of the stairs but was unsteady and asking for a chair. I quickly dashed back into the house to grab the wheelchair we had been using but by the time I got back out, Errol had fallen onto the deck.

The -40 temperature was biting. There was no way we could stay out there for long. I pushed the chair right up to Errol and bent down to talk to him. “Love, we can’t lift you. You need to get yourself into the chair.”

He nodded and took a deep breath, “ok”, he said and pushed himself up onto his knees and using the chair to push up on, he got up and turned to sit in the chair. He was breathing hard, but the exertion was considerable, so that seemed reasonable. We got him into the house, but his breathing was not returning to normal. He was gasping – not taking full breaths. It was like his breaths could only go part way; it was not a sound I had ever heard before.

“Call the ambulance,” I said, turning to Craig.

“No. No ambulance,” Errol said. I’ll be ok. Errol’s experiences with ambulances over the past couple weeks had been difficult and humiliating, so I understood his reluctance, but his breathing was disturbing me.

“Call,” I said, instructing Craig again while trying to coach Errol to breath slowly in through his nose and out though his mouth.

The ambulance arrived quickly but Errol’s breathing was deteriorating just as quickly. By the time the EMS team arrived, Errol was struggling with us to get out of the chair, panicking, trying anything to catch his breath.

I grabbed Espresso and moved out of the way to let the technicians work. Errol was able to respond to their questions when they first arrived but shortly after that, he called out, “Oh God, Oh God…” then his head snapped back, and he stopped breathing. The EMT got Dylan to help move Errol to the floor and they hooked up the defibrillator and inserted a breathing tube.

While all of this was happening, I was holding Espresso – keeping her out of the way. In my head I knew how this would go. Errol would be rushed back to Saskatoon – either by ambulance or air ambulance. I was tired from just having returned from there but prepared myself for the return trip. I would drive because I would get us there faster. No other option was possible to me. Errol was going to have another hospital stay ahead of him, but he would be alright. He had to be. There is no way I could be expected to endure this – not this. I had lost too much – faced loss and grief too many times. This would not be asked of me. I knew it.

A second EMS team was called to help transport Errol to the hospital. The defibrillator, which had been advising no shockable rhythm, called for a shock. This would resolve it, I thought. I could see Craig, watching, desperate and distraught, stranded on the other side of the living room. I wanted to reach out to him and tell him that it would be ok. God would never ask this much from me. I had endured my losses – my dad, my first husband, my brother, my mom…. God never gives us more than we can endure. I couldn’t endure this; therefore, it won’t be required.

Too soon after, as we sat in the waiting room, the doctor came for the second time. They had tried everything they could, for as long as they could. Errol was gone.

It is more than 2 years since the worst night of my life. I have endured the unendurable, but I have in the midst of it, looked at my life and have come to know that I would not be asked to endure so much for no reason. God gifted me with a talent for word-weaving and has allowed me to experience the greatest of challenges. He has also provided many sources of Hope and has entrusted me with reaching out to others, through my experiences, using my gift to share what I have learned.

Who am I to talk to you about grief and hope? I am not an expert. I am not a scientist. I am a mother, wife, sister, and daughter who has looked into the darkness and found light on the other side through my own personal experiences, through the experiences of scientists, specialists and thousands of other people that speak Truth and Hope to my soul. I am someone who has experienced grief, so I have a basis to understand yours and reach out; to listen, accept and help lift you from the darkness.

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This life of mine has  given me many rewarding and challenging experiences that have led me to discover many unique perspectives that I feel compelled to share. 

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