We said goodbye to Jim today. The doctors told us there was very little brain activity left. Even though they couldn't declare him brain dead he was close enough. Ken and I decided we would call everyone and let them come say their goodbyes and then let Jim go.
David went to the hospital with me this morning. We got there early enough for him to talk to the doctors and get a much more detailed explanation of things. The position of the bleed was very deep in the brain so going in to drain off the blood would be risky and probably wouldn't affect the outcome. Jim never really had a chance.
It was a long day of people coming and going. Dave Hockett came by again, Kevin Price, cousin Steve. Jim's dad came but he didn't stay long. He tries not to show it but you know his heart is breaking. I hugged him and thanked him for giving me such a wonderful man to spend my life with.
I called home but the girls and Kyle and Rory were already on their way. Jim's cheery Hello! came on the answering machine. That was a bit of a shock. I had to hang up. Couldn't deal with that right now.
Earlier Ken, David and I went to the (yuck) cafeteria for some breakfast. Afterward David and I stopped by the financial office to talk to Maria about the insurance situation. David deals with this stuff all the time so he knows how it all works and what can be done to get the costs down. After a bit of circular conversation and computer flailing he finally got them to try to take things in a different direction. I didn't get the feeling that they could help that much but we can probably do better than the 50% discount.
Back upstairs more and more family started to show up. Ken and I deceded that we'd see who could get there by early afternoon and then probably have them take Jim off the respirator at around 2:00, maybe 3. Sherri and her girls came, Jan, (again, if I leave someone out, forgive me.) Drew, Dede, Dad, Sherri's parents. Stacey and Scotty showed up with Audra and Brendan. They have a rule in the ICU that no children under 13 are allowed in. I asked Christine if they could come in and say goodbye to their Uncle Jim. She said ok. Audra was very quiet but I could see she was very sad and a little bit in shock. Brendan handled it very well, very grown up. I'm very glad they came.
After everyone said goodbye we told the nurse we were ready. I thought it was best that Ken, Lindsay and Paige, Kyle and Rory and I be the only ones in the room when Jim died. Ken agreed. A respiratory therapist and an assistant came in and started the procedure. Two nurses also came in and started shutting off the machines. They kept him hooked up to the heart monitor so they could determine the time of death. Once Jim was off the respirator he breathed on his own, but it wa shallow and labored. Little by little his breathing slowed down and he began to change color. Then it stopped. It took less than ten minutes for him to go.
When they first started working on unhooking Jim I got a fist-sized, burning feeling in my chest. I was thinking wow, this is it. This is really it. Jim is going to die. After they were done and we were able to surround his bed I watched him and talked to him, stroked his arm and his chest. I could hear Ken crying next to me. I had to keep looking at Jim. The tight, burning feeling began to dissipate and I suddenly felt so peaceful. I felt empty but it was a good empty, just pure being. I knew I'd be ok. Thank you, Jim.
When he was finally gone we stood silent and just looked at him. I looked at the heart monitor and there was just a little blip on the line. The nurse said that was just a little electrical activity, that his heart had stopped. Everyone filed out but I stayed a few seconds longer. I knew that once I left that room I'd never see my husband again.
I left and we all walked together down the hall to where the rest of the family was waiting. Lots of hugging and tears but also some laughter and lightness. Brendan became a huggy boy and let his Aunt Donita smooch him good and hard. We decided to all go to Ken's and just be together for a while. Just as we were leaving Lindsay noticed the label on a fire extinguisher on the wall. She said, "Is that a cowboy beating a fire with a whip?" Yep, it sure was. Another funny moment.
We went to Ken's and had pizza and salad. I think we stayed for about 3 hours. Ken ran a slide show on his computer. There were some hilarious pictures of Ken and Sherri and us goofing around in Mexico. The pictures of Jim were the best. Damn, he could be funny. It was good to talk and laugh with the family. Crying, too. Lots of that.
Jeff called and said he wanted to come over but it got too late for him to come to Ken's. I called him and told him to meet me at home. He and I came into the studio and had a nice talk. It was so good to see him. It's been a long time since we last walked the Rube together.
After he left I made phone calls to Northern California and Washington. One by one I heard the voices of mine and Jim's dearest friends. I gave them the heartbreaking news. They pretty much knew it was coming but it still was a shock to hear. So many of them had stories of how Jim has made a difference in their lives. I told them we're planning to have a celebration of life party next weekend and it sounds like most of them are coming down for it.
Dean will be here on Saturday. I might just latch on to her and never let go.
What a day. Jim and I were together for 34 years. I don't even know how to be me without him. I don't have to worry about that too much because he'll always be with me. I've got his girls. And now our new life begins.
Thank you all for reading this blog. I feel you are all with me. I know you all loved Jim and were touched by him. I love hearing your stories about him. It keeps him here with me.