Dave wanted to get to work about an hour early that morning. We were going to be heading out of town for Christmas and the schedule at work was a little up in the air, so he wanted to get a beat on that, before a meeting started at 8:00. His 4Runner was in the shop, so either I was going to have to bring him, or he was going to ride his bike or jog to work. The night before when he said that he needed to get to work early, I sarcastically said, "Don't look at me. I'm not getting everybody out of bed early to drive you to work." Then I went on to tell him that I would totally bring him in. We said a couple more things about it and he convinced me that he really wanted to run to work.
His alarm clock rang early. Probably around 5:45. He usually presses snooze a couple hundred times, but I don't know if he did that morning or not. I kinda heard him getting ready, but I know I never even looked at him. What I do know, is that before he left the room, he said, "Holly, I'm leaving. I love you." I totally heard it and I totally didn't even respond. I remember thinking that if I started talking that I would wake up and not be able to go back to sleep for an extra hour or so. When I finally started stirring, the first thing I did was grab my phone and text Dave. It was at 7:06am. I wrote, "Holy cow-I can't believe u ran to work in this weather. Your are pretty studly." I know that text sounds kinda 8th gradish, but I'm sure he would've loved it, had he gotten it.
At 7:50, I piled the kids in the car to bring Spencer to school. My phone never rang, but I got the little alarm that says you have a message. I listened to the message en route to school. It said, "This is Kelly (or Karri) from Penrose Main Emergency room and I need you to call me back." I was at about a 5 out of 10 on the panic scale. I have a tendency to go to the worst case scenario and I did, but then I talked myself out of it, because the worst case scenario really never happens. However, since Dave should be at Memorial Hospital in the event of an accident, I knew that this was either in relation to something or someone else, or that Dave was unconscious at best and not alive at worst. I thought I better drop Spencer off at school, in the even that something terrible did happen to Dave, so that he was taken care of for the day. Spencer got out of the car and I dialed Dave's cell number thinking that Dave would pick up and my rising anxiety could be put to rest. He didn't answer, so with rising panic, I called his work number. Ninety-eight times out of 100, he answers his work number, so I knew I was going to hear his voice on the other side. No answer again! My panic had soared to about 9 out of 10 by this point. I drove home as fast as possible, figuring that I shouldn't be getting whatever news this was, while behind the wheel of car with two little four year olds in the back. We got in the house and found the land line, which was no easy task when I was so frantic, and I called the hospital. The nurse asked if I was Dave's wife. She said that I needed to come to the hospital, but have someone drive me. You can only imagine how much I was freaking out by this time. I said, "I just need to know if he is alive." Then she said, "You just need to stay calm, find someone to bring you to the hospital." I said, "No, I just need to know if he is still alive." She said, "I'm so sorry, but he's not."
I really did think that this had to be a dream. You hear that all the time, but I kept thinking that it just had to be a dream. The girls were already in full play mode, with their princess dresses on and plastic jewelry draping from their necks. I called my mom and told her the news that I just received. I wasn't even crying. Then I called his mom and told her and kinda started crying, but mostly because I should be crying at this point. Then I called my friend Kate and told her that Dave had died and that I needed a ride to the hospital. I was trying to make all these ridiculous plans about how I wanted the kids to come with me, etc, but fortunately people were overriding my in shock decisions. Then I called my mom again and that is when the real hysterical, madness tears starting coming. " I remember saying a lot of "Help me's" and "I can't do this." At this point, it was obvious to the girls that something wasn't right. I was trying to stay out of the freak out so much that I scar my children zone, but I'm not sure how successful I was. I'll find out someday, when they are in therapy, I guess. I told them that daddy died, but they just pretty much carried on with their princess play, which is what I kind of expected. When I got to the hospital, I think that there were already about 30 people there, or maybe they came a little after. I can't really remember. I was ushered into a little, cream colored room, decorated with a sweet, older chaplain. I'm sure he's seen his fair share of grief, but I'm not sure he knew what he was in for that day. The nurse with a bit of a valley girl lilt in her speech entered with an already hurting expression. She talked to me about how a biker found him on a path and called 911. The rescue workers worked on him for 40 minutes, but his heart remained in only a quivering state. The words she spoke to me, indicated that it could have possibly been a heart attack, but she certainly didn't say it.
The volume of my words was uncontrollable. I kept apologizing for cry-talking so loud, but I couldn't help it. I kept saying, "I didn't even tell him that I loved him, before he left." I was also so focused on the fact that he tried to give me my Christmas present the night before - twice, but I rejected the notion - twice. He was so excited to give it to me, but I didn't open it! I hate that part of the story! See, I like anticipation to build when I'm going to open a present, and sitting outside the car fix it place in the dark, didn't feel like the right time to open a great present. Then on the drive home, he said, "Holly you deserve this present for all that you do. It was kind of expensive, so don't buy me anything." I mean really . . . could I have married a sweeter guy? It also didn't feel like the right time to open it in the middle of putting the kids to bed. And then we started drinking a little wine and watching, "Christmas Vacation," and then we went to bed. So, I've always been really sad about not opening the present that he was so excited to give me.
That morning, probably while paramedics were furiously trying to save his life, I had actually cracked open a Bible study about Hagar and her son, Ishmael, wandering in the desert without food and water and they were about to die. God heard the boy's cry, provided a well, and told Hagar to not be afraid and that He would make Ishmael into a great nation. The whole point of the study was that GOD SEES. I wanted to do the study in full, because I really felt like just months before God was seeing our situation with Negusu when for a long time, I didn't think that he did. Anyway, that may seem random, but it plays back into the hospital. I remember wanting to find the verses that I read that morning. I thought maybe those verses would mean something a couple of critical hours later. I was loudly, of course, asking for a Bible. The dear chaplain finally handed his over to me, I opened it up, and it wasn't a normal Bible. It must be a look alike that carries only comforting words from the Bible. I remember handing it back and asking for a real Bible. I never did find those verses while at the hospital.
Then an officer came in and told us that it is being treated as a crime, because nobody was there to witness the death. They also said that I would get the autopsy results the next day. It turned out that they were off by about 5 weeks with that estimate! (By the way, I found out just last week, that he didn't die of a mitral valve prolapse. He had a heart defect where the coronary artery goes through the heart muscle instead of around it and for some reason, with that one beat, the heart muscle closed around the artery). Then the chaplain, my parents, who had arrived by this time, my pastor, and a police officer went with me to see Dave's body. It was all so surreal. I walked in and he still looked very much alive. His bushy hair was molded into the shape of a baseball cap, his face was scruffy from not shaving in about two days and he was actually still warm to the touch. He had obviously either died from crashing into the ground, or he had died and THEN crashed to the ground. The second turned out to be the case. I thought there was just NO WAY he could actually be dead. My pastor prayed and reassured me that Dave could see us. I remember feeling beyond grateful that at least I knew, beyond a shadow of doubt, that Dave was in heaven. Dave had a child like faith - not to be confused with an ignorant faith. While my faith often rattles in light of difficult circumstances, his faith was always planted and always firm. I was always jealous of his gift of faith.
After signing some papers, we left the hospital and I started rehearsing how I was going to tell Spencer that his daddy had died. Now, that I have gone through a box of Kleenex, just writing this, I don't think that I have it in me to talk about Spencer. There is a lot to say, though. What a kid. The conversations we have had are so rich, so deep, so heartbreaking, and so a part of eternity. But I'm spent. Whew - well, I guess I am about half way through the day. Maybe it won't be as hard, next time to come back and tell the rest.