Like yesterday’s post, today’s post is about losing a parent before getting married. But what Sheryl shows us is that even though certain experiences may seem similar on the outside, the way we deal with life’s upheavals can be completely different from one person to another. More importantly though, I think Sheryl boils down what partnership is in its most pure form: letting go of the plan and doing what needs to be done for your family.
Somehow, I was out of bed, dressed and packing up the dog and an overnight bag before I even knew what was happening. A phone call at 4:42 in the morning comes with the implicit assumption that something is wrong. Hearing Bunny’s end of the conversation, his voice strained and giving only one word answers, quickly confirmed that. The next thing either of us remembers, we were hurtling down the highway, faster than I’ve ever know him to drive. As he filled me in on the details of the call, my stomach worked itself into knots that had me leaning out the passenger window and painting the side of the truck.
Wednesday night we had gone to bed with our world perfectly ordered. Jobs weren’t particularly forthcoming for either of us, but we had my cushy savings and his freelance hours to rely on. We lived in an adorable town house that we loved in a beautiful co-op with a great community, and were planning on staying there for another five years. We’d finally started hanging up our artwork and everything. We’d been scrimping and saving for a perfect-to-us, tiny fall wedding with just our very nearest and dearest invited, and with small but meaningful details. We were even talking very seriously about babies, much to his father’s delight and my mother’s horror.
By the time we arrived at the hospital, less than an hour later, it was pretty clear that none of our carefully laid plans mattered at all. The rest of that day is mostly a blur, filled with words like “severe stroke” and “basal artery,” waiting on tests and scans, hopes raised and dashed until finally there was a confirmed conclusion: no brain stem activity. For twelve hours, I wandered hospital halls like a ghost who wasn’t sure where it belonged. That afternoon, Bunny’s father died surrounded by extended family and friends.
I can’t even tell you the number of ways our hearts broke that day. I won’t even try it’s so impossible.
In the next days, our lives changed completely. There was no going home; we needed to be near our families. So we camped out with his momma (and then mine). We slept (or tried to) and sat and stared at TV screens and cleaned and nodded politely when people talked to us and made decisions at funerals homes. Time passed, slower than I’d ever known it could. Bunny and I drove back to our home in Toronto that we have been slowly making our own, but only to pack more clothes, clean out the fridge, and check on the cat.
Family and friends descended on the house, and we barely had a chance to breathe. It was overwhelming. Love, I’ve been coming to realize, can be like that. Through the crowds, I wandered from room to room, first checking on Bunny, then his mother, then his sister and her (now) husband, and his niece before working my way back to Bunny. Over and over. I had loved Bunny’s family since the day they moved in next door when I was eight, and his dad had been more of a father to me than my own. I was as lost as anyone else there. In those first few days, I knew that my world had changed. What I didn’t know was how much. Continue reading Life Doesn’t Care About Your Plans