How do you type the sound of an exhalation? Because that is almost all I feel able to do tonight.
So many times since Wednesday I have wanted to come back here and say that it was all a mistake. I wanted to be able to tell you that I got a phone call: there was a misunderstanding and S was gravely ill, but not dead. Her infant son was not motherless. Her husband wasn't a widower.
There's been no mistake. S is gone. In the blink of an eye, in the space of a heartbeat, she was called home for reasons we may never understand.
I think the most shocking aspect is the way in which she died. Without getting into too many unnecessary details (many of which I still don't know anyway), S died because of a massive infection that went septic. This infection shut down her organs and sent her into respiratory failure in the span of three days. The infection was a postpartum complication, but certainly not a common one.
Fiver's occupational therapist was at the hospital when S died, and she was able to fill me in on a chain of events. We know that S was discharged on Sunday morning, but passed out at home on Monday. Her husband brought her to the emergency room and she was in the OR by Monday night. By early Tuesday morning she was in the intensive care unit getting massive amounts of antibiotics. By Wednesday morning she was being intubated. By lunchtime on Wednesday she died.
Fast doesn't begin to describe it.
I've heard so many different parts of the story - from my friends in the hospital lab, from some of Rob's colleagues who were at the hospital, from the other therapists - that they all swirl around in my mind. They're little glimpses of the close of a life.
Everyone who knew her is devastated. The hospital where she delivered was also where she was employed. It is where Rob works, where I had Sally and Bun, and where Fiver gets his therapy. People in Rob's office knew her, people in the lab knew her, the nurses on labor and delivery knew her. Someone in the hospital lab told me that when the nurse from intensive care called down for blood, she was sobbing so hard that no one could understand her. S was one of our own.
Rob and I attended the viewing on Friday, and we were not surprised to find it packed. It was a beautiful tribute to someone who touched so many people. There were pictures of S all over the room, but the ones I found it most difficult to look at were all of the photos from the night she delivered her little boy. She was incandescent, radiant with joy.
We made our way through the line and offered our condolences to her family. Her father could hardly speak, he gripped my arm and choked back sobs as I told him what a special person she was to our family. I looked in his eyes and saw utter brokenness, and I had to hug him. I had to because I could see he was sinking.
When we spoke with her husband and mentioned Fiver's name, he smiled and told us how often S talked about Fiver when she was at home. He said that she loved him and thought he was the sweetest boy. In that moment, I remembered that S had once told me that she hoped she would have a little boy as wonderful as Fiver some day, and sadness closed like a hand around my throat.
The funeral mass was very solemn. I've been to some funerals, usually after a lengthy illness, where you can see that people are almost celebrating the end of suffering for their loved one. There are tears, but there is also laughter and talk of all the good memories.
There was none of that at S's funeral. When the priest was not speaking, all you could hear was crying from every corner. At one point, her husband rested his head on her coffin and wept.
In his homily, Father mentioned that it was natural that we should question why the Lord would want to take S now, when she was so needed here by her husband and baby. He pointed out that Martha and Mary asked the same questions of Jesus when their brother Lazarus was in the tomb. Why, Lord? If you had been here our brother never would have died.
I believe that God has a plan for each life, and that He alone knows what is best. But I am also human, and I cannot see why S should die now. She was so happy to be a mother, and she would have been an excellent one.
I can only give myself the small comforts of knowing that she got to see and love her little boy, that she only ever enjoyed happy moments with him. She only ever had the honeymoon with him; no cross words, no frustration, no sick nights, no lost temper. Just kisses and happiness. Her son will forever have an angel mother to watch over him.
I appreciate your prayers and kind comments, and I'm sure this blog will return to its usual aimless content soon. (Something to look forward to?)
Until then, love well, life is short.