Six years ago today.
Six years ago today started with a horrific shock at about 1 in the morning. It happened so quickly I can hardly believe I was there for it, or that it was real. One moment I was laying with my head on Daniel's chest listening to his heart beat, and moments later the ER staff were in our room fighting to save his life. They were not successful.
In my day to day life now, that time seems like a terrible nightmare lived by another woman. A woman who doesn't exist anymore. In my quietest moments, if I allow myself to go there, like right now, it is as if I'm right there and it is still happening. I'm 36, my husband is 35, our son is 5, and Daniel is fighting for his life with every ounce of strength he has. For the first year, nothing was real except that moment. I relived it constantly, replaying it, trying to look for some meaning in the moments. I wanted to review it to see if Daniel knew I was there, if he knew I refused to leave his side while they worked on him - even when they asked if I wouldn't rather wait outside.
The horror of the scene and the terror I felt in those moments is still there, permanently imprinted on my brain and in my heart. If I think about it now, I still feel the urge to cry and throw up at the same time. I still want to know how it was for him. I want to be reassured that it was a hell of a lot more peaceful for him than it looked. I want to know he's okay and that whatever heaven looks like it is so wonderful that he isn't up there somewhere sad that he didn't get to finish his life here the way he planned. I want to know that my vision of him laughing and enjoying his ever-after life is true.
I won't know the answer until I go there myself - which is why I don't allow myself to contemplate it very often. What's the point? I may never know. I have learned to live with that. It's during the days leading up to this anniversary that I can't control the memories and I have to wade through them. Starting in about mid-September, I put the memory hip-waders on and prepare to gut it out.
It is an amazing process each year and this one has been no different. Six years ago today I unknowingly said my final I love you to a great man. I did not get to say goodbye or a final thank you, and I'll always regret that. How do I feel 6 years later? Still sad. I'll always feel sad that things turned out the way they did. It wasn't fair to him or those of us left behind. But six years later I also feel incredibly blessed and grateful. Thank you Daniel Dippel for the years you spent with us. It wasn't enough time, but I'll always be grateful for every moment of it. It was a lovely cruise indeed.