On July 17th my husband Jay got to go that mountain high above and hear the words, "Well done good and faithful servant". My heart truly rejoices in his new found joy, peace, and eternal presence of our loving Lord, and yet my heart stings. His hand will never again lay over mine and cover it completely. I won't be able to lay my head on his lap while watching TV, and my phone that buzzed at least 10 times a day with his picture popping up on it, won't be doing so anymore.
What seemed like any other day, getting ready to head out the door with my list of things to do, turned out to be anything but normal. I didn't get my usual,"Good morning beautiful", text message from my husband who had left town on business the day before. It concerned me, but he was a very busy guy and I felt that he must have been unusually rushed. I sent him a text telling him that we (he and I) had bought our daughter Danielle a dress for her engagement photo shoot the night before. It was really one of the first steps we'd taken towards her wedding day so it was a big moment for us, and I knew he'd be eager to talk about it, but to my surprise he didn't respond. No text, no phone call... it just felt all too silent, and far from our normal good morning routine.
Seven months ago my husband Jay had developed complications with his heart. It suddenly wasn't performing as it should be, and after some tests were performed he found out in February that he had been born with a heart defect that we had never known about called Myocardial Bridge. Basically, part of his Coronary artery was kinked and had penetrated into his heart muscle rather than wrapping around it as it should have. A lot of people live with this condition and are fine, but in Jay's case he developed Myocardial Ischemia which means that the heart muscle wasn't getting enough oxygen-rich blood. This was affecting blood flow and causing his heart to behave very unpredictably. He underwent a procedure called Cardiac ablation which could help bring a normal rhythm back to his heartbeat, and bring some normality back to his life, and habits. The risks seemed to be very small and my husband so desperately wanted his old way of life back. He hated being made to slow down. Anybody who knew him, knew that.
Needless to say I was concerned about his heart that morning, as the routine of text messages I normally would have been receiving weren't happening. My phone was silent, and my anxiety grew. I called him a number of times and each time he still wouldn't answer, and then finally someone did--but it wasn't Jay. A man answered, told me he was a lieutenant from the police department, and he asked me who I was. He didn't have to say a thing, I already knew, but he continued to tell me what I didn't want to hear. He said there was no easy way to say what he needed to say, and then he told me that Jay, my husband, had passed away. I made him say it 3 times, kept acting like I heard wrong, but I knew I hadn't. Even upon hanging up with the lieutenant, I felt like Jay would call me right back and say that everything was okay, and that it was all a big mistake. My mind couldn't accept it. Thirty years of marriage and I was in love, and this was not supposed to happen. I was not ready to let go. Then again, nobody ever is.
Over the next hour the pain and reality became my children's pain and reality, and as the day unfolded it became the pain and reality to all who loved him. July 17th turned out to be anything but a normal day, and forever marks the beginning of a new journey into a deeper understanding of God's love and grace for us all.
And so this journey begins...
I love you Jay-