When I was about 15 years old I remember my mother on the phone with a friend and I could hear her saying, “Oh my God. That’s horrible. Oh my God.” She had just found out that one of the mothers in our neighborhood had been at a dinner party and suddenly started to complain about a severe headache. She tried to get up from the table and just collapsed. Passed away just like that from a ruptured brain aneurysm. No signs, no warnings, just gone at the age of 42. Gone forever.
I remember thinking to myself how sad that must have been for the family because they couldn’t say goodbye. Little did I know I’d be struggling with the same thing my 40s.
Brain aneurysms affect approximately 6 million people in the United Stated annually (that’s about 1 in 50 people). Approximately 8 per 100,000 people (or about 30,000 people in the U.S.) will have a ruptured brain aneurysm and will suffer some sort of permanent damage. Out of those 100,000 people approximately 40% will result in death.
I think about the day my world turned upside down every single day since April 29th of this year. I think about how life would have been if he had survived the aneurysm. Would he have recovered? Would he have needed care 24/7 because he was so permanently brain damaged that he wouldn’t be able to function? What if he was found sooner? Would he have survived? I look back at his texts and emails and try to figure out when it happened. I drive myself crazy and I’m ridden with so much guilt and regret because at 8:30am on that day I received a text from him that read, “Love you sweet cheeks.” It was the one day I didn’t have a chance to text him back to tell him I loved him too. I was caught up with conference calls and other things that delayed my response to him. I’ll never forgive myself for not responding back.
The night before he died I remember him being out of sorts a bit. He was under a tremendous amount of stress at work and his phone was ringing off the hook with work calls at 6pm. When he got off the phone he had asked me a question that I had answered. Five minutes later he asked the same question and then asked it again. I remember becoming irritated with him because I had answered it repeatedly. He then went to go and sit on the couch and put his head down and had his hands on his head (like he was suffering from a headache). He then told me he was going to bed (this was a man who never complained about not feeling well).
The next morning, he woke up like he did every day to get ready for work. I remember feeling bad that I was curt with him the night before. I stared at him as he was getting ready and I thought to myself how hard he always worked to be the best employee, father, stepfather, husband and friend to so many. I went out of my way that morning to tell him how much I appreciated him and hugged him just a bit longer before he said goodbye for the day. He looked at me and smiled and told me how much he appreciated my comments. He seemed totally fine and off he went. It was the last time I would ever see the love of my life again.
I was meeting him after work to go the Luke Bryan Concert with my stepdaughter and stepson. I remember texting him that afternoon about 2pm letting him know I was on my way to meet him. About a half hour passed and I didn’t hear from him. I remember I was starting to get irritated because I had asked him some questions that I needed answers to. Of all days, I texted him again with the question, “Are you alive?”
It was always so unusual for him not to respond right away so I started to worry. Worry then set into panic after my stepson called me to tell me that his dad hadn’t picked him up from school yet. My husband would NEVER have been late without letting him know so I called one of his co-workers to see if they knew where he was. That’s when my world turned upside down forever. I received the terrible news that he had passed at work and they had found him about a half hour before my call.
I remember dropping to my knees in disbelief. I was shaking and my initial reaction was to get in my car and drive to his work site. As I was driving my phone rang and it was the San Francisco Police Department extending their condolences to me. I then received a call from the owner of the company my husband worked for extending his condolences. I was still in denial.
I remember pulling up to the office building and seeing the coroner’s van. I was still in disbelief. It wasn’t until about an hour later that someone handed me the hat that he was wearing along with his jacket and I vividly remember burying my face in both and sobbing. This was really happening. He was gone.
Five months later, I still catch myself staring at the front door and thinking he’s going to walk right in from a long trip and hug me and tell me he’s never leaving me again. I think about all of the things I would say to him that I didn’t get to say when he was alive. I think about how I would hug him and never let him go for fear I’d lose him again. After almost five months after his passing it’s really starting to sink in that he’s never coming back.
This realization hits often and I find myself having to walk out of public places because I can’t stop crying. How did this happen? He was young and so full of life.
As I was doing some research on the Internet about brain aneurysms I came across a burgundy ribbon that unofficially dedicates September as Brain Aneurysm Awareness Month. It’s a condition that doesn’t receive a lot of attention and it should. In fact, there is a Website dedicated to brain aneurysm awareness and what you can do to help get this in front of Congress to consider an official recognition of this terrible condition that affects so many families. I urge you to visit www.bafound.org. to learn more about causes and prevention of a brain aneurysm and what you can do become educated on how you can prevent this from happening to you or your loved ones. It can happen to any of us. I would say my husband is living proof, but for now I’ll just settle with saying he is proof.
Your life can change in an instant. Make sure to let the ones you love know how much they mean to you. It’s been my saving grace through this tragedy and will be for the rest of my life.