I don’t remember much of that weekend. It was good; we were good. I didn’t feel well at all on Sunday. Looking back as an empath I wonder if that was something I should’ve paid more attention to.
Weekly Taco Night was on the board, but Howard made me a grilled cheese instead. He was working on a figure for a competition with a friend in Canada. Some action figure he was customizing. He was focused, or in “project mode” as I called it. Just kind of tunnel visioned on his project.
I felt clingy, needy; I just wanted to be around him. I remember thinking this when I went out to share a meme, or quote from whatever was in front of me for the 5th time that night.
Typical, lazy Sunday night. I took a shower, didn’t dry my hair. I was still hurting from my car accident. I was definitely in rest mode. I got in bed- and pulled up an HBO show on my tablet. He would come in soon and take the dogs out one last time before joining me.
I heard a noise I had never heard before. Not a crash, or a fall, but a very deep and guttural sound. A sound only a living being could make. It was different so it startled me. I got up to investigate, thinking one of the dogs was locked in somewhere.
I came out of our bedroom “Hey Boo, did you hear that?”
I walked down the hall towards his office. The door was closed. My stomach dropped.
I knocked, “Hey Boo, was that you?” Nothing.
I went to open the door, and I could only get it to budge about an inch because Howard was unconscious on the floor, blocking the door. He was making that horrible sound.
His head was against the door to the hall. I tried to go in through the bathroom, thinking it was better to move his lower body directly than his head.
I couldn’t get the bathroom door to the room open. When he fell he knocked a bunch of stuff over, including the Jon Elway cutout I got him for his recent birthday. I hate that man’s face now. Especially living in Colorado.
I knew, looking at him in that moment—I knew our lives had changed dramatically forever.
I knew it was bad, my education and limited training told me it was bad. My gut told me it was bad. I just didn’t know how bad.
I screamed to Howard I was going to get help, I screamed “I love you” as I ran out my front door, up the stairs to Scott’s apartment.
I had never met Scott. He has an adorable son who loves Leonard. Howard had recently befriended Scott by offering to help carry groceries as he recovered from knee surgery. They just kind of clicked. Howard accumulated friends like that all the time.
I banged frantically and made sure I was visible in the peephole. As I paced back and forth just having to do something with the terror building inside of me. It was late, February, snowing hard, no reason to be out.
Scott opened the door clearly concerned, all I could get out was: “Howard fell! Help! I can’t get to him.”
Scott bolted down the stairs, using one leg and the rails, still so much faster than me. He hesitated before opening our front door—the dogs.
“GO, it’s fine!”
I followed and gathered Leonard (Frenchie, living) and Duke (Jack Russell, now deceased) and shut them in our bedroom. Sweet Pea (Howard’s beloved Golden rescue, now deceased) was locked in with Howard. Pacing frantically- just like her mama dog.
Scott got the bathroom door open a small bit, I pushed ahead of him.
He ran back to make sure his now wife was calling for help. I will be eternally grateful I did not have to make that call.
Howard was still making the noise; he was still alive. His face and lips were blue. His neck was kinked; I told myself that was the only reason why.
Just needs a jump start, we can handle that, I can do that. I entered this world needing one, and I’m still here. I got this.
I got him flat and let the training kick in, like they promised it would.
Airway. Breathing, Circulation, Severe bleeding or injury.
I checked the airway; I remember doing so. However, doubting this would haunt me until I had answers the next day.
He wasn’t doing anything on his own.
He’s bigger than me. They prepared me for this.
The last time I straddled my husband wasn’t to bring pleasure, or comfort, but to put all of my being into cracking his ribs—giving everything within me to get to his heart.
At the time, doing this was the hardest thing I had ever faced in life. I knew how bad it would hurt him. I kept telling myself he couldn’t feel it. But those thoughts were followed in form by the memories of me screaming in pain just weeks ago, from the seatbelt and airbag impact on my chest.
I was trained to tap out. As I repeated The Death March in my head to keep my rhythm, I held on to how much I loved him—how incredible he is. If that is so then he has to be. It can’t be over. It just can’t.
I started feeling the burn in my muscles, I was in terrible shape and compressions are exhausting. I was getting tense, and my mental state was deteriorating rapidly. I yelled to Scott that he was going to have to take over compressions.
I gave a few rounds of rescue breaths and Scott took over compressions. I ran out to make sure 911 was being called; I screamed our address at Scott’s wife on the phone who nodded to let me know she was on it. I grabbed Sweet Pea by the collar and ran her to the bedroom. She almost attacked me when I started compressions. Anyone else she probably would have.
I went back to Howard and continued breaths.
At some point I stopped. I knew. I didn’t accept it yet but I knew. He’s been without oxygen too long; my Boo is gone.
I grabbed his face—I kissed him, his forehead, his cheeks. I told him he was my world, that I fought to survive in it because of him. I thanked him for loving me. I recited what I could remember of the vows I wrote just ten months ago, when I vowed a lifetime to him. And then I let him go. I sang, “Don’t Stop Believing.” That was always his thing, it became our thing, and now it’s my thing.
I ran to greet the first responders. I know they aren’t supposed to run into to chaos. I know they go in composed for a reason, lots of reasons, but as I saw the first medic walking to my door, I hated him for it.
I screamed to get the bag out, “he’s been without oxygen, you’re going to have to bag him,” let’s just get it going.
I went to follow Medic 1 and was blocked by Cop 1.