Widow Shares Heartbreaking Story

I’ve read several blogs on widowhood recently, yours has a sense of peace and hopefulness. Thank you.

I lost my husband three years ago this June while we were traveling in Europe, my husband was an invited speaker at a distance education conference in Vienna, Austria. The day after his presentation we were getting on a cruise of the Danube River when he had a strong pain in his belly and couldn’t catch his breath. Gratefully two men were immediately by my side helping him – they both spoke English. They recognized the seriousness of his symptoms and called for the paramedics. He was rushed to the hospital, where they confirmed that he had had a heart attack. He was 51 years old, very healthy otherwise. They said the heart was caused by a blood clot.

He lived for over 36 hours and stayed alert most of the time but he was very weak and his heart was pounding in his chest. It never occurred to me that he could die. People had heart attacks all the time and lived. I was just wondering how long we would be in Austria, how long before he could fly again. When I finally spoke to his doctor in the US who had gotten through to the doctors in Austria I grasped the critical situation we were in. I was told that if he went into renal failure the only thing that would save him would be a heart transplant and they didn’t perform those at the hospital we were in. I begged them to move him to a hospital that could and would perform such an operation. They refused because he was not yet IN renal failure. I asked them that if he were, would they move him, they told me no, it would be too dangerous to move him at that point. The frustration! His condition worsened and I was escorted out of the room so they could intubate him. Before I left I looked him in the eye and told him that I loved him. He blinked back his response.
Two hours later I knocked on the door and begged them to simply let me be in the same room with him. The nurse looked at me and said in his far too casual and less than perfect English, “Sure, you can come in. But he died.” Those words will echo in my mind for the rest of my life. I could not believe that the God I had been praying to, been pledging everything to if he would only save my sweethearts life would leave me alone in a country where I knew no one and didn’t speak the language!

I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I had been in contact with the local missionaries as soon as possible after arriving at the hospital. I could not have survived without the sweet and tender care of those boys. They were at a loss as to how to help me but they had access to resources and people who could. Other members took me into their homes; they helped me with the piles of paperwork and red tape involved with the death of a citizen abroad.In less than two weeks we were able to fly his body back to the US.

A sad side note to this sad story. My husband and I had only been married for 14 months. It was a second marriage for both of us. We had finally found what we had both missed for so many years! I had never been happier. We had plans for the future, plans we had never been able to make with previous spouses. It was all before us. Until it wasn’t. I was hurt and angry. I felt cheated beyond belief. My faith assures me that there is life beyond this. I am not at all sad for my husband. I believe he is in Paradise patiently waiting for me to join him. I believe we will be together again. And for him, it will be but a small moment in time. But for me, it will be years and years of loneliness.

Between us, we have six children. He had two boys and I had two boys and two girls. They are all young adults now, going through all the typical stuff and none of them lives at home. My nest seems prematurely empty.

Since my husband’s death I have completed an advanced degree, found a new job and am managing day by day. I cycle through periods of great hope, of contentment with my situation, to periods of resentment, frustration and anger. But I truly do try to focus on the positive.

I was given a second chance to discover what love really is, what marriage should be like. I count that among my greatest blessings. I don’t believe God punished me by taking him away, I believe he blessed me by giving him to me in the first place.
I remember saying to myself” I didn’t sign up for this! This was not the plan!” But then I realized that if the choice were; to have this man in my life, for only a short time, but with the promise of eternity with him or, never know him, never feel the loss of his death. I would have signed up gladly.

This was long. I’m sorry. I haven’t really told the story before. Thank you for giving me the opportunity.

Ann

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