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Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I'm sorry I couldn't have done more.

It became clear early on in therapy that there were far more haunting events in my past besides just the singular day of Matt's death. Tragic events that I held so close to my soul I was simple unable to identify truth from lies. Which is why when I started therapy after last February we didn't jump directly into the day he died. Maybe because it was still too soon, or maybe because my other wounds needed attention first. However, when the season of firsts hit earlier this fall it was obvious it was time to set aside the work I was doing, and focus on Matt's death in regards to how I had planted this date in my mind's eye. I would have never known the weight I was wearing had it not been for my therapy. And so I share this in hopes that someone else can identify with the weight I was unknowingly carrying upon my shoulders. That someone else can be assured that your loved one knows you did all you could.

I'm sorry I didn't save you.

I know that I did everything I could. Matt did not seem to have anything more than a common cold when he went to bed that Friday. He was not showing signs, or complaining about difficulty breathing. When he arose, and could not breath, I called 911. When the operator told me to give him breaths, I did. When instructed to stand aside, I did. I called on God to save him. I averted Evelyn's eyes so that she could not see. I contacted his family so they were able to all be there to say good-bye. I made the right decisions about organ donation, and when to pull the breathing machine. I made sure he was prayed over. I did the best I could on that terrible day.

I wish I could have stopped death from coming.

I know that it wasn't my fault. I know in a rational tangible way, but I found out this week my soul didn't agree. I found out this week that what I needed was Matt to reassure me that he knew. In other moments, while re-living past experiences, I have seen the face of Jesus. I have forgiven others. I have forgiven myself. It was Matt that I needed this time. I envisioned him standing in that bathroom, the place which he had collapsed. I saw him putting his arms around me tightly. I saw him reach his big hands to my face, look in my eyes, and say, "You did everything you could to save me. I know this. I love you."

But death won that day.

See, none of this would be so terrible if it didn't affect every other aspect of my healing. I am new this week. I am lighter. I can imagine what it was like to be in Matt's presence again. Not Matt who is lying almost dead on a hospital bed. Matt who flew around our home with lightening speed, spouting ridiculous jokes, and singing so terribly out of tune. My thoughts of him are no longer overshadowed with guilt, and before this week I hadn't even known they were.

Death will not win forever.


Tracey Schowalter said...

Love you! What a beautiful soul you are. When death affects you ~ when it is right in your face, I think we go through this kind of guilt. I have a story to tell you sometime of a friend who died in my front yard. I wasn't even there when it happened, yet I still harbored guilt. God has done amazing things through that tragic loss. Love you so much. I am so thankful for this revelation. I'll continue praying for healing and restoration of your family :-).

Erin said...

Wow, this is absolutely powerful.

Erin said...

Wow, this is absolutely powerful. I hope it is a big step toward healing.

Wendy said...

Thank you for posting this, Stephanie. I have felt guilt for the same reason -- the similarities between what you wrote and how I feel are striking. I know I need to forgive myself, to envision my late husband forgiving me, but I am struggling with this. Thanks for sharing your story and inspiring me to address this issue instead of trying to ignore it or letting it consume me.