As parents, more than anything, we want to protect our children. I know I would go to the ends of the earth to ensure my children were safe – especially their little tender hearts.
On May 16th, I broke that promise and broke my baby girl’s heart. Her Daddy had just passed hours before. The day started so wonderful and ended in tragedy.
May 16th was the first day of summer break for Olivia. She and her Daddy slept in while I took our son to daycare. The plan for the day was to do yard work, some crafts, and errands before picking up Kaleb at the daycare.
When I arrived home, Eric was up watching TV while Olivia still slept. That morning it was just the two of us talking and laughing while playing Trivia Crack with each other (yes, we were in the same room). When Olivia got up, the day started. She loved working in the yard with her Daddy if it meant she got to ride the lawnmower with him. On this day, it was different because the riding lawn mower was not working as it should, so Eric began to work on it, and Olivia stayed inside with me folding towels. During his breaks from working on the lawnmower, he would come inside for a bit. I remember one of the times we met in the hallway in front of Olivia’s bedroom door. Together we watched her play while we embraced, and he kissed my head and rubbed my back and just said softly, “she is growing up. I’m so happy.” Interestingly enough, knowing now how this day ended, I recalled many days prior, weeks even, that he expressed how happy he was, how everything was the way it should be, and he wouldn’t change anything. We kissed again, and he went back to work on the lawnmower.
It was a few hours later (I think – parts of the day are a blur) that we heard the lawnmower going and backfiring, so I could only assume Eric fixed the mower. I would see him pass be the living room window a few times, and then he came busting through the door yelling for a fire extinguisher. He went directly to it and ran back out. I, course, ran after him to see what on earth was on fire.
I found him putting a small flame out on the riding lawn mower and waving his hand back and forth to redirect the smoke. He then returned to the house, sounding out of breath but talking about how that scared him and then chuckling about it. A few minutes later, he kept saying he couldn’t catch his breath. Eric did have asthma, so he used his inhaler a few times, and it wasn’t helping him, at least not fast enough for me, so we laid on the floor to “cool” off, he said.
Shortly after that, our daughter came to me and said she was worried about her Daddy because he can’t breathe. I told her everything was going to be okay and to tell Daddy to get in the car if he could. Then she said something that I thought was silly at the time, and she was so serious when she said it. “Mommy, is daddy going to die?” I said, “no, Olivia, his asthma is flaring up, so we are going to go to the ER so he can get some help,” and she ran to the living room yelling at her Daddy to go to the car.
Eric reclined the passenger seat, and Olivia put her hand on his bald, sweaty head telling him over and over again, “daddy, we are taking you to the doctor okay. He will help you.” As I drove, I laid my hand on his chest and rubbed it, and he reached up to hold it. I looked at him and said, “I’m driving as fast as I can, Babe.”
We arrived at the ER, and he got out of the car by himself, walked in with Olivia holding his hand while I parked. I rushed in, and he was sitting in the lobby, waiting to have his vitals checked. At this time, we still think this is a full-blown asthma attack. A nurse called Eric back to check his vitals and then I am drawn into the room. He is talking, smiling, but you can tell he is continuing to have trouble breathing. After several minutes we are lead to a trauma room where he is sitting up talking with the doctor, nurses are connecting wires to him, and Olivia is telling the doctor to take care of him because he can’t breathe.
And then I blinked. My world was forever changed.
Eric started to have a seizure, and it was at that time I took Olivia out of the ER room and returned to the lobby with her. She was talking to me, but I couldn’t tell you what she was saying. I called my sister, who was out doing errands to see if she could come to get Olivia. I couldn’t even tell you what I told my sister when she arrived.
I returned to the ER room to find the curtain closed. A staff member walked by to see if she could help me and led me past the pulled curtain. I saw my husband laying on the gurney with nurses and the doctor rushing around him while a machine was doing compressions on his chest.
They let me talk to him. I remember telling him to fight. After that, they directed me to a room, and the helpful staff member started calling people for me. I know I began texting my family and friends to pray and begging them to pray hard. Then I went to a window in the room and started to pray. I found myself praying out loud. I had never done that before. I was begging and screaming for God to help him; to heal him. And asking, “Please, God, don’t take him.” I had never prayed harder than that moment.
It was at 3:24 pm that I had to tell the doctor and nurses to stop actively working to resuscitate Eric. After that, everything was in slow motion. People were talking to me, but I couldn’t hear them. I couldn’t feel my legs, but I know they were there because I was walking. But again, I didn’t feel like I walked. It was more like floating. And then it looked like everyone was on fast forward, and it was me in slow motion.
My sister drove me home. I walked into the house, and it felt empty. I went into the bedroom to try and get myself together because I knew my sister was going to get my daughter and bring her home. When I walked back down the hallway, my cousin walked around the corner. She had driven from Texas, and I had never been happier to see her. I remember feeling like I ran to her and grabbing her around the neck, just saying, “he’s gone – what am I suppose to do?”
In the meantime, I had a few friends from work show up, and we all sat in the living room, still in disbelief and waiting for my sister to bring my kids home.
When they arrived, I had a knot in the pit of my stomach, and every word I knew disappeared. Olivia came running in and jumped in my lap and said high to everyone, and then she looked at me and asked where Daddy was. She asked me if he was in the bathroom, was he lying down in bed or was he still at the doctor. I said he wasn’t home and she asked when he would be home because she missed him. I pulled her close and told her he wasn’t coming back and that he passed away at the hospital. He wasn’t coming home. She looked at me and pushed me and smiled, “you’re joking momma, don’t tease me.” I looked at her and bit my lip, trying not to cry. I guess when I did that, she knew I wasn’t teasing. She just buried her head in my chest and cried for her Daddy. I broke my daughter’s heart that day, and it destroyed me.
Olivia was her Daddy’s ‘Lil Uno. That’s what he called her from the day she was born. Eric was wrapped around her little finger from the second he held her. Right after she was born, he carried her to the next room to be examined, weighed, and cleaned her off. They went everywhere together.
If Olivia wanted something and he knew she didn’t need it. Instead of telling her no (which he could never do), he would say to her, “go ask your momma and see what she says.” I would always tell him, “I know we are getting a pony one day.” He asked me what that meant. I said, “every little girl wants a pony, and they always ask for one. When the day comes, and Olivia asks you for a pony, you won’t be able to tell her no.”
I broke my daughter’s heart for the first time on May 16th. Our lives changed forever.
Eric seeing Olivia crawl for the first time.