The moment that changed everything was when I decided 13 years was long enough to make a decision to marry the man in my life. This may sound a little odd, but I wanted to BE married, I just didn’t want GET married. You know, go through the whole planning of the wedding, inviting the guests, promising to honor and cherish in front of 50 people was a little overwhelming to me.
In addition, our parents had been ill off and on over the years: cancer, heart problems, surgeries. So I made the choice to finally wed ensuring all of our parents could be in attendance. I knew I would regret waiting if a parent couldn’t be there.
We began our wedding plans in March 2009 for Las Vegas at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, which we frequented on our vacations. We loved the rock n roll music, décor, and the atmosphere fit us as a motorcycle ridin’, rock music lovin’, fast paced life livin’ couple. We decided on a pool side venue with an array of cocktails and appetizers, a delicious steak dinner, and reception with more snacks. Food, more food, even more food, oh my gut! The October date was set, invitations ordered, dress chosen and altered, and everything was going great.
M got a call the end of June that his father was having dizzy spells. He had diabetes all his life, and had a quadruple bi-pass the year before. He was supposed to have his carotid arteries cleaned because they were clogged, ensuring a stroke at anytime. The doctor told him he could not put the surgery off any longer. The left side was clogged 100% and the right 90%.
June 29th we made arrangements to go to New Mexico and be with M’s dad for the surgery. On the way to the hospital M Sr. made a remark, “I hope I don’t end up like my mom stuck on a ventilator and die.” My response was that he was not his 80 year old mother and would come out of surgery just fine to dance with me at my wedding.
After the surgery, we were informed that M Sr. suffered a stroke that affected his right side and was in ICU. I know the doctors must have explained everything, but I can’t for the life of me remember anything they said. I heard stroke, long term care, ventilator. Oh, God.
After less than a week, a long term care facility moved M Sr. to their hospital. We visited every other weekend but it didn’t seem like he was getting better. Each time we left the hospital, M would say, “Hang tough, Dad.” By the end of August, the hospital said there was nothing more they could do for him and they were moving him to a facility in Lubbock, TX.
Lubbock? None of us lived anywhere near Lubbock! His wife was now taking care of their rental properties, bills, pets, and with the prospect of having to move to Lubbock, she was overwhelmed. M decided to investigate hospitals in nearby towns, near us in Arizona and near his brother in New Orleans.
There was a Phoenix hospital that took him in, and the day after the 6 hour drive in an ambulance, he was off the ventilator for hours at a time, getting better. Or so we thought. We sat by his bedside every night for 48 days. Through September and into October, he got better and then worse, better, then worse. M Sr knew the wedding day was coming, and he knew he wasn’t getting better. He ended up in the ICU, started dialysis, and then organ failure began.
Wednesday, October 14, we were leaving for Las Vegas to make sure all the plans were in order for the wedding. At 8 in the morning we get a call from the hospital that M Sr. wasn’t going to make it through the day.
When we arrived at the hospital, the doctor told us he was sedated and comfortable. We stood by his bedside, watching the ventilator force his breath in and out, in and out. We listened to the heart monitor start beeping slower and slower, and watched the numbers drop. M held his dad’s hand, and the last thing he said was, “Hang tough, Dad.” In less than an hour, although the ventilator still pushed air in and out, his heart rate on the monitor was a straight line, the number was replaced by two dashes.
We sobbed uncontrollably as the doctor and nurse explained he was gone and unhooked the ventilator. We made phone calls and signed papers and questioned about whether the wedding and honeymoon was canceled. I was sad, disappointed, angry, confused.
On October 17, 2011 we married in a fabulous ceremony with family and close friends. A memorial candle and photograph of M’s dad set on the altar and words were spoken in remembrance. M and I went through the entire weekend, rehearsal, dinner, ceremony, dinner, reception in a haze. The regret of waiting loomed over me, and each wedding anniversary will be filled with some sorrow of our loss before our happy celebration of becoming husband and wife.
The lesson I learned was not to wait. Go after what you want before it’s too late. Don’t be afraid to do things, to try new things, to jump into something even if it means failing. Funny thing is, this lesson is something that we haven't put into action because M and I have spent the past 2 years in a cloud of regret and depression. It’s time to move on…time to spread our wings and explore our dreams. It is time to enjoy the journey and look forward to the destination, wherever it takes us.