Saturday, May 14, 2011

How Do You Say Goodbye.......

Jeanette and Randy
Even as I write this, the events of the past four weeks are still surreal to me.  How can everything in your life change with one phone call?  It is the stuff novels and movies are made of but not my life and certainly not the life of my sister.  How does something like this happen?

For us it was the beginning of Spring Break April 2011.  We had planned a trip to the Pacific Northwest the place where my sister and I had been born and raised.  My husband the planner had rented a house on the Peninsula of Washington State, a place called Morrowstone Island, near Port Townsend.  He had also charted the boat we had rented two summers ago and was planning to spend a lot of time aboard perusing the picturesque islands of the San Juan chain.  It was all set and we made our way there in two car loads and at two different speeds.  Brad, eager to arrive and take possession of the boat left friday afternoon with Liz (daughter 23), Mackay (son 16) and a friend Heather.  I had decided to ride up with Jeanette and her kids, Jacob (16), Josh (13) and Jessie (10).  We took it a little slower and stayed the night at our sister Margaret's house in Boise.  By Saturday evening we had all arrived at the rental house and Brad had stopped to pick up my Mom who lives in Seattle and my sister Carol had also made her way there.  The kids were eager to go on the boat and so all but Jessie left to spend the night on the boat and then began their adventure early in the morning.  

This left Jeanette and I and mom and Jessie to enjoy the beautiful beach house and lovely private beach below.  We took a walk together down to the beach and picked up sea shells and enjoyed the sunset.  Really beautiful and peaceful.  

The next morning we all slept in a little and then got up and started to get ready to go to church.  We had planned to meet Esther (our niece 27) there, she works in Seattle and was going to come up and spend the day with us.  As we were getting ready Jeanette's phone rang and it was her neighbor asking if Randy was okay.  Jeanette told her she was in Washington and she had not idea.  The neighbor said he had just been taken away in an ambulance.  This is when the madness began.

Quickly calling Aaron her oldest son (22) who had just arrived at the hospital but knew nothing.  He hadn't been home at the time and when he arrived at the hospital he couldn't get any information.  Jeanette told him to find a doctor and have him call her back immediately.  At this point we were all thinking it had to be something minor.  An asthma attack or pneumonia or something like that.  The doctor called right back and shattered all of our illusions.  He said Randy had a heart attack.  She said it will take me 16 hours to drive home.  He said you should come.  She slowly hung up the phone and we started to figure out what to do.  We decided to get her on a plane as fast as possible.  She should get home and assess the situation and then we would figure out what to do with the kids.  It wasn't feasible to get all the kids back anyway because two of them were out on the boat and we couldn't get a hold of them at the moment.  We asked Jessie if she wanted to go and she said no.  Who could blame her we had all been so pumped for this fun vacation and here it was dissolving before our eyes.  At this point we were really hoping that Jeanette would get there and Randy would be fine and she could fly back and finish our vacation as planned.  

We had called Esther to let her know about the situation and she volunteered to take Jeanette to the airport. Time was of the essence because we were on an island and it would take a ferry ride and another hour to get her there.  We booked the flight and Esther and her friend came and picked her up.  Esther having lived on an island and being very familiar with ferries knew immediately that they would not make the first ferry and so she alerted the ferry workers that this was an emergency and they got them first on and first off the ferry.  Then as they made their way to the airport Esther's friend called the airlines and asked for someone to meet them and escort Jeanette through security so that she would make her flight.  Such a miracle those two girls were!  A great team!  Our other sister Diana who lives in Ogden picked Jeanette up at the airport and took her to the hospital.  So Jeanette was back home and by Randy's side by 6:30pm that night.  

Jeanette called me that evening to let me know that things were so much worse than we had imagined.  They had transferred him from American Fork Hospital to Utah Valley and he had flat lined in the ambulance.  Later I hear that he had also coded in the Cath Lab while they were trying to place stints to open up his arteries.  Apparently one side of his heart had been completely blocked and he had lost a huge amount of heart muscle from the heart attack, over 50 percent.  Things were very grim and the doctors suggested that they get the kids home as soon as possible.  

We had been able to reach the boat later in the afternoon and tell the kids what had happened.  They were having some engine trouble and so with some difficulty they made it back to drop the boys off and have Carol drive them back over to the beach house for the night.  Randy's sister and her husband took over and made arrangements for the kids to fly home the next day.

On Monday Brad and I got up early to begin the 2 hour trip to the airport.  It included a ferry ride as I had mentioned earlier and I'll never forget that ride.  Ferry rides have been a wonderful part of our growing up years and something we have loved to share with our kids.  This ferry ride was very different.  We were all confused and hurting and wondering what was going to happen.  Never the less I took the kids upstairs and we all sat together on the long benches that face each other by the windows.  Jessie was sitting next to me and Jacob and Josh sitting across.  My phone rang and it was Jeanette.  I picked it up and she began to come apart on the other end.  It took everything I had to keep it together while she wept and wailed and asked why.  Things were so bad, so grim, there was no hope in her voice.  As we talked I stared across at the boys, felt Jessie pressing close to me.  I tried to keep my responses short, my voice even.  Even so I shed a few tears with her.

At the airport I immediately fell apart at the ticket counter and began to cry as I was explaining that the children would be flying as un-accompanied minors.  The ticket agent was so sweet and had us quickly on our way through security.  We stood at the gate all huddled together, the kids feeling nervous not only about their dad but this would be their first flight on an airplane.  I was having a hard time letting them go....I so wanted to go with them, to be there beside Jeanette.  Soon they came to collect them to take them on the plane.  I had to stay at the gate until the plane left the ground.  I went and found a quiet corner and redialed Jeanette and said, "They are on the plane, now I can come apart with you."  And we cried together.

We went back to the beach house and waited for the next milestone.  Hoping against hope that somehow, someway Randy would rally.  Tuesday started out great.  I talked to Jeanette fairly early and she was feeling good about things.  He had been given a powerful priesthood blessing the night before and she said it had given her hope for the first time.  He had woken up and squeezed hands and opened his eyes and all of those things had given her hope.  It was a good day.  Mom and Liz and I went into Port Townsend and did a little shopping and went to lunch.  Things seemed a little brighter, the sun even came out.  It didn't last.  At about 6pm I got a text from Jeanette.  She said Randy had coded, they were working on him but couldn't get him stable and she asked me to breath with her.  I sat down in the corner of my room and began to breath with her.  After a while I texted her again and asked if he was any better.  No!  Then Michelle (family friend) called me to say you better call your sisters it isn't looking good, they have been working on him for a hour and a half and they can't stabilize him.  I began to call but before I could get down the list they called to say they had pronounced him dead.  It was over.  He was gone.

We left the next day.  Liz, Grandma and I driving Jeanette and Randy's car home.  Brad, Heather and Mackay stayed behind to take back the boat and wrap up things at the beach house.  Liz drove most of the way, bless her, all I could do is sit and stare out the window.  I wanted to jump out of my skin, I wanted to be with Jeanette so badly and it seemed like it was taking forever to get home.   We finally arrived and went straight to Jeanette's, showed up right in the middle of ordering the flowers for the casket.  It felt so good to be there and to do whatever I could do to support Jeanette.  The house was a flurry of activity.  We were all there just doing whatever needed doing.

So the question is how do you say goodbye to someone that you really didn't get a chance to say good bye to.   No one did.  The last time I saw Randy was at their house on the day we left.  I patted him on the shoulder and said, "Have a good time!".  He was always so excited when he was going to get to be home alone for a while.   He said, "I put gas in the car, you're all set!"  And off we went, not knowing that it would be the last time we would see him.

Goodbye for now Randy, we love you, we miss you but for sure.....we will see you later.

The Steagles
This is how we roll!
We are one big happy family!


Karen said...

This was published on Randy's birthday! Happy Birthday Randy! May all your dreams come true!

Hayley said...

Karen im so sorry for this loss in your family. I love you and will keep you and your family in my prayers.

Rachelle said...

I know just what you are going through. I was really close with Hyrum's dad and it still hurts to think about all the things he won't be able to do with my boys and all the hikes we won't be able to take together. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Teri said...

Karen, so sorry. My heart and prayers are with you and your family.

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