Reliving and Remembering 25 Years Ago Today

There are days in your life that replay over and over in your memory and this will be one I never forget. 

It is Tuesday, February 13th, 1990.  My husband Chris goes to his roofing job before sunrise, not waking me or our 2-year-old son Matt as he leaves.  Being a stay-at-home mom, our son’s schedule dictates the activities of the morning, and my doctor’s appointment is the only reason we leave the house after lunch.

Returning home with a tired toddler, I put him into his crib for a nap and lay down myself.  Elevating my foot on the back of the couch, I now feel the throbbing pain as the liquid nitrogen wears off from the site of my semi frozen planter’s wart.

The phone rings and I hobble out to the wall-mounted phone whose long cord still doesn’t reach the couch.  It is my husband’s co-worker Jerry; surprised to hear his voice I say,  “Hey Jerry, did you guys get off early today?”

“No Kath” I hear him say, as my heart sinks with the visceral understanding that something is terribly wrong.

“We are at the hospital, and Chris has been in an accident – you need to come.”

I instantaneously go into “nurse mode” trying to assess the situation and figure out what I need to do next.  I hear myself asking Jerry questions while at the same time, finding my socks and shoes and planning how to care for our son.  But his voice is ringing in my head…”Get here as soon as you can, Kath.”

My friend Karen usually works on Tuesdays, so I am surprised to find her home when I call.  I ask if she can come to our house so I can let Matt continue to nap and she arrives five minutes later.

I have told her there has been an accident and I feel her empathy as her husband works for the same company.  She gives me a hug, asking to call her with details and to not worry about Matt.  She promises to stay until I get home.

I call my mom who is working on the opposite side of town, and I leave a message with the receptionist that I need mom to meet me at the hospital as soon as possible.

Approaching the on-ramp of the freeway, I plan my strategy.  Assuming Chris will have broken bones as a result of a fall on the second-story construction site he was working on, I make my mental list of the medical team we will enlist.

“I’m Mrs. Lorch and I was called about my husband having been in an accident,” I tell the woman at the front desk.  “Please wait right here, it will be just a minute” she says as she speaks quietly into the phone.

Startled by their rapid exit from the back room, a man and woman wearing white coats come toward me and lead me to a room down the hall.  Much later that afternoon, I read the sign on the door – it says, “Quiet Room.”

The next question out of their mouths is, “Are you alone?  Is anyone coming to join you?  Is there anyone you would like to call?” 

It is then I KNOW because I am a nurse.

The unspoken rule is – avoid giving bad news to someone who is alone!

But, I am alone and the news is not good.  The doctor and nurse deliver it in the way they know how – telling me they did everything they could.  That the paramedics initiated CPR on the job site and resuscitation efforts failed.  Chris had died instantly from a head injury.  They are so very sorry

“Please call my pastor”  I hear myself say. 

I wait for Pastor Dave before seeing Chris and he becomes my support as we pray over my husband’s body.  I feel Chris’ spirit somewhere nearby and even with my medical background and having seen death before; I can’t believe that this is real.

Identifying the body is part of the medical procedure, this time I am on the opposite side of the gurney.  I am the next of kin, not the nurse.  It is my husband who is lying dead and I am the one they ask about decisions that need to be made.

Organ donation, funeral home preference, family notification, all of this is mine to do.

I don’t have time to cry, so I just tremble and feel sick to my stomach and wait for my mother. 

My nursing credentials don’t matter here; I have a new title and now I am attending a crash course entitled, “How to be a widow.”








This entry was posted in Bereavement, death, Faith, family, Friends, Grief, grieving, My story, Organ Donation, Widowhood and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Reliving and Remembering 25 Years Ago Today

  1. Jill Campana says:

    Kath, even though I know this scenario, it still created a well of emotion; eyes tearing up and feeling your grief AND your steadfast spirit. You’re an awesome friend. I love you.

  2. Ah, you got me with this one. I can’t even imagine. Good for you for taking the time to remember–your husband and the memory of that day. Hugs.

    • Greet Grief says:

      Thanks for the hugs Suzanne! I couldn’t imagine either until that day and now I just try to hold others who are getting that news – unfortunately, I was not the only one!

  3. This is so moving and beautifully written, thank you for sharing xx

  4. keeyo77 says:

    Kathy-even though I’ve known your story, I cannot believe it was 25 years ago. Reading this again brought chills to me. I read it and re-read it. You have such a way with your words. How proud he would have been by the way you’ve raised your kids and moved on and created such meaning in your life while honoring his.

    • Greet Grief says:

      Thanks so much – I know Chris would have been proud, most of all that I have chosen joy over grief and that I try to help others! He always was one to help people and he loved having fun and enjoying life – I honor him by doing the same!

  5. judy doyle says:

    Thinking of you, Kathy, and the pain you went through and the pain you have helped others endure. Thank you for being part of our journey.

    • Greet Grief says:

      Thank you Judy! 25 yrs. ago I would never have imagined I would be capable of entering into the pain of others on this journey – but I have been blessed by entering into the darkness and trying to offer glimpses of light and hope. I applaud you and your family for the ways you have brought light to so many despite your personal pain…

  6. socialbridge says:

    Kathy, just want to send you hugs. Twenty-five years may have passed but it’s so obvious that your love for your beloved husband certainly hasn’t wavered.

  7. Beth Boeck says:

    I’m just reading this now Kathy since I subscribed to your blog. After talking to yo the other day I can understand how even all these years later, how remembering and writing this must have caused you to relive some of the spin and confusion and shock you experienced that day. Thank for sharing, I lk forward to reading more of your blog.

    • Greet Grief says:

      Thanks Beth! It has been interesting to revisit my story so many years later – that’s why I encourage those earlier in the journey to write it all down! Blessings to you as you find your “new normal.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s