Tuesday, October 20, 2009

GUEST POST: Misfortune and Metamorphosis

[image: 1.bp.blogspot.com/_jfl3jC--WH8/SDXJ9IrdwqI]

The following guest post was prepared by my friend and fellow blogger Dana over at Miles Before I Sleep. While I do think the content of this post speaks for itself, I did want to emphasize the obvious: DON'T wait to live the life you've always wanted. And don't ever, EVER, take anything, or anyone, for granted.


In my opinion, Jack's entire blog is devoted to change. It's devoted to his search with in himself to try and find out who he was, is, and who he wants to become. It seems to me that it is in this search that we have connected. Both searches, his and my own, have hit road blocks but we both are still living and enjoying the metamorphosis. Therefore, I've decided to write about HOW and WHY I came to this changing point in my life. I'll apologize now if you find my story a little graphic but we all have a breaking point and mine was July 21st, 2006....

Before this day, you could sum up my existence quite simply. I was with Ryan and we had 3 little boys. We both worked full time, struggled to pay our bills, were mass consumerists, and were exhausted at the end of each day. There was no "out" for us in sight as it seemed. We just hoped that someday we would be able to pay our bills on time and just live. Unfortunately, that day never came with us doing it together.

On July 20th, 2006, Ryan and his father were at our house trimming our trees. They had finished the back two and were heading to the front tree when I left to prepare for a garage sale. An hour later as I'm driving towards home, I can see lights flashing in the distance... they appeared to be at my house. As I parked, I saw the ambulance doors close and speed off...

As I pulled up to my house, I was stopped by his father who informed me that Ryan had fallen off the front porch roof. My first thought was, "Great... bet he broke his leg and now we're gonna be short money for time off work." (In reflection, isn't it sad that THIS was the way I thought?)

Then I noticed the pool of blood on the sidewalk, and the hysteria on his father's face. One of the firemen took pity on me after I explained that I was a nurse and to please tell me the truth. I still remember his words exactly, "Your husband fell 15-20 feet off the roof, onto his head. He was unresponsive on the scene and he was bleeding from his head, mouth, nose, and ears. They intubated him and he just left for the hospital."

Deep down, I knew my husband was going to die.

Still, I prayed over and over again on the drive to the hospital. I prayed when they wouldn't let me back to see him. I prayed as they decided to life flight him to Iowa City.

Ryan suffered many things in the one brief instant when his head hit the ground. He suffered a comminuted, displaced, and depressed skull fracture spreading from the base of his skull outward to his jaw, and upward to his forehead. A piece of skull severed his main artery to the brain. He suffered 2 strokes. His brain then herniated due to inter-cranial pressure. He was unable to have the pressure reduced because he went into a DIC (Disseminated intra vascular coagulation-- a massive hemorrhage from all open orifices of the body). He was bleeding to death. He was on life support and was given units of blood and platelet infusions. He went into a multi-system organ failure and I finally turned off his life support machine in the morning of July 21st, 2006.

He died.

The wonderful human being I loved, the father of our three children had died.

The hardest part was telling our oldest son, Zakari, that daddy had died that day. I still look at his face and remember how he cried that afternoon... I'll always remember Izeah and Zane asking for daddy, yet there was no more daddy.

That was my breaking point. The time after his death was chaos. I went through many stages of grief... crying, pretending I was fine, being a full time mommy during the day, binge drinking at night, engaging in promiscuous sex, making excuses. I did this for about a year after his death. I make no excuses for any of it now. I did it all by choice and since there is no actual "right way" to grieve, I've since accepted what I went through as my road to healing...

This event in my life was an astonishing wake up call.
I was tired of working full time and never enjoying my children.
I was tired of being part of this mass consumer way of thinking.
I was tired of working just to keep up with the Jones'.
I was sick and tired of who I was.

So I changed.

I gave up my full time job and now work a schedule that I make. I spend more time with my children then ever before. I've taught myself to be productive and more self sufficient. We're trying everyday to turn our lives into a more sustainable living lifestyle. I work everyday to not burden the earth but to help her. We live more frugal and I love it. We all take trips together, children and all, to explore nature, cities, music, our passions. Would I have done any of this before? Probably not.

I also managed to meet another wonderful man, John, who I married 3 weeks ago :)

Everyday of my life I remember this one event that changed my whole world. Ryan's death made me pause for a minute, if you will. It made me realize that I was wasting my time being what everyone else wanted me to be. I realized that I could be a much better parent to my beautiful children. I realized that it is much more satisfying to live simply and fulfilled then to always be wanting. I learned to look up at the stars at night with my children and discuss how many there are and how beautiful they are. I learned how to SHOW the people I love how just how much I love them. I learned when John came along that I had been blessed not once, but twice with an incredible partner, one that I'll be damned I was going to let get away :)

So Jack, kudos to you for changing your life. Some days are still hard for me, as I'm sure they are for you, giving up things that used to make us comfortable. When this happens to me though, I try to put myself back in that day, remember what happened and remember that Ryan never got to experience this life style.

I know I don't want to die without ENJOYING my life and this "life" I speak of is the one I'm living now.

Peace and love,

Ryan a few months before he died with Zakari and Zane.

Our family 3 weeks ago... John, me, Kayla, Zakari, Izeah, and Zane (age order :)


Anonymous said...

If both you and Jack look closely you will find the search is not about who you "really are", but is about who you are not.

When you are a lawyer and you quit, you realize you are not a lawyer. When you are a wife and your husband passes, you realize you are not a wife.

Always; not this, not this.

Anytime you become a new "person", something will happen to take that away. You can try and struggle to hold on to that "person", but it will always leave. Everything is impermanent, uncertain.

Jack had this experience in a controlled way, you had the experience in a very unfortunate way. This comparison can be a lesson for those of you who are not on any path; everyone will experience who they are not at some point in their lives.

Know what you are not all your suffering will end. The pain will not go, but the suffering will.

Kevin M said...

Thanks for sharing your story and I'm sorry for your loss.

As a father, I can't imagine the pain of not only losing your partner, but also having to tell your children their parent is gone.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post.

Jack said...


Interesting analysis. I for one, prefer the controlled transition. Being forced to recognize that your way of life is not for you, however that happens, is just too dislocating.


Not being a father, I can't say the same thing. It would be difficult anyway you see it.



Anonymous said...

@Jack - Yes, the time to practice is when there is no calamity. But in both circumstances one can benefit.

Jerry Critter said...

Bless you, Dana, for sharing your self with us. Bless you, Jack, for letting her.

Nancy said...

I cried when I read your post but also joyful that you found love again after losing the love of your life. Very few of us ever find love the seocnd time around after losing someone we love.

Life is something most of take for granted, until the ones we love are lost to circumstances that seem cruel.
I lost my dad exactly a year ago and he was so influential in my life that I feel like a part of me died when he did. But he would never want me to stop living life to the fullest. Thankfully, I can say I am blessed with a great support group including a boyfriend, family, friends and others who just make my day a little better.

Your story is inspirational; thank you to Jack and to you for sharing it with us.

Jack said...


Well put.


It's definitely an amazing story.


Sounds like you are blessed. Not everyone has those things at their disposal.

Kate said...

Thanks for this post, Dana and Jack. Dana, I am so sorry for your loss. Kudos to you for your strength in surviving it, and for finding a better way to live. I am glad that you are finding renewal and happiness.

I think the comment about realizing who you are not is an interesting one. A lot of us are people pleasers. But I am finding that once I stop answering to others, and look inward, I find it really difficult to hear my own voice.

Still Smiling said...

Loss is a part of life, which one cannot control most of the time. I have experienced my fair share and have learned over the years that while it's very painful to grieve, I wouldn't ever have traded those few short years I had with them just so I wouldn't feel the pain. To me the love we shared outweighed the devastating aftermath and I look back not with sadness, but with thankfulness. Life is beautiful whether it's long or short as long as you surround yourself with truth, love and the people who matter. That is happiness to me.

Love to all who read this and understand.

Jennifer @ Living in my Car said...

One of the most powerful and moving things I have ever read. Thank you for sharing your experience and growth. I hope this article is distributed widely. I think it should be read by many.

Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

What a beautiful, touching post. Thank you for sharing your story.

Marissa said...

Dana, I think it's cool that you didn't close your heart off to the possibility of love after experiencing such a tragedy. I watched my mother become a widow in her 40s, so I know that can't be easy.

But like "Still Smiling" said, loss is a necessary part of life. It sucks, yes, but it only becomes dangerous when we let the very thought scare us off from the greatness that could be today -- that IS today -- with those we love.

Thanks for sharing your story!


Jerry said...

Thank you for your heartfelt and candid post. I can't imagine going through what you did. They say that losing a partner is near the worst kind of pain a person can endure. I have a wife, daughter and child on the way and I can't imagine a life that did not include all of them. God bless you on your journey. I hope it leads to peace and continued strength. As we don't have any insurance that this life will be without pain and suffering we can learn and move forward from our trials. It's obvious you have done that.

Anonymous said...


I am so sorry about the death of your husband. And, congratulations on your marriage. I wish you and your beautiful family all of the happiness in the world.

Death of spouse (or any loved one) is one of the most life changing and momentous occasions one can encounter, and it's hard to imagine anyone not changing after that experience. I, too, have been a widow for a few years and found that my life changed without my even trying. It is difficult to redefine who the heck you are and where you belong, but it does eventually fall into place. Yes, it was horribly difficult, and still is some days, but you know what, to have had the love and now the memories of my special man, I wouldn't have changed a thing - except have him be living today. What's that saying - "it's better to have loved and lost than never at all." I truly believe that.

What I've learned is that it's the PEOPLE you meet and who are in your life that are the most important factor in "misfortune and metamorphosis."

Jack, you don't talk about the people in your life besides other bloggers. I hope that you find or have love in your life right now, to add to your marvelous metamorphosis - you can't do it alone and life is too short to try. I wish you luck and love.

Me said...

Hi all :)

Sorry, I'm on my honeymoon but thanks to wifi, I can read all your comments :)

Thank you to everyone who left a comment.... I find sharing the story the best kind of medicine :) And I appreciate everyone's opinions, condolences, and wishes of good fortune...

Peace and hugs :)

Wisconsin Parent said...

okay. I'm crying. Thanks for the post.

Sinead said...

Hey Jack, I don't know if you've seen this.


Jay Bee said...

Bright Blessings to Dana, her new husband and family. May peace follow them all the days of their lives.

Confessions of a Mother, Lawyer & Crazy Woman said...

Dana, What a moving post ... my eyes are filled with tears. I am sorry you have had to bear such loss. Thank you so much for sharing your story and providing me a moment of reflection as to what is truly important.

Jack said...


Glad you enjoyed the post. Maybe the thing to do is to take time away from the people pleaser to see what that voice says.

@Still Smiling,

I thought your comment was rather beautiful. And while I can't claim to have suffered the way that you have, I *think* I understand.


I agree. It's been emailed and forwarded via cyberspace for a while now.

Jack said...


I totally agree.


Another very poetic comment.


I second what you are saying. And I hope your family prospers and finds happiness going forward.

Jack said...


“Jack, you don't talk about the people in your life besides other bloggers. I hope that you find or have love in your life right now, to add to your marvelous metamorphosis - you can't do it alone and life is too short to try. I wish you luck and love.”

This touched me a bit. I have a feeling you are right. It's just a matter of figuring out how to fit that love into the metamorphosis I am undergoing.

Thanks for commenting on your honeymoon. It sure seems as if everyone appreciated your piece.

@Spot on your pants,

That seems to have happened a bit with this post. Glad you enjoyed it.

Jack said...


Nope, that's amazing. Need to watch the whole thing a little later today. Wow.

@Jay Bee,

I second that.


Glad you got so much out of the post.

Linda said...

Thank you for your post, Dana.

Jack said...


I am sure she appreciates that.