I’ve never really been sure how I felt about intuition. Is it real? Is it that, in hindsight, we want to think we knew what was going to happen? Are we just over-anylizing what we thought we thought?
I read this article today, while I was riding in the car on the way to run some errands with my family. My immediate reaction? Duh. Then, of course, I started to roll that around in my head.
Two things happened before Aiden and Sophie died that felt strange and out of place to me. The first was that at my 20-week ultra/sound appointment, I began to panic. I had absolutely nothing to be panicked about. Everything had been perfect, really, and at that point, I didn’t even really know about babies dying. However, sitting in that waiting room, the closer and closer it came to my appointment time, the more anxious and worried I became.
That ultra/sound showed me a beautiful baby boy and girl, and I scolded myself for worrying about nothing.
The next week, I was on the phone with my mom, and I asked her some questions totally out of the blue about my sister, Mary. Mary had died before she was born–in other words, my mom had a full-term stillbirth. Growing up, I knew she was buried in the cemetery and my mom went to visit her in the spring. That was it. I had no idea how or why she died.
More recently, we have had another run-in with death. Every other year my hubs takes a student tour overseas (he is a language teacher). He’s typically gone from anywhere between 10 and 14 days. Following Aiden and Sophie’s death, I was always CRAZY worried that he was going to die while he was gone (not just to Europe, but like, to the gas station). Therapy, anxiety medication, and a lot of writing and talking later, I’ve gotten past much of it. In fact, last year he was gone for almost a month and I did just fine. I always manage to do something ridiculous while he’s gone–strep throat, flat tired, lose my credit card), but we’ve always managed just fine.
Then came this year. The last few weeks of the school year were horrible for me. I was an anxious mess. I couldn’t quite figure out why-or what was making me so worried. I kept telling my friends, “Ugh. I just am SO worried about Brian leaving!”
They tried to be understanding, but at some point, there was this, “Dude. It’s going to be just fine. I mean, it’s a week and a half. You’ve got this.”
I wouldn’t have thought much of that until I was on my way to drop B off at the airport and he said, “I feel sick. I don’t know why. I’m nervous about this trip.”
That was Tuesday. On Saturday morning, I became worried about my mother-in-law because we hadn’t heard from her. Her cousin called me and told me she had knocked on her door and there was no answer. I told her I’d go get the keys to her house and meet her there.
I don’t know why, but my gut instincts kicked in. I had little reason to be so worried-surely there was an explanation for why she wasn’t answering her phone–but I immediately texted some of my friends to come over and stay with my kids. I grabbed the house key and drove the 2 miles to my mother-in-law’s house.
When I walked in, everything was dark. I called her name, and then, before I could stop myself I entered her bedroom to find her, my beautiful, loving, caring mother-in-law, in her bed. Dead.
I jumped into bed with her and shook her and screamed and it was one of those moments in life where you just feel like it has to be an Alice in Wonderland kind of thing and you’re in some trippy dream and you’ll be waking up from this soon to find out that it was all imagined.
But, it wasn’t. And so I called 911. And I was reminded, again, about how cruel death can be. How dirty and vile and sneaky it is. How, even though we say it all the time, do we actually ever remember that someone can be here one moment, and gone the next?
My sweet husband was stuck overseas. There wasn’t really a practical possible way home. So for the next 4 days, I relied on my friends and my mom to help me survive this surreal disaster. And last night my husband got back and we cried and hugged and right away, he said, “I knew it. I knew something was going to be wrong. I’m NEVER nervous before these trips. Somehow I knew.”
Then, of course, we began to speculate if his mom somehow knew. The week before, she had gone to the Humane Society and adopted a kitten. Did she do that because she wanted to leave something behind for us? Is that a completely crazy thought? Had she just had a talk with us about her computer passwords because she somehow knew?
Unexpected death. Expected death. Just death. It never rests. Images in my head that I’ll never shake. That I hope so desperately I can replace with the loving, beautiful memories I have of her. My hope that this doesn’t make my PTSD or my anxiety worse (although, hello, of course, it will).
I jumped into bed with her, and I hugged her and kissed her, and I screamed her name. But she wasn’t there-not anymore. And now, we march on, trying to listen to our gut instincts. Even when we can’t really do anything about them.
And were they really there? Or is it simply hindsight?
What do you all think?