Everyone knows that death is a natural part of life. No one knows when it is his or her time to go. Sadly sometimes it strikes unexpectedly.
Francine and Tim had just found out that she was pregnant- it was very early into the pregnancy. They knew that it was much too early to tell anyone yet, so they had not shared the news yet. They were waiting to get results of their first ultrasound to tell.
Only my mom and Francine’s mom knew that they had been going for fertility treatments. Although my mom died before they got pregnant, I know that Tim found comfort in the fact that she knew how hard they were trying.
Everyone always said Francine was “one in a million”. She was a unique individual. It is amazing that even in her death, she left this world as a statistic proving this to be true. Francine died as a result of a very rare side effect of the fertility drugs. So rare in fact, there are only 20 known cases recorded anywhere! She had an adverse reaction where her brain swelled and caused bleeding in every part of her brain. This caused irreversible damage.
She went to the hospital with severe morning sickness symptoms. She was vomiting, had a horrible headache, earache and was dehydrated. Tim, my dad, Francine’s mom and one of her best friends were with her. Although she was not completely coherent, she was communicating with them. This drastically changed over the next few hours. My aunt and uncle, brother, sister and I joined them at the hospital around 11pm. By this point, she was already in ICU with this devastating diagnosis. They gave her several more brain scans throughout the night, each coming back with no change.
For the rest of the day, we made calls, and had friends and family gather to say their goodbyes. Timmy held it together the way he always does. He is the “funny guy” of the family. He went from cracking jokes to lighten the mood of everyone, to sobbing at her bedside. He talked to us about what he wanted her to wear for her funeral, and where he wanted her to be buried. We let him talk. He talked about her – funny stories, sad ones, silly ones, and wistful ones…. By this time he had been awake for over 24 hours and we tried to convince him to get some rest. Of course he wouldn’t, other than a quick doze in the waiting room.
Visitors came all day long but at 6pm, the decision was made. Tim gave the okay to turn off life support. Her doctors were amazing and her nurses, even more so. At many points of the day, I think the nurse was there more for Tim than they were for Francine. Luckily, for some reason, the ICU was nearly vacant so they gave us very few restrictions that are usually reserved for that area of the hospital. At one time, there were 17 of us in her room gathered around her as she received last rites and we all said our goodbyes.
This was so different than my mom’s goodbye. For her, there were so many days for us to do it and because of that, her ending was much calmer.
Turning off the machines also was so different. My mom lasted for 7 hours and Francine was almost instantaneous. A few minutes at most. At the end for my mom, it was just my dad, my older brother and myself. Tim and my sister had just left but even after they came back it was just the five of us around mom. Peaceful.
With Francine, there were so many people who needed to get there before it was too late and because the time frame was so quick it was just so different. There was crying, wailing, sobbing and not a dry eye.
Today I will go with Timmy, my dad and Francine’s mom to make her funeral arrangements.
I realize that death will leave behind scars that don’t seem to fade, but when a death is unexpected, it just seems so much more painful. Two deaths so close together also seems unfathomable. It will take a long time to recover, especially for Tim. It sucks and it is cruel. We can only hope that there truly is a reason for everything and that God has bigger plans for all of us.