Monday, May 31, 2010

Bill & Brayden

Very rarely do I see a photo that has the power to affect me in the way that this one has. I can't tell you how many times I have pulled it up on my phone since I opened it just before church started on Sunday. I cried through the whole service. Brayden went with his dad to see his Granddad's grave on Saturday at the Dallas-Fort Worth Memorial Cemetery. I wasn't there, but he snapped this shot as Brayden placed the little flag at the top of Bill's headstone. I've probably cried more this weekend about losing him than I have since the night it happened.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but that's really inaccurate in this case. It's so many more. There's all of the words that make up the story of a man who served his country in both Korea and Vietnam. Losing friends in unspeakable ways mere feet from where he sat. As bad as the stories we know are, I can't help but wonder how many of them were too horriffic to share. Despite the experiences, he came home to love his wife for more than 38 years and his only son for most of those, too. I never knew Bill as the military man. The man that I knew was just a hard working and kind father and husband.

I wish he could see Brayden now. He would be so proud. He loved that boy with such urgency. From the moment he was born until just before his sudden death, he had a one track mind. Time with Brayden was the priority. They had a standing date each Tuesday and whenever possible in between. If there were other people in the room, he'd never have known it. It was as if he squeezed a lifetime of love into one short year. Like he knew there was little time left...

This weekend was the first time that Brayden was old enough to tell all about his granddad. Before his dad came to get him, Mom and I told him all about Bill and how much he loved him. We talked about what a hero he was for serving our country like he did, and why we have Memorial Day. And, Mom also told him about the last time he saw his Granddad. You see, he was the last of us to see him.

Bill had been recovering from a triple bypass surgery and was doing great. So great that he was going to go home the next day. But, that didn't happen. Sometime that afternoon unbeknownst to the doctors or anyone else, a bloodclot had formed, escaped, and traveled to his abdomen. He looked fine, felt fine, and everything was proceeding normally...until it wasn't. Once they figured out what had happened, they rushed him into surgery to try and repair the damage, but one look told them the window on saving his life had passed. They closed the incision and said he wouldn't make it through the night.

I was on my way home from work when Bird called that night. I couldn't make sense of what he was telling me. I had just talked to Bill the day before! The doctors said everything would be fine. How can this be happening?? How can this be happening?? The world seemed to be spinning off of its axis. I just couldn't sort it out and was in no condition to drive when I arrived at Mom's. Recognizing it immediately, she threw both Brayden and me in the car and sped off to the hospital.

I can't describe the next few hours well. It was terrible. I'm thankful that I had the time to talk to him, tell him how much I loved him, but I could never wish the trauma of that night on anyone. We watched the machines, too many machines...we watched as they beeped slower and the numbers were reduced with each passing hour. Finally, the doctor came in to tell us it wouldn't be long.

At that point, Mom took Brayden down to the lobby to wait. She didn't want to intrude on the moment with the baby. Besides, the lobby was big and quiet and he'd be fine down there under the big open ceiling with an indoor kiddie playground.

I told Bill that we'd take care of Brayden. Whether he could hear me or not, I wanted him to know. Everyone had the opportunity to tell him what they needed him to know. When the lines went flat, they came in and unplugged everything while we wept. The neighbor decided to go down and let Mom know he was gone.

When he arrived, Mom already knew. Mom said they were just playing around when all of a sudden Brayden looked up, smiled and began to wave just like he would when Bill came to see him. His eyes tracked from the back of the building to right out the front door as he smiled and waved. The hair stood up on her neck because there was no one else there besides the two of them. It seems, he loved Brayden so much that he came by on his way out to say goodbye one last time.

So on this Memorial Day as I look at the photo, I see so many things. I see my boy paying tribute to his Granddad. I see the memory of a patriot. I see the resting place of a man we all loved. And, I can't help but see a private moment between Bill and Brayden like no one else was around...just like it used to be.


TickTack said...

I love this Yvette. You have such a gift for words.

Lisa T said...

I will not tell you how strong you are. I'm really tired of hearing what doesn't kill you will make you stronger...who started that anyway. I will tell you though that you have such a good combination of courage, facing the truth, and being able to show vulnerability all with a splash of humor. I have read every word and feel horrible that all this was happening and I was not aware. You always were the best trainer, but your ability to write and relate is superb. This needs to be published as a book and needs to be given to anyone that has had cancer or been touched by cancer...which is everyone. You are the best person I know.


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