Typically here on AG, I cover technology and news and don’t write much about our personal lives but in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I would share with you what Thanksgiving means to me this year (hint: it’s less about turkey than you would imagine).
Back in 2002, Benn and I met at a Starbucks while I was studying for a horrendous science course I was taking at UT. What I haven’t told him but I suspect that he knows is that as soon as I met him, I knew I would never spend a Thanksgiving pathetically alone at Denny’s as I had the year before (long story for another day). In 2004, Benn and I got married and had our first married people’s Thanksgiving and because it was my first turkey to ever cook, I didn’t want any visitors, so Benn pulled out the Christmas tree while I carefully basted and re-basted the cheesecloth over the eight pound bird.
When the timer was done, I removed the cheesecloth and revealed a burnt carcass and nearly cried. Benn gingerly came over and poked around the turkey and realized it was so tender that the juicy meat had fallen off of the bone and was in the broth below. It was the best turkey we’ve ever eaten in our lives even to this day. After we stuffed our faces full, we started decorating for our first married people’s Christmas in our home together.
The next year, we found out we were pregnant and expecting our first child together, a son named Kennedy. We were caught off guard but were very excited and Benn offered up his beautiful french doored office as a nursery. But all good things come to an end and we learned that Kennedy wouldn’t make it much longer. Two days before our third trimester began, Kennedy came into this world as a stillborn on November 22, the most cruel of days (the very day President Kennedy was assassinated). But we had planned a very elaborate, beautiful Thanksgiving at our home with my parents and instead of cancelling, in a very doped up state, I cooked another wonderful Turkey just a day and a half later. It was beautiful. The meat didn’t fall off of the bone, but Benn watched me from the living room the entire time as if I were a piece of China teetering on the edge of the cabinet and wouldn’t allow my family to tiptoe around me and he gave me a sense of normalcy.
On September 23, 2007, we lost my little brother to a single car accident but this time, Benn and I were the only ones able to eat turkey with a smile because even though Aaron was our best friend, Benn has always been my rock and helped me to prepare a beautiful meal that didn’t disappoint.
Fast forward to 2009…
In 2009, we drove to my mom’s in Wimberley and dreaded every moment leading up to it because my family still had (has) not recovered from the loss of my brother and they all still look at me as if I’m him and they have these sad eyes knowing how close we were. But not Benn. Benn has always been my rock and seems to be the only person in the world that knows that no pain or sadness will stop my world.
A month later, we were writing content on AG and Benn said he was having some arm pain. Because Benn shares all medical issues with me, I didn’t think much of it and kept working. At about 10pm, he said it was getting worse. In our marriage, it seems as if I’ve always been the one hurting and needing assistance. I’ve had labyrinthitis making it to where I couldn’t walk without his help for months or see straight for weeks, I’ve had an impacted wisdom tooth and subsequent infected jaw (pain worse than labor, by the way) and frequent losses. But now he was saying he wasn’t confident he’d make it through the night.
We jumped into the car and drove across the road to the hospital. All signs pointed to normal. All scans, bloodwork and tests showed nothing was wrong. They gave him a Mylanta and told him to lie down (which his body wouldn’t allow him to, the pain had become to severe). After several hours in the ER in a tiny room with a curtain where they were putting us to be ignored, his pain finally became so severe and nurses were ignoring us and his heart rate was so erradic that I took his leads off hoping that they would see him coding. I screamed in the hall that my husband was having another heart attack and there wasn’t even a nurse at the center island. They were going to let him die right there.
Because the doctor didn’t appreciate his short tone, they doped him up (which is the worst thing you can do to a heart attack victim although they said he wasn’t having any heart attacks). So then he could feel the pain but couldn’t communicate verbally. I watched his vitals and could tell when he was having an attack. After the eighth hour, he could no longer stand (the position his body wanted him in) and had to sit but couldn’t lay down. He was so doped up and if he was touched it would cause severe pain. I stood beside and behind him in the bed with my hands almost but not quite touching him in case he fell over because he was literally slipping in and out of life. I unplugged his leads again and they came to tell us he was being released.
RELEASED? He’s dying in my arms and you want to F***ING release him? I threatened to call an ambulance to transfer us to the heart hospital and they said we could see a cardiologist in a few hours when it was morning. We insisted on getting a private room and they finally obliged.
As new nurses that came with the private room came to retrieve him, they started firing questions at me and began giving him nitroglycerin. Why? “He’s having a massive coronary,” I was finally told as they carted him behind two solid doors I wasn’t allowed to go into.
He had had over eight myochardial infarctions and a final massive coronary that if we hadn’t been rude and insisted on a private room, he would have died from.
Let me tell you… losing a child and losing a sibling/best friend cannot compare with your rock, your love, your spouse slipping away and your not even being able to touch them. Nothing compares with that silent moment in a hospital in the cardiology wing that isn’t even open yet so the lights are mostly off and no one tells you what’s going on. Nothing compares to the pain of knowing you probably just saw your everything carted off for eternity.
A few hours later and two stents later, he came to and he was so confused and the meds had him all mixed up. He thought I didn’t want to be there and he kept insisting he could get up despite being told he had days to spend in the ICU recovering. I would have given anything to trade places with him as the doctors affirmed he had 9 total heart attacks as his valve would shut close and stop blood flow then start back up again.
That was 2009. This is 2010.
I can smell the evergreen candle burning in our kitchen and Benn is on the couch with our daughter (my stepdaughter) watching stupid Thanksgiving shows. We’re eating cutlets this year to ensure there’s no fat because even though the heart attacks were not diet or exercise induced (which the cardiologist told us we’re doing well with) but simply a bad valve, we want to keep life going for as long as we can, just in case. This year, we are at home again- a simple, yummy, quiet Thanksgiving just the way we like it just like in 2004.
2010 is the best year because I consider these bonus years. If I were alone this Thanksgiving, I would quietly be at a Denny’s and would never tell my friends I was sad or alone. I wouldn’t have my solid foundation, the love of my life, the person I’ve been with for almost my entire adult life. 2010 is the best year because in this bonus year, we’ve gotten to know some amazing people and work on some really incredible projects. We get to continue watching the world change and we are together and there is literally nothing more in this world that I would want.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. I hope you will consider this your bonus year as well and look your loved ones in the eye with the deepest gratitude, especially if they are your backbone, your heartbeat, the air you breathe and your everything the way Benn is mine.