Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The man who found Rick called and asked if I could tell him where he was buried because he wanted to bring flowers. . I offered to meet him at the cemetery, which I did do on Sunday. He was hispanic and even though he spoke english very well, I knew there would be a language barrier so I asked my hispanic friend to go with me. He was such a kind man. He said his mother's church in Mexico had a special mass for Rick. He wanted nothing from me, except to know where the grave was so he could pray for Rick. If it weren't for this good man, I would still be wondering and waiting to bring Rick home. I gave him a special rosary my Catholic friend gave me and a silver belt buckle with an engraving of two men, shaking hands. I hoped it would symbolize the connection he had with my husband. I'm so overwhelmed by how kind a perfect stranger can be. When he told me how sorry he was, I could see in his eyes just how much he understood my loss. We stood at the grave and he prayed in spanish and it was beautiful. It helps to remember people like this when the world beats us up, and some of our closest friends avoid mentioning our loved one's name. Remember that some people do care and that in a country far away, Rick was remembered by a whole church full of people. The amount of comfort that gives me is indescribable.

Monday, July 30, 2007

So much has happened since March.

Rick's body was recovered on Tuesday, June 26th, 2007. Seven months and one day after the accident.

My brother committed suicide in May.

My daughter was married on June 16th, in a back yard ceremony. Her brother gave her away, and when asked who gave her in marriage, he replied "my mother, my father and I." Then he lit a candle for Rick.

All my employees quit on June 18th. They had all been hired by the competitor who asked me to merge with him 2 weeks after Rick's accident. I refused him. I guess he managed to get my business without paying for it. They told me their last day would be July 13th, they didn't realize that was Rick's birthday. I was devastated until they told me when their last day would be, then I knew it was time to quit struggling with the business. I'm negotiating a sale for a fraction of what it would have been worth with employees in place. My son is tying up the loose ends until I can get it sold.

Rick's dad died on June 23rd, 3 days before Rick was found. I was making funeral arrangements with my in laws for him, and as I was leaving I asked for a moment to talk about what my options would be if Rick were ever found. I was assured that he could be cremated or buried, that it would be totally up to me. The next day I was at my doctor, getting a refill on my sleeping pill prescription. I asked for a prescription for a sedative, just in case I needed it. While at the doctor's office I got a call on my cell phone. It was a local news reporter. She asked if Clackamas County sheriff's department had called me. I said "no, but they haven't been calling me all along - what's up?" She told me that 2 men had been found in the Willamette River that morning, that one had been identified as a man who had been missing 2 days. The other man was wearing clothing that was consistent with what Rick had been wearing the day of the accident. I told her I'd better call the sheriff's department. When I finally tracked down someone from the sheriff's department who knew what was going on, he told me I needed to call the state medical examiner's office, that they hadn't positively ID'ed Rick. I knew in my heart it was him. I didn't need anyone to tell me. My sister in law called, I asked her to call the examiner's office for me. Then I drove home to tell my daughter. I didn't want a reporter to call her with the news. I called one of my work crew so he could tell Ricky that they may have found his dad, and to send him back home from the jobsite.

So many people have told me this is a blessing, or "oh, good news! they found him!" but this isn't the news I wanted. I wanted someone to call me and tell me it had been a horrible mistake. That this crazy story I'd been told and had repeated a thousand times was somehow just that. A story that couldn't possibly be real. The original loss in November was just a prelude to the final loss in June. This time I'm going through it without the numbness I had back then. This time I know that other things can happen. My brother can put a gun to his head. My father in law can get cancer and die within months. I no longer ask God "what else? what next?" Sometimes it's better not to know.

Rick was buried in a casket lined with a Pendleton blanket. We went to the Pendleton Roundup rodeo every year. He participated in the stage coach race and later in the Happy Canyon Indian Pageant. It seemed appropriate. It also seemed appropriate that when we ordered the casket, the person at the casket company knew Rick from high school. The man knew so many people, he had so many friends that I can't tell you the times I stood waiting for him to wind up a conversation with yet another person he knew that we ran into on the street. He could remember names and faces and tell stories about people that I had long forgotten. He loved people. People loved him.

I'm working on creating a life, where there is not a glimmer of my old life left. I go to my grief counselor. I'm finishing up what work I have left to do at the business. I go to the movies on Fridays with my sister. She babysits me. She'll tell you that isn't true, but it is. If I didn't have her to tell me that things will be ok, I don't know what I'd do. The thing is, I know it's a lie. Things will never be ok again. They just are what they are.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I got a letter in the mail yesterday from the state medical examiner. They've granted my request for a presumed death certificate. I opened it and felt dead myself. How can I have asked for a death certificate for my sweet man? It's like I asked for this. I'm so heartsick. ----- I wake. I talk. I go to work. I eat and sleep. I move through the world and yet I don't feel like I'm a part of the world anymore. I hate to answer the question that everyone asks me - "How are you doing?", because the truth is, I'm not doing well and really, people don't want to hear that. It scares people that life is so random and yes, this can happen to you too, and you won't be ok. I will never be ok again. I know I'll survive, but thats as much as I can expect.

DH's 93 year old Dad was hospitalized last week. He had a bleed between his esphogus and stomach and they think it's cancer. So now he's in a rehab facility until he's strong enough to go home. I stop in every day and every day he tells me how miserable he is, but there's nothing I can do about it. He hasn't been told that it may be cancer, and I don't really see the need to. Sometimes ignorance is preferable.

I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about how long it's been since I've seen my Granddaughter. I've seen her 1 hour since February 4th when my daughter in law moved out. Another loss. Another thing to feel distraught over. I really hate it now when people tell me things happen for a reason. I can't see the reason for all this. I seriously don't think I ever will.

Monday, February 19, 2007

I'm just having a terrible morning and I can't even say why. Some days are just that way. It takes an incredible amount of energy to keep my composure at work. Weekends are pretty much my time to cry, but it seems to be spilling over into monday morning.

The local sheriff's department, although totally underwhelming in their recovery efforts, are very efficient in using the information and photos of the accident to make a powerpoint presentation for the local high schools about boater safety. They will be presenting it for the first time on friday and I intend to be there to make sure their information is accurate. I've found that they want to change facts to fit their own agenda, and they need to know that this is not ok, and incredibly hurtful to the family of the drowning victim. Even though the police reports reflects the fact that none of the 4 men involved in the accident were wearing life vests, the sheriff's department news release stated that "3 men wore life vests, while the 4th man, while wearing no flotation device, elected to swim to shore" As if to say 'he was foolish, and this is what happened.' Not, thank God we didn't lose all 4 men. Not, he was brave and the boat was going down again and wouldn't support all of them and he thought his only option was to swim.

I want to scream, I want to cry, I want to pound the walls. I want my heart to quit aching. Just for a minute, then I could go on for a little longer.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I finally got a response from the commercial dive company. One day in that location at that depth would be $10,000.00, and it could turn out to be nothing. The diver told me that he might be able to use an rov (an underwater robot camera) to check it out first. He sounded like he was considering doing that out on his own time. He told me to email him the coordinates and he would think about it.

I started going to a therapist again, because I'm feeling like I'm at my limits of coping. She asked me why it was so important that I recover Rick. It seriously made me think about finding another therapist, if she can't understand that. I told her I felt like if I gave up finding him, that I was abandoning him, that I needed a place to go, that I hate that damn river and I want him out of it. I know that it won't change what happened, but it will give me a somewhere to start from, and until I find him I'm in limbo.

I also spend a lot of time thinking about that morning. His moustache brushing my lips when he kissed me good bye. Seeing him standing by the back door, looking handsome even in his fishing gear. Just wishing for one more moment to hold his hand one more time.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I've had no replies from the commercial dive companies. At this point, it's just a waiting game. I'm feeling totally exhausted emotionally and physically and I'm not sure what else I can do. The county search and rescue has told me that eventually he will be found, it's just a matter of time. I'm constantly haunted by the thoughts of Rick being left in that river, with thoughts of whether or not he felt alone and scared when he drowned.

Now another unbearable loss to our family - my son's wife has left him. She can't give him a reason other than that she just no longer loves him. I think she just can't bear all the emotional torture we're going through and she just wants to run away. She says she doesn't want anything from him, just to be left alone. She's moved in with her brother & his wife, and is going to share custody of the baby with my son. I'm praying that they manage to get through this, and are able to work it out. I'm in shock because they've always seemed so right for each other and so in love. They had everything that you'd think would make them happy. Beautiful child, nice little house, good health, and yet apparently overwhelming grief is too much for my daughter in law to withstand. I can't blame her too much, because sometimes I would like to run away too. The problem is that there is no where that I can run to that would relieve me of this pain.

In April of last year, our dear friend Wayne was killed in a freak tree cutting accident. He was my husband's best friend. I imagined that I understood his wife's grief. I didn't have a clue. There is no way, unless you've experienced it first hand, that anyone can imagine what it's like to have the love of your life ripped away from you so suddenly. I feel that when Rick lost his life, he took mine along with him. Now I have years stretching ahead of me, with no focus to them. Yes, I have children, and yes, I have a beautiful Granddaughter, but their lives are their own, as they should be. My daughter has moved back home with me, but I know it's a temporary arrangement. She will hopefully go on to her own life, her own marriage and children, her own career. I wouldn't want it any other way for her. I know that eventually I'll find my place in the world, but it will be a pale version of my life with Rick.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

If you know me, you know that my beautiful husband of 29 years was drowned in a boating accident on November 25, 2006. You may also know a bit of what I've been going through. This blog is now going to be about what's going on so that I can keep friends updated.

The latest news is that at over 2 months since the drowning he has still not been recovered from the river. In fact at 2 months out, I still hadn't even received one phone call from the Clackamas County Search and Rescue department of the sheriff's office to inform me of what their ongoing efforts had been. I finally contacted them, and took a thank you note for their work, along with some cookies down to the CCS&R boathouse so that I could humanize this search and they would understand that they are looking for this wonderful man, this husband, father and friend and not just an anonymous body. I was assured that they had been going out about once a week, searching the surface for him. Even I was bright enough to realize that this just won't bring him home --- something more has to be done. I was also informed by the Deputy in charge of the search that he had created a Powerpoint presentation about the accident to present to high school kids about lifejacket use. He then asked offhandedly "I hope that was ok with you." I answered "of course, if it saves lives.".... and I meant that, but I also wanted to scream "you should have asked!!!!" The thing is, I can't be too confrontational or appear critical of them because I'm depending on these people to help find him. I'm reduced to begging with my homemade cookies to get someone to do something.... and maybe they are doing all they can. Maybe I just want someone to be angry with.

A couple days later I was doing a search on the internet -- drowning victim recovery --- I think was what I used for the google search, and I found out about a couple from Idaho that volunteer their time and equipment to do side scan sonar searches for drowning victims. I called them, told them my story on Tuesday and by Friday evening they had come all the way from Idaho to search for my husband. I still can't believe that there are still people in this world who are so good and so kind, and for nothing but their expenses will drive all that distance to help someone they've never met before. Not only have they given me the only hope I've had in the last 2 months, they've given me so much emotional support. They've been open and free with the hugs and patience to listen to me talk about my husband, to tell them how wonderful he was, to not shy away from my tears and grief. We have had no success in finding Rick, but at least I feel that I've done what I can. They've spent 4 days searching, but this river is deep and the current is fast. They've located one object of interest, but the depth there is about 85 feet, and the sheriff's divers don't go that deep. I'm waiting to hear if a commercial diver would be willing to go check out the location. I'm supposed to get a call from the deputy today letting me know, they said they had someone who had volunteered their services. If the answer from them is no, then I'll pursue it on my own. I have no idea how much it would cost to hire a diver, but that will be my next move. I've stood around wringing my hands for over 2 months now, I've got to take action. I know if I were left in that cold, heartless river that Rick would move heaven and earth to bring me home.