9. May 29.

Today is the 11th anniversary of Tim’s passing.

It’s so difficult to put words into a formation that can adequately express the way it felt to hear the news. A member of Tim’s family called me – he heard the news from someone who heard the news. I remember these things:

I was at my desk, at work. My family member (names in this post are withheld for privacy) was crying so hard that I could not make out the words that were being said. I heard “Tim had a heart attack,” “car,” and a jumble of words my brain could not put in order. I do distinctly remember thinking, “Tim had a heart attack – he must be in surgery, but where?” It did not cross my mind that his heart had betrayed him to the point that he departed his earthly existence.

I wailed at my desk, and leaned over and wretched into my trash can, immediately nauseous. I do not remember how I got home, maybe a co-worker took me home? Maybe I drove? I have no recollection. I was in utter, paralyzed shock. I do know I called a good friend and asked her to go pick up the boys from school, and bring them home to me. I called their school and blurted out what had happened, asking them to please bring the kids to the front office for pick up. I remember I asked them not to tell the boys.

At home, I googled, “how to tell your children their parent died.” I fielded calls from family, called several friends and asked them to inform others, etc., etc. I activated a daisy-chain of disbelief and grief that began to ripple across the network of people who loved Tim.

Then – the hardest moment of my life presented itself. There are moments in life that you must survive even though there is nothing you wouldn’t give to be spared from them. This was the time: I would have to walk through this fire. My friend brought my boys, ages 6 and 8, into the living room. I braced myself for the moment I knew would steal their innocence forever. I placed one boy on either side of me, sitting on the couch. I wrapped my arms around them and said some version of this: “Boys – first, you are safe. This is going to be a very bad day, something awful has happened, but I’m here, we are safe.” Deep breath. “Your dad has passed away today. Your dad has gone to Heaven today. He got sick very fast and his heart stopped working today. I’m here. I’m not going anywhere, we will get through this. You’re safe. You’re safe. I’m here, I’m here…” Actually, I realize I can’t write more, on this day, about the immediate aftermath of this pronouncement – it’s just too hard.

I look back on that morning as though it happened to another person. Like I was a bystander, only watching. There was a surreal, eerie feeling that pushed me through that moment – and that sense of unreality would seize my life for months to come, where even the landscape did not seem natural to me.

More will be revealed about how May 29 put us at the foot of a mountain nobody wanted to climb, but not today. Today – I remember Tim and declare that he was a wonderful father, a happy soul who loved nothing more than to laugh and spend time with friends and family. He loved baseball (Go Giants!), he loved telling jokes, going with the boys to get donuts and milk, loved cooking, and camping, and going into SF, impromptu cocktail parties, loved helping people, looked forward to Chamber of Commerce and Lions Club get-togethers, loved ringing the bell when someone bought a beer at the Lions booth at the County Fair, so many – many! – happy moments.

Beloved father.

I have so many sad, heartbreaking memories from May 29, 2012. But today, I say: Thank you, Tim, for all the happy ones.


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  1. Mary, Your thoughts about the day Tim passed brought back how sad that day was and it also helped me remember all the good memories.
    Thank you for sharing and reminding me of all the good times.
    Sending hugs,

  2. Thank you so much for sharing heart-wrenching experience. I am deeply sad for what you and your boys experienced on that day and over the course of a long period of grief. You’re the best mom to your boys! Truly inspirational.

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