I wonder, how much more is there I have to do? How much is there to this dealing with death thing? I don’t mean the emotional part of it, that is immeasurable. No one has to tell me that. Here I am, just over two months past my husband dying, and things just keep coming at me. The person who has in the past done her best to hide away from the things that she didn’t want to handle, leaving them for my husband, now has no choice. I have to stand up and take care of everything, whether I want to or not.
The very first thing I had to do, was learn how to be strong enough. Strong enough to face the struggles that were to come.
My husband was a long haul truck driver. We live in North Carolina, he died suddenly and unexpectedly, in Indiana. I had to get him home. I had promised him repeatedly that if anything happened, I would not have him cremated. I was still suffering from the shock of his death, and yet, I had to go into battle mode to get him home. But how? Even though he had told me often, that anything could happen out there, I had refused to consider it and therefore was totally unprepared.
He drove for a company called Abilene Motor Express. People from their human resource and safety, called me, they wanted to see how I was, if we needed anything. At that point, the only thing I knew was that I needed him home. I knew nothing past that fact. I remember talking with them. I remember them saying something about insurance. I was hearing key words but I wasn’t putting them together as they were meant to be. In hindsight of that, I learned that in circumstances such as this, one needs someone else with them. Someone to hear the conversation, maybe even take charge of the conversation so that everything is understood. I did not understand that the insurance they were telling me about was meant for instances such as this. That insurance would get him home.
Someone that I know as a friend on social media told me about a charity group that gets drivers home when they pass away out on the road. She gave me their contact number, and I called them. It turned out that the contact is a driver as well, he had to take my name and return my call when it was safe to talk. When he called me back, I gave him the information that I had. He told me he would take it from there and call me back when he had more information. What he wanted me to do, was email him a photo of my husband and when he had the link ready, share it to social media so that people who wanted to, could donate toward getting him home. That was when things got a little uncomfortable.
People wanted to think that the company he drove for had abandoned him. No, they did not. They called me repeatedly. They told me they would do what they could to help me. They told me, repeatedly, to keep them informed of what was happening. Someone along the way explained again about that insurance policy. I got it then, but things were already underway and I wasn’t changing horses in mid stream. I would, however, make sure anyone asking, anyone reading would know that the company did not abandon my husband and they would have, it I had been paying attention, got him home.
I had no idea, that when someone dies as he did, suddenly and so far from home, there was such a problem getting them home. There are simply so many restrictions, laws, signatures needed and miles and miles of red tape to struggle through.
The afternoon he passed, an officer from the county police pulled into the driveway. We had been warned they would come. He was a very nice gentleman. His respectfulness and compassion were amazing. He told me that in all of his years on the force, this was the first time he had to deliver such a message. I’m sure it helped him that we already knew. I didn’t fall apart, I didn’t start screaming and yelling. I stood and listened and even as I didn’t want to, accepted the message.
The night he passed away, I received a call from the coroner’s office who had his body. They were very polite and respectful. I was told that from general observation he had passed due to a heart attack. Judging from the appearance of his body, and from the way he had been found slumped over in the sleeper part of his truck, that would be the initial finding. They would do the autopsy and then I would get the results and official death certificate in six to eight weeks.
I spoke often to the man from the charity group called Truckersfinalmile. He, as everyone so far, was very respectful. He began every conversation by telling me once again that he was sorry for my loss. He told me that if I ever needed to talk, I only had to call him. He answered every question to the best of his ability or told me he would get the answer for me.
Every day I had relatives calling me, friends calling me, notes and emails, at times it was overwhelming and I wanted to find a place to hide. I had to answer each question, listen or talk. Even as I wanted to run away, it kept me grounded. It helped me keep a focus on this life and that I had to keep going. I had a grown son and step daughter who were hurting as well. I had to keep fighting for them. Everyone kept asking, do you need anything. I need a lot of things, but I’m not asking. I won’t feel as if I’m trying to take advantage of a situation for my benefit. I had to face and answer questions that made me angry, that hurt my heart, that had me facing things I did not want to face, but face I must.
It took over a week before I received the call that everything had been signed finally. That they would be booking the flights to get my husband’s earthly body home. I was concerned as the weather was not good where the first flight initiated from, but it took off on schedule, he was on his way.
I had faced delays. I had faced those who wanted to just get in the car and drive up there. I had faced the unknown and made it through. All the while knowing, there was so much more to come.