Sunday, January 20, 2019

a little diary of what it feels like to be me right now, part 1

I started this post on a day, almost 2 months ago, at a time I obviously had a burst of courage or some other sort of adrenaline pumping reaction to our life change that made me feel like writing.  Then it apparently stopped, and I became my regular, borderline, hysterical self, all with grown out hair highlights and a dirty house.  

But it gives me hope to look back now and see that at least I tried - because as time has gone on, I've done very little of that - at least no more than what it has taken to get through the day to to day trudge through paperwork and account changes, and figuring out where the Walters family is in this new life.  

So I hope to get back here more often, as I write a little diary of what it feels like to be me right now.  The Firefighter's Widow.  

November 2018:  

"I had planned for my next blog post to be about one of our stops on our Thanksgiving vacation Tour de Texas by way of Mississippi .... the part about my severe allergic reaction to deep east Texas and how I scratched my own eyeball in the worst of ways as I slept last Monday night and impaired my vision and had to go to an emergency eye doctor appt in Little Town, and sat there with about 100 old people there to check on their cataracts.  I also thought I would share how my poor vision made me misjudge my step into the bathtub that very night and how I broke my toe.

But Fireman Dave showed me up, and told a story all his own last Friday night, November 23, 2018. I decided that a diary may be my best bet at trying to get these days into words.

Today I fixed the mailbox all by myself.  And today, Wednesday, November 28, Fireman Dave's body was escorted back to Dallas by his fire crew, friends, and 2 of our sons.  I guess that's as good a place as any to start this story.

Thursday, November 29, 2018 - today I go to the funeral home to view my husband for the first time after his death last Friday night.

And as I sit here and think back on a week ago today, I never thought or imagined that it would be the last night that I would ever lay down next to Fireman Dave.  I also never imagined that I would spend the next 5 days planning a funeral and worrying what our tomorrows are going to look like and how much money we owe and to whom.  I actually think a week ago tonight - we were out of town with relatives - that I left the family room of our shared rental house and headed to our bedroom because I didn't want to watch Thursday night football.  I still don't want to watch Thursday night football, though I hear it through my wall coming from Kids 1 and 2.

I think that whole concept of being a last time for everything is far too complex to even get started on, but I will say this - it's all true.  There really is a last time for everything and a person can just up and die on a pretty Friday night and I'm already getting really sad compiling my lists of lasts with Fireman Dave - the saddest part being that the list has just begun. 

What might the coming days and months be like?  I'm thinking nightmarish, but trying to put a spin on it - like maybe it will be so nightmarish that some Hollywood movie person will think it awful enough to make into a movie and pay me a bazillion dollars so I can afford college tuition for my kids.  And THAT, dear reader,  is a whole nother subject for a whole nother day.

And I will add that the visit to the funeral home ranked right up there with getting my foot run over by a truck while watching Old Yeller.  I cried in the first few minutes of seeing what I went there to see, but something - or rather, Someone - made me pull it together for Kid 1 who was with me and not handling the sight of his dad very well.  I will go ahead and add here that he and I decided that if we tilt our heads to the left just a bit - maybe 45 degrees, that we could picture the person we were visiting resembling Fireman Dave.  It was a stretch, but so are each of our days right now.  

And while we were there, Kid 1 put his daddy's wedding ring back on the finger of the man I married. Why was it off, you wonder?  Because last Friday  - the incident - Kid 1 picked his daddy clean of all jewels and valuables before the official people rolled him away from us on a stretcher.  The one and only time I will allow pick pocketing and petty theft from my boys."

And picking up with today, almost 2 months after that writing, I will tell you that I pretty much spend every day at this computer - just not the way I would wish.  I wish it were to write and encourage and use what I always thought was my gift.  But instead, I pay people, and I argue with people, and I mail things - a million things, and I unearth passwords and hidden debts, and I count the dollars and cents that it takes to raise a family of 3 teenage boys on my own.  

And for the curious out there - No.  There is still no cause of death.  Though I've heard many of your theories, trust that I was there when it happened, and even I do not know what happened to my husband. Some of you are very creative in your thinking, however, and you know that  I always appreciate a little flair for the dramatic in the routine of normal.  I will also tell you that my husband died in my arms, and in the presence of so many people who love him more than words can say.  And I will say that my boys and their young cousins saw some things that night that young eyes should never have to see.  If you want to pray for anything, pray for them to remember what is good, and for God's grace to allow them to forget the fear of that night.  That is a giant burden for a young person to carry for a lifetime.  

And addressing the other end of all that is curious  - because inquiring minds want to know our every last detail even though you pretend you don't  -   No.  There has not been a life insurance claim as there is no cause of death.  But the boys and I are not starving or freezing or looking for a spot in a shelter anytime soon - and that is a great sign of even greater things to come.  (I'm going with the "Field Of Dreams theory of, If I build it they will come..."  and choosing to look for rainbows in our %$## storm. Tell me if you see one.)  

And y'all, the hard truth is that there is very little help from the City of Dallas - aside from a handful of those that have stuck beside me through it all. Our city health insurance was terminated 7 days after the death of my husband, and I was given the option of continuation at more than double the cost we had paid days before.  And addressing specifically all my active duty fire  and police readers out there - if you think that your city, your employer will stick around to care for your survivors, please talk to me about that.  It is very eye opening what your loved ones will deal with when you are gone.  It may even make you want to return and haunt the city halls until such changes are made that will give some rest to the weary and some assuredness to the scared.  Fireman Dave will be happy to lead the haunt.  

And following that same path of direct anger and frustration, let me address the fire retirees out there who thought it a good thing to make a run on the pension system and take out all that was yours.  All that was yours, took away from all that was everyone else's.  Can I live on the pension payment we were given?  Maybe if I move the boys under a bridge downtown.  So one defunct pension system later, please let me put some faces on the ones paying for your boat, your sports car, your vacation home, and your security: 


I see these faces every day, and hold onto these boys with all I've got to assure them that I will do my best to take care of them.  So far that hasn't proven to be easy.  But with the thoughtful and generous gifts of friends, coworkers, and even some secret angels out there that I've never even met, we're still here and counting our days together as good.    

And honest to gosh truth, so far I'm more tired than I have ever been in my entire life. And giving serious thought to job possibilities and all the things I thought I would never have to think about again.  I guess God heard my secret plans and laughed.  Pretty sure there's a country song out there with that same sentiment.  

And to sum it all up, y'all, I'm sad.  About every last bit of it.  

Would you like to comment?

  1. Hi Kristi, I am so very, very sorry about your loss. I can't even imagine what you're going through. I have been thinking about you and your boys for the last two months. I didn't know Dave and have only met you in passing a few times at Wilshire years ago, but I feel like I "know" you through your writing. Please know that people are thinking about you. I wish I could help and make it all easier. If there is anyway at all I can help, please reach out. PM me on FB and I'll send you my cell#. I'm here,even if you just want to vent. Wishing you peace and wonderful memories. Love, Kellie Watson

  2. I'm so sorry for your loss Kristi. I'll keep praying for you and your family. Please let me know if you're looking for writing work. I don't know of anything off the top of my head, but I can reach out to my contacts and see if anyone is hiring.

  3. We are all sad with you Kristi. I am in a place in life where I can see the season of life is changing. In the last three weeks, I have had to put my stepmom in a nursing home, she's 95, and last week I had my dad went into the VA nursing care here in Amarillo, he is 90. I along with several others here that I grew up with are all going through the same experiences. It's a hard time we are facing but it is the facts of life. I see many things passing that I never new would come a time. Yet inside I knew they would. Thanksgiving dinners together with family, Christmas gatherings with gifts to open, birthdays celebrations, they will all be different now. These are things we expect to go through at some point in our life and though difficult, they are the seasons of life we go through.
    There is a progression in life that makes some of these experiences natural and expected. An untimely death of a child or spouse is not one of them. My prayers continue to go out to you and your family Kristi. I still can't believe he is gone. Though I was never assigned to the same station with Fireman Dave, I subbed for him a few times and subbed on at 55's for others and worked with him then. He is missed by many and his impact on our lives will live on forever. I am sorry this is where you are in life right now but it angers me that the city does not take care of there own better that what you have experienced. Yes, you will always be a part of this family but these are the untold stories that I wished everyone knew about.
    Thank you for sharing Kristi. I along with many others are praying for you.


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