When I was nine years old, I woke to a bright white light, at the time I thought it was a star, but it filled my bedroom, and immediately after, I knew my father was dead. In the morning, I told my older sister he was gone, and then when our mother sat us down at our farmhouse kitchen table to break the news, we told her we already knew.
I had the same feeling at five a.m. the day my husband died. I woke with the feeling that a stray bullet had pierced my heart, and I sat up in bed, with an undeniable feeling something was terribly wrong. I stayed there, knees to chin, praying until dawn, when the dispatcher at his office could be reached.
When I got the call, I was calm, because I knew it was coming. I remember thinking, it’s going to be very hot, and I have to get the garbage out. I put on a soft cotton dress, because I knew I would probably have to sleep in it that night. Both my children had sleep overs the night before, so I got in my truck, and picked them both up.
My younger daughter and I were alone, and stopped behind the summer construction on Moraga Way, I watched her, she looked so happy in the summer sunshine, laughing and talking to me. My eyes stung behind my dark glasses, as every single emotion, I had ever had, when my own father died, coursed through my blood stream, ending in an internal scream. I could not believe that this was happening to my own children. I could not believe it.
However, strength, courage, and determination kicked in, and I forced myself to find my center, I didn’t have the luxury of anything less, what would happen to my children if I were to give in to these feelings of despair?
As my beautiful daughter talked to me about her night, I breathed slowly in and out, and returned to my normal calm and peaceful state. When I had both my daughters together, I told them, and then I called my mother in law. These were possibly the most horrific hours of my life.
Afterwards, dozens of loving friends swooped in to support us, and the next morning, I was sitting in the parish office atSanta Maria, in Orinda, still wearing that white cotton dress, planning my husbands funeral.
Ten months later, we are doing fine. So many people have advised me, just get through the first year, two months to go.