Monday, April 11, 2016

He is gone...

It seems redundant to say it, but the heart ache and the reality of his absence are intertwined with denial.  It protects the mind from insanity.  How can he be gone?  Why is he gone?  He was here, he was real and he was ours.

The children have all been seen by a pediatric cardiologist, their hearts have been cleared for form and function.  Next step is the older three will have two blood tests.  One is a standard lipid panel test and the other checks the level of lipoprotein (a).  This test, is not a test that is performed routinely, and will show the levels of the "sticky" kind of lipoprotein/cholesterol.  They are testing the kids for this as it is a hereditary condition that leads to early death due to coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis.  This test would have provided my husband's doctors with more information than the standard lipid/cholesterol test, and would have likely saved his life.  Jeremy's lipid/cholesterol tests were text book as such he did not fall into any high risk category.  But this test will help so many other people, if they know about the test.

There is a foundation that is helping with education and awareness.  Ask your doctor for the test, tell your loved ones about the test, if one person's life can be helped by this test, then we have done our job.  It is too late for my husband, but it may not be for you or your loved ones.   And we will know how or if I need to manage my children's health.

The Cape Cod Marathon fall of 2013.  He did great and had a wonderful cheering section!!!

What I have found in my grief journey is that time and life just keep rolling along.  It is the way of life I suppose.  We keep loving and living and crying and laughing and missing him.  We were so very blessed and so very loved.  <3 p="">

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Hearts filled with love

My husband was a smoker, but had quit 5 or 6 years ago.  He began running in 2011 and was training for a 50k before his death.  He had a physical in September 2014 and was told he was in great shape and he didn't need to be seen for two years. He was a vegetarian and his only vice was caffeine. He carried water on his runs and always stopped for fill ups during long runs.

My husband died of a massive heart attack that was caused by 99% blockage of the left anterior descending coronary artery.  This type of blockage and heart attack is called the Widow Maker.

What I have learned is he had asymptomatic coronary heart disease and that it had been going on for decades.  Running 17 miles on Saturday and 10 miles on the Sunday prior to his sudden death on Monday leaves us all stunned.  How can someone with that level of blockage do that?

It also makes me angry that his body betrayed him, that his body gave us no clues, that he was classified as low risk, as such none of the tests routinely done would have revealed anything.  All his blood work was text book within normal limits.

So we keep putting one foot in front of the other. And our children will now be classified as high risk and will do everything I can to ensure they all live to ripe old ages.

My heart is filled with sorrow but overflows with so much love.  Jeremy Eschelbacher, my husband, loved me with all of his broken heart, of this I am sure.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

One month ago today...

One month today, Jer died.  Prior to his death he had taken on our largest renovation project to date. He tore down the breezeway, single handedly.  Then he rented a jack hammer and tore out the cement steps, dug a hole for the foundation, shot lines and ensured that the measurements were accurate. Measure twice, cut once.

We took a mini vacation with the family and he had planned to order the gravel for the foundation upon our return home.  With one week left in summer, he hoped to bang it out and then frame over the weekends, to get it enclosed by the fall.

But he died.

If you know how things work when you do them yourselves, it is much less expensive than if you had to pay people to do the work.  Jeremy's colleagues approached me and asked if they could set up a GoFundMe to enable us to finish the project.  We are 2/3 of the way there.

Go Fund Me for Our Family

Monday, September 7, 2015


It has been 21 days since Jeremy died.  Those words still make me sick to my stomach.  The sorrow is so deep and the tears are endless.  His birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks, 45.  He loved to point out that I was older and most of the time two years older.  He really was the best.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Death by Henry Holland Scott

My sister received this from a good friend of hers the other day and shared it with me.  It gives me so much comfort.

“Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped into the next room
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name,
Speak to me in the easy way which you always used
Put no difference in your tone,
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household world that it always was,
Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It it the same as it ever was, there is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near,
Just around the corner.
All is well. ”

― Henry Scott Holland

Thursday, August 27, 2015

My love and his love

Summer 2014, I took the above picture while catching up to them.

Summer 2014.  He took the above picture while catching up with us.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

My love

Jeremy Eschelbacher, my husband, my love, my life, my world.  Jeremy Eschelbacher, the love of our lives, the glue, the doer, the supporter, the runner, the real deal.   Jeremy Eschelbacher, the father of our four children, the teacher, the fixer, the friend, the coach.  Died.

In hindsight, this year has been full of so many blessings.  And as usual, we had many laughs.  We rarely fought and we were meant for each other.  I do not know if I will ever understand why my husband had to die, but I have no regrets.  Nothing was left unsaid.  We were the number one in his life, and there was never ever any doubt where our family stood in his priorities.

As our family begins this unimaginable journey, we are surrounded by a community of people who are walking with us, side by side, right next to us.  Every minute that ticks by I get farther and farther from him, but the love will not die.

I wake in the night and feel the tightness in my stomach, the butterflies move up my into my chest and down my arms.  And then I smile...I say his name, "Jer," and then I feel him.  I was so loved. The tears flow, but so do the smiles.  The grief is ugly and it is real and it hits hard.

I have met people whose father died when they were young.  I have met people whose spouses have died.  I cling to their stories.

One foot in front of the other and repeat.

Monday, June 23, 2014

You are not broken

Tonight was 5th grade recognition.  She was not recognized for any award, she received two certificates.  But no recognition.  She shared with us a few weeks ago that they had to self identify awards and then share reasons they felt they were eligible to receive the award.  I was impressed that she chose the service award and doubly impressed with what she chose as her supporting evidence.  She wrote about some of the things she has done at church to raise money for a cow for an orphanage in India, she wrote about caring for animals for various friends in town. We prepared her for the likelihood that she wouldn't win, because she has a propensity to set expectations and be summarily devastated.  And tonight it happened.  And she was poised while holding herself together better than I ever could.  I was proud, she was cut to the core.

She started at the school as a pre-schooler, in the fall of 2007.  She has had many ups and downs along the way, but last summer we finally came to the realization that in addition to her ADD that she also has anxiety. These are super tough things to handle as grown ups but my kid?  My kid has been working on facing her fears on Saturday mornings for almost a year.  She doesn't like to play group sports, she tries things and then peters out.  She does not have many friends.  She is a kind soul and like the rest of the world, is just trying to figure it all out.

It is hard is hard to be her is hard to be her dad...and most of all it is hard to be her! She gets up every day and uses strategies to pay attention and uses strategies to keep her anxiety in check. She is very smart and loves to read.  She likes science and her bravery amazes me! This summer she is going to a camp where she knows no one and will ride a boat every morning and night to get to the camp. She  overcame much of her worries and got up on stage in three different shows for a concert at her school this past week.  She is the first kid to get up and go sit with the kid who is alone at the lunch table.  She is the first one to console a friend.  But she received no recognition.

So I got to thinking...what is all this recognition about?  Great at sports?  Clap loud.  Good in art? WAHOO!  Orate well?  There's a prize for that.  Played in the band for two years?  What about the first year?  But what about all the kids, mine included, who are simply hanging on to get through the day.  What about the kids who worry until they are sick, what about the kids who expend all of their energy simply to pay attention to what is being taught?  What about the kids who can't read social cues?  What about the kids who are left behind, the ones who go unnoticed?  What about recognizing those kids?  I think it is time to rethink what we are recognizing our children for.

I would like to award her the biggest award for SHOWING UP.  Every day she shows up and gives it her all, and it is hard.  I would like to give her an award for doing her best when every day it is way easier to just throw her hands up and walk away.  Her mountain is a lot taller to climb than many of us and that is what I want to be recognized.

So to our sweet girl, you went without recognition tonight and it was painful for you, but we recognize all that you do and all that you are and you are loved beyond all measure.  Tonight it stinks for you and I promise you, it will get better.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Emoting was not a practiced 'sport' in our home.  It is a learned skill for me, I have spent years mastering it and still fall short.

Two weeks after being invited in and rejected, once again, I have more clarity.  I had allowed myself to deny the reality, because it goes against nature.  I have been repeatedly rejected by my father.  Due to his own lack of emotional capacity, that and his inability to stand up to his wife.  It is painful, unimaginably painful, to say aloud, "My father has rejected me."  To own that?  Is mind numbingly painful.  It is not an inherent flaw in me that made him reject me, but his own issues.  But I do not excuse that, he does not get a pass.  He made these choices.

We are all living our lives, day in and day out, separate from him with limited interaction.  And yet, when the crumbs get thrown out, i.e. come and see me, we run.  If my children were in a relationship like that?  I would sit them down and let them know, in no uncertain terms, how dysfunctional and unhealthy this 'relationship' is.  That they deserve to be with someone who is devoted, loving, supportive and who makes them a priority.  They are worth more than crumbs.

Now that I have this clarity, I have to work through it on my own.  He is in no position to process nor comprehend my feelings and if he were able to comprehend, he would shut me down.   I have missed my chance to be actively angry at him for these wounds.  So I will continue to say the Serenity Prayer and work on letting go, of him and these feelings of anger.

I spoke to his sister this evening.  She shared that when she spoke to my dad last week, he was unable to make a connection and simply stated, "I am losing my mind."

I pray that God has mercy and he loses his mind quickly.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Memories, age and love

My father has never been the father that I wanted or needed, but he is, indeed, my father.  He left our family in 1987, 26 years ago.  He immediately met a woman and they married in 1989.  We were either graduating high school or were in our 20’s, when he left.  There were no custody battles, and support for college was provided for those of us who were of college age.

We saw him a various gatherings, dinners or what have you.  Certainly no day to day contact as he moved away.  The years went on and some of us got married and had babies.  He always come to see the babies and was appropriately excited upon good news.  When he did practice medicine, after he left our family, he always told the front desk, “If my children call, come get me out of a room.”  So when we did call, we could speak to him.  He sent the monthly "I love you and am thinking of you" emails and rarely called.  He loved us as best he could and many of us have come to accept that.

We have also accepted that he is a weak man and whatever his wife says goes.  So when he had cancer in 2006 and subsequent surgery in 2007 we were not allowed to be at the hospital because his wife "can’t handle the family," we complied.  He survived that surgery and is now 77 years old.

In April we received news that he had some “memory issues” and can no longer work or drive. 

I cried.  I have never been more important to his man than anyone else in his life and my only claim to him is that he is my father.  And now he will forget me?  It was and is so very painful.  But, the truth is, he, his life and his medical condition have no material impact on my day to day life.  My husband and four children need my emotional investment and moreover, want it.  I am happy to sow the seeds of these people, for I love them unconditionally, and I invest in them unconditionally. 

We were again, asked to stay away because it would drive his wife, “ape shit,”  if we came around. He and I exchanged a few emails and spoke on the phone.  He can no longer tell his right from his left and is having a very hard time accepting the changes in his mind.  All I can do is tell him I love him, and so I do.  I pray that he will lose his mind quickly so he doesn't have to suffer the knowledge of the loss. 

This past week there was a very dramatic decline in his abilities.  We were told that the, “visiting restriction had been lifted” by his wife, as he had been hospitalized.  I was so very conflicted about going to visit him, unimaginably so.  Stay away, stay away, stay away, no COME.  Come NOW.  It is the story of my childhood, repeated mixed messages.   

I went.  I went because he is my father and he needs my memory.  He needs to know that he has memories and they are meaningful.  He may not remember yesterday, but he would remember when we were little and when he was little.  We were asked to bring pictures, they would help too.

According to the nurses, he had been unresponsive, blank stares, veritably catatonic. When his sister called, they told her that he would likely not remember her and they would hold the phone up to his ear.  He did remember her, he was quiet in voice and clearly confused, but he did remember her. 

My mother and oldest sister went on Monday.  They brought his favorite food, and one that is rich in my memory of childhood, Kentucky Fried Chicken.  He has had no appetite for a long time, has lost a lot of weight and was able to eat some of the chicken.  They took him outside, with permission of the medical staff; he sat in the sun and had a visit from his dog.  They rubbed his feet and got him some warm, cozy socks.  They held hands and Mom told stories of when they were in the army so many years ago.  He remembered the story!  He said he was not able to recall that memory but that he did remember it.  He had a smile.

I took his sisters up on Tuesday, they too, had been shut out long ago.  I was there to hug him and let him know I loved him.  I helped my aunt prepare a book of pictures of when he was little.  We added a few pictures and it was so lovely. 

We stayed only an hour and half and he ate some leftover chicken, an entire plate of macaroni and cheese, side of tomato salad, a slice of blueberry pie.  He had a cup of coffee and a glass of milk.  When it was time to go, I hugged him good bye.  I told him that he was loved,  “I know, ” that I love him,  “I love you too,” that I would come see him again soon,  “I may not be here,” I’ll come to wherever you are, and I said that we would be his memory.  He literally melted into our embrace; he shuffled closer and held on so tight.  As tears spilled over, I held on, too. 

I knew.  I just knew, as this is the way it has been, and even more so now, that this window of welcome, of visitation, would soon close.  My father is weak and now he is incapacitated.  His condition improved so dramatically as a result of visits from his family that he was discharged on Wednesday to go home with the care of the VNA.  He has many tests coming up that will hopefully pin point what is going on with his mind.   

His wife sent an email yesterday updating some things, but the message that she needed to deliver was this:

“…he has asked me to tell you that your visits meant a lot and he loves you all very very very much.  But he is terribly tired and asks that you hold back from phone calls and visits for a while.  He says he’ll call when he feels up to it.  I know you want to hear from him and encourage him on his way.  He feels that love even when he isn’t up to conversation.  I’ll try to keep you up to date with any changes or new information that come our way.”

Was I surprised by this email?  No.  However, it is a lie.  He doesn't have the capacity to have these thoughts.  If you do not want to talk on the phone, you do not answer it.  He is suffering and we gave him a glimmer of hope.  We warmed his soul and let him know that his memories are there. 

As I said, he is not in my day to day life and the repeated rejection of this woman is overwhelmingly painful at a time like this.  I often wonder if she will let us know when he dies or if we will be ‘allowed’ to attend his funeral.

So I will let go of him.  Although I told him I would come see him soon and now I cannot.  He may not remember that, but what if he does?  He did not say these words and this is not his sentiment.  And I KNOW this to be true.

I love you dad.