A Father’s Nightmare – A True Story

A Father’s Nightmare

We all have experienced challenges in our lives. This story is about my family and I wanted to share it with you.

For a while now I have been writing to inspire and motivate others who read my blogs and articles. If no one reads them, that’s okay. If nothing else it makes ME feel good!

Today I am basically writing to help heal myself. Whether or not you read this article it’s up to you. If my story inspires you then I have succeeded in my goal. If it doesn’t, well, I have failed you.

The Merry-Go-Round

Life is like a merry-go-round. As one begins their ride in life, another one steps off. This happens all the time. It’s just part of life. The day we are born is also the day we begin to die.

Several days ago my daughter Allison went into the hospital to bring a baby into this world. Just before Allison went into the hospital, my wife received word that her favorite Aunt had passed away. There was no time to mourn, we had a baby to deliver. There were complications with Allison’s delivery and after spending all day trying to bring this baby into the world, the baby didn’t want to come! The doctor decided that a C-Section would be best for both mom and baby.

Late that evening, Ryker Matthew Gardner came into the world! Ryker was healthy and mommy, other than being tired, was doing okay. It was a happy and sad day. The merry-go-round gave us a healthy baby boy and it took a dear sweet friend away.

A Scared Halloween

On Friday, Allison and Ryker came home from the hospital. That same day my wife and I attended the funeral for my wife’s Aunt. After the funeral we stopped by Allison’s home to see if everyone was okay. Allison’s husband, Matt was as proud as a new father could be…after three girls, Matt now had a baby boy! Life was good!

Allison was tired and not feeling well and was asleep in the bedroom. Ryker was also sleeping in his crib. I had not seen my newest grandchild yet so Matt got Ryker up and brought him out so I could see him. Now, I’m not biased or anything, but dang, he is a beautiful baby!

Saturday afternoon, our family was getting ready to go trick-or-treating and spend Halloween night together. Because Halloween was on a Sunday, everybody likes to celebrate Halloween on Saturday in our area.

Allison was still not feeling well, so we thought we would leave Allison home to rest and be undisturbed. Allison begged us not to leave her alone (Boy, I’m glad we listened to her!) We brought Allison with us and she stayed at the house while the kids were out having fun.

About 7pm Allison asked us to call for an ambulance. Allison was having a hard time breathing. We called Matt and he rushed to the house and took Allison to the Emergency Room. By the time Matt got to the hospital, Allison was in deep distress. As soon as the nurses saw her, they got her into a room and the doctors and nurses began working on her.

Allison was in pulmonary heart distress and all of her organs were shutting down. Both of her lungs were filled with fluid and Allison’s heart was not working as it should. Her heart was giving out. It took four hours for the Emergency Staff to get Allison stable enough to transport her to ICU.

Matt was told that if he had brought Allison to the Emergency Room a few minutes later than when he did, Allison would have died. As it was, Allison was in grave danger and the doctors didn’t know if she would live or die. That was the hardest night I had ever lived through. I couldn’t stop crying and sleep was out of the question. I am not an emotional man and so it was weird for me to be crying.

I am a retired Police Officer. I spent 22 years seeing, experiencing, and doing things that no one should have to see, experience, or do. I saw what people do to each other. The violence and evil that I saw hardened me to the point that I felt no emotion at all.

As a child I grew up in foster care and had to endure being moved from home to home. There was no love in these homes and I basically raised myself. Once again, I didn’t show any emotion. When my adoptive parents died, I showed no emotion.

But on this night, alone in a room, I uncontrollably sobbed and cried. For the next several days, for no reason at all, I began crying. Now, I am 6’3″ and weigh around 300 pounds. On the outside people think that I look like a mean ogre! (I guess I don’t smile. I gave up smiling years ago.) But on the inside I’m just a great big lovable Teddy Bear! Yes, I found out that Teddy Bears DO cry.

Allison was in critical condition in ICU for several days. The doctors told us that Allison would live but there could be some damage to her heart. Allison was in a medically induced coma and paralyzed state. For two days all we could do was watch her lay in bed. She had no idea we were there. Allison was not able to breathe on her own and had to have all these tubes down her throat to help her breathe. It broke my heart to see her in that condition.

When I retired I thought that my new business venture would take off and I would be making a lot of money. After spending $40k in the network marketing industry, I had not made a dime. We were out of money. My wife began making comments about my failures and the stress was building in our home. I don’t think of myself as a failure..But when your own wife begins questioning you, doubts start to creep in you mind. Am I doing the right thing? Or is my wife right. (The other day I found a quarter on the ground. I got really excited! It was the first time in two months that I had money in my pockets!)

To make things worse, our youngest son was leaving to go serve a two-year mission for our church. His farewell was on Sunday, Halloween day. This was to be HIS special day. After church we were going to have a luncheon so Ben’s friends could say their good-byes to him. And here we were, keeping vigil on our daughter and trying to figure out how we were going to help Ben.

So now here’s the situation:

Stress #1

My wife and I were already stressed on how we were going to pay the bills. My wife is a school teacher and I am a retired cop. (The two lowest paid professions in the State!) The amount she makes plus my pension still leaves us about $1200.00 short every month. With no more money coming in, things were putting a big strain on our marriage.

Stress #2

We had to prepare all the food for the luncheon on Sunday afternoon. On Saturday night we had all the meat, cheeses, and rolls that all needed to be cut and placed on trays. My wife makes a mean potato salad and we had boiled eggs and potatoes sitting on the kitchen counter waiting to be made into that salad. Problem was, everyone in the family was given assignments to help Allison’s children and that left me in charge of our house (Handing out candy to the children who were trick-or-treating) Another problem, I have no idea how to make a potato salad!

 Stress #3

With Allison in ICU and not knowing if she was going to live or die, my family was holding on to the threads at the end of our rope! I have five children, three beautiful girls and two handsome boys. (They are all grown now) The thought of losing a child was killing me. I can’t even imagine how parents handle losing a child.

With all of this stress, my wife and I were at our wits end. How were we going to get everything done? Then, I heard a knock at my front door. When I opened the door, (thinking it was trick-or-treaters) there stood one of our dearest friends! Diane came into the house and told me that she was taking over the luncheon and she was there to pick up all the food and items needed for the event! (Word travels fast in our neighborhood!) Talk about a relief! I also found out that many of our friends were calling Diane wanting to help out.

Everything went well for Ben’s farewell; the doctors told us that Allison was going to live, but I was still weeping like a baby! I guess 57 years of holding in my emotions finally broke open and I’m making up for lost time!

And Finally…

On Wednesday, one week after Allison gave birth, the doctors brought Allison out of her coma, took all the tubes out of her throat, and we all prayed that Allison would breathe on her own. Then the miracle happened, Allison began breathing, and she opened her eyes! To make the story even better, the doctors could not find any damage to Allison’s organs! Even her heart wasn’t damaged! The doctors were surprised! They said that usually when someone has this problem, the heart enlarges and there is damage for life.

Allison is now out of ICU and is in her own room. Ryker can now be with his mommy and Allison is as happy as can be! We are hoping to bring Allison home in a week or so. More tests need to be done to make sure Allison won’t have a relapse.

As I stated at the beginning, this article was written to inspire you and to help me feel better. I don’t know if you were inspired, but I feel a lot better now!

And my business? it’s starting to improve. I won’t give up. I can’t give up. Too many people are depending on me. Even though things are slowly improving, I feel like I’m on top of the world!

The merry-go-round still is rotating but this time no one got off. Take a moment and think about the ones you love. Give them a hug and tell them you love them. It will mean a lot to them. It sure did for me.

From Pain to Purpose

In March 2006 my husband and I celebrated 10 years of marriage. This could not have happened without the Lord, my Pastors and my faith. The faith to start over, faith to be open, faith to be willing to allow the Lord to work through me and use me to help encourage and inspire other women.

On April 28, 2004 I thought I would literally lose my mind. Riding in the back of the ambulance the next day, I knew I would not survive. The situation had the best of me. “Just give up” was the desperate thought that entered my mind. “God is not with you,” the little voice lied. “I thought He would give you your hearts desire.” But surely this was not my true desire.

” Why are you crying” were the words the enemy kept throwing at me. How could the one I love taunt me? As I lay in the emergency room he sat across from me laughing in the midst of my pain and heartache, I felt my world being destroyed. Is this a dream? Did my husband really come home 4 days earlier and say he was leaving? I just gave birth to our third child 5 days prior.

“Why are you crying?”

“Could it be that you just told me you were leaving?” This had to be a dream.

“Whatever Nicole.”

“Whatever? Are you crazy? You are a man of God; this is not biblical! You just don’t decide that you don’t want to be married anymore after 8 yrs. You have children, you have responsibilities!”

“Whatever Nicole.” The dream became a nightmare.

This is what began 8 months of warfare, tears, prayer, teaching and most importantly, learning my purpose.

This is one of my stories. My life is a testimony and God knows that I will share it. The bible says that we are overcome by the power of our testimony.

My prayer is that this story will help just one woman be able to “Breathe Again”. If it helps hundreds or even thousands, that is great. But my mission is to reach that one who is suffering, who is going through what I went through. Sharing my story is also healing for myself. So thank you in advance for reading and also helping me “Breathe Again”.

The words to that famous hymn go a little something like this.

“This is my story, this is my song, I am praising my Savior all the day long.
This is my story, this is my song, I am praising my Savior all the day long”

To be in the church and living “somewhat” right is what I thought it took to keep my home, my marriage and our life together. All we needed was “church”. Boy, was I wrong! It takes a lot more than just “church” to keep it together. It takes a relationship. Not just one person having a relationship with the Lord, but both of us.

I ended up in the back of that ambulance due to hemorrhaging. When all the tests were done the diagnosis was “stress”. Yeah, maybe I was a little stressed out. My husband did just tell me the night before that he was leaving. The doctor prescribed Zoloft (an antidepressant), but I refused to start taking something that I would be dependent on. I made this assertion not knowing that shortly after that I would be dependent on another pill.

My husband was in and out of the house after that night. He was still officially there, but not really there until a few months later. Then I put my foot down.

“You will not do whatever you want to do in this house. My kids will not see you coming in and out as you please. You will not sleep here, go to work, then leave and go sleep at another woman’s house. My son is 14 and I do not want him to think this is ok.”

That is what came out of my mouth but I really wanted to say was,

“I will do what you want, just stay”

” I will accept you being with another woman, just stay!”

I wanted to beg and plead.

“Don’t leave me, don’t leave us, just stay”

As desperate as it may sound, that is what I was willing to do for my marriage, for my kids. I grew up without a father in my home. I didn’t want that for my kids. I didn’t want to sleep around, date, or get to know someone else. When I got married it was for life. We were meant to be together, I didn’t want a divorce. I wanted my husband. But he didn’t want me.

After all how many other women know their husbands are cheating and still stay?

One older woman shared her story with me and said, “Baby – sometime you just have to do what you have to do. My husband cheated on me for more than 30 years and the affair didn’t end until the other woman died. My kids used to come in the house and tell me their father’s car was parked at her house around the corner. I just accepted it. I lived with it for the sake of my family.”

But I could not be a statistic. I had more respect for myself than to allow that to go on. As difficult as it was for me, I knew he had to go.

I made a promise to myself that I would not cry in front of him anymore because that gave him power. Each time I would cry he would laugh. (The enemy would laugh) So I arranged a time to be out the house so he could pick up his things. He called me and said he had them and he was taking them to storage. I hung up.

My chest got tight, my stomach turned, my heart began to race. My knees began to buckle. My hands were shaking uncontrollably. I needed air. I had to get air. He actually took his things. He actually was gone!

“There is not another woman, it’s just me.”

“Do you think I am crazy?”

“Whatever Nicole.”

Those words again. That is what our conversations were like. For a man to be so concerned about his family and then not care how we ate, not care how we paid the mortgage, not care about anything at all concerning his wife and kids, much less the Lord; it was too much for me to handle in the beginning. He changed right before my eyes. Didn’t he know this was wrong? I know he was not raised like this. I tried to understand, I tried to just pray that he would come to his senses, but enough was enough.

It was not a good example for my children and it was awful for me. My mind was slipping each day, I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep. I would have panic attacks, my stomach was upset all the time. At the time I was still on maternity leave from my job so all I had was time.

Too much time if you ask me. Time to examine myself inside and out. Why did he leave, what did I do? What didn’t I do? Did I get too fat? Am I ugly? Did I not give him enough sex? Those were things that ate at me day in and day out. Why did I move to Virginia, away from my family to a state where I had no one but him?

This is when my dependency on PM pills began. I took PM pills every single night after he left. I just wanted to sleep this nonsense away. To sleep next to someone for years and then be left to sleep alone was awful. I hated to be in the house by myself. To tell the truth, I was a little scared. Grass was growing, toilets were breaking, the truck sounded like an 18-wheeler, the air conditioning broke and I had to pump my own gas. Those were just a few things that happened initially after he left. It was terrible. I never had to do deal with these things before. I was totally clueless. My husband had spoiled me, and I had to learn how to do many things on my own.

Watching the reactions of my children broke my heart. My daughter would cry for her daddy every night in the beginning. But then she started to pray. I would hear my 6 yr old daughter in her room praying for her daddy to return.

I remember one particular night she came out of her room and said “Mommy, we need to pray for my Daddy because he is in a bad neighborhood and we just need to pray that the devil gets away from him.”

My son was just angry.

People would come to me and say the wrong things all the time.

“I know how you feel.”

“It will get better.”

Those were just some of the maddening things people said to me.

I have found that if you don’t know how a person feels or don’t know what to say just don’t say anything. Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing.

Each day was a battle. Most people didn’t know I was going through anything because I went on with my day-to-day functions. I wore a fake face. A mask. I would summon just enough strength each day to do what needed to be done. I couldn’t be like some and sit around and cry all day; I had three children to take care of, and one was an infant.

They depended on me. They needed me and I needed them. They kept me going. We were all we had as far as family. The days got better as I started to dive into things I enjoyed. I kept busy in the church and other activities. I enrolled the kids in sports.

A busy schedule kept our minds on something other than the fact that we had been abandoned.

Many people thought I should hate him but I couldn’t. I loved him. Not the person that he became, but the man I married. The person he became was mean, rude and just a different creature towards the kids and me. He was not himself. Each time I talked to him it felt like I fought 12 rounds against Tyson. It was exhausting just trying to have a normal conversation with him.

The phone rings at 7am.

“Hey Baby.”

“Good Morning.”

“How you doing?”

” I am good and yourself?”

” Just on my way to work”

“Hey, do me a favor and don’t call me when you are on your way to work – especially after you just got out of the bed with another woman. I am your wife.”

“Whatever Nicole.” That phrase again.

“There is no woman.”

At least 3 times a week my phone would ring at 7am until I refused to answer.

Each night I would come home and scream into the pillow. Each night I would think about dying. I knew the Lord; I would go to heaven, right? At work I would go in the restroom to cry, then splash water on my face and resume my daily responsibilities.

Most people never knew.

My husband and I are back together now but the most important thing is that I found me. I found the lost Nicole that was buried. The Lord allowed me time to work on me. I truly am grateful for who I am and what I had to endure to help others. Often I tell people I went through for you. Not me.

That is why I founded Breathe Again Magazine. Women wear these masks really well, but we are hurting, struggling, crying on the inside. Most people never know. In my struggle I needed to touch someone, identify with someone that knew how I felt, someone that could relate. By using this magazine as a forum to share personal stories of triumph and victories, our mission is to help encourage and motivate just one woman with an article of inspiration.

The quarterly events are to help someone get “A Breath of Fresh Air” even if only for an afternoon, evening or night. To get away from our “to do” list and snatch some time for yourself. You deserve it.

My Mother’s Death and How it Affected My Family

In April 2007 my mother became very ill. In the few days before Easter she had what seemed like a normal cold. When she showed no sign of healing and actually got worse we knew something was wrong. She was spending more time in her room not wanting to get out of bed. She did not even want to go to bingo which had been her routine to go several times a week for what was going on years.

When Easter came she gathered her strength and made it through a family gathering for more than one event. We were hosting Easter dinner, my sons 2nd birthday and the baby shower for my unborn daughter all in one day. Towards the end of the day my Mother said goodbye and went downstairs to her room to lay down. After all the friends and family had left our house I went down to her room to see how she was doing. No improvement, her condition actually seemed to get worse. The next day she was coughing up thick bright green mucus so I told her that I wanted to drive her to the emergency room. She agreed to go and on april 09, 2007 in the late hours of the night about 10 pm we made our way to Sutter Roseville emergency room.

By the time we got there my mom could barely stand or walk on her own. she was shaking like a wet dog.
The staff got us back into a room very quickly and the proceeded to take blood from an i.v. add fluids to her system and take chest x-rays. They then discharged us very quickly. Told us that my mom had bronchitus and gave her a prescription for some cough syrup and antibiotics.

We stopped by sonic burger and got some drinks and tator tots. My mom kept saying to me “Thank you so much Tati if you hadn’t taken me to the hospital I could’ve died.” She kept repeating this over and over saying how much she appreciated me being there for her when she needed me to be all these years. Our next destination was Walgreens pharmacy on Madison Ave and Dewey Dr. in Fair Oaks. When we got there and turned in the prescription they informed us that the antibiotics she was prescribed were not covered by her insurance so they would call the hospital and find a suitable replacement medication for her so we walked around Walgreens until they got it cleared up. At this time it was about 1 am. After all the confusion we were on our way home.

The next day the weather was very nice and sunny outside. My mom was feeling much better so we decided to go out and do a little yard work together.. well i did the work and my mom sat on the porch keeping me company. At this point I should not have been doing to much physical activity considering i was about 6 1/2 months pregnant. I remember the sun was so bright and warm that i got a tan line between my shirt and my pants on my back, which is unusual because I never tan not even in a bathing suit out in the sun for 6 hours. After a few hours outside we decided it would be best to go inside so my mother could rest.

The rest of the day was unlike any other but my mother spent it in bed watching tv and visiting with the family. I cooked dinner that night and put the kids to bed for my mom since she was not feeling well enough to do it herself. I then visited with my mom for a while telling her goodbye and I love her before I made my way out for the night. That was the last time I spoke to her ever. I made it home very late that night and when I did my mother was asleep for the night which was normal.

On April 11 the very next day, when I woke my mother was still asleep. She stayed asleep for several hours which led us to believe that she was sleeping off whatever illness was taking over. We left a glass of fluids by the bed which seemed to emptying throughout the day so we assumed that she was waking up to drink then falling back asleep. The whole day she was sleeping she was breathing loudly almost snoring so we thought she was ok.
At about 7 am I was woken by my moms boyfriend who was saying to me “tati help me wake your mom up i cant do it” at that exact moment I knew something was terribly wrong. I went in the room and the bottom half of her body was purple, black and blue. She had brown fluid leaking out of her nose and mouth. I called 911 and the tried to tell me how to preform CPR. I could not understand in my state of panic and shock. I rolled my mother onto the ground from the bed and tried to resuscitate her but i had no luck.
When the paramedics got to our house they tried to save her, with medication and i.v.’s and a defibrillator. They loaded her up in the ambulance and took her to mercy san juan hospital. I followed in my car.

When I arrived they led me to a small room with 2 chairs and a small couch. Then told me to wait and someone would come see me soon and explain what was going on.. It seemed like forever in that small box of a room. Finally a nun came to see me and she told me that my mother had passed. I was so filled with horror and sadness. It seemed like a bad dream I was going to wake from soon. But no such luck. The Doctor came out and told me that they tried to work on her and save her but the best they could estimate was that she was already dead when the paramedics arrived. they said she had passed sometime in the night. Then they handed me a bag with all her jewelry she was wearing upon arrival.

I was then faced with the horrible job of calling everyone in my family and telling them that my mom had died. When you have such a large family its a daunting task. I first called my best friend so she could come to the hospital and support me in the task. I then had to call my grandmother and my sister, then my brother and they all came to the hospital. We were allowed an amount of time to see her body and have much needed closure. Believe me sometimes you just have to see it to actually believe it.

I think one of the worse sickening things I had the responsibility of doing was telling my youngest brothers and sister that mommy was not coming back ever. Soon after I got home and had to deal with that, many of my family members came by to support us,with food and telling good memories. There was a lot of crying just as I am as I sit here and write this now. You never realize how close your family is until a tragedy happens. That was by far one of the worst days of my life. I look back on it now and the only comfort I have is to know that she passed away peacefully in her sleep without pain and suffering and she is in a better place now guiding me and watching over my family.

It has been really hard without her and I miss her every day.. Sometimes I am angry with her for leaving me unprepared and it ripping my siblings away from me but I know there is a greater purpose for all of us and these things happen exactly how they are supposed to.. you know in the greater scheme of things.
I like to think that she is helping me every day do the right thing and make the right decisions for my family.