If you are just tuning in, catch up here:
Finally, when it was clear that there was no right way or place to
change his wife's life forever, my husband put his hands on my shoulders
and said, "Julie, your brother John got in a fight last night."
The first thing and only thing I said for a long time was, "Is he still alive?"
And all my husband replied was, "No."
Because that was all there was to say at that moment.
I stood, rooted to the spot for what seemed like hours. I didn't know what to do. How to move my arms or legs. How to open my mouth to speak. I had basically been put on pause. I didn't know what was expected of me in that moment. What was I supposed to say or feel? What was I supposed to do with this information? What did it even mean?
Reactions to unexpected and tragic loss don't usually happen like they do in the movies. People usually don't get the horrible news and start screaming, "NO!" or crying hysterically. When something like this comes into your life and sideswipes you like a freight train, you are left stunned. Your body puts up emotional walls to protect you from shutting down completely. It is part of the fight-or-flight response. A detour to denial, if you will.
I don't remember when I finally stopped staring blankly into space and sat down, but when I did, I found that I had moved to the side of our bed and was facing the doorway to the hall. I then started crying. Not profound sobs. Those wouldn't come for months. Just slow-falling tears.
My 2-year-old daughter, who has always been immensely in tune with other people's emotions, then came up to me. She tilted her head and looked confused. She then looked me right in the eyes, put both of her little hands on my cheeks and said, "It's OK, Mommy. Don't be sad."
And then my heart broke forever.