*The day after my husband died, I journaled what I experienced on that day. Some of this is from those raw, early moments * I want to share the details of that day, mostly as a cathartic way of working through this trauma of grief…
August 17. A day forever marked, forever a death day. The day was a normal unassuming Wednesday in August, 4 days into the fall school year. That morning Kyle peeked over the shower door to tell me goodbye and that he loved me and asked if he could he get some cash from my purse for gas. I told him to have a good day and he told me that he loved me. That was the last time I ever saw him alive. I took the kids to school, and went to work. As normal as a Wednesday can be.
Around 9 am, I got a call from the secretary at Kyle’s school that “coach Wallace fell out in the gym”. I could tell she was a little rattled, but I didn’t hear “alarm” in her voice. She said that I needed to come out to the school. I honestly thought he had fainted, and needed me to come drive him home. I left work, and headed to his school which is about 20 miles from town. I called my dad and asked him to pray for Kyle, and that I didn’t really know what was going on. I then called my sister in law, Jamie and asked for prayers too. I was about 10 miles from the school when the secretary called me again to update me. She said she didn’t know any details, but that the Bentonia Volunteer Fire Department was there and they were still doing CPR…
Wait. What?! CPR?? Did I miss that in the earlier conversation? I had no idea it was that serious. I put my hazard lights on and started flying down the highway. When I arrived at the school, I was immediately escorted to the gymnasium where Kyle was. I can remember the teacher,Melanie, with her arms around me as we walked, telling me that they had to cut his shirt off and don’t let that scare me. When I got to the gym, I saw Kyle on the floor (on his back, center court), the Bentonia volunteer fire department doing chest compressions, and a few teachers huddled together off to the side. One teacher grabbed my hand and told me to get down there with him and to yell his name. She said ‘maybe he can hear you and will fight’. It’s strange, but it was almost as if I new the second I walked into that gym, I knew he was gone and no amount of yelling was going to bring him back. But I did as I was instructed and what my heart wanted me to do. I screamed his name. “Please Kyle! Come on, Kyle!” I begged him to wake up.
I held his left hand as I yelled, but I remember looking several times across his body at his other hand while they were still doing CPR. It had begun to turn pale. His color was leaving his body and I knew he didn’t have oxegyn. During this time, the paramedics arrived and someone pulled me back, so that they could put the defibrillator on him and shock him. I think I saw that happen twice. They pulled me up and made me leave the gym. I sat in an office for a few minutes in total shock. Teachers were in there with me , bringing me water and crying. I just sat there, staring. I didn’t know what to do or what to say. But I felt faint and sick. I knew this was it, and the whole experience seemed like I was watching it from above as it happened like a movie. A few moment went by and a man (I think the coroner) came in to tell me that they had done everything and that they were so sorry. I remember asking him what he meant. “What do you mean? That’s it? Y’all are done?” It didn’t occur to me at that time that they had probably been doing CPR for at least 30 minutes, if not longer. I called Kyle’s sister Casey (a physician in Nashville) first. She answered the phone crying. She had already found out from their brother, Brock, that Kyle had had some sort of cardiac episode. (From when I called Brock’s wife on the way to the school). Then I called my mom. She told me later that in an earily calm voice I said “momma, Kyle just passed away”. I don’t remember if she asked me any questions, and I think I told her to call daddy.
They said I could go back in the gym if I wanted. I walked back in, much more slowly than before, to see his body covered by a sheet. I knelt beside him and pulled the sheet back, and tried to soak up every last second of life and warmth in his body. I kissed his face and his eyelids and smelled his hair. I stuffed his large fingers in between mine, so that I could feel what it felt like to hold his hand one more time. Holding hands with Kyle always “hurt” just a little. My hands are small, and when his fingers are intertwined with mine, it stretched my fingers apart. I wanted to feel that feeling one more time. All time was in a vacuum, but what felt like just a few minutes, I suddenly I felt a heavy weight fall on top of me while I was still on the floor over Kyle’s body. It was my Dad. On his knees beside us, my father cried for me and for my husband . He said “Big Guy” and “Son” over and over. My pastor was there within minutes also, and was praying over us. Then My dad prayed over me and Kyle’s body on the floor of the gym. It was hands down the closest I have ever felt to the Holy Spirit in my life.
Shortly after we prayed, we all got up and went to the front office. Kyle’s older brother Brock and his wife Jamie had just gotten to the school. Someone brought be Kyle’s belongings, and Brock held his brothers shoes and Cried out in complete desperation. I remember feeling so sad for Brock as he banged his brother’s shoe on the table. I took Brock to the gym, but Kyle was already on the ambulance, headed to the state hospital for autopsy. Brock never got to see his brother that day. In a quiet state of shock and disbelief, we all began heading back to my house, which would be the beginning of several days of a foggy, jumbled haze of chaos, grief, love, and sadness as we mourned my husband in the days before his funeral.
After the funeral at some point, someone asked me what I felt or imagined happened as Kyle’s soul left his body. I close my eyes, and I imagine that gymnasium FULL of angels. I see sparkling gold heavenly beings, surrounding his body and escorting him into heaven. I see Angels left behind to hover above me and his earthly body as I cried out his name. Can you imagine a more glorious sight than when a Christian is called home? The Heavens opened up wide for him, and there was a heavenly chorus surrounding him as he entered through the gates. I believe Kyle was gone to Jesus as soon as his knees hit the ground. I don’t think he felt any pain and he was immediately overwhelmed by God’s splendor. Kyle had finished his job here on earth, and God took him out of the game. I am so thankful that I know without a doubt that Kyle was a Christian and is now in heaven. I’ve got to get there too, and I am going to laser focus my sights on being with my husband again for all eternity.
Thank you, Lord for your grace. Thank you for the people you have put in my life to carry me through this grief. Thank you for taking my husband into your arms. And mostly, thank you for allowing me to share 15 years of love with him.