When Dustin, one of our dearly loved nurses, gently informed us that Buck was gone, he encouraged us to step out of the room to give him a chance to prepare his patient for our final visit with him. I didn't anticipate what we would find when he invited us back into Buck's room! The room had opened up to more than double it's size because Dustin had removed all of the life support machines that had helped to keep Buck alive for the months he inhabited the largest room in the Open Heart ICU unit. But the most dramatic difference was that Buck was unencumbered by all the connections to his machines. He was at Peace in a brand new way!
Now that the maze of wires was gone, I could finally touch my husband and I laid across his chest. Sarah and a friend wrapped Buck's arms around my back and shoulders and I soaked in his warmth and wept in his arms. How I had longed to hug my husband over those months, as there were only several occasions when he was well enough to initiate one of his famous Papa Bear hugs that made everything right in my world! This embrace was going to have to last me until God reunites us again someday. I don't know how long I stayed in Buck's arms, but I knew it could never be long enough, so I made myself break away, giving Jessi too, the opportunity to cuddle with her daddy. Leaving his embrace was one of the most painful moments in my life!
The absence of lines and tubes was symbolic of his true freedom... freedom from everything that kept Buck tied to this world. Now he was free to enjoy his new world and the beginning of his eternity, where he would be forever celebrating the fact that he was a Christ Follower and a Child of God! I was so happy for him, but my heart was shattered like never before. I knew also, that The Lord would be Faithful to heal my heart and put the pieces back together in time. I was very thankful that my faith was strong, otherwise I don't know how I would have been able to go on without my soul-mate. This was the beginning of my reality of widowhood, starting a journey I never dreamed I would be facing so soon. I'm so grateful I wasn't called to make this voyage all alone. The Lord "Faithfully carried me" through those days of fresh grief, along with the love and support of my family and friends, until I was able to walk again with Him.