Liz Yerdon's Journal
Written Feb 1, 2014 11:10pm
A year ago tonight (Friday February 1st, 2013), Liz told me “I love you” one last time. At the time, I had no clue that this would be our final conversation together. I think most people wish they could plan their final goodbye with a spouse, but typically we don’t get that opportunity. I was clueless at the time that this was our final goodbye, but with the way that Liz said goodbye, it makes me believe that God gave her some clues that this was it.
Liz was admitted into the ICU on Thursday, January 31st due to shortness of breath and low blood pressure. This ICU setback was not much different than any other ICU setback that she had along the way. That next day Liz was placed on bipap to help with her breathing. I could tell throughout the day that she was concerned because she wouldn’t let me leave her bedside, but I was confident that she would fight through it just like all the other times.
Liz’s parents Joel and Vickie made the trip to Rochester that Friday to check up on Liz. They arrived in Rochester right around supper time. Knowing that an ICU setback means many more days in the hospital, I decided it would be best to have Joel and Vickie stay with Liz that evening so I could catch up on some laundry. We all thought that sounded like a good plan except for Liz. As I was getting ready to go back to the hotel, Liz took off her bipap mask and said “you know that I’m dying.” I confidently reassured her that she would rebound just like every other time she came to the ICU. We just needed to give the medication some time to get things right again. I told her that I needed to get my laundry done because I was out of clean clothes. I reminded her that her parents were there,and they would stay with her until she was asleep.
Getting ready to go, I did my normal goodbyes. I said a prayer over her, gave her a kiss on the forehead, and said “I love you.” She then responded in a way that she NEVER did in the entire 6 month hospital stay. She reached her arms out and wanted to give me a hug before I left. She gave me our final hug and said “I love you” for the last time. I remember walking to my car that night thinking it was strange that she gave me a hug, but I enjoyed the pleasant surprise.
Later that night while I was at the hotel, Liz told the nurse that she needed to go for a walk to keep her physical strength up. Liz’s dad was there to watch Liz make her final steps here on earth. Both Joel and the nurse were surprised how upbeat and motivated Liz was to get out of bed and make that final walk. Little did we know, 6 hours later in the early morning hours of February 2nd, Liz would become non-responsive to verbal communication and pain.
While being non-responsive was concerning to us as a family, we all remained confident that Liz could get through it. We asked Liz’s brothers to drive to Rochester that Saturday morning just in case Liz’s condition quickly declined, but we never entertained the idea that this could be it for Liz. We all went back to our hotels that Saturday night hopeful that Sunday would be a better day.
On Sunday morning, February 3rd, our hopes would finally be crushed. We arrived at the hospital hopeful to see improvements in Liz’s condition, but we were greeted with a decline in her medical status. By late morning, for the first time in Liz’s entire hospital stay, my hopes for Liz surviving finally vanished. Doctors told us that they were making one last fight to keep Liz alive, but they warned us that she was gravely ill. Our family sat at Liz’s bedside watching her body slowly shut down. By early evening while most people were watching the Super Bowl, we were having conversations with physicians about terminating medical support. At that point in the evening our entire family was exhausted, and we couldn’t stand seeing Liz in this condition. We knew that we needed to let go, but I wanted to wait until Liz’s sister-in-law made it to the hospital since she worked so hard to get an emergency flight from Colorado to be there with us. Liz’s sister-in-law arrived at the hospital right after 9:30 pm, and I immediately called the family into Liz’s room to have one final moment together as a family. I had an intimate conversation with the family about Liz and her love for her family. While we hated to do so, we all agreed that Liz’s body was in a condition that we needed to let go. I told the family that we could have one final goodbye individually with her, but then it was time to let God take her home. As we cleared the room to allow the first person to go in and say goodbye, Liz did us all a huge favor. She let go on her own, and ran into the arms of Jesus. Liz’s heart stopped beating, and we immediately ran to her bedside. In those short moments at 10:02 pm on February 3rd, 2013, Liz’s battle was finally over.
I think most of us say that Liz lost her battle, but in reality she was the winner. She was invited into paradise to be free from all the pain and suffering here on earth. God fulfilled His promise for her that through Jesus she would enjoy eternal life. While February 3rd will always be a bitter sweet day for our family, we close our eyes at the end of the day knowing that she is with God in Heaven.
Please pray for our family over the next three days as we reflect on the 1-year anniversary of Liz leaving this world. Like I said before, it’s a bitter sweet time for us. While it’s sweet to know that Liz is in Heaven, it doesn’t come without pain and grieving for us here on earth. In many ways it feels like yesterday when this all happened, and in some ways today hurts more than it did a year ago. I won’t lie….my heart is broken, but that doesn’t mean a broken heart is a bad thing. That broken feeling is also a reminder of how much God blessed me with a great wife. Because of the broken heart, I praise God for blessing me with the opportunity to know Liz, and to be part of her testimony. I also fall to my knees asking God to bless me with the strength to handle the pain that comes with it, and accept the challenge of living out the testimony that he’s creating for me. Thanks for your support over the last year, and please continue to support us this coming year as we continue to heal from this pain.
Written Dec 26, 2013 12:52am
Merry Christmas everyone! I thought I would use this post to give a quick update, and call this our family Christmas card.
The girls and I are doing well, and we had a great Christmas with our families. I won’t lie and say it wasn’t an emotional month as we prepared for Christmas. I found myself always drifting back to Christmas last year with Liz. I remember how emotional it was for her to hear Christmas carolers walking through the halls at the hospital, and she looked at me a few times and said “this could be my last Christmas.” At that time I had a hard time believing that statement, but in the end she was right. Her girls and other family members weren't there for her last Christmas (at our request because she was leaving the hospital soon), and we didn’t open a single present. It was an intimate day between the two of us truly focused on the birth of Christ.
As I reflected on our Christmas last year, I dug through pictures of Liz in the hospital and found three pictures that brought both joy and tears (click on the picture above). The pictures were taken a few weeks before Christmas when the girls came to visit us in the hospital wearing their Christmas dresses.
The first picture is our last family picture together. Outside of the emotional fact that this is our last family picture, the thing I always notice is the smile on Liz’s face. Liz typically didn’t have a smile on her face in most of my pictures of her in the hospital. My eyes always go to that smile, and I typically don’t even notice how thin and weak her body looks.
The other two pictures are individual pictures of Liz with each of the girls. Both of these pictures were action shots, and I can feel Liz’s emotion jumping from these pictures. In the picture with Leah, you can see the smile on her face as she looks into her baby’s eyes. It reminds me how much joy Leah brought to Liz's life, and it amazes me how this little girl could bring out a natural smile on Liz’s face at one of the weakest moments in Liz’s life.
Then you have the picture of Lily with her head in Liz’s lap. This picture is flooded with that emotional feeling a parent gets as they hold their child in their arms. It almost looks like Liz’s pain was lifted at that moment, and she is completely care free. You can see that her mother daughter bond was never broken by her sickness in the hospital.
I love reminiscing about moments I had with Liz, but I’m always forced to come back to the reality of today. I have to keep living life and making memories with my girls. With that reality,I’m forced to update our family picture. It’s hard to replace “what was” with “what is,” but we still need to capture our current moments together so we’re able to reminisce on those moments as well later on in life.
While Christmas traditions will never be the same for our family, I’m reminded that one thing will always remain the same. Christ was born today, and I’m able to rejoice in the fact that Liz is celebrating Christ’s birth in front of Jesus himself. That thought is mind blowing, and brings both joy and tears just like my many memories of her.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Love TJ, Lily and Leah
Written Jul 27, 2013 7:33am
One year ago today Liz had her first surgery at Mayo. I’ve told many people that this was the day that Liz truly died. Today was the last time that we ever heard her real voice and the last time that she ever lived without pain. Liz was never the same again. While we had moments in the hospital where we could see a glimpse of the old Liz, it was just a glimpse and the old Liz was truly dead. Her surgery day was a long day that started at 5 am and ended around 11 pm. On that day we were so excited to hear that her surgery was a success, and we went to bed encouraged and hopeful that Liz would be fine. Little did we know that our nightmare was just beginning, and that Liz would face another 5 surgeries over the next 7 days.
It’s hard to believe that a year has already passed since Liz’s first surgery, but it also feels like a lifetime since I hugged and kissed a healthy wife. Today marks the beginning of our family reliving our hospital experience. I have a feeling our family is going to say “remember a year ago when…..” many times over the next 6 months. Please pray for our family as we begin to relive our experiences and reflect on all that had happened.TJ