Not the beginning, but a beginning…

My profile in the bio of this blog states that our eldest daughter “passed away in her sleep” due to cardiac arrest. This is true but not the whole story of what happened that morning.

While it is true that we feel (most “we” here refers to my husband and Izzy’s father) that Isabel left us that morning, it is also true that the EMTs and firefighters got her to the Stanford Hospital minutes from our house, where an amazing surgeon put her on an ECMO life support machine, after two hours of CPR. Normal protocol might suggest that there is little hope for a person’s brain and organ function after two hours of CPR due to low oxygen intake, but Izzy’s age most likely prompted the amazing team to do everything they could. And they did. When I say that Izzy left us that morning, never do I imply that Stanford didn’t do their utmost best for her for the next five days she was on life support. Her death certificate reads June 24th as her official passing. That is a truth, but not the whole story.

Firstly, I want to clean up the misconception that I created in the early, panicked, horrified, shock-inducing first days that Izzy suffered a heart attack. I used this term on Facebook and it caught and spread, but it is inaccurate. A heart attack usually occurs when there is a blockage of some sort and the heart still attempts and struggles to function. It can be felt. It has symptoms. The person is often awake and conscious of what is happening. In a cardiac arrest, the heart simply stops.

In the early morning hours of June 20, 2018, Izzy’s heart stopped. She did not suffer. She did not feel pain. She went to sleep that night, and then she left us.

But that is not the beginning of this story. There is so much to say, so much to think and feel and know, and I’ve finally come to a point where I need to write about it. It’s what I do. My mode of spiritual transportation, so to speak. The posts won’t be chronological to what happened or has happened, I can see that now. They will be what I need to say, when I need to say it, and I feel this is proper anyway. Time is not linear. (Time is a flat circle, all right, all right all right). There is the chronological time of history, and there is the nebulous “time” of our collective consciousness that is not beholden to any such barrier or restrictions.

And yes, if you’re not down with, or at least open to this kind of talk, what I write here probably isn’t for you because there likely will be a lot of it. But I’ve learned a few things, seen a few things, felt a whole lot of things that have given us peace through this experience and part of what I want to do here is share whatever I can to give hope to those who are hurting, just as it has helped me.

Thank you for reading.

J

37 Comments Add yours

  1. MJ Fryer says:

    Thank you for wanting to share your thoughts and feelings with all of us. Your strength during this difficult time is admirable and I look forward to learning a thing or two from you as the days go by. God bless you and your family.

    Like

    1. JR says:

      Thank you, love. Your friendship and support has been everything.

      Like

  2. Ahima Booklover says:

    🍀🦋🍀 Your journey touches me so deep. While it makes me grateful and more aware about the luck of two healthy daughters and the time I have to share with them, it also makes me aware of your strength and your ability to see light in the dark. I am here and follow your path. 💖💓💖

    Like

  3. J. Robb says:

    Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your journey in some small way. ❤️❤️❤️

    Like

    1. JR says:

      I don’t know what I’d do without you ❤

      Like

  4. Thank you for sharing so much with us. And yes, you’re the AMAZING mother of two daughters ❤

    Like

    1. JR says:

      Thank you, love. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Anne-Marie says:

    I have cried and prayed for you. I have admired the strength of you and your family – the strength you Show in fighting every single day to go forward…a journey I have no doubt is the furthest thing from easy.
    I want to thank you for sharing Izzy with us. Because of her and her story I never let my daughter go to sleep without saying “I love you”.
    Know that your daughter livets on with som many people around the world being inspired by her kindness and reminded that life can be short and needs to be full of life, love and laughter.
    I still pray for your family… I hope that time will bring you some peace and make the burden of grief easier to carry<3

    Like

    1. JR says:

      Thank you, Anne-Marie. Sharing Izzy helps so much, and I love hearing that she is an inspiration. It makes the burden lighter. ❤

      Like

  6. Aim L says:

    Your spirit is so encouraging. So brave to share as I can feel how cathartic this is for you as I read your beautiful words. May God bless you and your family as you continue this journey and share this experience.

    Like

    1. JR says:

      Thank you, Aim. I appreciate every one who follows this journey and I hope something good can come of it.

      Like

  7. Madonna Blackburn says:

    Your need to do this comes from a very private place and it takes courage to bring these thoughts to an open forum like this. The passing of a loved one, especially when it comes at an unexpected moment, is devasting to our inner peace and the loss of a child, which I have come to understand in a very small way through your experience and the experience of my own mother when 2 of my older siblings passed quite close to each other, is something that no parent, and dare I say a mother will never overcome. It is something that, as you are learning, is a daily struggle that will hopefully ease along the way with keeping your loved one close to your heart in any way you can. For me, the passing of my mother is my heartbreak and although it was unexpected we did have a very small window of time to say our last goodbyes…I sadly didn’t want to accept this was her last hoorah so I kept my thoughts and feelings inside and lost my chance of ever telling my mother how much she truly meant to me. I have been following your journey and acknowledge that expressing ones feelings can help in easing some of the anger and sorrow that the death of our loved ones bring. Your path is your own personal sanctuary and I thank you for sharing a little slice of that with us ❤️

    Like

    1. JR says:

      I feel like I only want to share if I have something useful to impart as well as an outlet, and as a memorial to Izzy so that her beingness, so to speak, is still being communicated and remembered in the world.
      As for your mom, anything you wanted to tell her, you still can. She can hear you and understands everything, I promise. ❤

      Like

  8. Sue Ouellet says:

    You are such an amazingly beautiful writer and person. I’m honored to read and take this journey with you!

    Like

    1. JR says:

      Thank you, Sue. I’m blessed to have so many supportive people coming with me. ❤

      Like

  9. Annette Chivers says:

    Izzy was an inspiration to me when she was still with us. Although I never met her, it always felt like I knew her. I admired what she stood for, her sense for right and wrong, for injustice. I admired her compassion so much but also her intelligence. There was a reason for the slogan “Isabel for President”.
    Isabel made me think about things I could do to help others and I do, in a small way but I do. I do it to help another innocent little person and to honour Isabel. She was and is a bright light shining on our way, guiding us in the right direction. Her short life was so meaningful, her sudden death heartbraking but Izzy’s views and morals live on and you do an outstanding job to let us know all about it. I don’t know how you do it, where you take the strength from but I admire you so much. I am glad you have chosen this way to work through the grief, to find the light again after all the darkness. It somehow gives also closure to me. I know it sounds weird but it’s true nevertheless.

    Like

    1. JR says:

      I’m so glad. And I don’t think it’s weird. At this point, nothing much strikes me as weird. I wish you could have met her in London but she was so tired. Too tried. A sign, we think, looking back now. But honoring Isabel by helping others is the greatest gift. Love you

      Like

      1. Annette Chivers says:

        Yes, I wished I could have met her in London. I was so excited about it before but you are right, I thought it might have been a sign that she was so tired because it was not the only time, if I remember right. I love you too and think very often of you. I can’t wait for Paris. We must do something before Saturday, if you have time.

        Like

  10. Jen. Q. says:

    Thank you for sharing this experience with us. You are strong beyong measures.

    Like

    1. JR says:

      I think we all are. Being tested only brings it out in us faster. ❤

      Like

  11. brettsmommy says:

    J, In my life when someone I care about is going through something, anything, I tend to say the wrong thing. Never intentionally or with ill intent. With that and my fear of saying something that could potentially be harmful, I tend to not say anything. Friend, I couldn’t find any words when I saw you. You are always in my heart and my thoughts. I will be following this blog and I will continue to read your posts. Please know that Izzy made a difference and continues to impact so many, including me. My children will know her in spirit. Many hugs and love to you and your family.

    Like

    1. JR says:

      When you saw us in that airport it was early yet. August. And we were coming back from a hard trip to Victorville. We didn’t know what to say either. The shock was slowly wearing off. But even so, just seeing you was great and never worry about the wrong thing. It’s all a process and just you being here for us is everything.Love you ❤

      Like

  12. mylemons04 says:

    To give your words to the masses, is to hand over your heart and entrust the pieces that get left between the lines to those who read them. This tether to your soul is pure beauty and I am grateful for your willingness to add this to the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JR says:

      I hope it does. ❤

      Like

  13. Angela Acquistapace says:

    Love you, Darling.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Beware Of The Reader says:

    Emma I really like this idea of yours to share with us. Anything you need must be met. You have to go with your instinct. I feel privileged to follow you on that path. I already learned something very important today: that Izzy did not suffer. And that is a blessing amidst the sadness. All my love always. Sophie.

    Like

    1. JR says:

      It was one blessing of many that I’ll get around to sharing here. Love you ❤

      Like

  15. Vanessa says:

    I just lost my son to cardiac arrest Dec 12, 2018. A friend of mine referred me to this blog. Very interesting to read. I always say my son died twice; once that morning and again, 36 hours after being on life support. He fought to stay alive just long enough to donate his organs. He was a special, little boy- as was your daughter, I’m sure. My heart is with you as we both struggle through grief at this time.

    Like

    1. JR says:

      My heart goes out to you, Vanessa. Izzy was able to donate her organs as well, a comfort that comes much later.
      Your loss is so new and I’m so sorry, but one thing I want to tell you–the thing that has helped me the most–is that it will get better. Not easy, but easier. Those first few months are the fucking worst and the only words I clung to were “it will get better.” If nothing else, I want to share that with you, and please know you can contact me at any time if you want; I can give you my personal email. Much love to you and to your family, and your special boy who has saved a life now. ❤

      Like

  16. Kathy says:

    My sweet girl: Every time you put hands to keyboard you inspire me, and so many others, probably countless readers, fans and others who tragically are in the same situation you are. The name of your blog is perfect; when people ask me how many grandchildren I have, I always say five, no hesitation. I love you beyond words and I’m so proud of you for all you do, all you are. You’re in my heart always.

    Like

    1. JR says:

      Love you so much, Mama. And your words inspire and lift me. Always.

      Like

  17. Malene Dich says:

    You continue to be an inspiration to me. It’s an honor to read your words on your new blog and continue to follow your journey. Thank you. You’re strong and as you wrote in a comment above “it will get better” cause you’re a fighter and a survivor. Love you❤️

    Like

    1. JR says:

      Thank you, Malene. You and the community have been such a huge part of why I’m getting through this. Amazing support system. Love you ❤

      Like

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