Tragedy At Home

I’ve sat down to write this entry several times and each time I do I have to step away from the keyboard. It is not that I am distracted; it is just that this is one of the most difficult things I have ever written on this blog. As a diehard baseball fan, there are days when I think there is nothing more important than how your team is performing. I have been accused on numerous occasions to have my priorities off-track and that my entire existence revolves around baseball. This is mostly said in jest but still I wonder how many people believe that to be true? Every so often something comes along though that helps us all put baseball and life into perspective.

Prior to yesterday’s game against the Florida Marlins the Arizona Diamondbacks were notified that relief pitcher Scott Schoeneweis’ wife had been found dead at their Fountain Hills home. She was found on the floor of their master bedroom by their 14 year-old daughter who called 9-1-1 to report what she found. Authorities arrived and found 39 year-old Gabrielle Schoeneweis unresponsive. No cause of death has been determined.

The team was going through their final preparations for the game with first pitch scheduled approximately an hour later. Scott Schoeneweis was summoned to the visiting manager’s office where AJ Hinch gave the pitcher the news. Arrangements were made and Schoeneweis flew back to Arizona where he would meet with his four children and family members to begin the difficult process of planning for his wife’s funeral.

Words cannot describe the emotion that I felt when I heard this news. No husband should be faced with such a burden. From a personal perspective though this news hit especially close to home. Unfortunately I had to live through an experience very similar to Scott Schoeneweis so I know what he is going through. In my case though it was not the loss of a wife that I had to endure but rather a child but the circumstances were very similar.

My wife and I had one daughter and were expecting our second child. The due date was fast approaching and things appeared to be going extremely well. We had ultrasounds where we were able to see the baby and we were assured that everything looked normal. My wife’s due date was still a little ways away but not much. We were anticipating the birth of our daughter yet life seemed to be going normally.

I normally worked in town but on this particular day I was called away on business along with several other people from the office. We travelled to another state where we worked out of another office. At first I was worried about leaving my wife but she assured me everything was fine and that she had family around if she needed anything. She insisted that I go and have fun. We had a full schedule of work but also planned a couple of “team building” activities including an NBA basketball game that night.

I remember after saying good-bye to my wife I turned my focus to the work ahead and the camaraderie of being with the other guys. We were in a good mood and were actually looking forward to the trip and being able to get away from the daily grind at home. We were out on calls working when the office received a call notifying them that something had happened and that my wife was being rushed to the hospital. Her health was ok as far as they knew but she had lost the baby. When I arrived back at the office I was in a particularly good mood as things seemed to be going well. That all changed as the general manager at the office called me in and asked me to sit down. I could see from the look on his face that something was wrong but I never expected to get the news he was about to give me.

As he began telling me what he knew, my mind and my body went completely numb. The joy and happiness I felt immediately left my mind as all I could think about was my wife and unborn child. I tried hard to listen to the words he was saying but they seemed for foreign and distant. It seemed like a dream or in this case a nightmare and I kept telling myself that I needed to wake up but it didn’t happen. The general manager explained that they had arranged for a flight to send me back home and that someone would be there to meet me at the airport to take me to the hospital. He asked if I wanted someone to go with me for the flight home.

To be honest, the last thing I wanted was a travelling companion. I just wanted to be alone to try and piece together the events that had transpired and to get myself into a position to deal with the situation I was about to find when I got home. The drive to the airport and the flight back home seemed to last an eternity. My whole life seemed to be unraveling but in slow motion. I replayed the events over and over in my head. I was angry with myself for being out of town. I was frustrated at how slow the flight was going, my heart was breaking knowing I was not there by her side when my wife was going through all of this, I was afraid at what I would find when I got home, I felt guilty that my day had been going well while my wife was dealing with all of this. The thoughts and emotions whirled around in my head.

When I arrived at the airport someone was there to meet me and we immediately went to the hospital where my wife laid crying. I have never felt so helpless in my life. Since the day we started dating I had been there for her. We had been nearly inseparable. And while I could not solve all of her problems at least I was there when she needed me. This time I wasn’t there when she needed me the most. That feeling is something I have lived with every day of my life sense and is something I will never forget. Both the doctor and my wife assured me that there was nothing I could have done and that the events would have run their course whether I had been there or not but I always in the back of my mind wonder if that is the case. Could I have seen something or done something differently that might have affected the outcome? Would my daughter still be here if I hadn’t been away?

As a family we had to make funeral arrangements. It all seems like such a blur. I was too young to be making these kinds of decisions and I was not prepared to deal with this mentally or emotionally. Family members stepped in and helped us in ways I could never imagine or fully appreciate. Were it not for the thoughts and prayers of those around us I don’t know how we could have had the strength to deal with everything we had to do.

I remember how awkward it was when co-workers came to see us. I know they meant well and were trying to be thoughtful and show their love for our family but they also acted as a reminder of me being away from my family and the pain I felt because of my absence. The healing process was slow and I had a hard time concentrating on work. The company was very understanding and looking back I am very grateful to them for all the patience that they showed. Getting back to work was in one sense a relieve as it gave me something to occupy my mind and keep it from drifting back to the loss I had suffered and the circumstances that accompanied it. On the other hand it acted as a reminder of how difficult it is to balance work and home and what can happen when I was not around.

I would love to say that after a time the loss gets easier and that you end up healing but that’s a lie. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about my daughter and how much I miss her. I think about all the joy we missed out on and all the events that our family has enjoyed where she was not a part. Since that time we have had other children and life has moved on but I’ll never forget the events of that day and the impact it had on me.

My heart goes out to Scott Schoeneweis. Losing a daughter was the hardest thing I have ever endured but it pales in comparison to losing a wife. You and your family will be in our thoughts and prayers as you deal with your loss. Gabrielle’s passing has left a large void in your life, one that may never heal but if my experience has taught me anything, keeping her memory alive and recounting all the love you felt for her will go a long way towards making your life together seem meaningful.

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