Thursday, March 15, 2012

My failure

I'm driving down a hill, a city street. The buildings here are not too tall, maybe on average 3-5 stories. The street is fairly narrow, cars parked on both sides. The hill is fairly long, and the street I'm on ends at a waterfront of some sort - a harbor or a river. I have driven here before, the street is somewhat familiar, but normally I am alone. This time, I am not alone.

Aimee is with me.

It takes me a moment to recognize this fact, and then a second later I realize that she's not supposed to be there. She is dead.

And then it hits me: it's my fault.

I start to cry, I put my hand on her arm, near her hand which is resting on her knee. I begin saying over and over, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry." I want to look into her face, to catch her eye, but I can't. I need to keep my eye on the narrow road. And she won't turn towards me. She is silent, stone-faced. She does not tell me it's ok, or that it's not my fault. She does not blame me, not does she release me from my guilt. She says nothing, her facial expression, at least the sliver of it I can see, moves not at all. No warmth, no love, no nothing. And I feel like my conviction of fault is confirmed.

I wake up.

Sometimes when I dream I carry the emotions into the waking moments immediately following the dream. This time, I didn't. I woke up relieved that it had been a dream, and secure in the feeling I'd had since Aimee's death that there was nothing I could have done to prevent it. There's no way I could know how that day was going to go.
The Atlantic Ocean off of Key Largo. As I waited
for news on Aimee, I stared at this from the deck
of our vacation rental.
It was not my fault.

But that dream tapped into something. And that something was that I KNOW Aimee's death isn't my fault, but that doesn't always mean I don't FEEL, subconsciously, like it was my fault. I mean, I'm a fairly traditional guy, and part of that means I feel it is my job to protect my family. Nothing bad is supposed to happen to my girls on my watch, right?

The night Aimee and I got married, I told her dad Terry that I would take care of her. I meant it, and he knew it. But a small part of me can't help but feel like I failed.


  1. Pat, I know that feeling. My dad's kidneys shut down, there was nothing medically we could do because he wasn't a transplant candidate. But I still had to sign the paper waiving further medical care to transfer him to hospice. People tell me I'm not responsible and I know that. But you're doesn't change the feeling. All I can say from almost 3 years later is that it isn't as sharp a pain...not nearly so often. We are upholding you in prayer, friend.
    Serena for the Tyler family

  2. You did take care of Aimee....and it wasn't your fault. Aimee was following a dream...and going on an adventure with family she loved. Only God knows...he knows the hairs numbered on our head and the days we each have written in his book. I think of you and Rowan often and pray that someday your dream will be different. Aimee will look at you and smile that gorgeous smile and tell you its OK...she is at peace and in glory with her Savior! Until then, I pray for peace and comfort..and lots of love to continually come your way!

    Connie, a Hoosier friend

  3. The truth is there is no making sense this tragedy. You supported Aimee in something she wanted to accomplish. You and Rowan had quality Daddy-daughter time together while Aimee pursued this dream. That shows what a true partner you are and how much love you have for your wife. Who could ever fault you for that?!