Monday, February 27, 2012

Goodbye Heidi

The CaringBridge update for Saturday, February 25 - the day Heidi died - is titled "Heidi is free". I cannot imagine a more appropriate title. As I wrote after visiting her a few weeks ago, it was clear to all of us who saw her since her November stroke that Heidi was quite literally trapped inside her body. She knew who was visiting her, cried tears of joy and sorrow upon seeing and hearing and touching things she loved, and simply could no longer survive without 24/7 care and feeding from others. Knowing there was never any hope for change, she chose to go. I can't predict what I would actually do in her situation, but I'd like to think I'd be brave enough to make the same exact choice.

This morning Janet was at the pool, getting in a swim, as Heidi would have encouraged her to do. I did not know yet that Heidi was gone when I saw Janet in the locker room before practice and gave her a big hug. She said they were "hanging in there" and I assumed she meant Heidi as well. I then led Janet through warm up. She smiled at a joke I made and told me I could use some anti-fog for my goggles, which I could. Then Tim asked me to move over due to crowding and I watched her body pass by mine in silence from the next lane over, over and over and over.

It wasn't until I was showered and getting dressed that Marianne mentioned Heidi was gone. It took me by surprise, although I knew it was coming - we all did. Heidi had gone home about a week earlier, to stop being fed through a tube and to die peacefully at home. I thought of her a lot this past week, especially when I was swimming. I didn't know how long it would take for her to go, nor how painful it would be. But the CaringBridge website tells the story of her peacefulness once home, and her obvious unwavering commitment to her decision. Whatever she was feeling inside, she gave her family, and all of us, an amazing gift by being steadfast in her wishes. I can only imagine how hard it would be to let someone you love go the way the Renner family did with Heidi, and I think they are all a perfect picture of true bravery. How much harder would it have been if Heidi hadn't been strongly committed to her decision? If she had seemed unsure or afraid of where she was headed? Unbearable, I am sure.

I want to thank them all again for allowing us to witness their heroic journey to deliver Heidi to freedom in a most amazing and inspiring way.

And though I know Janet will probably be returning to Hawaii soon and recapturing her own life, I hope today's workout is not the last I share with her.

*warmup: 2 x 200's, 2 x 150's, 2 x 100's (second swim in each pair with last 50 stroke)

add pull gear for:

*6 x 175's, 6 x 125's, 6 x 75's

remove pull gear for:

*4 x 100's, 4 x 50's stroke, 4 x 25's fast


Unknown said...

Thank you Sarah, beautifully said

cindysbananas said...

Thank you Sarah for this beautifully written post. I first got to know Heidi from being on the board of the NCBIDA and quickly realized what a dynamic women she was. I also know how much she treasured her swim mates often showing up at our get togethers after her swim. This story is both remarkable and so Heidi all at the same time. With much gratitude and love, Cindy

Caroline said...

Thank you for such a sweet entry. I'm Heidi's daughter in law. Heidi raved about her swim buddies all the time! I was very surprised by how supportive and loving all her teammates were in these last couple of months. All the love and support did not go unnoticed and every time Heidi had a visitor, she loved it! It was hard to let her go, but knowing this was her wish helped us help her.