I'm new here, so please forgive me if this gets long winded but it's still pretty raw, and I'm still dealing with all this.
Last Friday, I found one of my closest friends dead at work. We worked together for almost 3 years and I can honestly say I've never had as much fun working with anyone as I did with her, and I am so lucky to have been able to know such a fun loving person. Everyone says "My friend/family member was so kind", but this person truly was one-of-a-kind and would have given you the shirt off her own back. The way she approached life and problems and was able to let go of resentment towards people who had hurt her deeply is pretty much how I wish *I* were able to live my life. I liked her the instant I met her and we had (counted) 1083 days together. A true blessing, but not long enough at all. I always considered her my family, my sister, my "other mom" (she wasn't afraid to tell me I was behaving like an idiot when I needed to hear it)!
I found her mid-morning (around 10:15) and she got to work at 8:00 as normal (I didn't have a chance to talk to her that morning, so I have no idea if she felt off color or not but I heard her come in), and I'm not sure how long she was gone before I found her. I found her, panicked, called 911 and did CPR and the whole bit. I don't remember much except she was flat out on her face and I had to turn her and she was blue
No pulse...hands and legs were ice cold. I just did what they told me to do. I kept apologizing to her and I remember it felt like I was breaking her ribs as I was doing the chest compressions
I do remember giving her mouth to mouth and it sounded like her lungs were full of fluid and I remember thinking "this is it, isn't it". It was the worst feeling ever. I was able to get a hold of two of my family members and they were there within a few minutes. They got a hold of her family, then a few minutes later the EMT's arrived. I was grateful when they took over and I just kind of plopped (didn't faint or fall) to the floor. We all met up at the Emergency Room. Needless to say, she didn't make it, and needless to say these past 10 days have been Hell.
When the doctor came into the room to tell her family and I that she was gone, I don't remember what went on except we all were crying and saying how this couldn't be real, she was fine, etc. They asked the family about an autopsy and her daughter and boyfriend said yes, and (even though it's not really my decision) I said I would like to know as well. The autopsy report came back that she had a brain aneurysm that ruptured. I didn't talk to any of the medical staff, but they called her daughter who called me and told me what they had found. They basically said that she was probably gone before she knew what hit her.
When I found her she was face down, arms flat at her side. It was as if she hadn't even tried to break her own fall. Due to the nature of the job, I am 100% positive that she was standing when this hit. I didn't see any blood, but I'm assuming she hit hard because she had blackened her eyes (the floor she fell onto was ceramic tile). It just breaks my heart to think that there was ANY knowledge on her part that she was dying, or wondering if she suffered at all, or (worse) if she called out for help or for me and I didn't hear her as I was on the other side of the building. Even though the doctors said had I been there I wouldn't have been able to do anything to help, there's this "thing" in the back of my mind that makes me wonder if there wasn't a .0001% chance that I could have. Or at least she wouldn't have had to die alone.
When some of the shock cleared, I had a horrible remembrance. That morning (I can NOT remember what time it was), I was across the building moving furniture around when I heard two loud thuds. I don't work in an atmosphere that's noted for being quiet, so when I heard the thuds I didn't really think anything of it. But now I know, I just *know* that was the sound of her going down, and it kills me that I didn't at least go investigate. Her boyfriend said she had been up about twice the night before, complaining of a back ache. I'm kicking myself for not at least saying hi to her that morning. I've no idea if she had mentioned a headache or not, but for a week or two before she died she seemed to tire at work easier than normal and seemed more stressed out. The last night she worked before she died, she was really rushing to get things done. She had tendonitis in her arm that sometimes prevented her from finishing a certain job straight through, but the more I read the more I wonder if this wasn't JUST tendonitis, if it was some sign of the aneurysm. She also developed glaucoma a year or two ago in one (possibly both, I'm not sure) eye(s).
I'm not sure of her medical history, but I know her father and grandfather both dropped dead in their 50's (she was only 56), but from what I understand they had heart problems that had gone undetected. Her mother is still alive and, from what I understand, pretty healthy.
Now, I'm paranoid. And I *know* I'm paranoid, but 99% of me believes that had I been there and physically caught her as she went down there wouldn't have been a thing I could have done to help her. Her daughter said that the doctors told her that only God could have saved her. But that 1% of me wonders if things could have been different. But the doctors aren't God. Could I have helped her? Had I called 911 the second it happened would she still be here? If she were here, would she have horrible brain damage and be unable to drive, work, be independent? Would she have resented the way her life was had that happened? (She was a lot like I am...a bit on the stubborn and too self-sufficient for her own good side). Is she upset with me NOW? I've got pictures of her that I can't even look at yet, because deep down I wonder if she would be mad at me...It's only been 10 days and this just keeps going around and around in my head. I didn't eat a bite of anything for 7 days after she died, and barely slept because I kept thinking "what if" and kept replaying what happened over and over in my head, and would replay the "other" scenarios had she survived. I know it's ridiculous and all that but part of me feels like some kind of a murderer. During her visitation at the funeral home I kept thinking "they say the murderer always shows up to the funeral" and I'd tell myself to basically shut up, that I didn't kill anyone. But that thought still remains that I had something to do with the fact that she didn't survive. My head knows it, but my heart won't believe it.
Our working environment has always been a family. We're a very, very small family owned business and anyone who works here is automatically a part of that family. Before my friend died, our staff/family consisted of 8 people, and now we only have 7. We do things together as a group outside of work. We love one another and look out for one another and we've leaned on each other a lot during this time, and hard times past. My friend that died did SO much for my family when my Grandmother died a year ago, much more than anyone else would have, or even should have. But she did it because she was good. At one point during that time, the words "she's my rock" went through my mind but I never really told her. Now I wish I would have, because in many ways she was.
I can't even really bring myself to ask anyone (of my family/staff) these questions I've asked here. Either I can't bring myself to say it out loud or can't find a way to articulate it or discuss it. Many of them are of the mind-set that says "This is what the autopsy report says, so we don't argue or challenge it". And I'm not really challenging it, but as I said before...that 1% of me wonders if things could have been different, but at what cost. I know the knowledge of what happened won't bring her back. But the thought of her being in pain, or seizing, or not having died immediately before she knew what was going on really bothers me, as does the question I've asked myself about if she tried to call for help but I couldn't hear her. It's really bothering me. I only wish and hope I treated her half as good as she treated me.
I don't really even know what I'm looking for. Thoughts, ideas, help, words of wisdom or experiences with this.
If you read all this and managed to make any sense of it, thanks