November 24, 2018
Today is the first day that I have been able to settle down enough to write about everything that has happened this week. We were scheduled to go to China for what was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime. We were spending 20 days in the country and visiting so many cool things. I took my 13 year old son to stay the night with his dad so we could go to the airport to catch our flights and when we got to his house it was a bit of a shock.
Mikey went in first because I was scared his dad might be asleep or taking a shower since he didn’t answer the door. He slept regularly during the day so it wasn’t out of the question that he had just fallen asleep. We knocked but he didn’t answer. I knew we had visited with him and talked on Saturday to discuss the trip plans so he would know we were coming on Wednesday afternoon around 3.
Mikey opened the door with his emergency key and stepped inside but I stayed out on the porch at the door and waited. Mikey said “DAD” into the dark room and he didn’t answer. I looked up and noticed that the porch light was on. Both cars were in the driveway and I started to feel a little strange. The door cracked a bit and it smelled unusual inside the house. I started to think that something was not right. I looked inside and the house had this look of something odd. I pushed the door open and stepped into the dark room and saw the rugs in the kitchen seemed a mess. The garbage looked like it looks when you leave it by mistake in the can and go on vacation. Everything happened so quickly. When I am telling the story it takes way longer to tell than it took in real time. Mikey went right to his own bedroom and said “DAD” again, but again, Mike didn’t answer. I quickly felt the need to stop Mikey and said, “Mikey wait” just as he passed me and went to his dads bedroom. He jumped. I saw his face and he screamed and ran into the room away from me and toward his dad. Hysterically he reached down to touch him. He was terrified and ran out toward me as I entered chasing behind him.
Michael Jaye Baisden was there by the bed in the floor and he had died several days before. The coroner thought that he had most likely passed away on Monday between noon and 5 since using his phone we could tell when the last time he had spoke to anyone was and when calls began to go unanswered and from the condition of his remains. Today I spoke with my ex-sister-in-law and she said that a friend of hers works at the school that Mike substitute taught at and that around lunch on Monday she saw Mike in the hallway and that he didnt look like he was feeling well and he talked to here momentarily and said he thought he just needed something to eat and that later he didnt feel better and had left the school day early to go home because he was feeling bad.
I ran in towards Mike’s body laying there in the floor and Mikey and I both just panicked. We were hysterical. I look back at that moment now and I just don’t even know what to say to describe the situation beyond saying that we completely lost our shit. We were incapable of reasonable thought. We were jumping up and down and bouncing about in the space trying to do something but scared to touch what was left of him and I was sick to my stomach at the site of the room. We were just not expecting it. It came out of nowhere to us. We were busy living our lives and just didn’t have it on our minds at all that it was even possible that he would be dead. When we got there we were laughing and talking on the porch when we were waiting for him to answer the door and we made jokes that now we both look back at with regret. Mikey was expecting his dad to sell his truck the day before and he was looking forward to the video game that he had promised Mikey with the proceeds from the sale. The truck was still there and Mikey was complaining that he wasn’t going to get his game. Neither of us had a single thought in our minds that our entire world was going to change in just the turn of the knob on the door.
Mikey kept screaming for me to touch him and saying, “Mom, Is he dead” ??? I finally got my senses enough to say Mikey come on and lets go to the porch. I took him outside and went back in to look at him to see if there was anything I could do and when I saw him the next time it was apparent to me that he had been there for some time and that he in fact was gone. I can’t say how long I stood there and looked at him frozen in that moment. Long enough that I can’t get the sight of him out of my head. I can’t blink, close my eyes or sleep that I don’t see the image of him laying there, fully clothed with his briefcase near his feet, he looked like he was going to or coming from work and he was wearing the blue sweater vest that Mikey associates most with his dad. He wore that same one for the last 13 years of Mikeys life and I have many photos of Mike wearing it and when Mikey thinks of his dad he thinks of him in that blue sweater vest.
The coroner and Bill and I and the ambulance drivers all thought that he took a step and fell to the floor and by the time he landed there he was most likely dead. The cover on the edge of the bed had slid down onto his face and he never moved it off of his face. We all just agreed that the first thing anyone would do was move something off your face if you could still move but he had not moved once he landed on the floor.
I am so confused by the whole thing. I think of it and I swear I am just stumped. What the Hell just happened. How was he here and talking to us just four days ago and now he was this. I wont ever live long enough to get over the fact that I didn’t go into that house first and find him there. I would give all the money in my bank account to just have gotten to him before our son did. I look at Mikey across the room and my heart aches thinking that the images that haunt me are inside his head as well.
Mike was 68 years old. He was the father of three wonderful children. He loved them in his own way and even though he had many faults that I could name, the thing I could always find to say positive was that he did truly love those three kids. He was funny. He had a good sense of humor and he loved to say one thing and mean another. You had to know him a little before you were sure if he really meant to be hateful sometimes. Okay, most of the time.
Over the last year, I have had many people ask me why I did as much for Mike as I did. Some people, most people, thought it was odd that an ex wife would spend as much time with a man they divorced as I did with Mike. I tried to feed him meatloaf as often as I could and took him the things I felt that he needed. He had came to know that if he needed a friend that I was going to be there. He hated it but he still knew it was true. I would tell people that I wanted to know that when he died that I had done everything in my power to help him to live and be happy. Because I felt a sense of responsibility to him every single time I looked at our son. I guess I did the things I did for him because I wanted to stand and look my son in the eye and know that today, when he was gone, that I could lay him to rest having the ability to say that I had done everything I could do to make his life better during that the last year. Its over now and I looked at him yesterday and walked away from the funeral home having known that I had done right by Michael Jaye.
This is the only photograph of Mikey with all of his parents. We invited MJB to come to walk out with us at parents night and he really didn’t want to go. He loved to be stubborn. Then he didn’t want to be in photos with us. I am so, so, so thankful that we got this photo for Mikey. So thankful that he has one picture of all of us together with him.
Now days later I keep trying to piece it together what happened and I guess he left the school because he didn’t feel well and drove himself home. I haven’t found out yet what time he left school but assuming he left after lunch since his encounter with the girl was on his way to eat lunch when he told her he wasn’t feeling well, I would say he got home before 3. He had left his phone in his car because that’s where we found it so we cant tell if he died as soon as he got home on Monday or if he slept Monday night and then got up on Tuesday morning to go back to work and got dressed and died before he went out that morning. I wish I knew. He was so forgetful. Leaving his phone in the car was something he did often. I play it out in my head and I feel so sad because I think maybe if he had not left his phone in the car, maybe he could have called me and maybe I could have gone to him. Just maybe. Maybe I would have found him instead of Mikey.
I am so thankful to Jesus that it happened the way that it did and it wasn’t even worse than the story I now tell. What if I had left for China and was on a 24 hour flight with no cell service and Mikey had been there alone with Mike. How would I have gotten to my son fast enough to comfort him and how much worse would it have been than the horror show that we currently have to live with. I am thankful that it is no worse than it is.
I do have good memories of Mike from the first few years that we were a family and before we fell apart. We could still laugh together and over the last year we had the chance to make some peace with our relationship. When he locked himself out of the house he called me. When he had a heart attack and he was scared, He called me. When he needed a ride somewhere or someone to pick him up when he dropped a car for service, he called me and we shared a child so we had to communicate almost daily about one thing or the other. Even at times when Mikey and he had difficult relationship issues going on, I maintained a relationship good enough with MJB that I could text him updates on Mikey and send photos of important events that I wanted to share with him.
Over the summer and early fall Mike & Mikey were not really speaking and I managed to get Mikey to mend that fence and forgive his dad and I am so thankful now that when he did finally pass away, Mikey had made some kind of peace with him. He was tough on Mikey and sometimes I didn’t understand his way of thinking but I always told Mikey that he loved him, in spite of his mistakes, he loved Mikey and that was the thing that I think kept Mike going over the last year of his life.
I sat down yesterday and flipped thru a scrapbook that I had made for Mike for Christmas two years ago. It was an entire book of the pages that I had made when Mikey was a little thing and Mike was the most amazing daddy ever to him at that time. He hated the gift. He kept it but he said he would never look at it because it reminded him of when things were different. I looked at it and it made me cry. Cry because he was gone, cry because the person he was now was so different than the man in the photos then when Mikey was a baby, cry because I didn’t save him, cry because he laid there for three days alone, cry because Mikey found him, just cry because.
I have prayed a lot the last couple days. I just have to ask why. What ? How ? Where ? I do not know what happens to a person when they leave their body. I do not want to leave mine. I want to believe that all the things that I think will happen, will happen. I want to believe that Jesus is out there and you go to Heaven or Hell and there is something better after you leave here. Heck, I would be happy if I am completely wrong and you recycle and live again in another life. I will take that. I will accept anything that makes more sense than you are here and a person and then you are gone and just are no more.
It has been as hard on Bill as me and Mikey. Of course, MJB hated Bill but Bill didn’t share his hate. Bill just feels a sense of complete loss for our Mikey and he feels sad because he too has the images of MJB laying there burned into his head. He made me leave when the coroner was ready to carry Mike out and my daddy came and got Mikey so that he could not be there for that part either. Bill stayed behind to help remove him and to lock everything up and his experiences left scars in his head that he will need a while to recover from. Everything about this has been horrible and we may not have gotten to go on our China trip but we are already searching in our heads for a warm weather location to jump on a plane or ship and sail away to where we can just recover from all of this as a family.
I have people in my life that I thought, okay, if my child’s dad drops dead and we have trauma, those are the people who will absolutely be there immediately. They weren’t. I had people that I thought were distant friends and they wont be there if there were to be a horrific event happen, but the last three days, they were. I guess every situation has bad and good and even this situation has shown me things and taught me things that I can keep and grow from. When I was standing there in what seemed like the 10 days between the moment we found him and the moment that the coroner pronounced him dead, I called 911 and Mikey called his step dad and I didn’t know what else to do. I felt completely alone. I looked at my phone and thought who do I call. I called a friend who didn’t answer and then I called my mom and dad. My dad came to me and almost got there faster than the coroner and ambulance.
One thing I can always say is that my mom and dad were there. I looked at my daddy as he walked up on the porch and I was shocked by how old he seemed to me for the first time ever. I guess the trauma made me have my mortality glasses on and I had to just block it out of my head at that moment that I could ever lose him.
I guess the lesson here is to say I love you to those that you love. Live your life, every single day like it will be the last one you live. When you get a second chance in life, take advantage of that and make things as right as you can in every relationship while you can, because someday, the day you are not expecting it, you leave here and its over and there is absolutely nothing you can do to prevent it from happening when it is time for it to happen.
Rest in Eternal Peace Michael Jaye Baisden.