Wendy Saint-Onge

Twenty six days after my husband's 46th birthday he sat in the doctor's office alone expecting to hear that he needed a cortisone injection in his back.  Instead, he was told he was dying of cancer.  Two days later, he told me.  Two hundred and seventy eight days after he told me, he died at home.  

During the time that Ben was sick we began writing a blog.  It started as a way to keep family and friends updated, but ended up being the only thing that kept me sane. I use blogging as a way to purge myself of pain, as a way to connect to others who get it, and as a way to offer help and receive help when I need it.  Mostly, I blog to remember Ben.


Missing That Hug

I wrote this post a few days ago in the middle of the night.  I'm posting it just as I wrote it on that night.  Read on.

*****

I think I must be the only person in the world to experience anxiety attacks while I am actually asleep. Seriously. It can be 4am and I can be in the middle of what I would hope to be a solid 8 hours, when suddenly I find myself awake and gasping for air. Gasping. No joke.

Such was the case this early morning around 4am. I woke up suddenly with a tight chest and a disconcerting inability to take in air no matter how hard I tried to inhale deeply through my nose AND mouth. Technically I was able to get the air in, but it just didn’t feel like it was enough and that sent me into panic mode. (No comments about heart attacks etc please. I assure you that my heart is working properly, and if you send comments in that direction I will just start panicking more.) By 5am I was trying to sleep sitting up in the hopes that it would help me breathe. By 6:20 am (the current time right now as I write this) I am two Ativan deep and soaking in a tub while trying to talk myself down from the proverbial ledge.

I have no idea why this happens to me. 

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  • commented on Live Life 2017-10-03 10:02:16 -0700
    Lol. Don, your comment made me smile. I’m glad you’re out doing things you wanted to do with Arlene. Good for you. As for skydiving … I made my daughter a deal. When I weigh the same as her, I will sky dive with her. You can join us :)

  • commented on Yeah, I'm Good With it~ 2017-09-27 18:00:54 -0700
    I’m not sure there is much better than a Gramma who is not afraid to say “fuck.” Warrior on, sister :)

  • commented on Happy Anniversary, Ben The Titan 2017-09-25 08:10:16 -0700
    Thanks for that, Joseph. And thanks for the idea of a Christmas wreath. I like that. I’m going to do that.

  • commented on It Must Have Superpowers 2017-09-18 23:10:01 -0700
    Joseph … I’m so glad you attended the grief group. For me, I think that being around people who understand my loss is an important part of my healing. I particularly like being around people who would never use my own grief as a platform to lecture me on the grief some feel when losing their pet, such as happened today. I have yet to meet another human who has lost their spouse that thinks that is a reasonable statement to make.

    I guess my point is this …. good for you for seeking out people with similar experiences, for being someone who can help them, and for being someone willing to accept help yourself.

  • commented on Summer Is Winding Down 2017-09-05 11:46:13 -0700
    Marissa …. congrats on all your kid’s pending weddings and I’m sorry that your husband won’t physically be there with you. Trust me, I know the feeling for that longing for your cancer free husband to be back by your side. I truly hate that disease.

  • commented on Hit the Road 2017-08-15 09:12:35 -0700
    Woo hoo! You are not putting too much importance on this trip … it is SO important! How freeing to be able to grab your girls and just go. How good for you. How great for them. I took my girls and drove all the way to Hollywood last summer, just to get out of here and be able to breathe again. Everywhere we stopped we went for hikes and just sucked in all the nature we could (and a wax museum in Hollywood.) Everywhere we went, we carved #BenTheTitan and left a little piece of Ben everywhere. He now lives on the Santa Monica pier, at Fisherman’s wharf in San Fransisco, at Cannon Beach, on a bench near the Hollywood sign … you name it. This is your trip to celebrate Megan and also to celebrate the “you and the girls” who exist now. I hope you have a fantastic time.

  • commented on No One To Zip Me Up 2017-08-18 23:08:54 -0700
    Indie …. I agree that the camp will not change how you feel about losing your husband. You will miss him terribly every single day, forever. That’s what true love does for you. But what Camp Widow will give you is a place to breathe. A place where no explanation is required. Where people understand you and you no longer feel alone. I really hope you reconsider … it was one of the best choices I’ve made since Ben died.

    Michele … I did not see the zip up service (how did I possibly miss that??) but I should have definitely asked. You have thought of everything else, so of COURSE there was a zip up service! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for all you do. (although I still say that you should leave Toronto in November behind and instead bring the camp to beautiful BC) :)

  • commented on Maybe I'll Get A Cat 2017-07-31 17:25:53 -0700
    Joseph I’m glad you joined a grief group, but I say do not ever apologize for wanting to talk about Karen. Ever. They don’t understand and that is probably a good thing, because it means they haven’t experienced this type of loss. But never, ever apologize for loving Karen so deeply that her name is always on the tip of your tongue.

  • commented on Hiatus 2017-07-28 17:14:08 -0700
    Your post brought tears to my eyes. I’m so sorry you had to go through that, but I am thrilled … yes, THRILLED that you have found love. May your health get better and better and your heart become even more full.

  • commented on Grace~ 2017-07-26 18:15:18 -0700
    Chuck. That was supposed to say Chuck is proud of you. But there are a lot of chicks out there who are proud of you too, so either way it works :)

  • commented on Being Mom And Dad 2017-07-24 19:15:00 -0700
    Joseph … thanks for taking the time to leave the positive comments about how the kids may feel in the future. I certainly hope I am still providing them with a good life. Not quite as good as if Ben were here, but maybe almost?

  • commented on Rattled 2017-07-20 21:17:17 -0700
    Oh Stephanie … you are in fact dealing with it, just in a different way. It’s the best way you can, and Mike would understand.

  • commented on A Widow Summer~ 2017-07-20 21:10:17 -0700
    I love that you loudly and fully declare you will never say goodbye. I also love that you live in colour. And I hope you bring your one woman show somewhere near me :)

  • commented on Life Getting in the Way 2017-07-18 12:58:07 -0700
    Mike … you made me smile when I read this post. I’ve been keeping my own blog for two years, and sometimes now I find myself thinking, “Wait … nothing bad, depressing, sad or otherwise happened this week.” Weeks like that may be a bit more pleasant to live, but don’t make for lengthy blog posts. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has some relatively normal weeks … they help counter balance the ones where some horrid memories come raging in like a tidal wave and knock me on my ass for a few days. In the meantime, the most significant thing that has happened for me so far this week is trying to calm my annoyance at the rodents that have made their way into the engine area of my car. :)

    I hope that Megan’s approaching birthday is manageable for you. Those are tough milestones.

  • commented on How Are You 2017-07-18 13:41:18 -0700
    Carol … I’m so sorry to hear that you felt invisible. I think that’s probably one of the really great reasons to hook in with people who have walked the same path as you. I don’t believe that most people really intend to ignore the bereaved, I truly think they just do not comprehend how the pain lasts. This kind of pain and loss is nothing that can be explained to someone who hasn’t experienced, don’t you think?

    I think people generally feel that it would be good for the bereaved to “get over it” because they think it’s better for the person grieving. They think it would be better to “move on”, and they have no way of understanding that you will never get over it and you will never move on. You will work through it, you will move forward, but the loss will always be a huge part of your life.

    I have also met some people who have experienced this loss themselves, and their own way of coping really is to not discuss it and to try not to think about it. That’s ok too, except it gives the rest of the world this warped idea that people get over their loss. Maybe it contributes to this crazy illusion that people have that says we should grieve for a month, accept the situation and move on. Personally, that’s not really my style. I’m coping, I’m living, I’m even having some fun, but if I had to stifle my grief I think I’d just die.

    Anyway … I am terribly sorry for your loss. I think you should take every little moment you need to grieve exactly the way you need to. xo

  • commented on It Took Me Ten Years 2017-07-14 17:22:11 -0700
    Getting rid of a lot of “stuff” was easy for me, but his t-shirts? Never. I take them out and smell them, sometimes sleep with them, and then put them back. I’m too scared that they’ll lose his smell, so I satisfy myself with snuggling with them instead of wearing them.

  • commented on Meet Wendy and Ben 2017-07-13 20:11:41 -0700
    Joseph … I’m so sorry for your loss. That is so fresh for you. I’m not sure I’ll ever truly figure it out. Baby steps. Sending love your way. I hope you have tons of support.

  • commented on Oh, the Shame! On THEM~ 2016-12-14 15:16:11 -0800
    You wrote the words I so often say in my head … “You have no idea. So fuck off.” Thanks for that

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