At home I have a big bathroom. Built and decorated by Mike. So big that it has two basins, each with a mirror above it. “His ‘n’ Hers”. Two basins are not common in European bathrooms. Houses don’t usually have the space.
In between the basins and the mirrors, stuck to the wall with blu-tack, is a yellowing, curly-edged, typed piece of A4 paper. A love letter of sorts. I don’t read it so often anymore, but a few weeks ago, Medjool asked about it and I explained what it was.
A letter. Or more specifically, a long sms message. Written by Meg Jones to Mike when he was first diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. I was so touched by the message that I sent it to my phone, then to my email, made it into a word document, printed it out and stuck it up there. Over three years ago now.
Powerful words. Of love. Of support. Of caring. Of understanding. Of recognition. Of “I am with you in this, and here’s how”. Words from a woman who felt/feels about Mike some of what I felt/feel about Don. A deep and strong platonic love. At the time of Mike’s illness and treatment, I read the letter many times. Over the months since Mike died, I have read it a handful of times.Read more
To my beloved husband, Chuck D, as we approach the 6th anniversary of your memorial service, which we held 6 months out from your death…
I know I did everything as perfectly as I could in those few short weeks between finding the cancer, our hospice time, and your death.
I know this more than I know anything else in my life.
Doubt lingers in the corners of my mind and pops out in my most vulnerable moments, such as now. Such as everyday of living without you.
Just one doubt.
Was I at your side enough in our hospice time? Should I have moved into that hospice room with you and not moved until I had to? Did I err in going, every so often, back to our rented condo, to sleep…even though I never slept when I was there. Shadows of your impending death were ever on my mind. I knew I was a widow in waiting, no matter where I was. I didn’t need to hear a clock ticking away the time: my heart was more of a reminder than any clock.
I didn’t stay with you every night, and that thought has more power over me than I want it to.
There were many nights that I did, and I was there every day, but I wasn’t there every minute, even though I wanted to be. What I wanted was to lay down beside you and never move. Hold onto you for every breath. Breathe with you and for you. Take your place in that bed, with cancer attacking my body relentlessly.Read more
I’m sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. About a week ago I started having stomach pain and strong exhaustion. I, uncharacteristically, do not have an appetite and I have lost 10 lbs in less than two weeks. At first I thought it was something I ate. A few days passed and I thought it was probably just a stomach bug. After a week it eased up and I had a few days of “normal” and the odd pain and discomfort has returned.
At any other point in life, I wouldn’t think too much about my digestion being off. That happens to everyone, right? However, the loss of Tin makes me unique compared to many other people. I just watched my partner’s health rapidly decline and he lost his life. What’s worse - To lose someone suddenly or to watch it slowly happen? You can argue both sides and both sides have their own traumatic effects in one’s mind creating a vessel full of emotions. Like a pot of boiling water, if you keep watching it never boils but as soon as you let your guard down and look away those tiny little bubbles join forces, take over the pot and spill your head and heart onto the fire.
For me, watching Tin fade and go through liver failure all in 8 short months has been difficult and this week I noticed a silent and deep wound, my new fear - Will I suffer the same fate? Why would I think this could happen and why be so afraid? Because I now have the knowledge of how this disease could slowly take me. Irrational? Yes. That doesn’t stop the wound because it is etched into my mind that Tin’s illness was unexpected and began with stomach discomfort and exhaustion.Read more
We are so excited to share that Kerryl, who shares the Tuesday writing duties with Mike, has given birth to a healthy baby boy! She will be back in two weeks to share details, but please join us in celebrating this wonderful addition to Kerryl and Ian's family. We've reposted the blog where she shared her news....and will be excited to share a photo of Patrick in just a couple of weeks. Congratulations Kerryl and John, Ian is surely beaming down on his little family.Read more
That means my anniversary run…
The 4th marks 4 years since our wedding day.
The 11th marks 6 years since we met
The 14th marks 3 years since Ian died.
Come the 18th, he’ll have been gone loner than I knew him.Read more
Quite frequently these days, as I begin my 3rd year without him, I find this particular quote sent to me, or posted on my timeline. Grief is a stage through which we pass and not a place to linger. Okay, I get that. I even agree with it. But it doesn't help me a damn bit to read it.
We are told that grief is an individual process with no timeline. But...it's a stage. Don't linger. How do we know when we're lingering, is my question. And even more so, when we're dealing with it in as many healthy ways as we can conceive, and the devastation remains present, how do we get from here to there? And anyways, aren't those two statements contradictory to each other?Read more
I'm so sad that Chuck died and I don't know anymore if it's sadness that is emptiness inside me or emptiness with sadness and there is a burning wish in my soul to force myself into some semblance of feeling again, of connectedness again.
In the last few weeks I've caught a glimpse, I think, into the world of soldiers and Marines who return from the war zones, having defied death, seen their buddies die, who have had their hearts pierced with the tenuousness of life.
So often, I've read in numerous memoirs, they return to their so called normal lives but they go out and buy fast motorcycles, faster cars; they become thrill seekers. And I think I have some understanding of what goes on in their heads and hearts as they look at life around them. Just a glimpse, really, because their experiences are ever so much more than mine has been.
I don't think that they're courting death so much as they're trying to find something...anything...that might make them feel again. Something that will overcome the grief-filled apathy that comes along with numbness. Something that will help them connect again to the living, maybe jump-start the very breath in their lungs.Read more
Twisting. Writhing. Hurting. Shrieking.
Vomit urge. Nerves on skin. Racing pulse. Butterfly stomach.
Dislocated. Disoriented. Discombobulated.
Two days ago, I experienced my first Mother's Day without Megan. Had you asked me back in January how I would have handled it, I would have expressed sheer terror at the prospect. At that time, just two months since losing her, all I could imagine was that I would be an emotional train wreck, and would probably have just called my mother and mother-in-law to wish them a happy day, and stayed holed up in my house.
That isn't what occurred, however. Yesterday was "OK", for lack of a better term.
Our tradition for the past few years had been for Shelby and I to wake up early, go downstairs, make a mess of the kitchen preparing bacon, eggs, pancakes, and coffee, and bring it to Megan in bed, along with a card and a small gift. Shelby would turn some cartoons on and we'd sit and talk, all three of us, until Megan was ready to get out of bed. It was a simple acknowledgment of how special she was, and that we would do anything for her. We would clean up the kitchen and get our day started, where we would be visiting our parents and probably going out to dinner in the evening.
I woke up Sunday at that same early time that I always do, fully aware that it was Mother's Day, and painfully acknowledging the fact that for the first time in eight years, Megan wasn't there to cook breakfast for. The dogs, having woke me up, were fed and let outside, and I went back to bed. The bacon stayed in the freezer, and the coffee pot sat there cold.
I know I'm not actually a split personality. I haven't disassociated from my body. There is nothing really wrong with me because what I'm going through is normal. I know this.
This grief, though. Whoa.
My brain sometimes slips into my consciousness the suspicion that maybe I am a split personality. Or whatever word it is that would best describe this state of being, at least to my own self. Because I very clearly feel like two separate people as I move through this world of mine, this world without my husband.