My coworker passed away tonight. News travels fast and, it seems, bad news spreads especially quickly. It will be a sad group that arrives at the office on Monday. Fortunately, I am off that day. This sort of news and how people will mourn can catapult me into darkness. Tuesday won’t be much better but at least the initial shock will have worn off. Those first raw conversations will have been replaced by numbness as people reflect on how brutal cancer is.
It is brutal, it is arbitrary, and it is shattering. Life turns upside down in one fraction of a second. You hear the words and everything drops away around you. I vividly recall when Kevin got his diagnosis. We went to the hospital for a pain in his back. He left 12 hours later with a death sentence. But that moment when the doctor came and sat with us to tell us what the pain truly was, I remember so well. His words, cancer, advanced cancer, stage 3 at minimum. That moment in time felt both long and short, the time and place we were in seemed to stand still. Everything fell away in that one moment of time. The noise and the chaos of the hospital, we didn’t hear it. We just looked at each other. The shock of the moment created a connection through pain. There is no thought, just pure anguish.
We went home, we were far different people than left that house 12 hours earlier. Prepared to fight, scared beyond words. And so it began for us. It ended, just as it did for my coworker and her family today. Heartbreak, desolation and despair. Dark days and darker nights. Here I am two years down the road and I still find that the darkness can press against me. You never stop loving, you don’t.
I walk ahead of you on the path. A few steps but it seems an eternity. Don’t worry I am here. It’s dark but you aren’t alone. I travel on ahead trying to find my way. My path is already begun, my journey underway. I know you are behind me, like so many others, and I want to help. But I can’t. It’s your journey, you have to find your own way.
It’s hard to move forward. The first steps are the hardest. You will fall. I won’t help you get up simply because I can’t. Only you can, only you know why you have fallen. Only you know when you are ready to get back up. You may need to rest for a bit, to simply lie down. Rest until you are able to stand. Stand until you are able to walk. Realize that each step is a success. When you fall, realize that everyone falls. Then start the process all over again.
The path is a lonely one despite the fact that many are on it. Some settle for abject darkness unwilling to move forward, not obstacles on the path, just part of the landscape. Others find an inner light to guide them forward. You will find your inner light, it takes time, but you will find it. Know that there are many others around you. You are only alone until you choose not to be.
Bittersweet day. A very difficult day for the family. For my sister-in-law, it is loving the children that are here, but mourning the one that she lost. For me, it was acknowledging how big of a part my husband played in making Mother’s Day an ‘event’. This year it seemed as though the two of us hit the crazy zone at the same time and were absolute nut cases going into Mother’s Day.
I know I was a little crazed. I didn’t really even want to celebrate the day. I went to bed the night before thinking about how hard it must be for many people, not just for me. For those women who had lost children, women who never had children, women and men who never knew their mothers, or who had and had never liked them, for those who suffer or suffered abuse at the hands of their mothers. This ‘one size’ day of celebration could be a nightmare for many. Fortunately I woke up to the smell of eggs benedict and sausage cooking, an effective way to banish such thoughts!
Through the years Mother’s Day has typically been an awesome day for me. Because I had my children and their father to make it special. With Kevin gone it has lost a lot of its lustre, it carries a tinge of sadness that it shouldn’t. Now, what I hope is that my children, each with their own spouses, will make each and every day special for them, for their partners and their children. Look to their future, love what they have. I loved what I had and I am thankful that I had it. But now for me, as to Mother’s Day as an event, meh, I can do without it.
So it has come and gone again. The anniversary of Kevin’s death. Year two in the books. Not easier at all. I don’t know if it was harder, but I do know it wasn’t easier. This year Easter fell similar to the year he died. Kevin died on the Sunday before Easter. I pushed to have the funeral on the Thursday before Good Friday. Deliberately so it wouldn’t wreck anyone’s long weekend plans. It likely/probably did, but at least they didn’t have to go to a funeral on one of their days off.
This year, just the way it fell, I found it hard going into the weekend. And it wasn’t just me, his sister, my kids, we all felt it. The memories sit in your heart and hurt with each beat. But more than ever I realize that this is it, what I have now is on me, and I need to appreciate what I have. This is what Kevin fought for, why he went through chemo, what he was so desperately trying to hold on to. Life: to watch his grandkids grow up, to enjoy his family and friends, to explore, create, attempt new things. To see and to be; to wring every bit of enjoyment out of every single day. It’s all right there for anyone who wants it.
So, I just have to figure out how to want it. So far I am not applying myself very well.
I think about the challenge it is to have a long term relationship end. In my case it was my husband’s death, for others it may be divorce. But loss is loss, and who’s to say how it should be, what one should feel, how one will cope. The thing is managing the memories. Memories that weave through families: in children, in places, in events. They are invisible, those ties, strands of emotion that can tangle you up before you know it.
I was worried after Kevin died that I would forget. Forget the times we shared, the life we led, his voice, his laugh, his presence. I realize now that I will never forget. The ties are just too strong. I’ve mentioned before that I hear him in my head, and I do. Sometimes not loud enough, sometimes too loud. Just like in life. Last night I had a dream and I woke up knowing he had told me to do something. But I couldn’t remember what it was he told me to do. If it was important then I suspect that he’ll be back to remind me tonight. I’d better put paper and pen beside the bed because I don’t want to piss him off by forgetting again! (It’s humour folks, I’m not losing it.)
These next couple of weeks will be tough ones. Our anniversary on the 24th, his death on the 29th. I find myself flashing back and forth between the present and the past. Unavoidably. I never would have ever thought he would have been my past, that wasn’t the deal, and yet now he is. But he is still my future, because life with him made me who I am, because I will always know how he thought and what he felt. Because the lives he and I created together continue to grow, more grandbabies – twins. Because he would have loved that. So I send you my love Kevin, and I say: ‘How I wish, how I wish you were here….’