We came home from a wonderful three weeks in Peru July 2014 and Marion had a cold that did not clear up. The cough persisted for months and in September she was diagnosed with pneumonia.
Marion was then diagnosed with lung cancer in January. She was in a lot of pain and it was amazing how many people came through with the offer of drugs. It was a while before the pain was controlled. She was hospitalized in February and died April 13th.
How lucky we were one of our brothers (and sister-in-laws) were with her the whole time she was in the hospital. Friends came every day driving an hour from the city to visit. Family had to monitor visits and ask people to leave because they tired her out too much.
Chemotherapy was awful. Marion was a Naturopath; I have no idea why she chose to have chemo. I think she knew she was going to die and did not want anyone to say she would have lived if she did traditional medicine.
The 3rd day after she started chemo the throwing up started and went on for days. Marion was hospitalized and the throwing up continued. The Dr. put her on meds that cost $1,200 dollars a month for life. We discussed if we should pay if the insurance did not cover it. Marion did not want me to pay out of pocket and of course I wanted to. That was a heart wrenching discussion. How lucky I was that my insurance paid it and I did not have to decide between spending my savings and trying to save Marion.
While she was in the hospital I read The Four Things That Matter Most, this book really helped.
The Dr. called on the Thursday to say the medication was clearly not working. I told her she was wrong. When I got to the hospital that night I knew she was right.
It was the easiest decision to remove Marion from the life supporting meds. I had no regrets. I could not have her life slip away when there was no hope or quality of life.
It is what came after that was difficult. Our life had been planned I was going to retire and work with her. Now I have a huge void in my life. What am I going to do when I grow up?
On the Sunday after the meds were stopped, I crawled into bed with her and held her all afternoon. I went home for a nap and came back later and again crawled into bed and held her and told her I loved her and asked for forgiveness for anything I had done and told her I forgave her and thanked her for everything she had done for me. Then I told her stories about our love. The nurse did not want to turn all the lights off so that Marion would not be startled when they came in to give her pain meds, so she put a pink paper over the light and I told Marion that they were arranging candlelight for us and how romantic it was. Even though she was not conscious, I know that she was aware because as I spoke she squeezed my hand.
I went home at 11 PM and her nephew and niece were there, She died at 1 in the morning. My sister in law and I went to the hospital and packed up her things and I was strong in comforting the family. After they left the room I bent over and kissed her goodbye and I burst into tears (tears are running down my face as I type this). One of my regrets is that I was not with her when she died.
I believe Marion knew from the beginning that she was not going to make it and she waited for me to catch up with her.
I had the funeral almost a month later when we could get all the family there. I felt as if this was the last time I would be able to be a hostess for her and that helped me get through the day.
I still have her beautiful urn on my bookcase and when I die she will be buried in my coffin with me. Every time I see it a smile comes to my face just looking at it seems to provide me comfort.
It is a year since my sweetie passed away and I still cry every day and I have not slept through the night often. I speak to her every evening and every morning telling her the important things that happened.
She was so many things to me. Now I am left with a huge empty feeling in my life: a loss of safety, a loss of love. Loss sums it up.
How do I feel? That’s a good question.
I am OK, I am not OK and that is OK. This has been my mantra.
I am still in a state of shock, depression, recovery, happy, sad, inquiring, numb, sluggish, indifferent, waiting, grateful, appreciative, supported, loss… pick a feeling and the next minute it is different. It took time for me to stop pushing myself and allow the feeling, to recognize and honor them. It is OK and allow.
In many ways it is harder now than at the beginning I am going through the process of us getting the news, hospital, our last dance on Valentines, the love and support our family and friends showed, the laughter, love, sadness we shared. It is almost ten months and people think I should be over it. I am not. I go through some days in a dreamlike state, tired, numb.
I am eating better now. Thank goodness for our dog who makes it easier to go home to a house without my Sweetie. Our dog Sparky still goes to the door and stands and looks for her and looks at me with such sadness. We share our grief comforting each other in our own ways.
It has been an interesting time. People do not know how to talk to me. Some people want me to be angry, some are afraid to talk to me because I might cry; some just do not know what to say. It has been important for me to remember that it is not because they do not like me or love me but because they do not know what would be good for me. My friends have changed. People we saw as a couple, many are no longer in my life except for the occasional Facebook post.
I do not know what I would do without such wonderful family and friends.
Some people have been wonderful sending/calling me every month on the anniversary. Some taking me out for lunch/dinner or coffee, some just asking what can I do, some do not know what to say or do, some give unwanted advice.
We do not talk about loss, death. Someone coming up and putting their hand on my shoulder and asking how are you? People talking to me about Marion. People listening, going to meals, coffee, and telephone calls, asking what can I do, the card I got months latter saying thinking about you. It has been wonderful how every time I am down someone post something on Facebook that warms my heart. People telling me how Marion affected their lives. People telling me how she still affects them. Sparkles showing up (the day Marion died an ice crystal appeared on a friend’s windshield and the sun hit it making it shine and sparkles keep showing up in our lives). Reading her emails to me. Wearing her clothes, every time I wear something of hers I feel her. Friends, family and our dog Sparky who is my constant companion.
What I learnt:
Take time for myself, others can help but I have to do it. Enjoy every moment you never know when it will change. Do what draws you, there is no guarantee of a tomorrow. Ask for help, I do not need to do this on my own. Have no expectations. People have surprised me, who have stepped forward and who have stepped back. This is a process not a disease, I thought I was depressed, I am not, I am grieving.
I miss her dearly. She was the love of my life. I know we were together in a past life and will be together in a future life. I know because the first time I went into her apartment and saw a painting of her great great great grandmother I clutched my chest and walked backwards and she called me George for the first four months. I love you Sweetie.