Hey, its’ a phase!

I don’t want this evening to happen.  And, of course, as so often in life, resistance (to this or anything else) is futile.

This evening marks one week since Handsome Husband died.  I’ve struggled in this past week.  Struggled a lot.  Not with the pain, because there is a lack of pain.  Same with sadness.  There is no sadness yet.  The only word I know to describe what is happening in me is a whole body experience of disorientation.  And some anger.  Yes, there is definitely some anger that I’ve been working my way through.  It isn’t because of what you might expect-you know, the whole why did he die and leave me thing.  That would be easy for me to get figured.

I don’t have to speak the obvious-that Handsome Husband and I loved each other passionately.  We did.  Still do. That breeds a grief that sits on the other side of the see-saw: intense and painful.  When I start feeling again, that is.

(Before reading further, I want to tell you, dear readers, that once again, I’ve struggled with being completely honest here. We’d all like to think, I think, that this whole Handsome Husband dying thing, was nothing but beautiful and that real life didn’t continue to happen in the midst of it, and that just ain’t so, and you know in your hearts that it couldn’t have been as perfect as it seemed.  Well, the big picture was perfect in so many ways, but, hey, we’re all humans here, so let’s get on with it).

No, my anger has to do with a decision he made while ill, without consulting me.  Simply put, he designated his daughter as his medical advocate.  Going against what he and I had spoken about historically, going against what he and I spoke about when he was first in the hospital.  There was no rhyme or reason to it, at least none that I ever heard.  I only realized what was happening a day or so into it, and I addressed it with his daughter.  No, I never went to him and discussed it.  He was dying, for god’s sake and I didn’t want to agitate him at a time when he was already struggling.  So I suspect there is also self-directed anger in this mix.  Why did I let such an important thing just go by the wayside, is what I ask myself.  Were he a healthy man I would have planted myself in front of him and asked what the fuck he meant by doing such a thing without having discussion with me.  But he wasn’t a healthy man.  And I didn’t.

It caused me suffering in his last weeks, taking a backseat.  I felt supplanted, I felt infringed upon, I felt un-trusted, I felt incompetent, I felt un-needed, I felt so many “uns”.   At the same time, I realized that perhaps “this” was happening because he had things he needed to work through with his daughter.  (And, fyi, I don’t fault her for taking up her dad’s request).   He’d oftentimes through the years felt frustrated in his relationship with her, not in an angry way but in an I love her so much how do I connect with her way.  His divorce from her mother had been a standard ugly divorce and he fought to maintain a connection and do what was not only right for his daughter, but what was in his heart.  This time of his illness, having his daughter’s undivided attention, was, I think, a jewel to his heart and helped him die with a sense of “business finished.”

Lest anyone want to confer sainthood on me-don’t.  From the time of Handsome Husband’s hospitalization, through the time we called hospice, to his death, my every breath was about ensuring that he was surrounded by, and immersed in, love.  I wrote about that frequently, remember?  So in the midst of the uncertainty and anger created by this issue, I struggled to see the bigger picture.  This was about what he needed, not what I wanted, right?   I wanted his physically narrowed world to be filled with the people he loved, and the connections that he’d striven to build throughout his life.  And that happened.  And I’m glad it did.  I know, I knew, that I could have stepped in very easily and changed the entire scenario of what happened, and how it happened.  I could have discussed it with him, in spite of everything. And, if the discussion couldn’t happen, I could have just stepped in, period, and made it happen the way we’d agreed.   I said the words out loud to myself that I wouldn’t do that.  There were so many times I consciously stepped back and changed my energy, going all Zen, with a sense of, if not humor, then acceptance of what needed to be.  Remember the Shakespeare quote about the world being a stage and we are all but players, etc?  My mantra during this whole shitty, fucking, mess.  Each person who attended this play of the “Last Days of Handsome Husband” had a part, and each played out his/her assigned parts, according to what was necessary to my husband’s  life.  I firmly believed that.  I believe it still.  And Handsome Husband’s heart needed the healing of the love from his daughter.

But I’m left feeling cheated.  Time.  I wanted more time with him.  We’ve spent the last almost 4 years no more than 2 feet across most days and nights, riding in our car, sleeping together in bed, hiking together, talking. These last  3 weeks we were surrounded by people and had very little time together and I grieve that.   I also realize that I don’t know, and will never know, the hows and the whys of his particular request, how it was worded, how it was translated.  I want to know those things, but he’s gone and I can’t have that conversation with him.  So I’m struggling to remind myself that all that matters is that he and I loved each other, we had an incredible life together, and that shit happens. Well, first of all, the cancer was shit, but, within that, the decision was shit, and we’d have a go-round between us if he were still, you know…here.  He got away with this one, without having to take responsibility for turning my world upside down.

He’s free and clear somewhere, tap-dancing through the tulips for all I know.  (Handsome Husband and tap-dancing, now there’s a picture).  I’m here, raging and searching and spinning and wondering, in my own dance.  There’s no satisfactory answer to this.  How can there be, without  that discussion with him?   Let go let go let go.  And repeat.

But, really, how much of a fucking saint was I?  (sense of humor here, folks, sense of humor, which has been sadly lacking in me of late). And ain’t he lucky that I’m the woman I am?  He and I are going to have some words when we meet again.


9 thoughts on “Hey, its’ a phase!

  1. Mamma- chin up. I’m glad you still have your sense of humor(going on the last sentence you wrote) You’ll need it. We all will. I love you ma.

  2. Alison, dear Alison, my heart goes all out to you. Please stop beating yourself up. No marriage is perfect and for sure no long distance car ride can be all of joy. Lol. But you made a dream come true traveling the USA. And you’ve raised three beautiful children who I will testify to them being good kids and now adults. You and Chuck have instilled good core values in them. Naturally there was guilt following his divorce, but don’t ever confuse a father’s love for his daughter to that which belongs to his wife. I speak from first hand experience. My parents divorced & my dad raised me and when he remarried his wife was brutally jealous of me. I was & will always
    be a daddy’s girl. Daughters need that. Especially ones who don’t have the love of a mother or are from divorced families. It has nothing to do with the wife. There is no comparison and it should not be compared. You were and are the love of his life. Do not dwell on this. You are stronger than you know. I believe if you passed before Chuck, he would die of a broken heart soon after. He would of done anything for you. Let him shower his daughter with this gift of love. One that he must of felt she needed. Not because he loved you any less. Trust me on this Alison. Even though she is an adult, she is his little girl. You are the love of his life. Don’t ever forget that. Even if what he did stings now, you will eventually see the whole picture more clearly.

  3. Oh, I know the sorrow all to well. Your mind is racing, you want answers, your heart is breaking, your in shock and on and on.
    You will get answers as to why he left the decisions up to his daughter and not you…just wait and listen. The healing takes time and the emotions are so raw. I remember wanting answers NOW but after time I realized we can only handle so much pain and grief at a time and that is why, if you wait, you will know.
    My brothers words of wisdom sang in my head everyday..”.Inch by inch lifes a sinch. Yard by yard life is hard . ”
    My husband died of a heart attack and I never had time to say goodbye, but then I did not walk in your shoes either and have to watch him die. I always felt like it was the “what came first, the chicken or the egg” syndrome. One never knows which is better in an awful situation.
    Your Handsome Husband knew you and obviosuly knew you could handle the decisions he made. Just be patient…Hugs and prayers to you.

    From: A late follower that did not get to know the greatness of Handsome Husband before the sorrow and pain…….Hillary

  4. Hey Friend…..is it weird if I say I LOVED this blog entry??? yes, it is …but whatever. 🙂 This is what is lacking today…tell it like it is, with no chaser ( sorry for the alcohol reference!) but seriously, I felt this way when my dad shut us out of medical decisions/knowledge with mom. He treated us like we had no need to know…whatever, load of crap. I have to say, when I read this, my mouth hung open. Such an odd decision. And even odder for her to accept, hey, its the truth. You have EVERY right to be angry, you are his wife for petes sake…..go smash some plates ( i did it before, its not yoga but it works) or hit a pillow with a wiffle bat ( yes, I must find some of your zen:) again, love this entry…thinking of you often…death is a big pile of messy crap isn’t it….

  5. Alison,
    Sometimes, we have to go with the decision made by our loved one’s at the end of their lives, not with grace or dignity or humor, but because when we come out on the other end, we will KNOW that “the decision” was really and truly the best possible one at that emotion laden end time. Many, many months from now, you will come to see that when Chuckles made the decision to usurp you for his daughter’s choices and management of his end time, it was a very real, IMMENSE expression of his abiding love and respect for you. He couldn’t alter the outcome of his disease, but he might have felt that he could help to lesson your pain and heartache by allowing another family to “manage” his health concerns during the most trying portion of your whole life together. By designating his daughter to that horrific chore, he helped to take the agony of those choices from your heart so that you could be there to offer your full support on the emotional level without loading you with regret about those medical decisions. It allows you to know that the best possible decisions of all the really shitty choices available, would be made by someone close to him, but not as joined at the hip and heart and spiritually as you were to him. It allows you to eventually breathe easier and heal better knowing that those decisions were handled with love and caring by his daughter on behalf of her daddy and, in no small part, for you, too. I am sure that she struggled with and still struggles with the decisions that she was forced to make under a stressful circumstance. It can’t have been an easy decision for her, either, to acceed to her father’s wishes. She, and her collective siblings, are grieving with you for the same man that was such an integral part of all your lives.


  6. Alison, my words will sound empty as no words can take away your anger, frustration and I would imagine almost embarrassment at HH’s decision to appoint his distant daughter as his advocate. I do know that I have been my Dad, my Mom and child’s advocate and it is hell afterwards! One has to make hard decisions that are so difficult. I lay with my dying daughter in my arms wanting to phone an ambulance so she could be transported to an ICU… But I promised her I would not. I am angry with myself that I didn’t. I KNOW she was dying and the process was irreversible – I do however feel we may of had an extra week or day… Whatever extra time she had would have been filled with unbearable pain. Sometimes people are cruel to be be kind. Hugs of strength!

    • One of the things that made it so difficult was that I’m not even sure of his wording or how his daughter translated it and then said it to me. I didn’t want to approach him with it and cause any agitation and I knew, if he changed his mind, that she would seek him out and attempt to get him to change it back. I also knew that having his daughter’s undivided attention was something that he needed to heal, to end his life peacefully, so consciously stepped back. Theirs had always been a difficult relationship, with Chuck trying to find ways to connect with her, get her to return his calls/texts etc. He loved her dearly, and I know she loves him, but I also know that she had quite a bit of guilt for her treatment of him over the years, and this was the chance to swoop in and be the devoted daughter and assuage some of that guilt. She would deny every bit of this, but everyone else knows it to be true.

      I’ll hang on to your final words there and get it through my head that Chuck had his reasons, but above all, he loved me and that’s the bottom line.

      Had you called the ambulance, it would have only delayed the inevitable, and then you would have had to deal with guilt from going against your dear daughter’s wishes. I appreciate and salute you that you had the strength to carry through with her desires. Not easily done: our instinct, especially with our kids, is to want to save, to make better, even when we know we can’t.

      Great hugs of strength from my grieving heart to yours~

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