The Too-Traveled Road~

15 steps up.  This is where we were last year at this time, me and Handsome Husband.  We’d gotten to Cathedral City, and our 3 month rental.  We were going to seek medical treatment for him, get him better, and continue on with our travels.

These 15 steps confronted us and I knew things had changed irrevocably when all that Handsome Husband could manage to carry up those stairs was our camera and a small pillow.  I walked up behind him so that I could catch him if he fell.  I would have fallen too, of course, but at least (so went my thinking) I could break his fall.  He was in pain and coughing.  IMG_1100

These 15 steps loom large in my mind.  Today, one year ago, was the true beginning of the end.  And yet.  As I look back to his first cancer, I begin to think that his first cancer never really went away.  To one degree or another, we never stopped dealing with it.   Massive radiation to stop the growth of the terrible and horrible Wilson, as we named the tumor.   5 surgeries, 3 post-cancer screenings, systemic fungal infection, and what we thought was a bad back or kidney stones that was actually the pain from the cancer eating through his ribs and the tumor in his lungs and the tumor in his groin that made it more and more difficult for him to walk easily.  (We thought that was a pulled groin muscle).

My mind is a whirling, swirling, violent twister these days.  I’m walking and talking and doing and appearing oh so normal but thinking that in 9 days it will be 3 years since he had his 10 hour surgery to remove the dastardly tumor.  I’m remembering all that led up to it-his 3 week drive from Oregon to New Jersey after dropping me off at the airport so that I could fly back to Jersey to be with a dear friend who was dying of cancer (I didn’t arrive in time-she died while I was in flight), his return to our rental after dropping me off and noticing a tiny, tiny bump under the skin of his left forearm, which, by the time he arrived in NJ,  had grown to the size of a small orange.  And so the horror began.

My mind is a maelstrom of images and emotions:  tumors, gauze pads, waiting rooms, loving faces of friends who rallied around us, going back on the road as quickly as we could, snapshots of places he and I traveled, remembered joy at seeing monuments and towns and family and friends around the country, talking endlessly in the car about everything under the sun, my hand massaging his neck muscles as he drove, his hand on my knee across the console.  Him holding doors open for me, me grabbing him and kissing him just because I loved him so much, him encouraging me constantly to go one step further out of my comfort zone.  Adventuring with this wildly handsome, passionate man.

I’m completely out of my comfort zone now.  Emotionally and physically.  I’m living a life I never thought to live:  full-timing in a T@b trailer, camping.  How unreal is that?  (Believe me, its unreal in every way and Handsome Husband would be completely and totally disbelieving and also proud).  Emotionally I’m a raw wound, bleeding out pus and poison, much as his wounds did post-surgery.

All of this, the toxic memories and the pain, is enfolded in the love that wrapped us then, during the Wilson tumor time, the nightmare time of his hospital stay at Eisenhower Medical Ctr in Palm Springs, CA, his hospice time in Palm Desert, and all the love that has come to me as I’ve traveled in the almost year since.  The grief is enfolded in his love for me and the promise he made me that he will never, ever, leave me and that he will see me again.

His missing-ness from me is a physical pain.  I run out of words to describe it.  Equally so I run out of words to describe the love that is on the other side of the scale.   On any given day, I strive to keep a recognition of the love to balance the grief.

These are very hard days.  phot2o


15 thoughts on “The Too-Traveled Road~

    • Bobbie,
      Its been a hellacious few weeks and just when I thought I’d get a chance to call you, my phone was stolen. I’ll keep up with you on fb to find out when your CT surgery is and meanwhile, send you love and light, dear heart~

  1. Praying for you to find comfort and peace in your travels. I can’t relate to losing a husband, friend, lover, but I know grief well. 3 years April 23 my 37 year old son and girlfriend were killed in a house fire. Grief still wins most times, not as much as year 1, but it is still so hard. I know/feel the painful desire to keep the memories and our loved ones alive in our hearts and mind and I admire you for going on with what you and handsome husband loved doing. Btw, love your ‘tat’…I had my sons name in his handwriting put on my wrist, I love looking down at it and seeing his name written on me. Safe travels, I will keep you in my prayers.

    • Gayle,
      There are no words that can lighten the grief you bear-just know that my heart breaks with you and for you and I honor the fact that you are, at least, still standing. Which sounds so simple but we know, isn’t.

      I’m working on my 3rd tatt-probably down the outside of my right leg (which is sag-free area as I get older). It will say something with the word love in it but not sure yet what.

      Stay in touch, let me know how you’re doing~

  2. I don’t know you, will probably never meet you, but I read what you write regularly. You write in a raw, compelling, and well-written fashion. I love your honesty. You are living out my greatest fear in life, having to go on without my DM (dear Mary). We are full-timers, having the time of our lives. But we are of an age (60s) when one is well aware that the day will come with one has to go on without the other. I can hardly bear to think of that day. But you give me hope that if it comes for me, I can and will go on and celebrate life and living even amid the pain of loss and death. Thank you for sharing yourself, your loss, your pain, your thoughts, and your screams. You are a gift.

    • I’m humbled at your words and thank you for them. Even having thought ahead to the days when either I or my husband would be making our way in the world alone, it never prepared me for the depth and intensity of what this is. Honestly, I hate every minute of it and I’m just surviving. And I’m only doing that because I know that what remains is the love he and I had for and with each other. I’m so glad you and DM are living the life you are, grabbing life and making memories to hold against the reality of one of you being alone at some point.

      I’m gifted by those such as you who write such loving, encouraging words to me~

  3. I am so sorry to read that these are hard times. Looking back at previous blogs, they seem to come and go. At least I hope you have respite from the pain, more time with the love, and support, moving toward a new normal. I need to tell you how profoundly your blog changed me. I was going to write “saved my life” but that sounds excessive, only it’s not.
    On my 50th birthday- a Milestone birthday- no one showed up to celebrate with me. It might sound silly in light of what you have suffered, but there was a long-standing romantic interest involved and a dramatic, traumatic, public humiliation. I lost my whole life because people I thought were friends weren’t. I am NOT loved; I will not be missed. I have been used and dumped. I have been ripped off and emotionally manipulated. I have no real family, just opportunists who are pathological liars. My contributions to society are not desired. For decades, since I was a battered child, I kept waiting for “The Rescue”. On my birthday it was slammed in my face that it will never happen. I lost ME!
    You are a Godsend because your descriptions of your grief have enabled me to start feeling my own and begin to heal. I started to journal and the fog lifted. I and finding feelings again after 8 months of numb. I dreamed of traveling the way you are, and I dreamed of having the right hand to hold. THANK YOU!!! For courageously sharing.

    • D. Johnson,
      I’m so touched and humbled that I brought something to the table that you can use in your own life. And I’m determined to continue sharing this gut-wrenching experience that is, at the same time, all about the strong love that he and I had for each other and the love that reaches out to all of us if we are open to it.

      May you be blessed. Please stay in touch and let me know how you’re doing~

  4. Your journey continues to inspire me with each post. I lost my husband in jan. Of 2013….stage 4 liver cancer….he had been to drs. All throughout the year ecause his chronic back pain had worsened, but nothing could ease it…..we never knew….as you and HH didn’t either…that that pain was not from his back!
    God bless you! We will see them again!

    • Judy,
      Its a mystery, isn’t it, how we can’t see it ahead of time but after…and I thank you for checking in here and sharing that with me. I know we weren’t being willfully blind-there were other possibilities for what he was suffering.

      I hope I do see Chuck again-I can’t bear it otherwise~

      • You absolutely will see him again…..this past year has brought me back to my faith! At least Chris and I had 55 days left and we used it to return to our faith and get right with God. I know he is in Heaven and that one day we will see each other again….I can’t I bear the thought either! God bless you….and us….in finding our new journeys!

  5. Hello! I saw your car on Friday in Scottsdale and quickly wrote the website down. You have an amazing and powerful story. Best of luck to you on your travels. Be safe on your journey and thank you for sharing. 🙂


    • Sonia,
      Thanks for taking the time to check in with me here. Stay tuned to the news-I’m going to be interviewed by the CBS channel tomorrow in reference to my phone being stolen~

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