From the Depths of my Soul~

 

My dearest love, my beloved husband.  D.

It’s 4 years since you and I drove to the ER at Eisenhower Medical Center in Palm Springs.  It is now 4 years since you and I began our final Happily Homeless travels, travels that began on a sunny May day in NJ in 2009, as you got into the UHaul truck with the few of our belongings that we’d kept after the sale of our home, and I got in our car, having just signed the papers and closed on our house, and we headed west to drop those few things into a storage unit in Indiana and visit with your mom for a few days.

And then we headed south and west and our adventures began.

We had our last 4 years together traveling the USA, hiking trails, climbing to the highest heights, discovering history at our National Parks, visiting family and friends, gazing upon views I only ever thought to see in books.  I pushed boundaries I never thought to push, and we fell more in Love each and every day, rejoicing in the times it was just us, far away from responsibility and distractions.  Just us.

Life and reality hit hard with your first cancer and shocked us and horrified us through all the surgeries you had to endure, but endure you did…we did…and we didn’t let it stop us.  You came through it and we continued on.  You were a cancer survivor.  I’d never met a cancer survivor before.  The big C was a disease that had already taken so many from me, and I cried when I realized you…my beloved husband…you were the one I got to keep.

Until this time 4 years ago, when I took you to the ER, your breath raspy, your body doubled over in pain, your face creased as it had never been before as you struggled to maintain some sense of self.  For the first time, though, you couldn’t hide it.  You couldn’t reassure me any longer.  I knew the truth of what was in front of us even before you did.

These 4 years of widowhood, my emotions wouldn’t allow me to write to you.  I haven’t been able to speak to you.  All I’ve been capable of saying, as I’d look up at a night sky glittering with stars, out on my own travels across the USA, is…I love you.  Find me.  I don’t know where you are.  You find me.

I still can’t speak to you, but I need to write to you.  I need to force my fingers to type words to you.  I need to vomit words of pain and grief that you, my beloved, are gone from me.  Have been gone from me for almost 4 years now.  Speak to you of my anguish and horror as I watched the cancer decimate your strong body, watched the drugs muddle your mind even though we tried as hard as we could to minimize those drugs, wanting you to be as present as possible.  You were insistent on that and I wanted to honor your wishes even as it added difficulties into a confusing time.

There are those who say that power shouldn’t be given to memories such as pour from my heart and mind and soul; memories that deepen grief and pain and loss, but I disagree.  The very few weeks we spent, 4 years ago now, as test upon test occurred, as I watched you lay in a hospital bed, as our kids gathered, as you and I found tumors exploding in every limb of your ailing body, as doctors spoke to us of cutting edge treatments that sounded impossible to me, because I knew…I knew…on that very first night in the hospital, your time on this earth was so limited that there was no time no time, to even attempt such treatments.  I watched as if outside my body as I spoke to the social worker, begging him to tell me how to tell you that we had no time.  How do I tell my husband, this man who is my life, that it is time for us to find a hospice, that we must prepare as best we can for the impossible and unbearable time of his death?  How do I tell him that there is no time for treatment without him thinking that I want him to die?

And then going into your room and telling you that I will do anything you want to do I will make it happen I have your back but I don’t think we have time and I think we need to find hospice. 

Gazing at your face, D, in those moments, as I stifled my sobs through the words I had to speak to you…the look on your face is sealed into my being forever.  A few very quiet ticks of the clock passed and then you took my hands in yours and you said okay.  And I sobbed more, and we spoke of the magnitude of this, and we began to realize that we were saying goodbye to us, and you said how you would miss us more than anything else in your world.

You signing the papers that would admit you into hospice, the ambulance ride, the 3 weeks of multiple hearts breaking as the cancer gnawed at your body and ate huge chunks of who you were, you staring into the mirror, a look of confusion in your eyes, striving to recognize the narrowed face and sharp nose of cancer staring back at you and me taking your face in my hands, gazing directly into your eyes and saying you have been my hero you will always be my hero…god, every fucking moment of horror and drugs and breathing machines and treatments and doing slow jogs through the family gardens to work off my shock and anger and despair and every other goddamn physical emotion roaring through my own body…and returning to your room and your side to offer you all the Love that was in my body and soul, all the Love that you’d given so freely and willingly to me in our 24 years together, your vow of Love that you spoke, the vows of Love that I spoke, on our wedding day that we lived and honored and grew, every day that we had together and apart.

How can I not honor and remember our final days as we stumbled through the halls of hospice and spoke words to one another that I can’t remember?  How can I not honor every painful and loving and sacred moment of those moments that lasted for 3 weeks and for eternity all at the same time?

These almost 4 years later I remember, and I honor those days and I honor you and me and us.

“I remember the night.  I remember the sound.  I remember the light, when the moon came ‘round.  The night flowers bloomed, the air so sweet.  I remember you. I remember me. “ (Sara Watkins)

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the continuing saga of my brain~

So, surgery is set for 7:15 AM-Handsome Husband will be the 2nd surgery of the day, which is good. The doctor will be fresh and bright-eyed.  And my wonderful friend Natalie, who is as a sister to me, is going the extra mile to get up at the butt crack of dawn to drive over here and go with us to the hospital to keep me company.  And I’m taking my hoop and IPOD, just in case there is room for me to de-stress by hooping, which I’m sure there will be.  So all of this is good.  All the required testing this week was done in much quicker time than we had thought it would be, and it is all coming together. And he’s getting surgery first thing, so we don’t have to wait throughout the day.

But wait! says my brain.  Hang on a second! Yes, its excellent that Handsome Husband is second on the docket.  But didn’t I hear someone say in the past week that surgeries are scheduled according to their seriousness?  I can’t remember if I actually heard someone say that or if my brain is making it up.  So, does that mean that this is really serious, in spite of my other brain saying its’ no big deal?   Does the dr know something we don’t know?  And, yes, blah, blah, blah, and its like my brain is a horse in the Kentucky Derby, running full-out, hugging the corners, breathless, sweating….you get the picture.  Exhausting to be me sometimes!  I think some of the brain exhaustion comes from the fact that I am keeping the calmness going while, simultaneously, being wired for sound, and holding those two things together, racing together at the same pace….

Oh, and then, of course, there is the thinking that tells me, “O, come on, Alison, for God’s sake, stop making such a fuss about this!  (Self-sufficient me is even struggling with having anyone go with me tomorrow-shouldn’t I be just perfectly okay on my own?) But the other part of me, who has always gone through things alone in my life, says, “for God’s sake, Alison, let others support you!”  Jebus Cripes, I’m all over the place, aren’t I?!!

So, which horse is going to win, folks?  Its either going to be a no big deal surgery, or a big deal outcome.  Either way, at least this waiting will be done, and that’s a good thing.  Too bad stress doesn’t burn calories-I’d come out of this a size 2….

My brain, NOT on drugs~

I’m thinking of that commercial about the brain, where they show the egg, and then show your brain on drugs. Thank goodness I’m not on drugs-my brain is already nuts enough in this past week!  Here’s how it works:
Handsome Husband had his chest xray, and his bone scan yesterday.  They will be faxed over to Dr Culp to see prior to the surgery. These were ordered to rule out the tumor in Handsome’s wrist being a “metz” so to speak, from somewhere else.  Nobody has read them yet, but Handsome Husband has a copy of each.  And, there is a shadow on each of his lungs, and a very defined shadow in his right knee.  The tumor in his wrist is very fast growing, in circumference, and height.  It is red and warm to the touch-clearly his body is trying to fight something off.  At the beginning of the week, there was a pressure/tightness in his arm; in the last two days it is now painful to the elbow, which isn’t surprising, as tendons/muscles are involved.  That’s why we won’t know anything until after the surgery, as to whether he will need therapy-the dr can’t tell how much muscle/tendon is involved, so won’t know how much he needs to remove.  The tumor will be entirely removed and sent for biopsy, and we’ll hopefully know fairly quickly whether it is benign or cancerous.
So, them’s the facts.  Realistically, we know nothing.  I have two sides of my brain working, in true Gemini fashion, and they both seem able to operate efficiently at the same time.  The one side is saying, of course it isn’t anything.  He has no other symptoms, he is healthy.  Even if it IS something, it has clean lines, and is encapsulated.  They’ll remove it and that will be it- some therapy at the most.  And I’m very calm about the whole thing.  Nothing is known, no use in speculating, don’t borrow trouble, etc…
Other brain:  Lord knows, we all know that cancers can appear out of nowhere all the time.  Been there, done that.  So that means that this CAN be something.  And what I heard the dr say was that he wanted to rule OUT lung cancer/bone cancer.  Why would he say that if he didn’t have a suspicion?  And then shadows showed up on each of those.  People can appear completely healthy one day, and BOOM! cancer the next day and their entire life changes.  But of course it isn’t anything, and you know WHY?  Because I”m going in for an ovarian biopsy next week (some cysts dr wants to check out) and I’ll end up being the one with cancer-that’s how it happens all the time.  Handsome Husband will be the false scare, I’ll be the real one.   But I don’t want to think that way, and I don’t want to worry our kids, but I’ve always been honest with them, so I’m giving them the facts and just a little more as far as my concerns, but not too much.  And, well, blah, blah, blah….
All of the while my brain is going like this, I am overwhelmed with the love and support of all of my angel sisters and our friends here in NJ, who are all reaching out to us, and friends from around the country who are reaching out to us-and we don’t even KNOW anything-except that we aren’t alone in any way, and that is the one thing I DO know for sure-
By next week this time, all will be revealed, and I hang on to that-