A lifetime – of lifelines.

prostate cancerI had pizza, actually great pizza, last night with a sweet friend from the Cancer Group we founded nine years ago. Her husband died just one year before my own, almost to the day. I often think of the night we met, and all that we experienced since, both alone and together. That first night, we laid out a box of the prerequisite donuts and coffee as we nervously wondered if anyone would actually show up at our fledgling group. When the first couple walked in, it began not only a learning experience for us all but a unique friendship. Along with one of the other couples who became the third musketeer duo, we’d laugh for years about that awkward night that evolved into something as serious as life itself.

Many nights the last thing my husband and I felt like doing was dragging ourselves out in the cold or rain. Sometimes one of us didn’t feel well but more often than not, it was was getting too real – and scarily close to home.But, in the end, we always went to those meetings. We loved the group and all who were in it, and knew that, at its heart, the support it generated was a mutual gift that blessed us all. Continue reading

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276 Days – But Who’s Counting?

hourglass-1-1024x768Nine months and three days ago my spouse left the building. He didn’t walk out. He didn’t leave for someone else. I could have dealt with that. In my past life, I DID deal with that. No, this departure had nothing to do with free will, romantic foible or selfish intention. It didn’t even have anything to do with the big C’s relentless march that hounded him. It had everything to do with that celestial calendar we never get to see.

They say the days of our lives are numbered. Well, isn’t that helpful. We have no idea what those numbers are ‑ or when they are up. All we can do is to try our level best to live within the unpredictability of that invisible calendar. As I remember many odd moments, actions of the last two years before he died, I can’t help but wonder if my husband instinctively knew his expiration date would come earlier than expected.

Most of his living large was in the days and years before we met. My guy regaled me with remembered moments of achievement, of professional escapades and successes, of starring roles in community theater shows. By the time we met, the scope of his business and his medical forecast had changed dramatically. Still, he was a vital force of nature. He never lost his penchant for the road less traveled even if he often got totally lost along the way. Hey, it’s true what they say about men and maps. Continue reading

Keeping It…REAL

pakiet.na-zdrowie.3Newsflash – No matter how any of us try to be perfect – that’s not happening. Neither people – or marriages are born to be perfect. Sure, we may WANT perfect, the ideal — but  REAL is what we get.

Marriage is rarely a Hallmark movie or 24/7 euphoria. Instead, authentic marriage means sacrifice, issues, chores, schedules, love, irritation, thoughtfulness, forgiveness, anger, affection (not always in that order). It’s also idiocyncrasies, snoring, worries, richer and poorer. When critical illness and its side effects enters the mix, now that really transforms the playing field. One partner undergoes endless procedures/surgeries, diminished quality of life, anger, pain and fear. The other juggles worry, research, is the keeper of the medical records, and caretaker extraordinaire. That was our  marriage; that was our REAL.

I’ve poured my heart out these past months, writing about deep grief, and the missing of a husband I loved beyond words. It came to me recently, that the painting was incomplete. It was in black and white with pieces missing. While stark pen and ink art has always been my forte, when it comes to portraying a real picture of real marriage, black and white doesn’t cut it.  Grief outlined only in high contrast is pretty flawed and does a disservice to the flavors and colorations a real marriage holds. Continue reading

Ready or not . . .

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAMzAAAAJDZmNGEwNDkwLTA0ZTYtNGFhZC1hNmI0LTc5MWM3Y2Q4MDcyOQ. . . . . . . you’re on your own.

Wait, what?  I really didn’t order that. Star-spangled freedom wasn’t on my wish list. Been there, done that. I know independence is a good thing– both for people and countries. Being able to stand on your own is an asset in every situation, whether you choose to walk solo or not. Brexit may be one of those times when that ability may be tested.

When I met my husband, I walked into coupleness with eyes wide open – and then some. Having been married before, I knew the difference between being controlled and being intimately connected. Having a base, feeling ultimately at home in a relationship, that’s a cool thing and what we strive for, right? Unfortunately, when my almost-fairytale ended a few months ago, there was no ‘happily ever after’ – at least none that my emotional binoculars can see right now.

My husband’s sudden death set me free into a life, an independence I hadn’t planned on or wished for. Unlike the independence we celebrate today, that kind of freedom doesn’t invite the Grucci brother’s famed fireworks. Nothing about being cut loose in a sink or swim ocean of grief calls for flag waving or bbqs. (I’ve never been a hot dog and beer girl anyway) While I celebrate the heck out of our United States today, sometimes freedom isn’t all it’s cracked up to be if it’s the last thing you were looking for instead of what you were fighting for. Continue reading