I avoided it. I procrastinated. I searched for distractions. I optimistically and even adamantly made the decision to not go back in time. Not today. Not this day.
It is one year ago today when my world tipped onto its side and crashed all about me. It took some months for me to even care what the world looked like without Mike in it. I don’t really care all the time now, if you dear reader, want to know the bare honest truth. But I know I’m supposed to. So I fake it. Some days more than others, some days less. Yes, to anyone’s questioning, it does still hurt. One whole year, 12 months, 365 days later it still hurts, a lot.
If I could speak to Mike once more. If I had one more chance to tell him my thoughts I would tell him that he was my one true friend. Though I knew that while he was alive, I did not know all that it meant. He was all that mattered to me. I did not care what others thought of me and I still don’t. but I did care what he thought of me and I still do. He was my trusting companion and trusted champion. I did tell him these feelings of mine while he lay dying in his hospital bed. That one long, draining hour it took after all the medications were adjusted. After the nurses and doctors had done for Mike what they could do—which was really nothing; after those necessary people were assembled to stand vigil over Mike’s death. I did tell him those things and more. But I don’t know if he heard me. I hope he heard me and I want to know that he heard me.
We were not perfect people Mike and I individually, but we were almost perfect when we joined together, to be a team. I have not elevated Mike to saint status as he was far from sainthood. But he was a good man. A kind man. And he tolerated me well.
There are days now that don’t hurt so bad. Life does go on doesn’t it? Regardless of our desire to stop time it does continue to march on. Days when I’ve managed to fill up the hours from sunrise to sunset and beyond with tasks that are successful in distracting me from what occurred this day last year. But then there are days that no matter the list of things to do or even the people around me cannot eclipse what I try to avoid. The thoughts and memories of Mike’s death–the knowledge and acceptance of my life—until the end of it—was forever altered.
I wish so longingly, so hard that he was here again. I want to hear his voice. I want to dream of him but never do. I want to wake up in the morning, (on those days I am lucky enough to sleep) and discover that this has all been an extraordinarily bad dream. But I want to be able to apply all the things I’ve learned in “my dream” to my life and especially my husband.
But wishing ain’t praying as I’ve been known to say. And praying won’t bring Mike back either. So what am I left with? Wishing is a waste of time, praying to have this be all a bad dream is a waste of God’s time. What else is there? One thing only. Get over it. Get on with it. Be done with it and move on. If I could I would. And I AM trying!
I remember those few months after Mike first died when I’d go into town. I’d see him everywhere. Everywhere. We’d gone everywhere together so naturally I’d see him everywhere. That has mercifully stopped so I consider it emotionally safe to go places now. Some place but not yet all places. Places I wouldn’t have been able to endure 10 months ago.
Why can’t the past just die? What does it take to make the mind weary of recalling those horrible memories; recalling what is never to be, never to come, never to happen?
I know I have to say goodbye. I did say goodbye at the funeral on the 11th. However, maybe the truth of it is I said goodbye for public viewing. I didn’t say goodbye in my heart. That is a very hard thing to do. An impossible feat in many ways—though not in all ways. A lobotomy would help me here.
I started the myspace page pancreaticcancerkills as a memorial to Mike a few days after his funeral. When the house fell silent and I was left alone with Mike’s ghost—rather the huge hole left in his absence. I was left alone to wander the hallways among the ruins of my life. Over the course of this one-year the page has morphed into something entirely different than my original intention. It has grown to a one stop info place for some, a meeting place for others, and most certainly a place for people going through this horrific experience of pancreatic cancer to meet and greet and know that they are not alone.
I had no plans for the site but to let the world know another victim was claimed by pancreatic cancer. But the cancer is bigger than me, and it remains ferocious so the page grew along those lines. Enough so that I get hate mail now on the site. People complaining that I’m depressing; people telling me to get therapy for my grief; or people just not liking my personality. Some actually believe that they will beat this pancreatic cancer by the simple power of positive thinking…..good for them I say. But wishing ain’t praying. >And positive thought is a hard thing to come by in the chemotherapy lounge or the ICU. Either way, in the end I remind these silly hatemongers that its called MYSPACE people, not yourspace!
But what I’ve personally gained from the page is a large group of people who have reached out to me in my hour of need, at the feet of my utter desperation and a group of people that help me to try to forgive MAN for creating this cancer. These people try to help me to live again and they try to give me the strength to go on. When I sent a bulletin out that I needed a hug I was sent pages of messages and comments from people and their cyber hugs…it was a heartfelt response from a bunch of people who had never met me; likely never will but a response to my plea just the same. I look around the “real” people in my life and marvel that I can count on one hand those that have stood beside me during this hardest year of my life. One hand. Two of those fingers go to my children. But where are the real life people? The ones who used to know me? Knew Mike?
My daughter posted a blog yesterday wherein she said she decided, due mostly to the passage of one year, to find new friends. I thought, well good because you don’t have any old friends…they’ve all left. Long gone, dust in the wind, distant memories. Not to be seen nor heard from again….since Mike got sick. Oh a couple of them came to the funeral, but that was probably for the free food and drink. Who knows why they came then. But they have been gone since.
A young lady, who at 22 years old saw her dad get sicker and sicker, day by day, ravaged by this terrible cancer; saw, heard, felt the fight with the insurance company, was in the midst of the battle with my inlaws and sat with me in the emergency rooms, the hospital rooms and yes the ICU, the car to/from the hospital so many times…..all abandoned by silly little people who are clueless about how lucky they truly are. They don’t know what Gabrielle knows now, that life is precious, that time is limited, that harsh words do hurt…..but they will know it. We all learn those lessons sooner or later. But I just don’t think you’re supposed to learn it at such a young age.
My son Austin, who is two years younger than his sister had to get the news of his dad’s illness via email while he was serving this country in Iraq. He was able to come home while Mike was alive, to spend time with him. And he was able to come home again to attend the funeral. But he had to return to his duty station. To a group of soldiers who had maybe seen death maybe, but death from a distance….that is an emotional distance. None of his “friends” could understand what he went through so he went silent about it all. He does not speak of this past year unless pressed, and only then in very brief sentences and only for my benefit. What the effects of my husband, his father’s illness and death have been on that young man is unknown to me as he keeps his own counsel. However as a mother I know it has been hard on him. I hurt for him like I do for my daughter. It hurts that this boy, who is now a man cannot freely express the loss he’s experienced as a result of pancreatic cancer. And that I cannot simply embrace him today, the day our world forever changed.
But I need to get over that too right? Right.
Just get over it already! Unless you’ve been through it, you can’t understand it. Get over it….is by far easier said than done.
No more memories, no more silent tears . . . No more gazing across the wasted years . . . Help me say goodbye.
Certain songs pop into my head. I don’t listen to the radio anymore..too many splinters there. I haven’t in over a year in fact since Mike got sick. You never know what song is going to play therefore it isn’t emotionally safe…especially while driving to work. Who wants an employee who shows up with tears streaming down her face every morning anyway? Oh tears do stream down my face, just not every morning anymore.
One song that is ever present is Oh Holy Night. That song popped into my head while Mike was sick. I hummed it to him while he was dying, I’m not a singer but we sang that song again at his funeral.
The other song is How Great Thou Art. The song that was playing through Gabrielle’s head all during her dad’s illness. We sang that song too at his funeral.
Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself here by even mentioning the funeral. Mike’s funeral didn’t happen today. His death did.
I am every bit as tired…exhausted really today as I was one year ago today. I was at the hospital yesterday and the day before. A different hospital than the one Mike died in, but all hospitals are the same. Death waits for you in the hospitals. I was in the ICU also like this time last year. And again with Gabrielle. and my friend Alina. But this time it wasn’t for Mike, it was for a man that before Friday was a stranger to me. He is not a stranger any longer though. He was a lonely old man with no family and only two friends. He never married, had no children and his parents died many years ago in Germany. He was a victim of colon cancer. Cancer again! On the same day! Of course what day would be better to help a lonely old man to his death in as dignified manner as possible?
I look back upon this year with some surprise. But mostly detachment. Have I really gone through this whole year without Mike?
His illness lasted three months. He received no treatment for the cancer and he received treatment from the doctors as if he was already a dead man–already a ghost. Then we lost him.
I had some time to grieve his loss. Four months to be exact. Enough time to get over lots of loss, the loss of a beloved pet even, but not enough time to get up and move along after the death of a spouse. Four months until my inlaws launched their attack. A lawsuit filed by Mike’s first wife. A woman he had gotten rid of, or so we thought, some 15 years before. Hearings were held, a trial was held.
Then another lawsuit hits me, this time from my stepson Ryan.
Two more hearings are now calendared for December 17th. Both lawsuits are funded by my inlaws. They have put into the public record that I killed Mike. Although the curious part of that claim is my mother-inlaw’s own mother died of pancreatic cancer in 1973. She knew the diagnosis, rather the result that would happen better than we did, though she kept it to herself.
The people Mike and I used to know have not returned. Just like Gabrielle’s friends they are gone like dust in the wind. But I’m ok with that, it doesn’t bother me like it does Gabrielle. After all what kind of friend is it that leaves you in your darkest hour? That’s not my definition of a friend. So I can make news ones, or not. It doesn’t matter to me really as my one true friend is gone from this world forever.
And now? Now I wake up tomorrow to a year plus one day since Mike’s death. Most certainly entering a phase were people will expect me to only talk about the story of Mike’s life and his horrific death as a “once upon a time…” type of story. Curious isn’t it how people, who don’t really even know you have expectations of you? Though they themselves have not gone through it.
I have no clue what this coming year holds for me and I’m only mildly curious at times. Other times it occurs to me that it isn’t really in my control and it’s all up to God which really means I just have to sit back and hang on.
But I am hanging on. I am still getting up in the morning. But I am still hurting and loving Mike. and I do still miss him a lot.
Child of the wilderness Born into emptiness Learn to be lonely Learn to find your way in darkness Who will be there for you Comfort and care for you Learn to be lonely Learn to be your one companion Never dreamed out in the world There are arms to hold you You've always known your heart was on its own So laugh in your loneliness Child of the wilderness Learn to Be lonely learn how to love life that is lived alone Learn to be lonely Life can be lived life can be loved alone.