Saturday, October 29, 2011

On death and dying

I've been thinking a lot about death lately. And a lot about what ifs. When someone you love is dying of cancer, there's a lot of second guessing.

A woman we used to work with left her job recently because doctors told her there was nothing more they could do for her cancer. She was out of options and she wanted to spend her remaining time with her family. I didn't know her all that well, but she and Mike used to talk, commiserate about chemo and the like.

But it got me thinking. If we (or was it me?) hadn't pushed for that last chemo, maybe Mike would have had a few more months to spend with his family, to enjoy his little girl, to write a letter for her, to say goodbyes.

It would have been nice. But in reality, I don't know what I would have done if we (he) had ever stopped fighting. I don't know what I would have done if it came to a point where he had stopped treatment and came home to die. The only way for we (or was it me?) to continue to breathe in and out was to keep pushing forward. I think he felt the same way. There was a little girl. He had to do everything in his power, take every last chance, cling to whatever hope, to try to be there for her.

There's a country song about a wife who is diagnosed with cancer. The husband tells her: When you're weak, I'll be strong/When you let go, I'll hold on/When you need to cry, I swear that I'll be there to dry your eyes.

I can't bear to listen to it, because it makes me feel like I was never the strong to Mike's weak. He was never weak. And I wonder now, was it because he knew I couldn't handle it? He couldn't cry because he knew I would break. He had to keep going, for my sake. Maybe he, like the woman at work, wanted to stop and wanted to come home. And maybe I pushed him.

So strong was my desire for our lives to be normal and to avoid the horror that we didn't even talk about the possibility of death. Mike had Stage 4 cancer and there was never once a conversation about where the important financial papers were located or what specifically he wanted in terms of a funeral. Denial? Maybe. But at the time, I just always felt like we were operating under the promise of hope and to talk about death would be like giving up.

Did we do the right thing? I don't know. I hate what ifs.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My baby is FIVE!

I can't believe my baby girl is five years old. I just can't believe it. I wrote about it here. So I thought for this blog I would just share some pictures of this past year. When I look at them all together here, her beauty just takes my breath away. I know it would Mike's too.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I hate the word "widow," but now that I am one, I'm having irrational thoughts. Most of them angry. Maybe I'm entited, maybe not.

For example, as irrational as this may sound, it really pisses me off when people say things like "Mike's death really makes me realize how short life is and how I need to live every day to the fullest." I know people mean well. But you know what I think? I think, good, good for you, you go have a wonderful life, hug your husband tight, live happily ever after, yay for you. Meanwhile, Julia and I will just go to bed alone tonight with huge holes in our hearts. You, go, live it up. Glad Mike's death was good for something.

I've become an unkind person. But it's just how I feel.

And when I read recently about another young widow who was taken to the ER because she was catatonic, found completely unresponsive outside a coffee shop, instead of feeling sympathetic, I felt jealous. I told you -- irrational. This woman has two young children. I have one. How did she get the luxury of being catatonic? I sure wouldn't mind being completely unable to respond to the world around me for a little bit. To not have to think or do or speak. Just for a while. But I can't. I have to keep going and taking care of my daughter. Maybe I don't really want to be catatonic. But I wouldn't mind a whole day in bed. Alone. I haven't been able to do that in the 16 months since Mike died.

And more irrational thinking -- my goodness, did I not love Mike enough? I didn't love him enough that losing him left me catatonic at a Starbucks. This other woman loved her husband so much that losing him made her break with reality. Am I doing this wrong?

I hope Mike understands. I have to keep going. Keep moving. Keep taking care of our daughter and attempt to take care of myself.