Sunday, March 20, 2011

Time ...

Vern was finally able to get back into his Mustang - May 2010

Some feel I had it better because I had a long time to prepare for Vern’s death due to his long cancer battle. Oh, but they would be so wrong.  There is no “better” … no matter how you become a widow, it is a horrid, very personal thing. I read the many stories of loss on Widowed Village and it breaks my heart. Some were widowed so very young and sudden, some young with cancer, little children left behind, long and horrible illnesses, long and loving marriages ended by cancer – all so different and yet the same.  It is impossible to compare one person’s loss to another.
Time … there was just never enough of it
Yes we had 4-1/2 years after cancer entered our lives, but there was no time for any real preparation for what was to come. It took everything I had in me to just keep my head above water … the caregiving was hard, he had so very many critical issues, sleep was rare, bills went unpaid, the house became cluttered, I gained a lot of stress weight, emotions were raw, I struggled to keep up at work.  And when times were better – like in the picture above – we really had no inkling that time was so very short. He would be gone just 4 months later.
Time … something we all take for granted
I suppose I did grieve during that time for what we had lost – Vern’s mobility was taken away and never fully returned, his pride was damaged because of the things he could no longer do, feelings were hurt when friends disappeared, trips we had planned to take were never to be – but was I spending time preparing for his eventual death … NO!  I had HOPE right up to that final day in the hospital – September 17, 2010.  Hope that one more treatment, another adjustment to dialysis, new doctors, more physical therapy … something would give us more time.
Time … I knew it was short
And then he was transferred to hospice.  But those who think I spent those 4-1/2 days asking him questions about mundane things are wrong.  It never occurred to me to ask if he remembered where I had put the safety deposit key or any other post-death obligations I might have to deal with. Those few days were all about love, plain and simple.  He wasn’t able to speak much, so the words he did speak were very precious.  I talked to him or held his hand constantly – I didn’t want him to have a moment where he felt alone … it was about precious memories, reminding him of the wonderful life we had shared, reassuring him of my love and that we would be together again someday. 
Time … nothing but time now
So where do I go from here?  I honestly don't know. I'm trying some things at my own pace. Trying to figure out what my future might hold. But this is hard, really hard. And it's easy to feel guilty about it. Why should I go on when Vern wasn't allowed to? How can I possibly be happy? Is it a betrayal for me to do things I enjoy? Who am I?  So many questions ... but now there's way too much time to try to figure them out.

9 comments:

Sarah said...

Dianne: Shortly after we celebrated our 50th Anniversary, my honey was diagnosed with MM (last Oct.). You're so right...there's never enough time, and there's no way to prepare.

Blessings,
Sarah
http://ourjourneywithmm.blogspot.com

Boo said...

Dianne, you are so so right. One cannot compare one loss with another ... in fact it hurts the bereaved to do so, and can completely demean the pain that one is living with.

A loss is a loss within its own right, whether it is a dog or cat, a sister, a child, a husband or wife. To the person who has lost, that pain is all they can feel.

There is no better or worse. Just because you were given a "warning" that you would lose him doesn't make it easier! You know, there have been so many times that I've been thankful that Cliff did not survive his stroke for he would have hated HATED to be debilitated, as much as I would have loved to have him with me I would not wish that on my great big bear of a man <3 I think of you and others who had to watch their loves suffer and wonder if that was even worse than losing someone you love.

Light love and peace to you for understanding this so early in your journey my friend.

Barbara said...

So right Dianne.. I often think one more hour, one more day.. time is the gift we have..and now you have the wonderful memories to make you smile.. you will know when it is right to do something.. time is just like that.. it gives and it takes.. but it is always there.. be well my friend.

Lori Puente said...

I agree. It's a very personal journey and while some things we can all relate, there are just things that are very personal. I have often said there is no "one up-man-ship" in the loss of a loved one. Loss is loss, and it is profound. In the throws of my caregiving for Dave, my life was very similar to what you describe. I'm still not fully moved into our home, though that might have been true anyway, who knows.

I still feel behind, and sometimes I'm embarrassed by it, other times, what the hell, I don't care. I just get through the days, some definitely better than others.

Where you go from here, the time you need, your own pace, guilty feelings, all part an parcel for many of us, but it simply MUST BE at our own pace, in our own time. I think you're amazing. Who you are without your beloved is something only you can discover. Whatever it is, however it comes, I'm sure that Vern would be proud of you.

AAN said...

Who are you? A woman with a gift for beautifully expressing her feelings in her writings. Who are you? A woman who instinctively knows how to pace herself through this dreadful but necessary adjustment time...who know when to reach out, where to reach out and who to reach out to. Who are you? A woman who is amazingly helping others by fearlessly, honestly writing about her own pain.

cancerwidow said...

Oh Dianne - you've put it so well. It was still such a shock to me to hear my husband tell me what the doctors had just told him, that it was over. Even then, they thought we had weeks, not days. Even when I knew our goal was as good a death as could be provided, the actual moment was such a shock. I still can't deal with it. I'm just overwhelmed with everything now. This future without him is too much for me to face. I hope you can find what you need.

Anonymous said...

Dianne, Here is what I would like to tell you but it is in the words of others:

We Never Walk Alone
The time comes when those whom we have loved the longest and the most will travel far ahead into a place of joy and rest... And we must walk a lonely path through shadows for a while without a certain kindred voice, a dear, familiar smile- Yet each day brings us nearer to horizons yet unknown and even when the way is dark, we never walk alone, for the memories travel with us toward the destination where we will join in loved ones eternal love.
I am sure there were time that you thought you would never make it until this Tues. but the memories will always carry you and fill your heart with joy. Remember how he always sat with his fingers all touching in front of him as if in deep thought and at least was gracious enough to always look interested in what someone had to say. The world is a lesser place without him , but it makes me smile to know that he is where the rest of us strive to go.

G

tim's wife said...

Death is so final that it leaves us reeling even if we knew it was coming. My uncle lived 19 years after a massive heart attack that severely damaged his heart. His passing was no easier on my aunt
even after knowing all that time that he was in bad shape. Sometimes I think a car accident or something sudden would spare a spouse from having the memories of their loved one suffering and facing their mortality but I'm sure someone who was widowed in that way may wish they had time to say all the things they wished they'd said etc. There is no easy way for sure. It's devastating either way. I didn't cry so much when I watched "The Notebook" like everyone else did. I thought it was the happiest ending of all. They both fell asleep and went together. You will find your way Dianne. One small step at a time.

jaloysisus said...

Like you, Dianne, I had almost five years to "prepare". What I now know is that there really is no way I could have been prepared for the finality of Gwen's death. Others say to me, "Oh, I know how you must feel." I'm polite, so I don't lash out at them. The truth is, you know what it feels like when you know what it feels like. Like you, I'm still struggling with trying to figure out who I'm supposed to be now. Thanks for another beautifully written post. You said what so many of us feel.