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Widowed Village connects peers with each other for friendship and sharing. The moderators, administrators, and others involved in running this site are not professionals.

Please don't interpret anything you read here as medical, legal, or otherwise expert advice. Don't disregard any expert's advice or take any action as a result of what you read here.

We're friends, not doctors, financial or legal professionals, and we're not "grief experts." But we are here, and we've been "there."

I don't feel lucky about that. I do feel lucky about the other.

My Michele was a resilient person and the best partner in life that I could ever have prayed to meet, or be blessed to journey with.  In the words of my close childhood friend--who knew Michele well--I married up.

She was on the journey with her medical challenges (metastatic breast cancer) for over 20 years and 7 months of our 29 year marriage, and she fought hard for every extra smile with us. We participated fully in the latest scientific-medical developments and Michele contributed willingly and meaningfully to the development of improvements in medical interventions for the next generation through her voluntary participation in clinical trials. She defied the odds.

In her final days, she continued to become even more beautiful than when we met—and more perfect in her love for us every minute. Incredible. Her smile was still lighting up the room when the hospice folks were here at the house to help me keep her comfortable.  It has been three months now since she crossed over, and miss her terribly, as she predicted, but I would not want to feel any other way.  Our three kids were all able to get home to be with us for our last week together and she was fully aware of our being there at her side.  I held her hand and prayed or talked with her (to her really) all through the night on 18 December and into the morning of 19 December when she just did not take her next breath. She was peaceful and was not in pain. And she knew we were there with her.

In the most recent in-patient treatment period, after she had been in the same room for about a week, she was pining for an adventure. Having seen the layout of the hospital while heading to and from various scans and tests over and over again, she was familiar with the logistics in that place beyond my imagining.  Although she was tethered to the wall by an Oxygen hose, and unable to walk, she convinced me that it would be possible to escape the confines of the space for a little adventure. Verbally guiding me to the special storage closet where the oncology ward's bottled Oxygen is stored, she instructed me from her bed on the location of the wheel chair closet down the hall so that I could assemble the “escape chariot”—a wheel chair with bottled Oxygen.  We timed our departure for the adventure between the nurses scheduled rounds and made a quick exit to her favorite spot: the ice cream kiosk near the lobby of the hospital.  We splurged on two of her favorites.  After slipping away unnoticed for a brief respite in the garden near the hospital to enjoy popsicles, we made our way back to the oncology ward and snuck back into the room. If they missed us, they did not let on. We had a great time. It was great because we were alone in the sunlight enjoying a quiet moment together.  She smiled broadly with each taste of the strawberry popsicle. We laughed about our daring and joked about  what they might do to us if they discovered us missing. 

Some of our happiest memories in life come from those spontaneous events.

Three months. 

Still numb.

An associate at work said to me the other day that I was lucky to have had time to prepare for her passing.  I suppose I am lucky when compared to so many of my new friends here who were not provided any advanced notice of their love's departure, but I don't feel lucky in that way.  I only feel lucky to have won her affection and to have shared so many smiles with her. The part about being prepared just is not true.

I' not.

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Comment by gcortez55 on March 25, 2015 at 2:47pm

I too feel lucky that I had such a love with someone else and lived my wedding vows to the end. I wouldn't say I was lucky in knowing my husband had a terminal illness but I certainly feel grateful that I was able to experience music, dance, holidays, ect and know they would be our last together, however painful and wonderful those moments were.

Comment by Barbie Doll on March 13, 2015 at 9:04pm

Beautiful picture of a beautiful lady.  We cling to those happy memories and try to block out the terrible images we wish we never had to see.  My heart goes out to you in this journey that you never wanted to go on.  I'm just over 3 years out but I still remember the utter numbness of your stage.  It gets better but it takes time. Good luck to you.  You will find great support here and if you decide to go to a Camp Widow you will find even greater support. 

Comment by lonelyinaz on March 9, 2015 at 12:15am
Hello frank bless u friend. Thank you for sharing your lovely wife michele and great picture. My love very many health challenges then years later deadly brain tumor. Our heart and head do not connect even though we know it is coming to the closing of their time with us and our lives here as we know it. Pls check in here often we get it. Im at 22 close to 23 months and my head knows but heart still can't heal and not want my old life with all his serious health issues. Be kind to yourself you were her greatest love to i know.
Comment by NoLongerInBergenJC on March 8, 2015 at 9:01am

No matter how prepared you think you are,  you're never prepared.  I remember thinking as I called the ambulance after my husband's stroke "This is it."  But then it was two weeks sedated on a ventilator and it seemed unfathomable that he would die.  That your Michele was such a tough, brave lady probably made it inconceivable to you.  I don't think we're ever "prepared."  It's just too mind-boggling to process.

Comment by Patience on March 8, 2015 at 6:40am
I never gave up hope either - and I never told any of our friends how serious I suspected my husbands disease to be. And my husband and I never discussed how this would most likely kill him. I too remember having so much fun (sometimes) in the hospital and there is a special place in my heart for the nurses and staff who were "part of the fun" .... It's been three years almost - May 2012 - and the memories still come flooding back...
Comment by Dianne in Nevada on March 7, 2015 at 7:26pm

What a wonderful adventure you gave your dear Michele. Thank you for sharing your beautiful memory, Frank.

While some think that those of us who cared for our loved ones were "lucky" I'm not so sure they'd feel that way if they had to experience all that comes with that so-called luck. Prepared? I wasn't, and I didn't give up hope that he would survive until the very end.  We only know what we know, what we've personally experienced. No comparisons are needed. It's all hard.

Comment by laurajay on March 7, 2015 at 5:32pm

 while you may not have been prepared...  you were warned when she became ill.   Those with sudden unexpected death of a  spouse have no warning, no alert, no preparation's like ugly magic  here and happy and smiling and in the snap of the fingers- gone forever!   Grief is the same  but unexpected death  requires a person first deal with the sudden shock/loss and then grieve for the lost spouse.  Both kinds of grief are equally painful-  just somewhat different in length.    Three months is a very fresh loss.  Give it time.  One day at a time for as long as necessary.  God be with you.  lj 

Comment by Callie2 on March 5, 2015 at 11:28am
Your wife sounds like a remarkable woman. I love the pic, what a beautiful story and a nice memory to share here! Yes, the only good thing whether you lose someone suddenly or if it is over a period of time, is the precious time we spent with them. I am grateful for the time I had with my husband even though it was a brief 21 yrs! Wishing peace for you.

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