I remember talking with a friend who lost her father suddenly, about how devastating it was for her. I remember her talking about how she never got the chance to say goodbye. I remember her asking which would be worse, watching the person you love the most slowly slip away, or losing them suddenly? This question stuck with me for a long time. Well into my wife's long battle with cancer. I lost mine slowly. I lost mine painfully.
This question came up with my counselor a year or so before my wife passed. My counselor asked if I would believe that people who had lost theirs suddenly ask the same question. This very thought surprised me. It also stuck with me. I find it hard to understand a pain that I haven't experienced. I think a lot of us do.
For a long time I couldn't answer this question. I spent more time thinking about it than it deserved.
My wife breathed her last on February 17th of this year. She battled cancer twice in her life. Endometrial in 2009, and Rectal in 2013. At 47 it was all way too soon. Both were traumatic. Both shook us to the core. Both also allowed us to realize what was important in life. Our Children. Our Families. Traveling. Music. Sports.
These are the things we focused on. We made a bucket list. There were the kids sports (3 boys ages 17,18 and 23). There were the concerts. There were the Bruins games. The trips to lighthouses in Maine. We even made a quick trip to Disney for one night, then rented a Camaro and drove up the coast. Stopping at Cape Hatteras (she was a lighthouse fanatic). These trips required wheelchairs, medical supplies and careful planning.
But all this was possible through her willpower. She never gave up. She never complained. She would do anything for her family.
Years of surgeries. Years of chemo and radiation. So many trips to the ER. So many nights trying to find some sleep in a plastic chair in the ER. I find it hard to remember how we got through it.
She lost energy. She lost organs (more than I can count). She lost the ability to walk, even the bathroom became very complicated.
Slowly and painfully.
Every person will have their own answer to the question. After all I've been through there is no longer any hesitation for me.
For me, I'm thankful for the time we had. Helping her through the most difficult and painful time was worth everything for me.
I never left her side for a second. And she'll never leave mine.