Why I can’t be Calm…

On January 19, 2012, my husband was in the bathroom vomiting. We called 911, and he was taken to the hospital.

In the hospital, we were given a diagnosis of pancreatitis. Over the next couple days, he got worse, and was transferred to a hospital with ICU capabilities.

In that first hospital he transferred to, they told us his kidneys were shutting down and that he needed to be transferred to a hospital with dialysis capabilities.

We got to THAT hospital.

I went home that night.

The next day, I set up dinner in the crock pot, left my kiddos playing video games with neighbours as emergency contacts and headed to the hospital.

I thought, in my infinite, uneducated wisdom, that we would be going through the same situation we’d been through before.

You see, 3 years prior, he’d had two heart attacks.  A few days in the hospital, and we were home. New regime, new diet, new plan of attack, new medications.  Each time. A few days of driving back and forth between the house and hospital – about an hour each way.

So I thought that this would be the same.

But it wasn’t.

It really really wasn’t.

And just under 6 months and another hospital later I left the hospital for the last time, knowing that I would never be back there again, that my role of being a “patient’s family  member” were over.

Except it’s not.

In just under 3 weeks, my youngest, my baby, my gorgeous amazon woman of a daughter will undergo a craniotomy to remove a brain tumour. In all the reading, all the literature, it says that they will go in, do the surgery, she’ll be transferred to the ICU and then after 3-5 days she’ll be sent home.

3. to. 5. fucking. days.

Are you KIDDING ME?

I’m supposed to be ok with this?

I’m not. I’m not on any level.

3 – 5 days and then she’s sent home?

I don’t know how to make my brain go back to that uneducated, naive view of life that will allow me to say “she’ll be fine. It’s a couple days, maybe a week in hospital then home for recovery.”

BECAUSE THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN THE LAST TIME.

The last time someone I loved went into the hospital they FUCKING DIED.

And so I’m in a constant state of panick. I’m trying desperately to be calm and keep things normal and be positive and upbeat but…

HE DIED.

HE DIDN’T COME HOME.

And I don’t know that I will survive it if she doesn’t.

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My Kid Has A Brain Tumour

My funny, creative, intelligent, gorgeous amazon woman turned 18 a few days ago.

She has a brain tumour.

We spent time shortly after her birthday traveling from home to a major centre 8 hours away to speak with a neurosurgeon who laid out a plan for my kid and her brain tumour.

My mini-me to her Dad, punny, quirky redhead has a brain tumour.

The neurosurgeon is going to shave part of her head.  Cut open a flap of skin on her head, cut open part of her skull and then remove the tumour.

Officially, it’s called a “craniotomy and tumour resection”

My kid has a brain tumour.

If I say that often enough, will it become real?

If I say that often enough, will I become numb to the realities of what has to happen to her?

If I say it often enough…  will that sentence start to make sense  Actual, real, sense?

My kid has a brain tumour.

Her father isn’t here to see it.  To walk me through it. To be her rock.  That’s on me.

My husband is my rock. And I have to be hers.

Because my kid has a brain tumour and I don’t have any idea how to deal with that reality.

I already went through the whole process of hospital, doctors, ICU’s, surgeries with her father.  I’m not ready to do this again. I can’t afford it again.  My older daughter set up a go-fund-me to help with expenses. There will be a week or so of travel and hotels and eating out.

I’m more than equipped.  I just. don’t. want. to.

My daughter is at the beginning of her life. She’s a late bloomer who we’re letting figure out what she wants to do and how she wants to do it. And everything stops.

Because she has a fucking brain tumour.

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Life Changes

I miss my husband.

I miss his steadfast, solid, calmness.

I miss being able to lean into him.

I don’t know how to navigate the waters of a contentious relationship with my oldest child without him.  My new husband is angry about him hurting me. He doesn’t have the same attachment my dead husband had.

I don’t know how to navigate the waters of a potential diagnosis for my kid.  I mean – I did it with my husband. I navigated all those moments of discussing it with doctors, but this is my CHILD. The person who helped bring her into the world and he’s NOT here to be all the things I miss about him while I panick and cry and fall apart.

My current husband loves me. He adores me. He’s there for me in every way.

But he has a detachment that allows him to be passionate about the injustices to ME which leaves me feeling like I have to fight on two fronts – angry/frustrated about whatever situation but at times having to defend the situation.

It’s exhausting.

I miss my kid. The one who wasn’t so angry at the world and who I could talk to about everything. He doesn’t get that he and his kids ARE important to me. He doesn’t care that I’m going through my own shit. He doesn’t know. Doesn’t ask. Just sees that I’m not there for him in the way he wants. He doesn’t care what it would have cost me, personally, financially, emotionally to step out of my life to be there in his.

All he sees is I wasn’t there.

And now we’re fighting because of it.

And he’s too angry with the world and at women in general to stop and listen or see my side.  And now I cannot see a way around it or to fix it.

And I miss my husband because he would have been the negotiator. The mediator.  The peace-maker.

My current husband is just angry at the fact that I’m hurting.

I miss him.  My husband who was the rock, the glue in our lives.

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Missing Him Lately

I spend a lot of time with ALC/LTC patients and residents lately.

Helping them with body care, helping them eat, helping them walk, helping their lives have meaning.

Some of them talk.

Some of them don’t.

The ones that don’t, I try to have “conversations” with them… but I’m not super good and it leaves me with time to think.

Would this have been my life if he’d lived? Or would he have recovered to be independent again? Or would it have been, no matter what, the beginning of the end?

The what if’s get me.

What if he’d lived? What if he’d pushed that one more time? What if?

And WHY THE FUCK DID HE HAVE TO DIE?

Why do I have to navigate this world without him who understood me so well? Why do I (as much as I do love him) have to navigate everything with my new husband who doesn’t *quite* get it? Who I have to work at having good communication with?

Why did other people get to survive what he went through and he didn’t?

Why did I have to be a widow?

Why the fuck?

I’ll never have the answers and this will never be a thing I’m *over* because how do you get over losing someone you love so deeply?

Lately it’s been super freaking hard managing the grief. It hits me out of no where and I always feel like crying.  7 years gone. That’s half the time I had with him. I want more.

Stages-of-GriefMark in Fruitvale

7 years

We were married August 21, 1999 and he died June 26, 2012.

We had almost 13 years married.

We were together from Feb 1, 1998.

So.. 14 years.

I’ve reached the halfway point of the number of years without him vs the number of years I had him.

This year is supposed to be my 20th wedding anniversary.

Instead, I’m observing 7 years without him.

My life has changed… so very much.

I’ve changed homes. My home has almost nothing I used to own in it.

I’ve changed careers.

I’ve changed towns.

I’ve gotten remarried.

I have new friends.  Friends who’ve never met Mark. Friends who Mark never met.

Friends who would have fit so well with him and his life.

It’s been 7 years and I’ve completely changed my life.

There’s a myth that the body and it’s cells completely regenerate every 7 years.  It’s just a myth. But that’s where I am.

My life has completely regenerated.  Everything I am is different. Everything around me is different.

The only thing that remains the same is the deep, forever love I have for Mark and how much I miss him.

Forever loved.
Forever missed.
Forever remembered.
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Happy and Sad

My Facebook feed is full of two types of posts today:

I’M SO HAPPY AND IN LOVE AND I HAVE THE BEST SPOUSE EVER!

and

I’M SO SAD BECAUSE I MISS MY DEAD SPOUSE

interspersed with the occasional:

HAPPY SINGLES AWARENESS DAY!  and the memes that go along with that.

And on one hand… I am so very happy with my husband (who is currently making me breakfast as I type) and very much in love with him.

On the other…. I miss the guy who first told me 21 years ago that he loves me. 21 years. That’s how long we’d have been together. That’s how long I’ve loved that man.

6 years ago he woke from his coma, remembered it was our “in love” anniversary and told me.

Today… a completely different man loves me and tells me that every day.

So it is a happy/sad day. A good/bad day. A day of love and a day of grief.

But that’s the way it always is…

Happy 21st anniversary my Love.  I will love you for the rest of my life.

Life vs Death

Tonight at work a husband became a widower.  His wife took her last breaths.

A few hours later a child made his way into the world. He took his first breaths.

This is the nature of my job.

Neither of these two (three) people were my patients, nor was I directly involved in the death or the birth moments.

I can’t help but think about what children were born into the world while my husband was taking his last breaths. The children who are 6 1/2 years old now, in grade 1, their parents marveling at the fact that their children growing up so fast?

I think about the moments that have happened since that day… the things I’ve accomplished, the new members of our family, the changes to the people in my life.

I think about the moments that are going to happen in that husband’s life. The new things he’ll do without her, the new people he’ll meet who don’t know him as her husband, the new life he’ll live.

I think about the firsts that the new baby will bring to his parent’s lives.  The first smile, the first steps the first day at grade 1….

Mostly, I think about how life changes, how much life and death I am surrounded by.

I think about how life is not static, how it changes and how we are not ready for any of those changes no matter how much we prepare.

I’m sure I’ve written about this before – it’s a part of my job and it affects me.

But I’m still amazed at how fast life changes so dramatically. In the space of 3 hours, one life ended and another began.  And nothing will ever be the same for those people again.

Nothing is the same in my life. 7 years since he went into the hospital.  6 years since my life changed dramatically and keeps changing.

This year, the pain of losing him seems particularly hard. I don’t know why.  I’m in my 7th year since it all began and the memories and grief seem to be overwhelming me more than they have the past couple years.

There’s an old saying… time heals all wounds.  I suppose time does, but the wounds in my heart, much like a deep, surgical cut.. will leave a scar that is nothing like the surrounding skin. The scar will always pull and hurt when I move it the wrong way, unlike the skin around it.

I will forever hurt and for some reason, it hurts more right now. For some reason… I’m grieving harder.

I’d like to tell the new widower that it gets better – but it doesn’t. It gets different.

I’d like to tell the new mom that life has just gotten better – but it hasn’t. It’s gotten different.

Life doesn’t stay the same, it changes. And change can be painful.

And because my writing of this has been interrupted by my patient’s needs – it feels disjointed to me.

I miss Mark with all my heart and soul. So much so that the grief spills over into other parts of my life.

I grieve for the man who’s name I don’t know who lost his wife today. I cry happy tears for the new family.

And every day I get the honour of being a part of, no matter how peripheral, moments like those.