HAP Posted June 12, 2014 Report Share Posted June 12, 2014 Anne asked me to post this here from Walking with Jane so others could see it without difficulty. I hope you will all find it useful. --Harry Living with death I've been alive 22,709 days. I've been married to Jane for 9,047 of them. But she's been dead for the last 1,278. Where once I thought about our future life together, now I have trouble getting beyond her death. I do it because it needs doing, even when it makes me cry. In less than three months I face what would have been our 25th wedding anniversary. We had plans for that day. Now it is shrouded in pain and death. I thought about having the party we talked about at one point, turning it into a fundraiser to pay for more research into the carcinoid/NETs that killed her. But it seems a crass way to spend the day that should have been so joyous--and been ours. Does Death permit messages? I want to tell people I am better now than I was on that cold December night 42 months ago today when I kissed her one last time and closed the eyes she could no longer close. But I can't because it would not be true. I have some days that are better than others, but they all begin and end the same way: The other half of the bed is empty, not because she has gotten up to take a shower or use the bathroom, not because she has stayed up to work on her cross-stitch, but because her body now resides in a grave beneath a head stone in a cemetery at the top of a hill--and her soul... ...I have trouble getting beyond her death. I like to think she sends me messages sometimes--though they are increasingly rare. This week I left the drapes open in the living room one night. In the morning I came out from the bedroom to find the sunlight bouncing off and through a glass table filled with our houseplants. It painted a rainbow on the floor with one strand. The second struck a photo college that hangs on the opposite wall on precisely the picture we used to create the Walking with Jane logo. A fine and private person People who didn't know the Jane I knew tell me she is proud of all I have done to kill this disease--and happy about it. But Jane was a very private person. She did not like being out in front and leading. She hated the thought of being a public figure. She did those things when she had to--and she was good at it. But she hated it. I want to tell people I am better now... She might see and understand the necessity of what I have done with her pictures and the story of her life and death--but I have never thought for an instant that she liked it. Then my physics teacher wife splashed some photons on the floor and on the wall--and suddenly I am not so sure. Death and paralysis for the living These last few months have been particularly hard for me. Over the last week, there is not one day I have not found myself weeping. I sing songs in the house every morning as a vocal exercise. There are lines that suddenly leap out at me and the tears well up and fall. But I keep singing, my voice broken by the suddenly empty sobs. ...my physics teacher wife splashed some photons on the floor and on the wall... There are times I think I should make a CD that begins with "Where have all the flowers gone?" travels through "Sugar Mountain" and "Amazing Grace" and ends with the "Hallelujah Chorus" and "Ode to Joy." I'd call it "Songs for the Dead" or "Songs of the Dead for the Living." Then there is the book I'd like to write--a memoir of these years called The Widower's Tale. I work on it in bits and starts. Some of these essays will form its backbone. The distilled emotions of death But I can't bring myself to face either task yet. Three-and-a-half years after Jane's death it is still too fresh. I still wake up too many nights in inconsolable grief. I still have too many lost weekends where I sit in a chair and stare off into space remembering and trying to run away from those memories; drunk, not on alcohol but from the pure distilled emotions of that final year. These last few months have been particularly hard for me. A friend recently diagnosed with this foul disease asked me not long ago if I couldn't take six months or a year off from this daily confrontation with pain to focus solely on my own grief and healing. Part of me would like nothing more. But the doing of that has a price I can't pay: the knowledge that others have come to the same place I reside when I could have done something to try to prevent that. Death is hard, especially on the living So I keep walking, I keep talking, I keep writing, I keep studying, I keep working with patients and doctors and researchers, I keep throwing myself into close proximity with this disease that I hate. I don't do it to make Jane happy with me or proud of me. I don't do it because it will ever ease my grief. I do not do it because it is easy. I do it because it is hard--and I do it because it needs doing, even when it makes me cry. ( A brief post script: I finished this piece at just about the moment of her death. Getting some odds and ends right took a bit longer.) Today is the 42 month anniversary of Jane's death. It still hurts more than I can say. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
Create an account or sign in to comment
You need to be a member in order to leave a comment
Create an account
Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!Register a new account
Already have an account? Sign in here.Sign In Now