One Day at a Time
I took a leave of absence from work to care for my girlfriend full-time when it was deemed that the second round of chemo was no longer working. I’m convinced that it accomplished the exact opposite result in fact. As fate would have it, the day my leave began would be the last night I’d see my darling alive. She was waiting, patiently, for an appointment at the University of Chicago Hospital to be considered a candidate for a promising breast cancer clinical trial. The appointment was scheduled for June 25th. That day would not arrive for her.
The days following her death I tried unsuccessfully to shut off my emotions. I was completely drained, exhausted, and riddled with loss and regret. My heart physically ached. The fact is, there is no real outlet for loss of such a magnitude no matter how many times it’s happened to countless others before me, dealing with similar pangs my family was now faced with. Sudden loss. Although tears are temporary, the heart aches in ways you simply can’t imagine unless you’ve experienced it. Every waking thought resonates with it an emptiness, loneliness and hollow despair, at least at the onset. I found that I was incapable of properly expressing my crushing pain in any viable form. I am now hopeful that the emotional toil manifesting itself physically will eventually get better, but that night I was inconsolable. The day after, I was numb. The day after that, the shock and finality of it all set in and I needed to be left alone.
A week passed and everywhere I looked – Life Was Going On – and I was fortunate enough to see through my own personal darkness that people were still laughing, joking, spending time with their loved ones, updating their lives via social networking, etc, and on and on… but for the excruciating pain I was experiencing – my life, as I knew it, ended that night.
Something new began.
My life with my girlfriend culminated in my constantly changing view of the world. Her death brought everything to the surface. In less generic terms, she had a true blue passion for living honestly and being happy with the opportunity to experience whatever it threw at her, and that mindset has become a huge source of motivation for me at this junction. Even now it is the one thing, besides her smile and strength, that cancer could never take away from her. There wasn’t a day that went by that she didn’t smile, and that incredible will of hers persisted until the very end. She loved life and lived it to the fullest, doing things that some people would never imagine; like picking up and moving half way around the country to unfamiliar surroundings to be with her love. With that, she lived as long as her incredible spirit would allow. Not nearly long enough.
When she was gone I tried to convince myself that she was finally cured of cancer and pain, but another voice was also telling me it wasn’t just the cancer and pain that was gone forever…
Pride and Strength
I have always been the one counted on to be strong for others. But now I find myself relying on others and accepting the strength of many. It is totally out of my character, and although I’m treading in unfamiliar territory, death brings it’s own special brand of humility, honesty and courage for all parties involved. I send my love and deep appreciation to everyone who has reached out to me. The role reversal has been eye opening.
I am bendable and I can break and despite a lifetime of carving my emotions out of stone to suit outward appearances, they have managed to take shape in their most natural form. In the process, opening the flood gates, so to speak, to the most vulnerable parts of my being. It is all I can do to get by some days and I think it’s entirely healthy to allow yourself to be vulnerable. I’m in the midst of a major forced life change so while some choices may seem limited, others are completely within range for me and everyone that loved my girlfriend to reach for the sky and allow the universe to work its magic in our lives. Pride has no place getting in the way of the range of feelings experienced daily. There is no attempting to prevent raw emotions from breaking through a previously unlikely surface. I am wide open.
I remind myself that crying every day is completely natural with such compounding loss and has nothing to do with being strong or weak. It has everything to do with being a spiritual, deeply sensitive human being.