I think at some point if someone had just told me, “You are watching your girlfriend die.” I would have adopted a whole different attitude at the onset of the second diagnosis.
Perhaps a dose of reality with a shot of hypnosis.
It returned exactly one year and one day after the first cancer was found.
How brave you were at discovering the hardened round.
Night after night gently moulding and squeezing, yet that lump would escape my touch with ease.
Not even revealing itself when my hands would form into your bosom.
Cancer was already spreading, but hope was not yet imprisoned. We were still blissful and innocent then.
Clueless of the impact that the uncertainty (of the future) would have – on our families, on our selves, at the time you beating cancer felt permanent and in tact.
Not wanting to detract from the attention that serious matter deserved, not wanting to become more numb at the cancer cells growing in number.
Somewhere deep down I knew the inevitable was to come.
I remember immersing myself in researching the self and the afterlife all at once. No answer was enough. And because of it I stayed mum.
Meanwhile you were unaware and surrounded yourself in new ways to live. New ways to dare – your body tried so hard to give; life. Each moment more precious than the last. You didn’t stop being a warrior, not even at the very end.
I remember initially not wanting to pray to God for a revival, not wanting to beg for your survival… simply because. For a second chance that might never come, could have shattered my faith into a million pieces of there being no more us.
I had already lost faith in doctors and in man. I didn’t want to face the prospect that your work here would be a wrap. I made no plans. But your light has already spanned many other generations to come.
I remember our last night together.
Laying in bed was like a game of twister. Snuggled up tight like we used to before this unwelcome visitor – holding you close though you did shiver, and I knew something else was not right.
Grateful now that no one else was there that night, just you and I spending precious moments without a crowd in sight. Alone, unhurried, unrushed and still in love. In the days leading up to and the days that followed us, we would not come undone.
I remember you started calling me by my full name for weeks leading up to your passing. I knew then that your mind was slowly drifting away… it was not random. To our beginning way back when the fullness of everything came a lot more easily. And the love flowed in tandem.
And so grateful was I that you still recognized me, called my name as often as you’d need. You responded to my declarations of love as soon as I’d heed them.
It was becoming an almost hourly affair because I didn’t want you to forget for a minute that I would be there until the end. Confident in any case that somehow I’ll see you again.
I’ll never forget reading the closing line in one of your old letters to me:
“I want to be your girlfriend until the day I die.”
Oh how happy I was at the time to concede. You wrote it three times in succession. And never forgeting your descriptions – of love and the strength of your touch and devotion to your family and so many others. In love you were never the rule, you were the one exception.
Your life and death, how tremendous the impact.
A single entry I wrote on May 17th, 2012 – In fact, was the last time we celebrated your birthday and how sad it made me feel considering. How strongly you felt it would be your last.
I became depressed.
I remember reading your little red notebook. The first page was the only one written in. I could feel my heart struggling not to break under the weight of your pen and how cancer had already begun to suspend… hope.
May 24, 2012
One thing is certain and not the only thing I take from it but…
Babe, I miss your chicken scratch so damn much.
Remember how your eyes lit up when Chris walked through the front door. Finally, your whole family together to wish you well on your journey home.
I remember you making me promise to never put you in hospice. June 25th was the date we were looking forward to. But as far as being prepared for the worse, I was a novice. I wanted you to make that appointment, but like life – it was not promised.
The day I contacted hospice, at the urging of your family and doctor, was the last day you drew breath. I still don’t know if I did the right thing, but I truly hope you forgive me before next lifetime shifts.
Please know this:
I am slowly coming alive again; having struggled with this grief for over a year. The passion in me has been buried;
that’s what’s been visible through the tears. For too long your passing has felt hurried, and I am left fidgeting. When faced with the future I haven’t backed down; I’m still living.
There are days when I feel like it was just yesterday that you died, but other times I feel as though it has been a lifetime. Still hard to imagine you not being in my life.
I make a concerted effort to retain your memories; they’re all poignant. But the truth is, I still hurt and I still cry when considering many of those special moments.
That constant, overwhelming, consuming grief I put aside. In the beginning, far too ripe.
But mostly I look back now and I smile … thinking of how incredible the feeling of your hand against mine as we took our first taxi ride.