Tag Archives: cancer

Life with a semicolon

Sometimes you get a glimpse of a semicolon coming, a few lines farther on, and it is like climbing a steep path through the woods and seeing a wooden bench just at a bend in the road ahead, a place where you can expect to sit for a moment, catching your breath.  ~Lewis Thomas, physician, educator. Dictionary.com Columbia World of Quotations. Columbia University Press, 1996.

I hate semicolons.  Don’t know how to properly use them.  You won’t see many, if any, here in this blog.

I feel as though I’ve just experienced a semicolon in my life.  I hate them there too.

We started this blog as a way to be frank and honest about what has been going on in our lives after Francis’s cancer diagnosis.  I didn’t realize just how fitting the name of this blog would be to my life.

I have said good-bye to and buried my best friend and love of my life.  I now begin to figure out where to go after this hated punctuation mark.

If I’m honest, I’m struggling to catch my breath and see the start of the path ahead.

The chaplain from Big Bend Hospice came for a visit a few weeks ago.  Francis was able to join us briefly before heading to bed and leaving us to chat further.  The chaplain asked me what inspired my honesty.  I told him that I have nothing pretty in my life behind which to hide.  I also told him I was worried about losing that honesty in the midst of my grief.

This blog has been a way for me to share what’s happening to us.  It’s also been an avenue for me to steal a few moments and process my own thoughts.  I hope to be inspired to continue to do this.  I also hope that through the blog I can hold on desperately to the honesty that was helpful to me and to others.

I’ve spoken to people who have been grateful for the words I’ve written, and I’d love to be able to continue to be a help to those who read this.  As I grapple with processing my own loss, I plan to use the blog to write about what my life “post-semicolon” is like.  It will be my own, and without a doubt unique in the path along which it takes me.

To kick it off, I can only reflect briefly on what the first week of grief has been like.

Once Francis passed away and in the days that followed, the house was a flurry of activity.  The drugs, medical equipment, and removal of his body all had to be addressed.

I had gone to the funeral home a few weeks earlier to make preliminary arrangements, so those decisions were already completed.  There were still hundreds of decisions, if not thousands of decisions, to be made.

There were emails, phone calls, texts, Facebook posts, and visitors that had to be faced.  There was a trip to Jacksonville and a service and celebration that had to be planned.

In all of this activity, I didn’t have time to face the fact that Francis was really gone.  I went to bed exhausted and my mind was racing the moment I awoke with all the items I needed to check off my to do list for the day.  The next day was just a repeat of the previous.

Then, the day of the funeral arrived and I couldn’t get motivated to get out of bed.  I felt like throwing up all the way to the cemetery, and felt crushed by my grief at the service with Francis’s coffin sitting before me – a painful reminder that our lives had gone so terribly off track.  I was exhausted by the time the public celebration of Francis’s life was set to begin that afternoon.

Somehow, I was buoyed by the hugs and well-wishes at the celebration of Francis’s life.  That continued into the evening, spent with family and friends.

Since that time, I’ve struggled to really understand this new stage of grieving for a lost spouse.  I move from a sense of denial that Francis is gone to an intense awareness of my aloneness.  I often feel that I should be a crying, broken mess because that’s how I have pictured grief.

Perhaps though, my perception of grieving is a bit off.  More often I feel as if I’m just lost.  I wander through my day without a real clear direction or motivation to do much of anything.

I’m sure the tears will come, perhaps often.  I’m sure there will be tear-free days as well.  There will also be days filled with laughter with Couper an Riley.  All of these things are okay.  I just need to understand that the grief I feel today is all part of the process.

After all, the rest of the path follows this semicolon, and I don’t know what the rest of the journey holds.

 

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Francis v. The Shadow

Francis is now at peace and pain free.  He passed away peacefully yesterday (Friday) afternoon here at home.  It was perfect the way it happened and I was there by his side to hold his hand and tell him good-bye as he slipped away.  It was just the way he wanted.

Despite the awareness of what was to come, the blow of his death has been intensely painful.

Our family and friends have been wonderful over the hours since his passing, and I can’t speak highly enough of Big Bend Hospice and our nurse and chaplain.

Ryan Fisher, a friend of mine from my DC days in then-Rep. Mike Pence’s office sent me an encouraging email yesterday.  I read it to our chaplain and  nurse after we prayed over Francis.  I’ll share most of it here:

I was reading Psalm 23 in my Bible study this week and felt convicted to share a commentary, by 17th century minister Matthew Henry, with you.

Verse 4 is the famous line by King David that reads, “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”  The commentary I read stated this:

“It is death indeed that is before us; but, it is but the shadow of death; there is no substantial evil in it; the shadow of a serpent will not sting nor the shadow of a sword kill.  It is the valley of the shadow, deep indeed, and dark, and dirty; but the valleys are fruitful, and so is death itself fruitful of comforts to God’s people.”

It’s an angle I had never really considered before…that is, it’s not nearly as scary as the shadow would have you believe because every one of us beats death just as Christ did.  So in the epic battle of Francis v. The Shadow…the safe money is on Francis!

That shadow before Francis was terrifying for both of us.  But, the event was a beautifully exquisite and perfectly reassuring moment that I will always cherish.

Our valley was indeed deep, dark, and dirty.  But, it was so very, very fruitful.

I will miss Francis with every beat of my heart, but I am sustained by the fruit that we gathered and the faith that he is whole again.

Different “D”-Day, different bomb

This post is a continuation of our experiences since the end of March.  The posts in chronological order can be found on the Timeline page.

Sidebar:

Through all of the experiences of the past several weeks, I was learning a lot about myself.

I hate mornings (I already knew this).  But, I learned I could somehow find a way to summon the strength to bury my fatigue and get up at hours that no pregnant woman (or human) has any business seeing so that I could join Francis at the hospital before breakfast arrived. Continue reading

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