Friday, January 29, 2016

Still grateful for the pain. And everything else.

I'm in the tough season now. I am more likely to cry, I am fatigued, I am cranky. I am in the window between Kevin's diagnosis and his death, a tough and inescapable set of memories.

Two years ago today we were in the beginning of Kevin's second hospitalization; we didn't know there would only be two more. He was moved to the oncology floor, a harsh reality and yet one that suggested hope, the right doctors and treatment. He could still speak, the cancer hadn't yet stolen his voice. He could still walk though not without difficulty. He had been diagnosed ten days ago and we thought we'd have months to fight the cancer, time for one last trip to the ocean, time to say goodbye, time for the movie finish because that was all we really knew about death. We didn't have that time.

Two years ago yesterday I wrote about his diagnosis for the first time on this blog. I wrote about how I am grateful for the pain.

Two years ago I wrote I have never cried so hard as I have this week, though I expect I will have lessons in crying harder. I cannot bear to imagine what he will have to go through, what is to come, yet it is all I can think about.

I was right. I have learned to cry much harder, crying until I vomit or my body simply gives out. I have learned what is to come and it was worse than I could have imagined. It was also better. My heart is still beating. It beats for us both. Sometimes it feels as though my heart is wrapped in barbed wire. Each pulse may hurt but each reminds me that I am still here, that my heart is beating. Just as his heart beat.

I recognize that it's taken me 22 months to get to this place, but here it is. Shortly after Kevin died several other widowed people told me I would eventually feel better and remember the love more than the loss. I barely believed them. I understand it now. It still hurts like hell, but the pain is usually muted and the love is greater.

What I am coming to is this: I am grateful for all of it. Kevin was a gift beyond measure. Walking with him through his illness and to his death was also a gift, though it was one I never wanted nor one I would wish on anyone. The life I have now is a gift, one I take note of every day. Some days it is almost unbearable that I am still here but I remind myself to be grateful. I don't take my breath for granted, nor my heartbeat. I don't assume I will always have love, my family, my friends. I don't take my life for granted, even though there have been days when I wanted to die.

I am so grateful for all of it. While I would still do anything to have him back in the world, he was in the world. The world is better for his life.

We don't get through this life without some pain, without some barbed wire, without loss and regret. I have found solace in remembering that even the pain holds gifts.

It is in finding gratitude that I have found some measure of peace. When I remember how his hand felt in mine, when I remember the expression on his face when I walked into the room, when I remember the 15 years of love and happiness and struggle and growth, I am honoring all of it, I am holding his life more dear than his death. When I remember his influence on the people around him and celebrate the things that have come into being because of him, I remember that, while cancer may have stolen Kevin from this world, it didn't win.

Though it is sometimes a struggle to remember, Kevin's life is bigger than his absence.
I am so grateful.

(c)2016 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

1 comment:

  1. yes, i remember, my daughter was shifting to Bangalore, 2 years back. I was with her, house hunting. I was afraid to go on to facebook, fearful of what might be there. It has been 2 years, just the other day my daughter remarked 'mum can you imagine, it's been 2 years since i shifted to Bangalore' I felt pride surge in my heart for this young lady, my profoundly hearing impaired daughter who has carved a life for herself in another city for two years. And now there are tears, for this wonderful human being , who i will most likely never meet in this life has been two years. blabbering.


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