I haven’t written since July because it was too difficult. Everything has changed. Everything.
Paul and I have walked an arduous path over the last year and nine months. From the moment the words “mass” and “cancer” entered into our daily vocabulary we have been on a journey like no other. I could give details of the ups and downs on living with cancer, but for the moment, I cannot. You see, Paul succumbed to his cancer on November 12, 2019 at 4:45 am. I was by his side holding his hand as he drew his last few breaths. It was the most difficult experience I have ever been witness to and I wish I could go back in time to have him with me again.
I have said over and over that cancer is a thief, but oh my God, so is grief. I can only say that the pain is unbearable when it comes, and it devours me whole. I am crippled by it and there is nothing for me to do but wrap it around myself and bear the unbearable. It feels like my chest is going to explode from the agony of losing the person I have been a part of for over 34 years. I CANNOT wrap my head around the fact that I will not see his beautiful face and smile again for the rest of my days. I will not hold his hand or hug him…kiss. How can that be possible? I feel gutted. As I write this now, I am feeling a physical heaviness in my chest that actually hurts. Physical pain. I feel like I am dying. And then, there is a part of me that wishes I were.
I cannot stop wondering who I am now. Who am I now? Who am I now? Our lives together were so intertwined I felt his pain. I was his round the clock caretaker for so long and up until the moment he died. Now I’ve been cut off. I’ve been cauterized. I’ve been rendered useless. Who am I now? I don’t recognize myself in the mirror. I truly don’t know who I am. I look at myself in the mirror and see a stranger. I can’t help but wonder what will become of me. What do I do with all of that love? I love him with all of my heart. And yes, I love my family, but the love for Paul was so incredible. What do I do with all of that love? I’ve been closed off, discontinued, amputated, disconnected…cancelled.
Grief is confusing. It is always there…simmering…and when you least expect it, suddenly it wells up and envelopes you like a rogue wave, sweeping you off your feet. It tosses you around and you are, helpless, disheveled, overwhelmed, out of control…not knowing where to find the surface to catch your breath. You splash around unprotected, vulnerable and powerless against the current. Then, you wash up on the shore again, depleted, exhausted…spent. After a time you get up slowly and put one foot in front of the other to journey on…until suddenly there you are again seeking the surface to catch that life sustaining breath, all the while wondering why.