Chapter 34

***If you are just joining the blog, you may want to read a few of the previous posts to catch up,  this is a healing journey. It’s my story, as I walked along side of my husband Paul during his battle with cancer. We began this journey in 2011- these are the emails that I used to keep all of our friends and family in the loop. ***

Update from the UP 8.17.12-8.21.12

Hello Everyone… this is going to be an ongoing journal of my weekend… I am in the Upper Peninsula… I have decided it was time to do some soul searching.

Sat 8.18.12

The past few weeks have flown by… but it seems I am standing still. I am still so sad… break out in tears with the mention of my love. I was at the dealership getting an oil change yesterday before I left and one of the sales people asked- “Hey Denise, how you doing?” I said… all-right. He frowned and said- “Are you okay? You don’t seem like yourself…”  I started crying. He didn’t know Paul had passed… and said- damn- I am so sorry. Then he hugged me and the tears rolled… ugh…

I am trying to feel each and every feeling- embracing the sadness- but also trying to not wallow in it. I just miss my friend. He was there every day… I find myself wanting to check in with him… find myself wanting to ask him questions. I feel like I am lost…it’s going to be a long road.

I brought Paul’s ashes up with me…and it was horrible to look inside the box. Oh my God- why did I do that? It made it so real… even more than my heart tells me that it is.

I keep thinking back to the days of his treatments… when he spent days and nights in the hospital. I love that I got to spend most of those nights with him… I slept in fold out chairs- next to him- in recliners and in waiting rooms. I can’t imagine not being there… and I am so thankful that he wasn’t alone. There were so many long talks… so many moments to cherish. I guess I am glad that I didn’t know his time was so short…I would’ve been a mess… I was really counting on him beating the disease. I was counting on at least 18 months… really- was that too much to ask?

I hate that he had to go. I am mad. I am sad. I am lonely. I can’t find the words…but all I have are words.

I am sad about one thing the most though…when I called Hospice the last time. It was a Monday morning… he was still talking and walking and could communicate. The nurse gave him a dose of meds…then another… and he was resting. I hopped in the shower… not knowing that would be the last time I could communicate with him. When I got out of the shower- she medicated him a third time… and he never came too- again. He needed the rest… his body was tired… and he was in pain. I am thankful that he didn’t suffer months or years… but I am super sad that I didn’t get to talk to him again. I am sure that I would’ve wanted more… I guess- we always do.

I have read a couple of books…and have been disappointed in them both. I wanted a story that showed me what to do… something I could relate too… one that explained the process. One that gave me a road map on grieving. I guess there isn’t one. I want some help… but know that it is a personal journey. This is so new- so foreign to anything I have ever felt… I don’t know what normal is. I don’t know… I just don’t know.

I read a blog last night… Thanks Meg. I finally found something that made sense… It was a story of a woman who was grieving the loss of her marriage. Although it’s not the same… grief is grief. It said that when a person is faced with such sadness… and can embrace it without being it… kind of- in the third person… they will be so much stronger. They will grow. Holy Holy… I am going to grow. Here’s another part that really touched me:

“Rinpoche, if everything is impermanent, and will die or pass away, why love it?” I wondered aloud. “Because that is the privilege of being a human being,” he answered.”You get the opportunity to love at a capacity that breaks your heart open. It is a gift, indeed. In addition, you get free-will, and the opportunity for choice,” he continued. “A broken heart is a contrite spirit. If you utilize this gift of the broken heart, it can advance your internal progress greatly. You see it as an annoyance. Something that hurts so badly you want it to go away. If you can hold fast, in the fires of its purification, you will be molded like a blacksmith’s sword in fire,” he whispered.

Here’s the link if anyone cares to readit in it’s entirety… http://alminewellness.blogspot.com/2012/06/art-of-grieving.html

I am going to sign off for now…Hoping the rain stops soon so I can go to Picture Rocks…

Okay- so I did some meditation- chakra balancing- took a nap- and it stopped raining! I wiped all my tears- redid myface… and collected myself.

I was laying on the bed-listening to my iPad and decided to download a Bob Seger album… totally worth the $12.99- there are 26 songs. I love love it. I plugged my iPad into my car… and headed out for a ride. I knew I wanted to see a sunset over the water… but didn’t know where I wanted to go. I drove down on M28 and spotted a scenic turnout. I stopped and snapped a few pics. Not what I was looking for…

I drove a bit further and found a nice roadside beach area… perfect. I waited for a VW Bus to move… and was secretly jealous… okay- being real here… I was envious. I want one. Then I strolled down the beach area. It was a really nice night. It was 63 degrees… and the sun was just beginning to fade. I love the colors it produces… the clouds were just right. As a few people left… I made my way back to the car and scooped up some of Paul’s ashes into a bowl. I grabbed my peace bag… threw it over my shoulder- like I had a purpose… and went back to the water’s edge.

I honestly felt like I was doing something wrong- I kept looking over my shoulder waiting for someone to ask me about my intention.

No-one was in sight… so I slipped the lid off the bowl and scattered the ashes onto the shore. Then I waited for the waves to come and wash him out to sea. I took a few pictures of the waves washing over them… just as a memory.

Then I just stood there – quiet- waiting for the sun to set. (I said good bye again… told him I loved him very much and that I missed him terribly… and I was happy that he was free…)

I snapped a few more pictures… hopped back into my car and Roll Me Away- was playing… I drove back towards town.

Like I said- today is Sunday… I am moving to a new motel today… and going to head to Marquette for an NA meeting tonight. Headed to the shower and maybe a little yoga before?

Oh… big news for me. I stopped wearing my wedding band today. It was actually a good/sad feeling all in one. Almost like I could release something in me by setting it free… and I replaced it with a new ring… so it’s not a gaping bald spot on my hand.

Peace out for now…

Monday afternoon… I am bored. I decided to do some more writing and make myself stay another night.

HAPPY Birthday Mom! 🙂

I think this trip gave me the peace of mind I needed to get through another month… I guess all I have is today…I’ll cross the next bridge when I need too. I am not looking forward to the end of the month… our Anniversary would’ve been August 29th… three years. We didn’t quite make it three years. Breaks my heart…

I took the noon tour of the Pictured Rocks- it was amazing…

I was thinking the other day… and I can’t remember who I was talking too- but the thought occurred to me. I am glad that it’s me grieving this loss- and not the other way around. It made me so sad to think of what Paul would be going through right now if the tables were turned.

I know he experienced a lot of grief with the loss of his son. I am not sure if he could have handled more… I know how strong he is… was… but I am really glad- that it’s me, in this position and not him. I guess that is progress- right? I guess that’s something to be grateful for- right? I can see a lot of things today- that I wasn’t willing to see a few days ago… I can see how much more sincere I am. I can feel growth in many ways… just not in all. I am a work in progress… and I thank you for the love- to help me thru.

I understand grief a little better today than I did before I lost my husband… I have learned that grief includes anger, denial, bargaining, depression, and eventually acceptance. I read recently that these emotions are felt in no special order and are sometimes skipped over… Other than the bargaining… I think I have felt them all.

Tuesday morning…

I made myself stay another night… I guess when I start something- I hate to bail. If I start a book.. even if it’s bad.. I usually finish it. Only once- have I ended a movie and not watched the whole thing because it was a disaster. I guess that’s just who I am.

I have showered and it’s not even 8:00am… thinking of heading out soon. Going to take my time- and just see what I see.

This is what I have realized on this trip. I am okay. I am exactly where I need to be. I am further along than what I thought I was… but still have a lot of work to do.

I have opened my own eyes- and have appreciated the little things even more. I have learned that I won’t absolutely die… by going into a restaurant by myself. I think that was the hardest thing… who knew?

I have looked at my life and my love for Paul… and have decided to still cherish it close to my heart and feel it all… I am not willing to set it aside yet.

I think there will come a time- when it will just be a sad fact about who I am… not my identity. Today.. it’s still my identity. I am the woman… who just lost her husband. It’s okay… That’s how I know I have more work to do… I have pealed back a few more layers of the onion… and healed some holes within.

I am still going to write a book. I need to pray and decide more about the format. My biggest fears- are making people mad with my truth. Making people upset… so that is something I need to settle within. My friend Kitty calls it owning my own power. Owning your own power is being strong enough to say what you need to say… without hurting someone else. Or if you do- then know that it’s okay- because your needs are important too. I don’t give myself permission to outright hurt people. That’s not who I am. I try hard to be respectful and to allow others their truth… so here I sit.

Tomorrow is a new day… but I still have today to finish!!

Peace and Love-

Denise

Chapter 33

***If you are just joining the blog, you may want to read a few of the previous posts to catch up,  this is a healing journey. It’s my story, as I walked along side of my husband Paul during his battle with cancer. We began this journey in 2011- these are the emails that I used to keep all of our friends and family in the loop. ***

7.29.12

Hello Everyone,

Thank you so very much for the love and support during this difficult time… this is much harder than I had imagined it would be. (But truthfully, what did I have to compare it too?)

Four days after the memorial, I took a friend and went to MRCNA. (Michigan Regional Convention of Narcotics Anonymous) Each year we have a convention and this year our area hosted the event. I knew I didn’t want to be alone. With several thousand people in attendance- I was not alone.

My friend Keri was in a bad spot in life. She called me from the park the day before, she had nowhere to go. She had burned all of her bridges. She was thinking of going to the homeless shelter. I told her to stay put, I would be right there. I picked her up an hour later and she didn’t leave my side for the next 45 days. She was a Godsend. She allowed me to cry. She didn’t try to fix me.

Here is the think about grief… it comes in waves and it makes everyone else really uncomfortable. I just needed to talk, I needed to process stuff, I needed to cry. I didn’t need people to say anything… I just needed to feel what I was going through. As ugly as it was for other people… it needed to be done.

She let me cry. She helped me clean. She helped me paint. She helped me move. She helped me piece it all together… She helped me heal. Thank you dear friend… I owe you big time.

Part of the healing was to reflect back and to see what and how I got to this place. How Paul and I, got to be- Mr and Mrs Henry.

I remember the decision I made years ago, and how I agreed to do whatever it took to feel this deeply. I agreed to feel Love. I agreed to cherish it too. It is worth it… but, at this particular moment- I question my sanity. Seriously, who would sign up for this? Some of you may not know the story of Paul and I…

About 7.5 years ago- I met Paul Henry. I was originating mortgages and he was doing appraisals. I was still involved in a dead end relationship when he asked me out. I declined his offer for a date. He did some more work for me and delivered the appraisal to my office a few weeks later. He sat down at my desk and I explained why I had declined his offer. He explained he had the same thing with someone… and was ready to move on.

We talked and got to know each other a little better… then he told me about his son. (His son Paul Jr had died in an automobile accident two years before.)

I realized that I knew his daughter! I asked him if he had a daughter-named Jennifer? He said- yes- how do you know Jennifer?? She lives in Kalamazoo.

I met his daughter at the coffee shop, that I had co-owned with my friend. I said- oh my gosh… I love Jennifer! It was so right at so many levels. That is where we began…

It was the first time in many years… at least 20- that I went into a relationship and didn’t hold anything back. I had always kept people at arms length. It felt safer. This was the first time that I didn’t do that. I didn’t play it safe.

I fell so head over heels in love with this man. He was so complex- and I-didn’t care. I was going to love him thru it all… (Insert picture of little girl here… skipping around with daisies in her hair dancing… )

We would be driving down the road and I would look over at him and just smile…I got butterflies by just looking at him. I loved him and damn- it felt good.

Then, just as suddenly as we fell for each other- he pulled it all back.

I was devastated. It rocked my world upside down. I hurt like I had never hurt in my life.

It was my fault. I sent him an email and asked him if he was really interested in having a relationship.

I asked him if he was ready to let go of his past. I suggested that maybe he needed to do some soul searching to find out if he really did want this. I asked him to take a few days.

Well, he did. He took a few days. He took a few weeks… He took a few months. I. Was. So. Lost.

He wouldn’t return my calls- wouldn’t return my emails… and he didn’t come back. As a matter of fact- I found out months later, he had gone back to his old relationship. The one that was comfortable, the one that didn’t demand anything from him.

During this time- my sponsor-shed some light on my behavior. Because really- it wasn’t about him… it was about me.

She pointed out that what I was offering was pretty selfish. Selfish?? I wanted to help him. I wanted to help heal his heart.

Paul wasn’t emotionally available. He hadn’t healed from losing his son.

I was a mess.

He wasn’t ready to be vulnerable again. Actually, he told me later that he wasn’t sure he could ever love at that level again.

Here is where it gets messed up. I thought if I could love him enough- he wouldn’t have to hurt. I thought that if he loved me enough… that he wouldn’t have to hurt.

This is why I need a sponsor in my life. Recovery has taught me how to ask questions and to get help when I need it.

My sponsor told me- “Denise, strip away the-big pink bow- the lipstick and the perfume… and what you’re offering is-really pretty selfish. It’s all about you- and how he can make you happy. How he can fulfill your needs. If you want a relationship with this man, you need-to stop trying to change him.”

In my ignorance… and with my “help” – I had pushed him away. My help, was pretty selfish...

She also said that if I ever got back together with him… that it would be with him and his son.

She told me that I couldn’t change that fact… I sent him an email and apologized. Not for what I had said to him… but for my selfish motives. I asked him to give me another chance…but he couldn’t. He didn’t trust me- and didn’t trust his ability to love me again…

I cried for weeks. My sponsor told me that my only job was to feel. My only job- was to feel?

UGH… She said that when I got to the other side of those feelings- that I would have an answer. That God, would show me what he wanted me to know…. so I cried and I cried.

After about three months.. I saw the sadness in my eyes start to fade. (Someone pointed out to me a long time ago-that you can see sadness in people’s eyes… and boy did I see it…)

At six months.. it was gone. I finally felt okay. And… drum roll… God did show me what he wanted me-to see. I did learn what I needed to know.

I learned that LOVE was worth it! As much as I hated those feelings… as much as I hated going through all of that… I realized that I would do it all over again- in order to experience what we had in that short time. I was so thankful that I knew how to love again… and that I wanted to love again.

I felt that whatever the cost… I wanted that again.

Love- does make everything better.

Everything.

Fast forward in time- a year later… we got together at Christmas and had New Year’s together… things didn’t work out. (We did the same concert for three years- on New Year’s Eve… but nobody knew we were dating on and off…)

 We got together again the following year… but things didn’t change until July of 2008.

He kept sending emails… kept sending text messages. He even scheduled a massage!

I had given him many massages- but this was different, he called, scheduled and paid for it!

Anyway- on the intake form- I ask a question- “Why are you here today” And his answer was “Flirting”. 😳

We got together for a friendly date in the park for Lake City’s greatest fourth in the North. We watched the Battle-of-the-Bands.

I honestly felt there was too much water under the bridge. I didn’t think we could have a real relationship again.

I didn’t trust him, now.

He would break dates with an email… or a text message… or he just wouldn’t show up.

I told him that I couldn’t keep doing this. I told him i wasn’t a yo-yo. He promised it would be different and he would show up.

I said okay and thought we’d just be friends and hang out. He walked me home and when he left, he kissed me good night.

I-told him it was very nice seeing him again- and his reply was- “I hope to-see much more of you”… hmm….

The following week- my niece asked -what’s up with Paul? I told her I wasn’t sure.. She said- He was awfully affectionate at the park the other night! Wow- we didn’t see that coming now did we?? And we didn’t… that was our new beginning… July3, 2008.

We married on August 29th, 2009.

Our life together was brief… but man was it intense.

I am processing all sorts of feelings with his loss.

It’s so big. I am working through it all day by day. I hate having to learn how-to deal with these things. They are sticky. They are murky. They are consuming.

I am not really good at surrender. I only surrender- when it hurts bad enough. I am at that point with the grief.

I had no time to process it while I was in it. I just moved from appointment to appointment, we all did the best we could.

Now he’s gone… I am forced to deal with all of those feelings that I had stuffed.

I realize how much I was in denial about the possibility of losing him.

I never made peace with the possibility… I felt that I would’ve been giving up the hope. I needed hope, to get through each day.

I also had to censor information. I tried to not give the disease energy. I also had to protect everyone’s feelings. I tried really hard to protect his privacy. In reality, I was writing behind a veil of fear.

A fresh thought popped into my head yesterday when I was reading a book… it brought me back to when Paul was in the hospital in Detroit- and we were talking to the surgeons about his upcoming bladder surgery. We were talking about the possibility of puncturing his bladder- about what would happen. They talked about the percentages and how he would have to live without the use of his bladder inside his body- I look back at that particular conversation now… I realize that I was not planning on him going anywhere. I was still planning on him living. I didn’t accept the terminal diagnosis.

Today I am dealing with anger. It’s hard for me to admit that out loud… but I must be honest.

I have had all sorts of anger surface recently… things that I had stuffed. I am processing why I pushed things aside.

Why I gave away my power to other people.

Why I let people push me?

I am learning that I can only heal the things within me, not others. But first, I must acknowledge them… then I can dig. By digging, I usually uncover layers of other stuff. I usually find the real source of the anger.

I am still doing acupuncture- to help with the emotional part of this and the stress.

I feel toxic at times… it’s as if everything I held in for months has surfaced.

My Acupuncturist is amazing… she touched some of the anger stuff the other day… and I feel better already.

I know with all of my being, that when I get to the other side of this… I will be a changed person.

I am thankful for the opportunity to grow- even though it doesn’t feel good. I know that if I surrender to the process, move with the process and acknowledge each step… I will be okay.

I get cards daily- it’s overwhelming to even look at the Thank You notes that are still sitting on my kitchen table.

Please know that I appreciate all of you very much. I am so Blessed to have such loving people willing to give so selfishly.

I am so blessed to have friends and family who are still willing to let me cry.

I have yet to get through a-day without tears.

It will take time… and I am okay with that. I face each day without expectations… A friend asked me about the next chapter of my Life? About what I see next? My answer was that I can’t even see beyond tomorrow. That’s all I have at the moment. I have nothing else to give…nothing else to offer.

Thanks for the offers for lunch dates- I am just dong the basics today. Not ready to face that yet… when I am ready, I will let you all know.

I ask for your prayers, good thoughts, energy and the Love…

Peace and Love~

Denise

Chapter 32

***If you are just joining the blog, you may want to read a few of the previous posts to catch up,  this is a healing journey. It’s my story, as I walked along side of my husband Paul during his battle with cancer. We began this journey in 2011- these are the emails that I used to keep all of our friends and family in the loop. ***

Update 7.1.12

 I don’t know where to begin… Life as I once knew… will never be the same.

I find myself bumping into old thoughts- sitting quietly with new ones… spinning around and around…sometimes I make sense- other times – not. Sometimes I want to be alone… other times I can’t believe- I am alone.

On Friday June 29th at 1:45- my friend Kearney started strumming his guitar… he played some easy listening music…he picked… and sang… everyone found a place to either sit or stand. Over 200 people signed the guest book…

We were gathered among the beautiful plants and flowers that lined along my parents patio- overlooking the Clam River. The day was beautiful.

The sky was blue and just when you thought it was just any other day…there was a breeze to remind you of the present peace. Of his, presence and peace.

My nephew Marc Hicks began with Paul’s obituary… the rest of the order is a blur. There was a bagpiper- he played Amazing Grace. The song brought everyone to tears… and then faded off into the distance as he played.

Father Joe Fix said some memorable words and my brother in law Don played a few songs. People shared stories and memories- and then Marc finished with some kind words and an email from one of Paul’s nurse’s in Saginaw.

Mikailu aka Mike, wrote to us a few weeks ago and told us how we had touched him with our journey… It was a testament to our journey… it needed to be shared.

The Honor Guard presented me with a flag and a wooden display case. They played taps and gave my Marine a 21 gun salute down by the river.

The breeze blew lightly… and everyone reveled in the words from Father Joe about Paul’s love for Nature… and Marc’s words about the Angels rejoicing in heaven.

My mom’s best friend and a few others made a luncheon and everyone ate. The food was superb… but it always is… I am eternally grateful to those ladies, my mom and step dad, Pastor Hicks, Father Joe, the Honor Guard, the bagpiper- my friend Kearney… Shawna for the montage and my brother in law Don. It was the most moving service I have ever attended… and many people have said the same thing. It showed every aspect of who he was… and who he is- in each of us.

On behalf of the family- I thank each of you. I know these emails have been forwarded- passed along- read to neighbors and friends… I am not sure how many people I reach with my words… but you all, played a part in the journey. Each of you has a piece of my story. Each of you has helped carry my burden.

What happens next? Well… my renters are gone from the Lake City house and we will begin with that project.. then I will move my things from the Dighton house… and begin anew. It’s hard to say when that will happen… it’s simply one day a time right now… and I will cross the next bridge when I see it.

Once I get settled… I am going to take a trip. I need some time to heal. I am thinking seriously about going by myself… to heal and to write. I am going to write my story… and someday I will publish a book.

I want to thank everyone for the kind words- the tolerance of my grammar… and for encouraging me to write this journey down for others to heal along with me. I can honestly say that I don’t feel worthy. I feel my story is plain. It’s my story… I hold it dear to my heart… but because so many of you, urged me forward- I will try.

I am tired… I am sad. I have never felt this much sadness… I don’t know if my heart could handle a single ounce more… it’s overwhelming. It’s consuming and it’s heavy. Sometimes it floods over me like a heavy wet blanket… and I want to curl up and cry for days. Then there are moments when I feel okay.

Okay has always been a good place for me to be… I think I will just try to get through each day…and do the best I can.

One thing- before I close… remember this please- I am broken- but not unrepairable. I may be a mess- but it’s temporary. You can’t fix me… this is mine to heal… my sister Kim, said it best last week when she showed up each day and just sat at the edge of the couch…. “I am here behind the scenes… just in case Denise needs a hug. I sit quietly… out of sight.. just in case she needs anything….”

Thank you so very much to my family for helping me – to not fall.

Thank you so much for not leaving my side and for helping with the auction and the memorial.

I am the blessed one… I got what most people will never, ever have… even if it was for a short time… I still got it.

Thank you Jesus.

Peace and Love,


Denise

*** Side Note:

This is the email that was read fromPaul’s nurse at the VA Hospital:

FWD: Update 6.21.12

Hello Paul & Denise,

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all your narratives on your husband. It has certainly been a great pleasure to meet and work with your family. In my 18 years of being a Registered Nurse, I have never met anyone in my clinical practice as courageous as Paul! I am so inspired by the support and fortitude shown among your family; and your love for God … the almighty!

I would just like to seize this opportunity to say how I feel so blessed that I got the chance to meet you all

And for coming into my life …

Believe me I would ask you to do it again!

I have only known you and your family through this face of immense trial

But because of you Paul, I have gained a deeper meaning of courage and love …

And friendship means a whole lot more to me!

You have also shown me what America can be…What for years we stress in liberty…

And yet, there is more, much more to see.

Paul and Denise, you have turned it all around.

You, through your genuine Hearts and Souls,

Have shown Love – the Love that is only blessed from above!

You have shown me what a friendship should be…

It is Compassion, Love, and Caring for all!

Thank you for what you have taught me …That friends, true friends surpasses all –

Politics, greed, distrust, the hollow shell of loneliness, and fear –

You have turned them around

And now, I hear friendship and freedom’s true sound.

Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Henry for what you have done…

You have created a new life under the Sun

I appreciate your Love and Friendship too!

Love,

Mikailu

***

*** That message touched my heart more than once. Each time I read it- I read more into it. Wow… what a great man- to take the time to encourage us and write such beautiful words. I am grateful too Mikailu… Namaste.

***

Chapter 31

***If you are just joining the blog, you may want to read a few of the previous posts to catch up,  this is a healing journey. It’s my story, as I walked along side of my husband Paul during his battle with cancer. We began this journey in 2011- these are the emails that I used to keep all of our friends and family in the loop. ***

Paul update 6.26.12

This morning at 3:50 am, my Marine went to be with his son, Paul Jr. I can’t even imagine the party they are having right now in Heaven.

He was sleeping peacefully when the Angels took him home. In his hand, clutched to his chest… he held the cross necklace that Mellissa had given him for Father’s day. 

As my heart aches… I am relieved to know he is not suffering. He was surrounded by loved ones for the past few days. We all got to say goodbye and urged him to go be with his son, his parents, his brother…

We will be having a memorial service at my mom’s house in Lake City- the place where Paul and I were married… Where we started the journey as husband and wife… we will say our final goodbye.

I will send an update when we decide on the date and time.

Please blanket the family in love as we mourn. He is a great man… and we won’t soon forget his strength and his love.

Thank you- Peace and Love to you all,

Denise

Memorial Service forPaul 6.27.12

A Memorial Service is planned for Paul Franklin Henry on June 29th at 2:00. Location is XXXXXXXX S XXXXXXXXX, Lake City MI  49651

Parking will be available along the road, across the street and up the driveway- a shuttle will be running.

Please join us to celebrate my husband’s wonderful life and to honor the man that we all loved so much. A luncheon will follow this casual event… just the way he would have wanted it.

A Military Service- with a heartfelt song of praise for the Marine, that touched so many.

*** Side note

I remember the very first morning that I woke up after he was gone, I showered and went to grab my jewelry.

I looked at my daughter with tears in my eyes. I was so lost.

I asked- “At what point, do I stop wearing my wedding ring?”

I didn’t have a clue. I needed to know – what was right? Is there a rule? What’s appropriate?

This. Is. The. Day. My. Healing. Truly. Began.

Alone. Sad. Alone. Grief is so powerful. What was my job now? Who had my answers? Who could help me?

It’s all a blur… I can’t begin to tell you how many people it took to keep me “okay”. It was a lot. Many prayers, many people sending love…

***

Chapter 30

***If you are just joining the blog, you may want to read a few of the previous posts to catch up,  this is a healing journey. It’s my story, as I walked along side of my husband Paul during his battle with cancer. We began this journey in 2011- these are the emails that I used to keep all of our friends and family in the loop. ***

PaulUpdate 6.21.12

Hello Everyone,

We are home. They released Paul yesterday when I got back to the hospital and I was able to bring him home.

He never had pneumonia.

It was the disease causing the fever. The disease causing the pain.

It’s moving and spreading throughout his chest. Primarily his lungs and liver… these are the two major organs that will be affected.

When they diagnosed him as terminal, they told us this would happen… and they were right. He was so lethargic because he wasn’t producing blood. He wasn’t strong enough- or should I say- his immune system was not strong enough… because God knows My Marine is strong enough!

He came home and has barely sat down. His energy level is higher. He kept putzing outside for hours… he built a bonfire and just sat in a chair and watched it. He burnt every scrap piece of anything he could find… he even ate his dinner by the fire. I whipped up some skeeter spray for him… and he sipped his ice water and dozed and putzed. He is medicated. Hopefully the meds will keep the pain at bay.

We talked on the way home about what the Dr.’s said. Here’s the deal… on Saturday when they admitted him and he was all loopy (sometimes talking lucid… other times rambling…) with a fever and meds… we talked about the disease moving. I told him that the chest x-raydidn’t look good. The tech said that it was really cloudy. I told him I was scared… I held his hand. He told me he was worried too. I just kept telling him that it would be okay. I told him I loved him and that it was all going to be okay…

The next day, he told my mom that he kept dreaming last night about me telling him it would be okay. He said he was really glad that it wasn’t his cancer that was doing this, he was thankful it was just the pneumonia.

We decided then- to not tell him any differently.

On Sunday- the pain started. They started him on pain meds to keep him comfortable… nothing stopped it.

At one point… he was moaning and trying to scrunch up his legs… Hailey hopped up and laid her hands on him and prayed. He had tears in his eyes, and said- “Thanks Hailey Pie…”

They gave him several doses of morphine then resorted to dilaudin… he got real sleepy… then- really playful.

For the next few days- he was happy- soft spoken and gentle- and generally in a great mood. Dopey at times, but always smiling. He joked with Hailey and I all day on Monday, he was flirting and sometimes downright silly.

Jennifer called and said she was coming with the baby- and once I told him that… he kept smiling.

He kept rambling about how blessed we were… how exciting- right babe? Then he’d giggle… we would ask him what he was laughing about- with closed eyes… he’d say- “Them babies…” He was giddy. He was so excited that Lydia was coming to see her bampa.

He was beaming when they got there, he showed her off to all the nursing staff… and he just smiled.

His favorite nurses were all tripping over themselves to give him the best care… seriously… they love him there. Sis came in and gave him a big smooch right on the lips. Troy, Jan and Mikailu- all just dote over him. He had great care. We are very blessed.

He was given four pints of blood while he was there. His hemoglobin was so low. That explains the lethargy.

The next morning- the Dr.’s came again on morning rounds- they suggested doing a full chest cat scan. (They had talked on Sunday about doing an abdominal x-ray….but never did.)

The nurse practitioner- the one that Paul disliked from before… the one I had the talk in the hallway with… was a peach this time!! She ordered the CT. They also changed his antibiotics to something stronger… big mistake… The first time ever- he had an allergic reaction. His lips swelled up… he looked like a duck. Oh boy- he had fun with that. He kept telling Mellissa- take a picture of me.. take a picture of me… OhMygoodness… he was a nut.

We told him about our hotel room- and how unusual the layout was… spooky even.. reminded us of the movie The Shining. Seriously, long narrow hallways… chandeliers hanging and that got him going with “REDRUM”…. he and Troy had a great time with that. All day long when anyone would walk past his room- he would lower his voice to get gravely then say “redrum”. At one point he wanted me to write with his red cough syrup on the mirror. Then Troy said- hey-  “Where’s your lipstick? You should write “redrum” on the mirror…” Oh man, they really got to see his humor this time!

His sister Laura and Jerry came up to visit… also my Aunt Linda and Uncle Burt… It was great to have the support of so many people praying and lifting us up.

I had to go home Tuesday – because we closed on the Dighton house on Weds morning- and I needed new clothes. On the way home, Tuesday night … I realized I wouldn’t be there when they discussed the CT results with him in the morning … I was a little apprehensive about how he would react with the news.

Deep down… we all knew it was the cancer…but we honestly did think that he had pneumonia… they were giving him breathing treatments… several back to back antibiotics… and that’s what they told us.

Mellissa and Mike were there when they talked over the results. It was not pneumonia. It was just the disease. It had caused all of the recent symptoms.

I asked why they were doing the other stuff then?? I guess the blood cultures take 48 hours to complete-  so they just found out that it wasn’t pneumonia. When I got to the hospital… he was edgy. Snippy again. The playful Paul surrendered to the fear. UGH….

We spoke about pain meds. How to administer them. How to keep him comfortable. We also talked to the Palliative Care staff… we also got more information on the difference between Palliative care and Hospice. (We already knew this… but it was nice for the girls to have the information too.) We still have the option of home nursing to come once a week or when necessary… more. 

They released him and I brought him home.

He was out in the yard until after 10:00pm… sitting by the fire. I finally made him hop in the shower and convinced him that it was time to head to bed. He slept pretty good- only woke a few times… but got up and came to the couch at 5ish… he was on the couch when I got up at 6:30.. and is still there now. It’s time for breakfast… I think I will let him sleep.

The biggest difference between now and last week- is the meds. He isn’t taking all the dang pills. Only pain meds.

No more bladder stuff… no more prostate stuff… no more high blood pressure…and no more insulin. He will monitor his sugar and may need Glipiszide if his levels are up… but things are different. He has energy. Although right now,  he is peaceful and relaxed.

Okay everyone- I had better start my day. My coffee is cold and I need a shower. Have a blessed day and know he is in good hands. It will take a day or so to get his routine back… once we do-his mood will mellow… it always does.

Thanks again from the bottom of our hearts for the kindness, good energy, prayers, gas cards… we feel the love and appreciate it all.

Peace and Love,

Denise

*** Side Note

We had a bonfire sing along that night, a few neighbors and family came by. They brought guitars, we sat around the fire and listened to the guys playing. It was such a beautiful gift. Looking back now, it was as if it was all planned…

(Insert wink here)

God is so faithful… especially when I am.

***

Chapter 29

***If you are just joining the blog, you may want to read a few of the previous posts to catch up,  this is a healing journey. It’s my story, as I walked along side of my husband Paul during his battle with cancer. We began this journey in 2011- these are the emails that I used to keep all of our friends and family in the loop. ***

Paulupdate 6.15.12

Hello Everyone,

Nothing really big to report, but because everyone keeps asking how things are going… I thought I’d send an email saying things are okay! Nothing medically happening that is noteworthy.

Auction is June 28th at 4:00 pm. Lambert’s will be doing the auction here’s the website  http://lambertauctions.com/ Its open to the public- so come and join us if you’d like.

Our renter is moving out on July 1st, so we are moving- really soon! Just as soon as we can get things done over there… just some basic remodeling and we should be moving mid July! (For those who don’t know, I held onto my place in Lake City when Paul and I married… we we had it rented. It’s a cozy little home in town, just a few blocks from the lake!)

We close on the sale of the Dighton house on Weds- and we are very blessed to have such amazing people supporting us in the sale… you know who you are. The people Paul was buying the home from- decided they wanted to buy it back. A huge weight lifted… and an answered prayer.

He is still taking his natural remedies- and has added Zango to his daily diet as well… we have a few new supplements and he is eagerly trying it all!

Paul has an appointment with the Oncology department on July 9th in Detroit. He is again wavering. He isn’t sure- but thinks he’d like to at least speak to Oncology again, so I think we will keep the appointment.

I have been reading him the book on the natural cancer healing, he is enjoying it- I think this is why he is confused again about chemo. A part of him says he needs to try everything…then he goes back to … it’s just poison! So… time will tell.

He is weak. I mean really lethargic…sleeps a lot. He can’t even walk outside without getting winded. It seems he is fighting a cold… a little chest congestion… raspy cough… but not bringing anything up. He also had a really bad pain the other night in his belly… a horrible ache… then it turned to constant… he took some pain meds- and it was better by the next day.

When new things happen… we always wonder… Is it the disease? Is it just something common?

My mind will go rampant with thoughts if I let it. We can usually talk each other out of the crazies… if we are willing to share. What I mean by this is… Have you ever had thoughts that you just know weren’t true… but you couldn’t stop them… couldn’t stop them from feeling real?  You know that you’re safe… You know you’re okay… but that dang fear just lingers and it takes over and then you start believing that horrible things are right around the corner… You know you’re covered in love… You know you are very supported and are okay… but… You just can’t stop wondering when is it going to happen?

Now… imagine the diagnosis Paul was given… each little symptom makes you wonder. Is this what it is going to be like? Is this the new normal? Is this how it’s going to work?

We usually talk each other thru those thoughts… I honestly think it’s the love and support from all of you- and the other hundreds of people praying for us. I can’t imagine how it would be without your support.

Each and every day someone surprises us with something. I am so honored and humbled by your generosity and love. I seriously can’t beginto say thank you, enough.

Thank you so very much for the gift cards, gas cards, greeting cards, emails and prayers. It’s not easy to accept such an outpouring… it’s difficult because there are so many other people in need… and you all chose to bless us. We thank you.

I miss you all at the gym… 

Peace and Love,

Denise

***Side Note:

I was very blessed in these days with being able to stay at home with Paul. The owners of the gym had my job covered and people all around us were supporting us in numerous ways.

The gym is a franchise 24 hour place with over 500 members… the people covering for me would print these email updates and post them on a bulletin board at the back of the gym. I was told that it was impossible to do any work because everyone kept stopping at the office to get an update. The emails began as a way to gain support from a few close friends… and grew to touch hundreds.

Many people scanned their key fob then walked directly into the board to read the update. It was surreal… I had such loving support and caring people all around me. The last count for the email updates was 120+ and there were hundreds of people in recovery who knew and prayed for us- my friends and family and the people they passed the emails on too- hundreds of people from the gym, my bookclub, people at Paul’s work… and complete strangers.

I received email messages from total strangers. People who had gotten the email from a friend and wanted to encourage us. I haven’t read through the emails recently- it’s been over two years… until today. Today I read them again- they are so encouraging, so uplifting, and all of you- kept encouraging me to keep writing.

Where does this voice of doubt come from? The one that says- really Denise? Come on- they were just being kind… You aren’t a writer. You never even went to college.  I am not sure where that voice comes from. And today- I don’t entertain it. No- I am not a professional writer.

I am a person who walked a scary path. I survived and want to share my story of hope.

Some day, someone else will read this publishing and know they are not alone. My wish is that maybe just one person will find a piece that feels okay to them. My dream is that it will help someone process the grief they are experiencing… and today- that voice that sends those messages of doubt? I know I must honor her. I must honor those parts of me- in order to celebrate the other parts of me. I don’t feed her tho… I don’t hang out with her. I don’t let her tell my story. The person who survived the walk alongside the Marine who didn’t… well- she is the one you’re hearing from today.

***

Paul update 6.20.15

Hello Everyone,

I am home now- came home last night- Paul is in the VA hospital in Saginaw. I brought him to the ER and they admitted him with pneumonia in his left lower lung area. It has been a rough few days- he has had a fever quite a bit of that time. He has had trouble adjusting to pain meds and also an allergic reaction to an antibiotic.

Please keep us in your prayers and good thoughts.

I am not going to go into detail about our struggles- I am going to praise God for his blessings. Seriously… we have had the roughest but the best few days! Paul has been laughing and joking and has had the best temperament during this stay.

As I sit here sipping my morning coffee… my eyes tear up with joy and sorrow. I am overwhelmed by the peace that I have been given. There are so many thoughts that swirl in…  then they swirl back out. The thing I do know is this… we will be okay. No matter what happens. We will be fine. This is just the beginning… really. I am so grateful for the love that we have.

This is what sucks… pardon me… but it does. Some people never get to experience what we have.

Some people go through their whole lives and don’t know this kind of love…

I have been given one of the greatest gifts God has to offer… and I am so thankful. It breaks my heart to know it’s only temporary… to know that in this human body- that I won’t have it forever… but in my spiritual body- I sure will. 

Paul is surrounded by love… Please understand that this is a time for our family. (And believe me.. we have a huge family!) Don’t take it personally – but we are asking to please give us some space. I know I have allowed everyone into our lives with these updates… and I love all the support we have been given. Financial, emotional,spiritual… the list goes on. What I need from everyone is to just send love and prayers. Lift us up- surround us in love. Please wait for the next update… I won’t be answering texts and such anymore. I need to focus on us.

I don’t know how much time we have…it could be months… it could be years… honestly- I do not know. My heart tells me it’s not the latter… we have many things that we need to do. When you think about Paul- just pray. When you wonder how things are… know that they are okay.

It’s not going to change much… and the details don’t matter at this point. Just know that I am taking care of me… taking care of him… and God is taking care of us both. The spiritual energy field that surrounds us is huge… the support that we have is wonderous. We have such beautiful friends… amazing people who take the time each day to help surround us in a blanket of love…

Thanks to everyone again for the giftcards- gas cards- emails- and greeting cards… we are so honored to have you all as friends.

Peace and Love,

Denise

*** Side Note:

Paul had a lot of pain in these days. We found out later that it was the disease in his bones. Bone cancer is so painful.

Once they got his pain under control- he became so peaceful and very playful. I loved this time with him. Hailey was there every day with me and didn’t leave my side. She was reading him jokes and stories from Facebook… We now know these as Meme’s- he thought they were the funniest things!

At one point- he said through closed eyes- with a huge smile on his face… “Cody and I are the luckiest men in the world- aren’t we?”

One of the greatest gifts I think anyone can give you is their time. Those days were hard… but rewarding. I am forever thankful for the time everyone gave us.

Another thing that happened while he was in the hospital- was that his social security disability was approved and he got a check for back pay. A friend of mine told me to let them know that Paul had a failed attempt at going back to work. I wasn’t familiar with any of that… so I just called the Marine at the Soc Sec office and told him those words. He started asking me questions-  and by the end of the conversation- he said he would be approved and he would get it going right away. Because Paul was off work in 2011 with his treatments and then with his recent diagnosis- they were able to use the original dates and approve his claim.

God had our back on that one too.

***

Chapter 28

***If you are just joining the blog, you may want to read a few of the previous posts to catch up,  this is a healing journey. It’s my story, as I walked along side of my husband Paul during his battle with cancer. We began this journey in 2011- these are the emails that I used to keep all of our friends and family in the loop. ***

Paulupdate 6.2.12

Hello Everyone,

We are in Troy tonight. Paul is scheduled at 6:30 for surgery, tomorrow morning… So we came down early.
Today was a great day. Each day he seems to have more strength.

It has been really tough for him to do daily tasks… So when he walked around the driveway yesterday with his ski poles as walking sticks, I was excited. He struggles, he is so weak. His body is betraying his mind.

He thinks he is being lazy because he rests… I keep assuring him that his body is doing everything it can to fight… And it takes a lot of strength to fight… So try to give yourself a break. It’s tough tho… He’s a man… He’s a Marine. He’s tough… So when he gets tired or light headed… It frustrates him. I can’t imagine how humbling this is for him. It melts my heart to see those tired blue eyes staring up from his Calgon bath as I shave his head… I wish I could give him my strength. I wish I could fill him up with love and protein and he could be- all better.

My sister and brother in law came over this afternoon before we left. Over the past few days we have talked about how to calm the crazy in our minds. How to change the doubt and the fear into a heart of gratitude. How do you stay positive and up beat when the outlook is grim? His daughter gave him the sinners prayer in an email a few days ago… We have talked about our beliefs and what we know as our truth. But when you’re faced with stage four cancer and a terminal diagnosis… I guess you really begin to wonder if your understanding is enough?

Today, he has a new peace. They prayed with us and assured him that he was worthy. They talked to him about their own struggles and their own joys. My brother in law, is also receiving treatments for cancer. They helped him to know that he is not alone. They also told him when he gets the negative and the doubt in his head… To just know it’s not of God. To stop the thinking… Usher it out… And to positively know… he is covered with grace! (My wish- is to not share personal details about the talks… But to let everyone know how good he felt when they left.) Thank You- Don and Cindy.

We hopped in the car and hit the road and that’s all he could talk about. How awesome their visit was. How good and filled up he felt. Cancer is such a lonely disease. It will keep you trapped in your own fears and isolate you from your truth. It will fill you with doubt and anger… It’s a dark place to go alone. I am so thankful we have tiki-torches disguised as friends and family to help us keep light in our tunnel.

Tomorrow at 6:30am, he will have a surgery on his bladder to remove a tumor. He is excited for several reasons. First of all- to find out if it’s the same kind of cancer? The other reason is to get it out of his body! And lastly… He wants to hunt down the Oncologist to speak about the possibility of chemo. The Dr. in Detroit who came to speak to him about chemo got his attention. He had all but pushed every other Oncology Dr. out of the room when they mentioned treatments. This guy was different. Different in many ways. He was so knowledgeable and he wasn’t arrogant. He talked with us and answered our questions and told him of some new statistics and treatment possibilities.

He is now leaning towards wanting to try it. Ultimately- it is his decision. I can only gather information for him and support him with his decision- either way. How do you make such decisions? How do you find peace once you make the decision? Would you always second guess your choice to not try it if you didn’t? Would you always wonder if there was more you should’ve done? That’s another reason it was nice to talk to someone else who is going through something similar. The other thing he is thinking of doing- is switching his treatments to Detroit.

Well everyone- it’s 10:16 pm… And 4:30 is going to come real soon… So I need to sign off. Until next time…

Peace and Love,
Denise


Oh.. Wait… Thank you very much to the gym members, friends and family for the prayers, cards, money and gas cards… God Bless you all… Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Namaste~

Paulupdate 6.5.12

June 5

Hello Everyone,

Boy… the days go by so quick! We just got home a little while ago from Detroit. His surgery went well- they kept him overnight for observation… then sent him home this morning. They gave him a private room- at his request, so that I could stay with him. He was comfortable- not much pain…it’s usually done as an outpatient surgery- but because of the terminal diagnosis- they wanted to make sure there weren’t any complications.

They sent him home with a catheter and he has to go back on Friday to have it removed and to make sure he can void(urinate) on his own. At first they told us they would just let me take it out… and the nurse even showed me how… then she came back with discharge papers and said we needed to come back. He said that’s just fine with him… he would like to come back – because he didn’t get to speak to the Oncology Dept. He wants to see if he can track them down when on Friday and either talk or make an appointment to talk about chemo.

We stopped in Saginaw on the way home and changed his advanced directive- to ring more true with his wishes… Not sure if I mentioned it before… but when he signed the paper a few weeks ago- he was not thinking real clearly. My thoughts are that he had some brain swelling… because within a few days- he was talking clearly and no longer paranoid.

We have had a busy few weeks… and please know that I update when I can… or when there is news. You all have to remember- there are many of you… and just one of me. If you’d like to arrange a tier to trickle news down sooner… feel free- but I can’t do it. I can update the kids… and if they want to notify aunts- uncles-friends… and so on… that would be great… But I can’t. Maybe you guys can arrange for someone to make one call and then to notify someone else… and so on…  Honestly… I had nine text messages- all from different people and 7 phone calls since yesterday. I know you all worry… but please know this is what I can do- an email update when I have the time.

My main focus is him.

Here is how the past few days looked.

Sunday- I packed a bag for him, packed a bag for me, loaded the computer- loaded the car. (I always have to pack a bag for a week or more, because you never know what could happen and we are too far from home…) Made breakfast, lunch, cleaned up the house… visited with Hailey and Cody- then Cindy and Don… then we hit the road. We stopped to eat… then drove to Troy- I checked us into a hotel- unpacked the car… made sure he had his meds- then did an email update for everyone. Slept horribly…he was up every hour and couldn’t sleep because he was so anxious. We probably got about two hours of sleep… got up at 4:30- showered- got his stuff ready… got him up and into the shower- packed up the car… then got to the hospitalby 6:10. Got him checked in. Got some coffee and breakfast… and waited until he was out. Went to his room and visited with Mellissa… ate some dinner. (Thanks Missy) Ran to the car got my toothbrush and a change of clothes… and crashed by 9:00. We were both exhausted. Got woke up at midnight, at 2:00 and then again at 5:00 by nurses checking in…  got up at 7 and made coffee and got cleaned up. Got him checked out- rolled him out of the hospital and hit the road at 9:30… stopped for bendryl for him…  then for gas and a coffee for me… stopped in Saginaw… left an hour and a half later… then stopped to grab some lunch. Stopped to empty his cath bag… stopped for him to stretch his legs so the bag would function and run down… then finally rolled in here around 3:30. Unpacked the car- changed his catheter bag- got him some coffee- started laundry… took a shower- yeah for me… then made him dinner and logged on here. SO… my point about this is… I really don’t have time to return his calls, return my calls, answer texts, and all the rest. Please know- I understand your concerns… I do… but there isn’t much more that I can do. You all will just have to wait for the next update.

I am not complaining about what needs to be done. I have gladly taken on this role. I wouldn’t be anywhere else. I am so blessed to be right here by his side. Also- there isn’t anything that anyone else can do to lighten the load… really. We have people who help with the things we can’t do… and we really do have it all covered. I do ask for help when I need it- and I do take care of myself… I have great support.

One of my dear friends once told me…”Denise, We really do teach people how to treat us… ”

So… that is why I am asking you all to be patient. He wants to rest and if you are coming by- please call first. Give him the option to say yes or no… It really is about him.

I love you all- I say this all in Love… Thank you so much for your support and your continued prayers and concern. Please be respectful of our needs too.

Peace and Love,

Denise