***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. ***
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.
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~