Kicking and screaming
I live in a row of 7 townhouses, 6 couples and me. I call it “Baby Row” b/c of the 7 houses, 5 have had pregnancies and or new babies since we’ve met. I am a 43 year childless widow. While I made choices to get here, like waiting patiently for my soul’s mate, making decisions based on my medical challenges and agreeing to be okay when my partner changed his mind and said he did not want more children. I was okay with all of that b/c I knew our love and our partnership. I also knew that he was receptive to fostering and/or possibly adopting later so I had reasonable options as it related to our future. What I did not know at that time was that 2.5 years into our marriage, my athletic, runner of a beautiful husband would be diagnosed with Glioblastoma; often times referred to as the “Terminator” of cancers. It is a type of brain cancer without a cure and grows in tentacle type fashion (think octopus). When it was first discovered doctors would remove whole sections of the brain to control it but the tumors would come back in a section they’d never seen. The statistics are “12-14 months, 18 at best” per our Neurosurgeon in May of 2012.
I refused to believe a man who barely met my husband or I could make a statement like that about us. I did not care about his credentials. I knew our strength and our will. We would not go down without a fight. Fight we did, at 29 months my beautiful husband even ran a half marathon and PLACED in his age group WHILE ON CHEMO!!!! Month 33 was a different story. I finally began to “trust” life again and stepped out for a cooking party with neighbors only to come home with a look of sheer terror on my Beloved’s face. “What happened?” I asked, fearful by his look but expecting him to tell me something happened to a family member. “I knocked over the little black table . . . .” “Okay . . . .” “No, I could not see the little black table!” Immediately the blood felt as if it left my body. We both knew what that meant because the first time he had a tumor he lost partial sight.
From that night forward we relocated to a rental for treatment, sold our home due to an unstable future, bought the aforementioned townhouse to ensure proximity to the hospital and my beautiful husband fought valiantly. 11 months later he would be taken from me. At that time we had yet to move into the townhouse. We purchased it, watched it being built as the developer’s model and lovingly referred to it as “the house of hope”. The day after my husband left my side I received the call for the date we could move in; in 9 weeks.
For 9 weeks between crying, grieving and drinking wine I acted like a person moving, packed boxes, worked from a “to do” list, met contractors to paint things, moved numbingly in a forward like fashion. I knew my husband’s disease intimately but I never chose to think about life without him because I could not appreciate the times with him. I had become the walking dead.
In our quest for success we even got a puppy, Cooper. He was two when my Beloved passed. After Cooper and I moved into the townhouse, our four legged furry child walked me. I would cry behind sunglasses, earbuds in – not listening, just providing a distraction for my grieving brain, I stepped in whatever direction Cooper pulled me. We walked a lot, like 6 plus miles a day a lot. Whenever it was not raining we walked and sometimes we even walked in the rain. I did not realize it at the time but I later learned the neighbors could see my tears; so much for sunglasses hiding them.
I was in a fairly unlived town, a new widow, barely able to stand sometimes and surrounded by growing, thriving, happy families. I was jealous. Why them and why not me? How the fuck did I get here? I was even jealous of the babies, they would kick and scream and people would flock to them with hugs or food or drink or naps and when I kicked and scream it was radio silence and the mortgage and my job and witnessing everyone’s else’s happy life.
There I was and sometimes still am kicking and screaming about my circumstances with no one to assist. I have to figure it the fuck out, all on my own.