I learned how to be non-committal with plans, how to read bad news off a doctor’s face before they even said anything, and how to hold in tears until a safe distance from pitiful eyes. I learned to stifle the guilt between either being with my husband at his appointments/hospital stays or being with our newborn baby. I’ve watched him get pieces of bone chipped off for a biopsy without anesthesia, I’ve seen him shake uncontrollably from being in terrible pain, I watched family and friends treat him like his cancer was no big deal, and I watched the sparkle behind his eyes disappear. I’ve seen enough for a therapist to have job security.
What I want you to know is that loving a dying man is a lot like dying yourself. Every ache and pain, every sleepless night, every weak moment hurts. I don’t claim to know what my husband went through during his five year battle, but watching him suffer was a different kind of painful.
Despite it all and even though we held onto hope, I still learned to say everything I wanted to say. I learned to be really present in moments that we had. I learned that the cover of a person comes off quickly during times of trial. I was lucky that the inside of my husband was just as good looking as the outside.
I discovered that when your worst fears begin coming true, you really get to see what you and the people around you are made of. I fought for my husband’s last wish to come home and be with his family, I made sure he knew he was loved so much I would let him go, and I held his hand until he was no longer here. I watched my family sacrifice to be with me in my time of need, friends and strangers provide incredible kindness toward our family, and I watched my husband’s legacy live on.
What I want you to know is that my husband’s death was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. But it also brought forth a strength I thought I was incapable of possessing. Loving a dying man allowed me to love and be loved enough in five years to last me a lifetime. What I want you to know is that even though it was a difficult road to travel, loving that dying man was the best decision I ever made.