Gasping for Air

Knowing your husband is going to die is one of the most devastating feelings you will ever have. I knew my husband was going to die from his cancer and I knew I was going to be alone long before the event ever happened.

Was I mad? You bet I was. Did I cry and scream and shake my fist at God? You bet I did. Did it change anything? No. It did not. The only positive thing about knowing is that you can prepare. Not mentally, because there is no way in hell you can do that. But you are able to contact a lawyer and make out a will and contact a funeral home to make preparations in advance.

Gary and I were married for fifteen years when he passed. If there was ever such a thing as soul mates, he was mine for sure. The love we had for each other was incomprehensible to most people. We worked at the same company and actually sat across from each other at our desks. I could look up any time I wanted and look into his gorgeous blue eyes and know that he loved me like no other man I had ever known. It was electric. We spent 24 hours a day, seven days a week together. We never had an argument or harsh words in all our 15 years together. We did everything together. Even went to the doctor together when Gary’s ulcer started acting up. 

Little did we know that this would be the beginning of a long road ahead that would end very badly for both of us. Turns out, Gary had esophageal cancer. We opted for the surgery where part of his esophagus would be removed and his stomach stretched up to meet the esophagus left intact. Gary was 60 years old when he had the surgery. When I first saw him in the recovery room, he took my breath away. He looked as though he would never recover and it really scared me. We hoped that this surgery would remove all the cancer and it did. For a while. His numbers were good but he was still losing weight and was not himself physically. Gary had always been what I call a “Man’s man.” He was well over six feet tall and handsome as could be. Now this disease was taking its toll on him and I was unsure of what his future would be. Gary went through a whole protocol of chemo and radiation just to make sure the cancer was gone. 

Eventually, Gary was able to return to work and things seemed to be OK. He was thinner and maybe not as energetic as he used to be, but he was alive and with me and that was all that mattered to me. In January 2015 his numbers were good and the doctor was impressed by his recovery. In June of 2014 Gary was stage 4 and the cancer had metastasized itself throughout his body. The doctor ordered new chemo rounds for Gary, but he did not accept them. His previous rounds had made him ill and he just did not want to be sick anymore. He worked up until November of 2015. At that time, he went on hospice at home. In January of 2016 the cancer had consumed him and Gary passed away while sleeping in the recliner. 

The night before he passed, I went outside and cried and prayed to God to either fix him or take him. He took him. 

I was heartbroken. How would I be able to go on without him? He was the rock of my life. Gary had prepared me well. He taught me how to change the oil in the mower and how to clean out the gutters. He taught me to get the oil changed in the car and how to clean out the lint filter on the dryer every time you used it. I knew how to navigate the mechanics of my life. I made lists and put dates on the calendar so I wouldn’t forget anything. I could do the day-to-day stuff; I could not fill the void he left in me. Half of my heart was gone. My reason for living was gone, so what’s the point?

It has been four years now and I am just now leaving my mourning state. I love Gary and I always will be his wife. I know that God has a purpose for me and I look forward to the new year with great anticipation. My best advice is to learn all you can about what your spouse does in your relationship. Make sure that you can take care of yourself on a day–to–day basis. When someone dies, friends and family become close and are there to help, but once the funeral is over and time has passed, they become immersed in their own lives. You are not forgotten, but are not foremost in their minds any longer. You will need to be your own best friend. I remember running my car through the car wash crying like a baby because Gray always did this for me. For the first few months I dreaded going to the grocery store alone. Gary always went with me and it was an adventure! Friends always said it would get better as time went by. It does not get BETTER. It gets DIFFERENT. I hate the word “
because in my heart, it does not exist. Gary will never leave my heart but the hole he left is beginning to get smaller. It is MY life now. Mine to do whatever I desire. I have gained strength with this loss. Something I didn’t know I had. I am getting stronger and more independent every day and I have Gary to thank for it. He taught me well!