Three years ago I was planning to walk down the aisle and now I’m planning a funeral. I don’t know if it’s fair or right but I know, it is what is it.
I married Joe Clark November 18, 2011. Hands down, the very best highlight of my life. Don’t judge me for saying it was maybe even better than the whole child birth thing because it involved fake eyelashes and vodka instead of hospital gowns and epidurals.
I remember that entire day feeling like 100 proof joy was running though my veins. I had never felt a peace over me the way I did that day. Even with Joe’s cancer diagnosis just two months before, I knew we were doing the right thing. I knew this was the greatest love I had ever known.
Even now as I sit by his bed and help the nurses roll him from side to side or brush his hair, I feel that same love and peace I felt that day.
Joe is hardly responsive but when I walk in the room and start to talk he tries to open his eyes, his lips pucker to give me a kiss and the nurses seem in awe that he has the strength or will to do this.
How are you surviving? I’m asked.
I’m surviving off the slow drip of the love I still feel from the man I married. I’m scared and worried about the withdrawal when that drug that has fueled me is suddenly taken away. I have no job. I have no husband. I have no idea what I’m going to do next.
I miss him already even though I can still hear him breathing. It’s the strangest things that send a knife through my heart. Like, I hate that I can’t show him the picture of Kim Kardashian’s butt. We would have loved talking about that one and I can just hear the comments he’d have.
Because of cancer there is so much I’ve already mourned. I stopped for sushi and it’s reflex to say, “Joe and I always get the spicy tuna.” But it doesn’t hurt like it did a year ago because it’s been that long since we’ve been able to have the date nights we used to get before cancer, before surgery, before so much has been taken from us. But it’s just when you think you have control that an episode of Love It or List It comes on and you hear Joe’s voice in your head complaining about how they always love it. I hope that time will turn the pain I feel now into a happy, warm memory.
I hate that I want to text him at night only to see his phone in my own hand. I hate that this is happening so close to the happiest day of my life.
Then again, I guess I find comfort in it. Instead of circling some dreaded death day on my calendar I’ll continue to think about this time as the happiest of my life because I have to find away to celebrate because it’s just so much easier than hurting.
Joe has been at the hospice house now for 12 days. These are the longest days of my life. There’s little to do but sit and stare and think and stare and sit some more. Someday these days will only seem like a blur that I hope to put in a box in the back of my head so the happy memories have room to move to the front.
“No more pain,” I whisper in his ear, “It’s okay Joe, go to your cloud.”
The nurses tell me he’s on a journey. He nods his head that he’s okay but I wish I could crawl inside his mind to know that he’s at peace.
Three years just doesn’t feel like enough time. One more day, I’ll think. One more bucket list. One more memory. Should I hurt more or less than someone who has been married 20 years? Should I grieve for the time we had or the time we didn’t get?
The counselors tell me I’ll be a total whack job for one year. I don’t know how they measure the path of grief but they all say the same thing. One year, I’ll be nuts. One social worker told me I can be as big of a b*tch as I want to be, so I plan to take full advantage. Watch out now.
I hope that’s enough time, 12 months. I hope it doesn’t hurt that long.
There’s just never enough time to be fulfilled, to heal, to hold on.