Monday, June 15, 2009

June 15, 2009

Tomorrow is Day 60.

60 days ago Art died. 64 days ago he lost consciousness. 65 days ago I spoke to him on the phone. 66 days ago I cried with him when he told me they needed to admit him again.

It feels like I've been here for 165 or 365 or 1065 days. This quagmire is deep.

When I think of him, and us, in the future, I can't tell how much of that is true and how much of that is made up, a fantasy of sorts.

Here's why

Our marriage was falling apart.

That's one of the dirty little secrets I am left with.

When someone close to you dies, they leave you with these secrets. These little shameful secrets and you carry them around with you and you think of it whenever someone unknowingly talks about the thing that leads to the secret.

That was one of ours. We were heading for divorce.

It started before the first bout with cancer and then we just ran around trying to plug holes to keep the boat afloat.

The re-occurrence had the same effect as that stuff you pour into your car. It clogs the leaks in the engine but also gums it up. It prolongs the workings but it's only a matter of time before it will needs to be replaced.

And now when I think of Art, I remember how God awful much I loved him. I don't remember the disappointments, the sadness, the estrangement.

And that makes his loss that much harder. I fantasize about a good marriage that would have been had he not died. But I am lying to myself. It doesn't feel like a lie.

I'm confused.

It's like I have two opposing emotions.

The loss is gigantic.

I think this is where angles come from. We don't think of the bad parts of the angles, only the good part.

If he is an angel in death, then I feel far less than holy.

I feel unworthy and crappy. I am left with the guilt, the anger, the shame. He's left looking like an angel.

The question for me is:

Can I reconcile my feelings of loss with the truth of where we were in our marriage? Are they even reconcilable?

God, there has to be away. This is a bag I do not wish to carry.


  1. I don't think you have to reconcile the two things (actually, I don't think you *have* to do anything...there is no manual for this, and the only rules are the ones that keep you breathing through this at the end of the day) can mourn whatever part of the loss, and whatever part of the man, that feels real to you. It makes no difference where you were headed. You are where you are now.

    My father died 10 years ago today, and now we are able to laugh as a family about how we canonized "Saint Don" in the days after cancer took him....although I loved him with everything in me--and still do--he was impossible, stubborn, had raging OCD, was afraid of rubber products (really!), drank too much and was far from a saint. I think we all do it when we are trying to process a loss, but we don't have to accept that temporary pedestal we place them on leaves us standing somehow below them holding the bag.

    In love,


  2. You are so strong, I think I would have crumbled and withered away faced with what you are going through. And the baggage will get lighter and probably welcome at times. From where I stand You and Art were in this together Start to finish, whenever, where ever the finish line is.
    Take care sweetie.

  3. I'm trying to come up with the words to express what I want to say and coming up short. You did, you do, what you need to do at the time and that's all anyone can ask.

    People are imperfect, relationships are imperfect even the best of them.

    The thing I wish for all those who survive a loved-one's death is for them to realize that we all do the best we can, with what we can. You were with him at the end. You stayed. There are some who wouldn't have. He is grateful.

  4. I'm sorry if my words are ineloquent. I always hesitate to comment on things like this because I lack the right words.


  5. Kim, First of all, I am so proud of you for allowing yourself the relief of this burden by sharing it. Now you are not alone in it. I've been holding your secret because it was never mine to share. But that's just the job of being a friend. What you did takes courage. I admire you for the strength it took to be there for Art before and during the cancers. A weaker person might not have been able to do so. This may be confusing... and I certainly don't have the answers never having been through the loss of a husband. But when my dad died, I experienced something similar. As great a dad as he was, he was very imperfect (who isn't?). There were rumors and some evidence of less than admirable, let's call it, "behavior." Yet, all I can remember is how good a dad he was. How much I miss him and love him. That's a gift, my opinion. I hope you will come to see that to be true, too. You gave Art so much in the last years and days of his life. You, my friend, are as much an angel. And you're still here. Lucky us. XOXO Love you, Carrie

  6. You don't know me but I feel your pain. We aren't in the same situation, and yet it feels the same.

    28 days ago my husband walked out. I was not prepared, had no idea, thought we had a great marriage. And now I try to remember the bad times we had because remembering the good hurts too bad.

    But you can remember the good because he didn't make this choice. If things had worked out differently there *is* a chance the two of you could have fixed your marriage.

    You don't have to reconcile anything, sweetie. Just breathe, and be, and remember the good times. I don't think you would be hurting so much if you didn't love him, and love is what makes a marriage.

    I'm sorry you're hurting, and I wish I could take it away for you. Hang in there, babe. You'll get through this.

  7. Anonymous12:45 PM

    Loss is loss, no matter what kind of guilt, conflict, estrangement, frustrations, good times, and times of peace you go through. Going through the process of grieving for that loss basically sucks because of all that it brings up. Because of your honesty and openness about all that you've gone through just means that you are dealing with every piece of it and becoming a stronger person. It says a lot about your strength of character that you chose to stay with Art and fight with him through his rounds of cancer. I think all marriages have times when they're falling apart and times when you're just patching the holes. It's whether or not you chose to remain committed or chose to go in different directions that differentiates those who stay in marriages (for the right or wrong reasons). Thanks for sharing your process with us, you're constantly making me think and deal with my own conflicts in life.
    Julie B.

  8. Wow, I am just discovering your very powerful account of your husband's last days and your loss. I'll keep reading. Hopefully we can connect and share.

    I'm so sorry for your loss!



  9. Kim, thanks so much for sharing this. I remember you saying to me (before Art died), "I don't know where our marriage is heading." I had no idea what this meant and I felt confused. But never having been married I thought this was "code" for something only married people could understand.

  10. Great writing, great blog! I added you to my blogroll, Cancer Blog Links, at Also...Open invitation to you and your readers to participate in the Being Cancer Book Club. This month we are discussing “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch. “...the lecture he gave ... was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because “time is all you have…and you may find one day that you have less than you think”). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.”
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