Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009 The Cancer's Return

Today I am finding it hard to be grateful.

In my head, when I tell myself I am grateful for ....

the kids
the ranch
my cousin
the car rental
the ....

it feels shallow, insincere and like I'm just saying it. Ya get it over with

So I stop.

And in that space, that space that I am often so afraid of, I find

a sob.

In the nothingness I have been feeling for days comes the truth.

365 days ago was the first time Art said he didn't feel well.

He called his doctor who said, "It's not cancer. Your tests from last month are clear."

And from the stop, the pause, the release from the force to feel grateful comes one giant


What if I had insisted the doctor see Art?

What if I hadn't gone to CT to help my mom move?

What if I just got strong and firm and said "I am bringing him in, you need to set up an appointment for a test. You will do it. This is my husband."

And the doctor would have too.

And I wonder, if I had, if we had caught it earlier,

before he lost 20 lbs.,

before the embolisms formed and found their way to his lungs,

before he was so sick and weak

would he

be here?

Would he be here to romp with us at the ranch?

Would he be here to ride with Ezra on the ATV, to watch Pallas on her first trail ride, or teach her to drive the ATV solo?

Would he be here to sip the good wine, reminisce about our first visit over 6 years ago.

And in my mind, I believe he would be. He was strong, a quiet force of nature. He would have made it if he hadn't been so sick when we first caught it.

I am not God. I cannot say for sure. But I was his wife. I watched closely as he fought the first battle and I saw the defeat the second time, before I knew what to call it.

I am not responsible I tell myself. But ya know what....a small piece of me doesn't believe that. I saw him through the first time and I believe that somehow I failed him the second.

This has nothing to do with logic. Nothing to do with facts. Or really to do with Art's part in his own health. Guilt is not logical. On this day, and the days leading up to the moment I choose to write this morning, it is what I believe.

I know this is part of the process of walking in the grief. Of making it to the other side that promises wisdom and peace and softness in knowing that fallacy is a just as much a gift as success.

My thoughts of failing him explain my fear of H1N1. If I failed him then, how can I possible trust myself to make any good decisions for the kids, now. My perceived failure in those earlier days before we knew it was cancer come alive in me every time I have to make a health decision for my kids.

So on this Thanksgiving, today. I am grateful for ...

I don't know.

I guess I am grateful that these thoughts will clear. And that maybe in the next breath, or the one after, I will be able to forgive myself, lessen my power in keeping him alive.

In the next breath, maybe, I will laugh at how Art missed Ezra trying to sneak up on a lamb, confident that the lamb nor its mother knew he was coming and then say to me "Mom, it's like they knew I was trying to catch them. Next time....pause....I will make them think I am just going for a walk near them."

"Next time" I say to myself. Next time...I am grateful that the next breath give me a "next time."


  1. Kim,
    I've was introduced to your blog from Widow's Voice and I'm just a little ahead of you on this journey; my husband died suddenly on March 20th of this year. The guilt and the "what if I'd only ..." are something I completely recognize. These two recurring themes played like a CD on repeat in my head. 8 months ago they haunted me. But I read somewhere that when thinking about guilt we need to change our perspective. Think about if it had been you who had got cancer, instead of Art, and it was you who died. Would you want Art feeling responsible for all the things he might have done that may have made a difference? Or would you want him to realize that he did the very best he could with the information he had while living a busy family life and all that it entails? Would you want him to feel guilt, or would you want him to let it go, knowing he'd done the best he could at the time, knowing that you loved him and only wanted the best for him?

    Thinking about all my woulda, coulda, shoulda's after my husband's heart attack from this different perspective helped me release a lot of my guilt. That doesn't mean that I still don't feel it sometimes, but it doesn't overwhelm me anymore.

    We were busy wives and mothers and we did the very best we could at the time. It is not our fault that our husbands died. For our own health, we need to release a little guilt, like a helium balloon. Let off the pressure valve, and hopefully a little peace will find its way in.


  2. Everything I think to say is wrong...its all just wrong. You are Arts wife and you are doing everything in you power to be the best wife, mother, woman that you can be. I know it sounds like a cheesy AD but its are their touchstone, their rock.