Some people become widows in the blink of an eye, a tragic accident or sudden death. Some become widows after what I can only imagine a long grueling battle with an illness.
My story was neither of those, although it seemed quick to most it was a grueling few weeks for us. My husband died of a very rare brain disease. This disease is said to strike only one in one million people worldwide and there is no cure.
When I first heard the name of the heinous disease that eventually stole him from us, I didn’t know what to think, not knowing anything about it. Once I was able to google and learn more, my life shifted forever. The next few weeks were filled with doctor appointments, phone calls, hundreds of tests to “rule out” everything else, and various treatments, most of which I realize now was just grasping at straws and probably done because of my then irrational insistence.
Once all else was ruled out, I was faced with the unimaginable.
How do you tell your three children that their father is going to die? I remember that day so clearly it is forever embedded in my brain. I had rehearsed it in my head for two days, the exact words, and it played over and over in my head like a jingle from a commercial.
My girls were home and I waited for my son to come home from an exam. I had them sit on the couch next to me, trying with all my physical and emotional strength to wrap my arms around all of them.
“What Daddy has there is no cure for,” those were the words, the sorrowful jingle that still plays in my head. The silence was deafening…
I watched the color drain from their beautiful faces, the faces that we together as parents held so close, so lovingly and with such passion for 16 years. Those eight horrendous words felt like I took a knife directly to their hearts. The rest is a bit foggy – there were questions and tears of course, but I can’t really remember exactly what was said at that point.
I was broken, they were broken, and now we had to pick up these broken pieces and gather up the strength to go see Daddy in hospice.
We got in the car and drove to hospice to see him, first we went in the room together as they were apprehensive to see him. I then gave each of my children a few minutes alone with their dad. He said a few poignant words to each of them individually, all of which I hope will forever remain with them.
He spent 21 days in hospice, it was neither too long nor too short. I didn’t want him to suffer, wanted him to keep his dignity, but at the same time I wasn’t ready to let go. The fear of what was to come next was a concept I don’t think anyone could grasp.
Those 21 days brought many friends, old stories, songs, laughs and tears. People came to see him that I didn’t even know, people with beautiful stories of kindness, forgiveness, and love. He knew we were there, he responded to us with his eyes, a brief smile or a squeeze of your hand.
These were the days when I was awakened to what is paramount in life.
You don’t always see what is right in front of you, stop and look, see what is really there. Don’t rush, don’t wish for tomorrow, love today. Humans are flawed characters every one of us; we all want to be loved, we all want to be forgiven, we all want peace. Find love and forgiveness and you will have peace.
I am a widowed mother of three youngish children, ages 20, 17, and 15 and two delicious canines. I lost my husband a little over 3 years ago to a very rare brain disease. I am a former elementary school teacher who has since found solace in putting pen to paper and journaling my story even if only for myself. I hope by now sharing my journey I can help others who are now or who have walked in the same shoes of widowhood.