Staring into the Sun – One Month a Widow

I’m ok. Taking it one day at a time. Some days are better than others.

If you’ve spoken to me in the past month you’ve probably heard these responses to your questions about my general health and well being. If you haven’t spoken to me please rest assured that – I’m ok, taking it one day at a time, and that some days are better than others. Also, don’t feel bad if you haven’t spoken to me because I’m not much for talking at the moment – mostly because people keep asking me how I’m doing and I’m sick of saying that I’m ok and taking it one day at a time because some days are better than others.

I’d like it if we could be as blunt with each other as Mike the Verizon guy and I were when I finally had the energy to have my husband’s line disconnected after three weeks of paying for a service that he was decidedly no longer using.

Mike: Will your husband be keeping 
the line and activating service
with us or another company?
Julie: No, he's dead. 
Mike: Ok. Understood.

But, that wouldn’t be polite. Social convention dictates how our conversation should go. You ask me how I’m doing and I respond with one of the aforementioned platitudes that falls somewhere between the oft spoke – I’m good, great or well (there’s no way you’d buy that anyways)and saying anything that would result in you asking more questions about how I’m actually doing.

The reality is that I’m not really ok. I am taking things slowly but it’s more like one minute at a time, and although some days are indeed better than others, most days during this past month have been pretty terrible. Losing my husband was the most painful, traumatic, horrifically terrifying experience I have ever had, and being forced to rebuild my life from the scraps of what once was, just plain sucks.

With 28 months to prepare for this moment you would think I would have been more prepared, especially since a grade 4 brain cancer diagnosis does not carry with it much hope. Even with the most aggressive course of treatment available we were told to expect no more than another year together, so the fact that he lived for two years and some change was somewhat miraculous. But still, we hoped. We hoped he’d be the odd one for whom all of the treatments worked. We hoped he’d be part of the mere 10% who live 5 years past diagnosis. We hoped he’d be the one who gave others hope spending the rest of his long life inspiring them by standing up and saying “look, I made it and you can too!”

We balanced our hope with reality because we understood that the odds were not in our favor. We talked about dying and funerals, what he would want his legacy to be, and discussed me moving on without him. But we couldn’t linger in those moments for too long. We had to keep hope firmly in our sights while giving only an occasional glance to reality. Staring at reality was like staring into the sun – a blindingly painful reminder of what was to come.

A month after his death and glancing at reality is no longer an option. While hope still exists it has now been banished to the periphery, and exists in a form that no longer matches the life I once knew. Glancing at this new version of hope hurts almost as much as staring at reality. And so I find myself just constantly staring into the sun.

But… I’m ok. Taking it one day at a time. Some days are better than others.