On August 31, 2015, Ben posted on this blog. It had been awhile since he had written, hence the title of his post which was “It’s Been Awhile.” (Clever man thinking up that title all by himself). That day was one of the few times he acknowledged his pending death in a forum that he knew I could access. He wrote “My visits to the BC Cancer Agency only serve to re-enforce my suspicions that by this time next year I’ll be nothing but a memory to everyone. A fond one perhaps, but only a memory.”
How could a year have passed since that day? How is it that he has been gone 7 1/2 months? He has been gone now for almost as long as he suffered with the knowledge that he had cancer. I still cannot believe it is true. I still wait for him to come home. I have read that for some people, the waiting never ends.
In any case, other than that one post on this day last year, he never spoke of himself dying to the kids and I until the very end. I know he thought he was protecting us all those months. Even last December when we discussed what we wanted Christmas 2015 to be about I cried, “If this is our last Christmas together….” and he cut me off and said, “It won’t be. It won’t be.” I know now he said it more for me than himself.
All year I thought he didn’t know what the ending would be. I thought this post he wrote (click here) was a one off. I honestly thought he forgot he wrote it. But over the course of the past few months since his death I have read things Ben wrote where it is clear he knew what was happening. And he was so sad. My heart shatters all over again every time I think of him suffering emotionally in silence, with a smile on his face whenever he could manage it.
While it was all happening I consoled myself with the fact that he believed there would be a happy ending, so he didn’t have to live with the emotional torture in addition to the physical torture. I thought it was better for that to be my burden, that it was better for me to carry that for him since he was already in so much physical pain. I didn’t want him to carry the emotional pain of wondering if each day was his last.
Now sometimes I physically feel I may vomit when I think about the anguish he must have felt as he watched the rest of us sleep, because he knew. Sometimes I love him for trying to protect the kids and I, and sometimes I hate that he never sat me down and told me what to do after he died. But mostly I am tortured by the fact that he carried that knowledge, and I pray every day that he really did forget because of all the meds. I think sometimes at least, that may have been true.
Now one year has flown by and I find myself celebrating my Dad’s retirement from teaching. I’m so proud of my Dad. I’m also very lucky that I’m his favourite child. (That’s right, Lisa and Barb. As Dr. B once said when Ben was in a drug induced state and asked me if I had confessed to my crimes …. “the truth shall set you free.”) I’m very happy that I was able to celebrate with my family tonight, despite my somewhat melancholy and a tad angry mood (which I do try daily to shake off, but some days are just harder than others). We raised a glass to Ben tonight …. he would have had a good laugh teasing my Dad about retirement. There would have been a lot of digs about “How does one retire from a job they only went to for an hour a day?” I think Ben was probably there drinking right along with us.
September 24th would have been our 22nd wedding anniversary. We will inter his ashes that day. The ending to our story, on the same day it began.
I miss you Ben. The world just isn’t the same without you.