How Long Will I Love Him?

Where did December come from? We are more than halfway through the month and I feel as though I’m on a fast moving train that is careening out of control towards 2018. I was looking forward to / expecting an easier December than last year, so I was caught surprisingly off guard by how hard it hit me. It is definitely not easier. Turns out, it’s even harder and far more lonely.

As the end of November rolled around I started to notice how angry I was getting, for no good reason at all. I don’t like feeling angry. It’s wasted energy that I don’t want to put out into the Universe. But after a few days of leaving bursts of angry words hanging out there in space it occurred to me that my whole body was awakening to the fact that December was approaching. It seems that without consciously thinking about it, my whole being instinctively knew that Christmas was coming – a time we traditionally enjoyed as a family and looked forward to, and now we face yet another without Ben. December now brings with it reminders of how much pain Ben was in by this time in 2015. It brings reminders of his utter disbelief that he could be dying, and that no one was going to step in and save his life. December brings reminders of our Last Christmas. The end of December brings about January, and January brought death.

Cancer stole peace from the month of December. Death stole possibility and wonder from every New Year.

Within the first few days of December I found myself exhausted from just living life, worn out with the realization that I have not seen My Love for almost two years. And for those who have created a vague, romantic idea of life after loss, let me tell you how it really goes. People move on. People who are not personally immersed in grief cannot spend their days allowing themselves to be sucked dry of all happiness, even if they love you. I think that is one part self preservation, one part boredom over constantly hearing the same stories of despair, and one part basic human nature to forget what is not technically yours. (ie: grief).

As for me, I am grateful for the fact that I am able to think rationally about situations and don’t allow myself to get sucked into the “nobody loves me or gives a shit” type of mentality that some others seem to unable to avoid. Logically, I know I am loved, I know Ben was loved, and I know that he is still missed. But I would venture to say that I am the only person in existence who has not gone one single day out of the last six hundred and ninety-ish days without thinking of him and physically aching over his loss.

For me, six hundred and ninety days have done nothing to diminish the surprise I feel that he is not walking through the door. The shock that he’s gone. The despair, the aching, the longing for him. And so, because I live with those feelings every single moment of every single day, it hurts me to watch life pass by without him and to watch everyone else do exactly what they are supposed to do with their lives … live them. The head and the heart don’t marry up sometimes, I suppose.

As I watched Raegan play soccer earlier in the month I was listening to the other parents talk and cheer, and despite the smile on my face I found myself angry over the fact that they could continue to enjoy soccer without Ben’s quiet presence on the sidelines. How dare they get to enjoy one of the things Ben loved most! When I was discussing the 2018 European vacation with my friends I lost my breath for a moment when I realized that Ben doesn’t get to come. How dare we all make these plans without him! Irrational? Yes. But that is what happens in my head every moment of every day and I cannot stop that train. Even in the car I look at every store, every turn in the road, every park around town and think “I remember when I was there with Ben.” I don’t think I will ever be able to escape that and so I am often only listening to people with half an ear as my mind wanders to “that one time Ben walked into that store, or pulled into that parking lot, or dropped me off at that front door, or walked down that street with me.”

This month brought about a long awaited surgery that I needed in a town we rarely went to, but as I entered the 10 block radius of the hospital for my pre surgery appointment I found my heart starting to beat a little faster and that old “frienemy” Anxiety began making an appearance. I couldn’t figure out why I was feeling that way until I pulled up to the front of what I had thought was a completely unfamiliar hospital, and I saw Ben standing there. Right here:


I could see him clear as day, standing at the side of my car. I watched myself folding up his walker to put in the trunk. He was weak and he had trouble walking, and he suddenly burst into tears of frustration, pain and despair. And it was in that moment that I remembered that it was at that hospital where Ben had received his Nivolumab. That was the hospital Ben thought would save his life. It did not.

As I walked through the hallways I saw Ben everywhere, and memories I had previously banished to the recesses of my mind came back full force. I wanted to lay down on the floor and cry. How dare this hospital continue to function after failing to save Ben’s life? How dare all the staff continue on with their work and fail to recognize that they had failed my Ben?

In 2015 this was My Ben, The Titan, in the hallway of this very hospital.  He was trying to get to his chemo but he was too tired to keep walking:


On the day I was there for my own surgery the space where he once sat in front of the window to catch his breath was empty.  But I saw him.


The young widow of a man who died in 2013 wrote this a few years back: “Those of us who have lost a spouse endure a particularly gutting kind of stress that eats away at our protective barriers. In 1949, two psychiatrists at the University of Washington set out to study stressful life events and the ways they contribute to illness. For 15 years, the duo studied 5,000 patients. At the end of the study period, death of a spouse topped their list of cataclysmic life events. The authors assigned it a value of 100. Far behind in second place, with 73 points, was divorce. Nearly 50 years have passed since they published that study, and the results still stand. The stress of losing a spouse permeates every part of one’s body, affecting each cell and manifesting tremendous physiological changes. Cortisol levels rise, and sleep is disrupted. Heart rate and blood pressure increases. Your neutrophils – a white blood cell that fights infection – become less effective, particularly in the elderly. Your cells begin to falter in their responsibilities, your immune system weakens, and you fall prey to countless illnesses that, under normal circumstances, would be held at bay.”

There is no escape from the side effects of losing Ben. My brain has not caught up and it plays nasty tricks on me about where Ben may be and when he is coming home. I still want to talk to him all the time, and I am saving things up to tell him when I see him. I want to ask him how he felt when he died. I want to know if he knew he was loved. I want to know if he knew we were all there, and if he heard the music we played, and if he felt peace or irritation over the fact that we wouldn’t shut up. I want to text him a play by play of Raegan’s soccer game on the days he can’t make it and I want to hear him ask me “What do you want for dinner?”  I want to hear him complain about me turning on the Christmas lights too early.

Life is complicated now, where it was once so simple. I am no longer very rational and my mood can change on a dime.  I waffle between four main feelings …. the agony of missing Ben, the understanding that life is for the living, an overwhelming sense of completely irrational anger when I observe others living life, and guilt on the days where I find glimpses of happiness or future potential.

How Long Will I Love Him?  In the words of Ellie Goulding … “As long as stars are above you.  And longer if I may.” Listen here.



No More Fucks To Give

Over the last twenty months there have been several things that have made me angry. Finding out My Love was dying was second on the list.  Watching him die tops out as number one.

But there were other things that have ranked pretty high on my anger list too.  One of them was when the crazy neighbour kid with the behaviour problems spewed hatred in front of Raegan and yelled at me “why don’t you just go die and join your husband!”  That little incident took place when I came upon him in the street screaming in fury at his mother. When I stopped to try to talk him down, he screamed out that horrifying and hearltless comment and made Raegan cry.  A mere two months after my (then) fourteen year old daughter watched her beloved Dad die right in front of her, some asshole kid with anger issues and a violent temper knocks her down further.  I  wrote about that in this post.

Interspersed over the last (almost) two years were some other anger-causing incidents. There were the various times when Ben writhed in an agony that no one else in the world could ever tolerate.  There was the time when he no longer knew who I was and he believed he was drowning, and the time when his daughters patiently cleaned up after him and tried to save his dignity.  All those things and more made me angry.  I was angry when, shortly after my beloved husband died, someone dared to say to me “there is no greater loss than that of a child.” Was that was supposed to  be soothing and remind me that something worse could have happened?

Over the last (almost) two years I remained as calm and composed as I could, for Ben’s sake and for the kids.  I have done my best to be understanding when people have unknowingly said insensitive things, and I have reminded myself that they can’t possibly know what I’m going through so I have always tried to cut them some slack and just let it go.

But tonight …. tonight I am done.  Tonight I no longer have any fucks to give.  (Paula is going to love that I just said that.  Right Paula?!  It’s our favourite line.  Well, that and douchetard).  Anyway, tonight I simply don’t have it in me to find an excuse for what just happened.  And since the kids and I are the ONLY people who matter in our world right now, and since I write this blog for the purpose of relieving myself of some of the agony that goes on in my head, I am going to tell you what just happened.  Because I don’t give a fuck about making excuses for idiots any longer and I don’t give a fuck about being polite.

Tonight I received a text from a number I didn’t recognize, but as I began reading it I became aware that it was from someone I once knew.  Someone I have not been friends with for several years, for a very specific reason that doesn’t need rehashing right now since that is not why I am angry.  Mother  of the delightful neighbor boy previously mentioned.

The background of this story tonight (and what the person who sent the text to me had no knowledge of) was that I came home from work the other day feeling particularly sad. Christmas is around the corner, and My Love is gone.  The kids have suffered so terribly and I fear how I will make it through the holidays without crumbling into a ball of nothingness.  I am sad.  So sad.  I miss Ben terribly.  So terribly that I physically feel it in my heart.  That is how I was feeling on this particular day when I arrived home from work.

My thoughts were on Ben as I got out of my car and walked towards the mailbox.  I was completely preoccupied with trying to hold down the vomit and the pain I was feeling at the same time as I thought about Ben, as I constantly do.   And as I was walking to the mailbox I was vaguely aware that the boyfriend of the woman I was once friends with in another lifetime was also walking to the same mailbox.  The thought barely registered with me … I just walked there, waited my turn, got my mail and walked home.  He did the same.  At least I think he did …. like I said, I was preoccupied and didn’t pay him any attention.  In theory he could have danced naked in front of me and I still wouldn’t have noticed.  Ben.  Ben.  Ben.  That’s all I was thinking. That’s all I ever think.

I haven’t given that little “incident” another thought.  Can walking to the mailbox, not saying a word, and walking home even be called an “incident”???  In any case, out of the blue tonight I received this random text:


Lets treat each other with respect and compassion?  WTF?  I actually had to re-read that text because I literally couldn’t believe that walking quietly to the mailbox and back without a word resulted in being accused of avoiding eye contact, ignoring, and an implied lack of compassion.  On my part.  (Wait … wasn’t it my husband that just died?  Wasn’t it my world that fell apart?) So again I say WTF?!!! Could it actually be possible that someone would think there was anything ok about that text?  It’s almost fascinating to know that someone can be so fucking out of touch with reality that they could think that I wouldn’t have anything bigger on my mind then whether or not I made fucking eye contact with their boyfriend!!!!  Could another human being actually be that ridiculously self absorbed???  Is that even possible?


Well yes, apparently it is.  And after I stared at the text in disbelief and quickly sifted through all the horror I have witnessed over the last slightly-less-than-two-years, I responded with this:


And then, just to ensure it ended I wrote:


That should be enough, right?  That would surely make this sod pause and think “oops … yeah, duh.  I guess watching the love of your life wither away in front of your eyes, scream in pain, cry and beg and plead for pain relief and lose all hope might take a higher spot on her list of priorities over striking up a chitty-chat at the mailbox with a man she barely knows and isn’t particularly fond of.  I suppose that maybe it takes every ounce of her energy to get up every day and put on a smile for her kids.  Oh, AND, I also guess it’s possible that this time of year might be exceptionally difficult for her, and might even get worse soon as Christmas will be followed by the anniversary of her Love’s death.”

Right? That text I sent might wake her up, right?  Wrong.  She then sent this:


Whaaaaatttttt?????  Wrath?  Wait …. what??  Reached out countless times?  I can count them, actually. You showed up at the door once without any notice at a time when Ben was in a lot of pain, and you wanted to come in for tea.  I said it wasn’t a good time.  Then there was a FB message to which I responded quite nicely, and then there was some flowers when Ben died. That’s three times.  So …. thank you again for sending flowers when my Love died in our bed.  Apparently thanking you once at the time was not enough.  I should have put more thought into that.  Thinking about you and your thoughtfulness probably should have been more at the forefront of my thoughts rather then “how the fuck will I survive without Ben.”  Deepest apologies.

And of course I should have noticed (even though we haven’t seen each other in years) that you are now trying to live a good life.  I definitely should have noticed that and sent you some recognition for that.  Maybe a good time for doing that would have been while body removal was taking Ben away?  After all, I was outside at the time anyway.  Or I could have made a pit stop at your place on my way to the funeral.  Terribly thoughtless of me …. I have had so much free time over this year.

I stared at that and wondered what to say.  There was just so much I could have said in response.  I’m a decent writer.  I could have come up with something eloquent.  Instead, all I had in me in was this:


Th-th-th-th-that’s all folks.  That all I had to say.  That’s still all I have to say.  I have nothing left.  I’m depleted.  All out of fucks to give.  

By the way…that wasn’t the end for her.  Nope.  She thought she’d add a little passive aggressive note for good measure.  Maybe just to put me in my place, right?  How dare I say “fuck off.”  She is a now a good person, and damn it I should know that.  Since I clearly was not aware of that, of course she should remind me in the most passive aggressive way possible.

Wait for it …..


Merry FUCKING Christmas to you!  And a jolly fucking Ho Ho Ho!

Suck it, you inconsiderate, self absorbed, ri-fucking-diculous moron.  Suck it, I say.

And. I. Do. Not. Give. A. Fuck.

I’m A Little Angry, TBH

I think I may have mentioned my hypochondria before.  (That’s a joke.  Of course I have. If you don’t know I’m a hypochondriac then you really don’t know me at all.)  In any case, my stomach started hurting two days ago and hasn’t stopped since.  Last night, as I sat alone colouring this (for meditative purposes, of course) …


… I started feeling nauseous on top of everything else.  Which started me thinking I was dying.  Which made me wonder how my kids would cope if they lost both of us.  I mean, who ever thought I would be a widow at 45?  Who ever thought my kids would be “those kids” who lost their Dad as teenagers?  Shit happens, apparently, and it appears as though there’s not a damn thing I can do to stop it.  So who can possibly know what life will be like next year, or even three months from now.  It seems to be out of my control.

I made it up to my bedroom where Jaime was in my bed after crying herself to sleep for the 17th night in a row, and I lay down next to her trying not to throw up.  You know that horrible, horrible feeling you get when your body can’t decide whether or not to purge itself?  Thats where I was.  For hours.  And my stomach ached.  And thats when it really hit me.  Ben is gone.

Ben is really gone.  He’s not teaching a course in Ottawa.  He’s not at work.  He’s really dead and apparently, he’s not coming back.  Even though he was strong, and determined, and didn’t want to leave us.  Even though he cried and said “I don’t want to die.”  Even though he wrote emails with such optimism and determination, that I have had to delete because I can’t bear reading about how optimistic he was and knowing what the end result was.  Even though he fought so hard and tried to do everything right.  He’s still dead.  And I couldn’t save him.  And he suffered horribly for so long.  And now I’m alone, which wouldn’t be so bad if I had been married to an asshole.  But I wasn’t.  I had Ben. The best of the best.

So now when I feel nauseous and want to throw up, there is no one to rub my back and tell me “Just breathe.”  And when I’m scared I have something seriously wrong with me, which is always, there is no one to tell me “You are fine.  There is nothing wrong.  I promise.”  Its just me, wondering why my stomach aches and wondering how I will survive.  Wondering why I should survive when Ben deserved to survive so much more then anyone, and I didn’t save him.  Because I feel like he would have saved me.  He would have found a way where I did not.

And then I discovered that I am also angry at him.  I’m so pissed that he didn’t tell me how to do our banking, or whether or not I should keep the truck that he loved so much, or what I should do when I feel like vomiting and he’s not there to rub my back and tell me it will be ok?  I’m mad that he didn’t tell me how to cope with Jaime when she sobs herself to sleep every night.  I’m mad that he didn’t tell me what to say to Raegan who won’t allow his ashes to be anywhere she can see them, and who doesn’t want to see his photograph, and who will not discuss him at all nor will she shed one tear.  I’m mad that he didn’t tell me what to say to Zak who is just moving on, status quo.  Tricking me into thinking he’s ok but I know that his day will come, and of course the risk of him falling back into addiction is ever present in my mind.

I’m mad that Ben didn’t have an honest discussion with his own father about the emotional pain he carried from that relationship, and left me to have to cope with the fallout from that all by myself.  And the fallout has been horrible and mean and cruel at the worst time of my life when nothing is ok in my world.  And Ben would be so mad, but he’s not here to deal with it.  Just me.

I’m just angry.  And that makes me even sadder.

Last night I had a dream that I was at his funeral all over again.  I’m mad I have to re live that in my nightmares.  I’m just so mad that he died.  I’m so mad that he left me.  And I feel so guilty for being angry at the gentlest man on earth.  I’m mad that I’m not a stronger person, like he was.

Nancy came over and let me cry for a long time.  And then Mario and Julie arrived.

But Ben is never coming back.



Music, Layaways and a Little Something Else

I have so much to say I don’t know where to start. So I guess I’ll just start here…

I became aware of another band coming to Vancouver that I’ve always wanted to see in concert. I enjoy their music but I’m certainly not a superfan. From what I’ve heard, their concerts are full of props and theatrics and are just great fun, so I set upon the journey to acquire tickets.

I didn’t want to get shut out of the whole ticket purchasing process by the scalpers so I decided to find out if the band had a fan club which I could join. Sure enough, they did. So I dug out my credit card and paid their fan club fee of 30 GBP (Yes, the Queens money). Then I sought out their fan club pre-sale section and learned that the fan club could purchase tickets a clear 3 days before the general public and that fan club ticket sales opened on October 14th at 10AM. That was kind of shitty news because I knew that I would be at the Cancer Agency meeting with Dr K and getting “news”. That whole day unfolded slowly so it wasn’t until about 5PM that I was able to sit down and search for fan club tickets. Anyways, I managed to get tickets right beside the stage, 17 rows up. They look pretty awesome but we’ll see on concert night! Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the band was Iron Maiden…

imgres      48eabf30e61844079f5a811c9af424e3

Next is a recent purchase (layaway actually). I often stop into my local Long & McQuade music store to check out their guitars and buy strings and things. Well last Monday a particular guitar caught my eye. It was a Gretsch G5620T in blue. I normally don’t care for Gretsch guitars because of their neck profiles, but this one was different. It felt really good in my hand and was very resonant. I don’t normally buy new gear. I stick to used because you get good gear for half the price. So I hung it back up and left the store.

I came back on Wednesday because I had forgotten to buy strings on Monday – probably from being distracted by that Gretsch. I picked up my strings and had another look at the Gretsch before leaving the store.

After humming and hawing for the evening, and recalling a time where I wanted a particular guitar at Long & McQuade but waited a day too long and being told that someone had literally just left the store with it, I decided to put the Gretsch on layaway. I have a separate bank account that I use for buying and selling guitar stuff. I usually make money on gear and as it accumulates, I decide on what I want to buy. Basically, it’s separate from our family finances and I have an agreement with Wendy that I would only spend my guitar money when I want something. I didn’t have enough money in it to buy the guitar but I currently have a bunch of stuff for sale, so I was confident I could pay for the guitar in short order – as my items sold. So I drove over to Long & McQuade, found my favorite salesman and asked him to put the Gretsch on layaway for me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a stock picture in blue. Mine is blue.


And now for some not so good news. I’m not sure if Wendy had mentioned an experimental procedure that BCCA was currently studying that involved a lidocaine infusion. Anyways, long story short, they attach an IV and infuse the patient with a bag of premixed lidocaine – the same stuff Dentist’s use to freeze your mouth. In this case the thought is that the lidocaine would provide a general anesthetic-like effect on the affected nerves, and the patient would get relief for weeks if not months.

Well sign me up! I can only dream of being pain free for any extended period of time. So I was scheduled for yesterday, October 15th at 10AM. I made it to my appointment on time and got set up for my treatment. Rob was there to drive me home after the procedure. Apparently, there was a chance that I may feel numb and disoriented along with some other temporary side effects. He showed up at 10AM expecting, like me, that the procedure would happen in short order. But…There were a number of delays one of which was a blood test that hadn’t been done. I guess they needed to check my potassium levels before the infusion. Why? I have no idea. Then they had to line up a pharmacist to brew up the mixture and a nurse who could check my vital every 10 or 15 minutes. They managed to get all of that done by about 1 or 2 PM and then the infusion finally started. I got to spend most of the day with my favorite father-in-law. Out of all of my fathers-in-law, he’s the best.

So the infusion was finally finished. My tongue felt a little tingly, my mouth didn’t want to work properly and I slurred like a drunk. Probably not as bad but close. The nerve pain in my leg was gone and I could only feel the muscular pain of unknown origin that has been haunting me for several days, maybe even a couple of weeks.

I met with Dr H who went over my symptoms with me as well as what I could do for the muscle pain until that one is figured out. She was happy about the nerve pain resolution in my leg but didn’t come across as confident that the procedure was a success. I was advised of two other procedures that could be done (won’t bore you with those) and then I was released. Besides feeling kind of drunk, I felt pretty good.

Until about 7PM. That’s when the new pain started. I was sitting down playing the guitar in the living room and Wendy was trying to surreptitiously record me in action. We had a we bit of an argument over this when it felt like my foot caught fire. Yup, that’s what I said. Hurt like a son of a bitch. Then the pain extended to my knee and ass. I quickly shut everything down and “ran” into the family where I asked Wendy to wrap my foot in ice. The I needed another ice pack for the muscular pain in my upper leg as well as my burning ass.

It was a bit of a gong show until Wendy and I managed me upstairs into out bed and wrap me up in a combination of ice packs, comforters and an electric blanket. I was shivering, my foot was on fire, my ass was on fire, the muscles in the upper leg were in spasm and screaming in pain. Then I just lost my mind. It was too much. I didn’t know what to do, Wendy didn’t know what to do and I was in so much pain I was losing my mind. That’s when the self-pity and crying came. Let’s not forget anger. I knew it was the wrong place to go but at this point I just wanted to die. It’s bad enough that I have cancer, but do I have to be in so much pain all of the time? Do I have to be robbed of sleep every night? Do I have to be prevented from enjoying the one hobby that I have? I can’t even sit down for more than 20 minutes or so to play the instrument that I love playing. I was caught in a whirlwind of pain, anger and self-pity. I eventually took enough hydromorphone to pass out for an hour or so. And continued to do so every two hours as per the Drs orders.

I woke up this morning still in pain, but the normal stuff that I felt before I went into the BCCA for the lidocaine procedure. The muscular pain is still very painful, but at least I’m not on fire anymore.

That experience took a lot out of me and brought me to a pain threshold that I don’t want to experience again. Today I am tired and sad. I hope to continue recuperating and eventually put a smile back on my face. But right now, it’s too much to ask.