So It Begins

The first day of school.  This is the first time Ben has ever missed the first day of school. Yes, that’s the kind of Dad he was …. always present on that first day, even if it meant leaving for work late when they were a bit older, or zipping home quickly when they were younger just for photos.

Today was the first day of Jaime’s grad year, and Ben is not here to see it.  Such a loss for Jaime, but oh how my heart breaks for Ben.  How thrilled he would have been to help her navigate through scholarship applications this year.  He would have loved going to University open houses, and he even would have loved the search for a grad dress because that’s just the kind of Dad he was.  Present and involved.  How cruel life is that he will never have those experiences that he so deserved …. that he had earned the right to enjoy.

And so begins this school year, where every day is a day closer to Jaime’s grad without her Dad.

                                                 Jaime and Jonah – Grade 1, Grade 7, Grade 12.

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                                             Raegan and Jaime – Grade 10 and Grade 12

My goal this year is to do everything I can to try to be everything the girls need.  To be present for them as their ever patient Dad was, and as I promised him I would be.  I’m not entirely certain that I’m up for that task – Ben was the homework helper, the driver, the motivator and the pep talker.  (One might read this and wonder exactly what I did, since Ben did so much.  I don’t blame you really.  Since Ben died I have wondered that too.  At this point in my life I cannot remember exactly how I fit into my daughter’s lives while Ben was alive, because his absence has left such an overwhelming void that it feels as though he must have taken care of everything.  I know that’s not true.  I know I’ve been involved because the girls insist I smother them.  So the good news is that I obviously participated in some fashion, but I just can’t remember how.)

As I write this, Jaime has just come upstairs to ask me how to hook up the speakers to the television so that she can watch tv with her boyfriend.  (Remember the boyfriend?  The one Ben never got to meet?)  The speakers were unhooked because of the painting, and I don’t know how to hook them up again.  Ben would know.

Clearly it seems as though I cannot in fact be everything for the girls after all.  But I hope I can be enough.

 

Time Marches On

I believe it has been a full ten days since I wrote on this blog.  Probably eleven days by the time I finish writing and hit “post.”  March has been a challenging month for a few reasons.  One being that my Beloved turned 47 years old on March 13.  47 years young. And he’s gone.  Our whole future was ahead of us – everything we planned for and worked for. But he is gone and will never get to enjoy the fruits of all his labour.  I will never get to enjoy everything we planned for, together  with him.  I call bullshit on that crappy hand we were dealt.

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March 13th also marked exactly two full months since I have seen the love of my life, or spoken with him, or held his hand, or curled up next to him.  Two full months since he struggled to tell us one last time that he loved us.  Two full months since he breathed his first breath in Heaven.  I miss him desperately.  I talk to him daily.  He remains the first person I want to tell everything to, and I open my mouth or reach for my phone for a brief moment every single day, only to remember that he is gone.

Every year it is tradition in our home to have a birthday dinner of steak, potatoes and Ben’s infamous Caesar Salad.  Our family always joins us and we raise a glass to whomever is celebrating. This year we continued the tradition as best as we could.

Here was the cook of the evening with his doting grandparents:

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Mr. Saint-Onge Junior produced a caesar salad that (with a little practice) may indeed eventually rival that of his Dad’s. Thank goodness Ben left us the recipe.  We will never give it away, so don’t bother asking.

We enjoyed our meal as best as we could without the Man of Honour being physically present, and we uncorked a bottle of champagne and toasted Our Beloved Ben.

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After dinner the front door opened and our house filled quickly with our nearest and dearest.  I felt like I was wrapped in love.  Here is a glimpse into what happened next:

And then naturally we had to take one of these ….

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Look at the picture carefully.  Thats a big FUCK YOU, cancer.  With a small ‘c’, naturally.

Here’s one final shot of the evening.  This is a lot of love for Ben, and by extension, for me. Thank you, everyone. You were here for us before Ben got sick and you stayed with us during the worst time of our lives when we needed you most.  You cared enough to ask questions, to know what was happening, and to be there for us all …. especially the kids. You remain by our sides now and continue to walk with the kids and I through the dark. I believe the time will come that we will feel the sun again.  I am truly grateful.  (Nancy and Jeremy … I am sorry for cutting you out of the picture but I couldn’t find a small enough emoji to just block out your faces.  But I include you in the love.)

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Happy 47th birthday, Ben.  How I wish you were here to raise your glass and eat some gluten free cake.  I miss you more then I have words to describe.

It was odd to not have been running around trying to find the perfect gift for Ben’s big day. I really found that hard, but in the end, Ben ended up giving  ME a gift that day.  Here’s how that story played out:

Over the last month or so I have been trying to sell Ben’s truck.  It broke my heart because he loved the truck and he had waited so long to own one.  He told me that the truck was the only place he could sit where he wasn’t in pain.  He loved that truck so much, that on the night Dr B came to visit us at home, Ben asked him, “Am I going to die?”  Dr B said, “Yes Ben, you are going to die.”  After taking a moment to absorb the horror of that statement, Ben’s next words were, “Can I still drive my truck?”  If the moment hadn’t been so indescribably painful and utterly beyond horrible, it would have been comical.  He just loved that damn truck so much.

Anyway, I was very torn up trying to decide what to do but ultimately it just wasn’t practical to keep it. So I listed the truck for sale and waited, and waited, and waited.  I had a few bites but nothing really panned out and I was quite frustrated.  I had one solid lead for a sale but in order for it to go through I was going to have to sell the truck for less then it was worth and I knew Ben would not have been happy with that.  Still, the last two months have just been so difficult that I wanted to get one more thing off my plate, so I was reluctantly set to accept the lower price just so I could be done.  I silently apologized to Ben for not holding out for a price that would have made him happy.

At the end of the evening of Ben’s birthday celebration as everyone was leaving, I received an unexpected text from a fellow who had seen the ad for the truck.  Ironically, his name was Jeff.  (For those of you who haven’t paid attention – shame on you – Ben’s best friend’s name is Jeff.  So that was a nice coincidence.)  Anyway,  Jeff The Stranger contacted me right on Ben’s birthday to say that he had seen the ad and wanted to know if he could come by the following evening to look at the truck.  I agreed, and so I held off on contacting the buyer who had offered to purchase it for a bit less than I wanted to sell it for.

To make a long story short, Ben sent me a lovely gift right on his birthday in the form of a buyer named Jeff who drove a very hard bargain …. he offered me $2,000 more than we had paid for the truck.   More than a coincidence, I would say.  Thank you, Ben.  Always looking out for me as usual.  You are the best husband.IMG_4942

It was a bittersweet moment when the truck was driven away.  But having a buyer named Jeff contact me right on Ben’s birthday and ultimately pay me a sweet price for the truck is surely Ben’s way of saying “Its OK.”  I sure hope so.  I will miss that piece of Ben.  Jeff The Stranger promised me he will take good care of it.

Three other blog worthy things have happened this month.  The first was that Ben’s sweet baby girl decided to chop off her hair and donate it to help make wigs for kids fighting cancer (with a small ‘c’).

How awesome is she?

The second blog worthy thing to happen was that Ben’s main man Zak took off for Powell River to work for a few weeks while he awaits the start of his full time job in April that will carry him through until school starts in September.  He is off earning his keep, and I miss that boy a lot.

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Ben would be so proud and happy to see us together like that, with smiles on our faces. Despite how difficult the last year has been, there has been a lot of joy and positivity. The young man who is smiling in the picture above with his Mama is one of those positive things.

The third thing that happened is that the girls and I went to Edmonton for a few days so I could surround myself with the love of Beth and a lot of retail therapy.  Beth and I (along with our four girls) spent seven hours immersed in shopping, with a brief break for a fruit salad that looked like this:

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Over the course of the weekend we also took in a rodeo (yee haw) and paid a visit out to the barn to visit their horse. (Smelly place.  I touched nothing.)

While we were walking into the rodeo I couldn’t help but notice a long wall of plaques with the bronzed faces of various “important” people, but only one of them jumped out at me and made me stop and point it out to the girls.

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You’d think Mr Hole would have considered changing his name.  Ben would have busted a gut if he had seen that.

That’s Jaime riding Miss K, with Kalyn alongside. On the right is Raegan, Jordan and Jaime.

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                                                                A random pic of Rae and I.

It was a good trip.  We rode a roller coaster that almost made me wet myself.  I spent far too much money.  Beth and I laughed a lot during the day and cried together at night while watching video clips of Ben.

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Being with her healed my soul a tiny bit.  I still have quite a way to go.

 

Farewell, My Sweet, Sweet Man

It is with indescribable sadness that I let everyone know that my beloved Ben passed away peacefully at home on January 13th. Sweet husband, incredible father, undeniably great Mountie.  Ben and I  were together at home, surrounded by the love of our children, our family and our dear friends. At the time of his passing, Ben was surrounded by a circle of love, music was playing, and candles were lit as we all lay together in the same bed.  If there can possibly be a beautiful passing, this was it.

I miss him desperately already.  My anguish is slightly eased knowing that Ben was with those who love him most in the world, and his passing went exactly as he wished.

A Celebration of A Life Well Lived will be held and is open to anyone who wants to be inspired to live their life like Ben did. Reception to follow immediately afterwards.

Friday, January 22, 2016
Start Time: 1pm
Reception: 2:15 pm
Location: Victory Memorial Park
14831 28 Ave
Surrey

Condolences can be left online at www.victoryfuneralcentre.ca.  An obituary will be placed online soon.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Ben’s name to one of the causes that were near and dear to his heart. Donations can be made in his name to The Last Door, which is an addiction recovery program that saves the lives of men and boys and returns them to their families as whole, caring people with limitless potential.  This program is near and dear to Ben’s heart. The website is: http://www.lastdoor.org/donate

Donations can also be made in Ben’s name to http://bccancerfoundation.com/.
Please click on the ‘donate’ button. Donations in Ben’s name will be directed to the Personalized Onco-Genomics (POG) clinical trials program. This program is the future of cancer treatment and is in need of funding.

Sleep well, sweet man.

Welcome, 2016

Christmas has come and gone.  It was peaceful and we enjoyed a lot of love.

Christmas Eve brought the traditional reading of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas’ which has been read to the kids by Ben every year since Zach was a baby ….

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Christmas morning brought the most special of gifts.  Ben had a photo book made for each of the kids, which contained only photos of him with each of them and a special inscription.  In turn, the kids created a frame for Ben with photos and letters from them to him …

Christmas day was spent with family and the best of friends ….

Our chosen family, Nancy and Jeremy, graciously opened their house to us so that all of us could fit and enjoy dinner together with my family and Ben’s.  We will be forever grateful for that because dinner wouldn’t have been possible without their generosity.

Since cousins from both sides (back east and local) were around this year, we were able to do these before and after shots:

And then there was these Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning before and after shots:

Post-Christmas brought a visit from Cal that we both thoroughly enjoyed. Cal is the other half of the beautiful Whitney that you have seen in previous posts, who took care of Ben during some of his radiation treatments:

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And so now we have just rung in the New Year.  Welcome, 2016! Unfortunately, My Beloved was tossing his cookies as the clock struck midnight, so I won’t be posting any pictures of him this eve.  But we did get to spend the majority of the evening all together as a family, because I have wonderful kids who all opted to bring their friends over and stay home this New Years Eve:

And since there are no pics of Ben this New Years Eve, I will share with you this throw back of my sweetheart:

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Thats him on the left.  1986-ish. I love his smile.

Have a wonderful New Year.  I hope that everyone reading this enjoys a year of peace, happiness and good health for themselves and those they love.

I’m off to drive the boys home.  Hug your families.

Wendy xoxo

A New Week

We made it through the weekend.  It was rough.  The girls had volleyball tournaments in different cities (always fun trying to be in two places at once) and we were trying to manage Ben’s pain without having him end up in hospital.  So far, so good.

As you know from Ben’s previous post, the result of the lidocaine injection on Thursday was not favourable.  It ended up being a tough, tough night.

While Ben and Dad were at VGH getting the lidocaine injection, I was at home because of the parent / teacher interviews. Going to those alone was a big mistake …. I think I mentioned in my last post on Thursday that I was unable to make it through even one without dissolving into tears.  It was horribly embarrassing.  I kept my head down and tried to avoid eye contact with people I know as much as possible.

The entire weekend has exhausted me, so I am going to highlight it using photos.  Here we go:

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Jaime and Dawson “enjoying” my latest green juice concoction

Since the kids had half a day off because of the parent / teacher interviews, I figured that the least they could do was test my juices.  This green one went over better then the last one.  I am liking Dawson better then Jaime right now, because he never complains.  She whines about the juice like a baby.  LOL.

Anyway, I went to the interviews and followed that up with some yoga with this lovely girl:

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I think I enjoyed the class a bit more then Raegan, but at least she was willing to keep me company.

Yoga was followed up with what I now refer to as “The Thursday Night Nightmare”.  That was the night of unbearable pain that Ben suffered through.  I’m not revisiting that story.  And now that I think about it, yoga may not have even been on Thursday. I can’t seem to keep my days and times straight anymore … you’ll have to forgive me if I have them mixed up.

On Friday we just muddled through the after effects of Thursday night.  I prefer not to think about it.  But in the evening Jaime had a volleyball tournament and I managed to catch one game.  When I got to the school where she was playing I saw this poster:

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It was timely.  We are hanging on.

On Friday we were contacted twice by Dr. H who had things set up at the hospital for Ben over the weekend, “just incase”. Understandably, Ben did not want to go.  He’s had enough of hospitals and I don’t blame him.  We both know that he will likely need to move on to one of the other procedures that the doctors have discussed to help with the pain (one is a walking epidural which is another surgery and a week in hospital, and the other is severing some nerves which sounds scary) but right now he just wants a break.  So instead he decided to treat the pain with meds and just try to have an enjoyable weekend – as much as he was able.

And since he was not in hospital, he was able to get this beauty:

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Ben and his brand new guitar!  Woo hoo!

And then, THIS boy came home after work to have a visit with his Dad:

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All in all, Friday was much improved over Thursday.

On Saturday the girls both continued their volleyball tournaments, but I went to Coquitlam to watch Raegan play since I had watched Jaime the night before.  (Also, Colleen lives in Coquitlam so she met me at the game and then took me on a hunt for crutches for Ben.  It took awhile, but we finally found them. Its not easy to find crutches built for someone 6’2″)

By the end of Saturday, Raegan’s team had won the entire tournament!  I was gone for quite awhile on Saturday, but Ben had two friends pay him a visit during the day to keep him company.  Stephan (Ben’s troop mate) came by for a visit, and then Kirby came by in the afternoon.  I know Ben enjoyed his visits with both of them.  He got to show off his sexy new guitar – always an added bonus.

The only downside to Saturday was that Ben was too tired to come out to Mom and Dad’s to celebrate Barb’s birthday.  I went, and before coming home Dad whipped up a steak for Ben and sent it home with me so Ben could enjoy a nice meal too.  An extra special treat as we do not eat red meat anymore, and it has been months since Ben has had steak.

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(Happy Birthday Barb!)

Since Uncle Ben couldn’t make it, there was an awesome video sent to him by Makeda, but apparently I cannot post it on this blog until I upgrade and start paying.  So I’ll save that video for another time, along with Uncle Ben’s video response to her.

In any case, we start our new week tomorrow – one day ‘off’ and then back into the appointments on Tuesday, which begin with a PET scan.

I came across this photo from about 1995.  The outfits may be horrible, but the joy is real and still remains today:

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There is no one I’d rather dance on a beach with.

We will update as we can.

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Thank you for the continued texts and calls to Ben.  They remind him how loved he is.  And he is.

Hug your families. xo

Chemo – Round 2.5

This will not be my most thoughtful or amusing post.  Quite frankly, I’m not in the mood to write and I am not feeling particularly inspired.  I can barely tolerate watching Ben next to me in so much pain, so I plan on occupying myself (when I am finished writing) by preparing Ben’s post chemo meal for tonight.  It is a trick to get just the right food in him after chemo before the nausea and vomiting begin.

As Ben mentioned in a previous post, he had the cementoplasty on Sept 9th.  His post was funny and made everyone laugh, but the pain he was in at the time was not funny at all.  A solid 10 out of 10 for pain by the time they were preparing the room for the surgery that morning.  The nurse did administer a narcotic directly into the IV for pain, and it worked for approximately 9 minutes.  Not joking.  In less then 10 minutes he was at a 7 out of 10 for pain again.

The day was horrifying, because the two hour procedure turned into hours and hours with zero communication.  As usual, Barb came down to the hospital to sit with me but was eventually required back at her office and we still didn’t have any information beyond the fact that we were reasonably certain he was alive.  Always good to know.

I finally pushed hard for answers in the evening and was allowed down into the recovery area.  I guess they kept Ben there (where family is not allowed) because every time they took him off of the oxygen his numbers dropped.  Also, Dr Radu wanted him kept overnight and so there was that whole disagreement between VGH and the Cancer Agency.  At the end of the day, as you know, Ben came home.

Within 15 hours of the procedure, Ben was back at a 7 out of 10 for pain, and it hasn’t really eased much since. As I type this, he is suffering.

I have spoken twice with Dr Radu.  He is working hard at getting Ben back in for a more selective nerve block.  The poor guy (Dr Radu) is clearly run off his feet and I have a very strong feeling that he will be doing Ben’s nerve block on his own time. They are booked solid.  He is doing everything he can to have this nerve block done before we leave on the 23rd.  I emailed him my appreciation.  If I was his mother (Dr Radu’s mother) I would tell him “You can’t save the world and you need your rest too.”  As Ben’s wife I say “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving up your own personal life for the care of others.”

Yesterday Ben had a biopsy on his liver.  First step in the POG trial.  The procedure was not fun for Ben and has added to his pain.  I am praying that they now may find the answers they need to help Ben.  While he was recovering from that I hounded the poor receptionist to put notes on Ben’s file to push for a more urgent CT scan.  Ben was supposed to have a CT scan between round two and round three of chemo, so a determination could be made regarding whether or not this poison is holding off the disease.  Unfortunately, summer holidays and the number of people lugging this disease around in their bodies prevented that from happening.  The lovely receptionist has asked, at my request, that Ben be squeezed in for a CT before we leave for LA, so that the results are there when we get back.  We’ll see.  We probably won’t find out the results anyway until we meet again with Dr K, which won’t be until next month.  So in hindsight, its probably not all that urgent.

In the meantime, today is round 3 of chemo.  Well, more like round 2.5 because he is only having one dose instead of two.  Two doses would have made it impossible to go to LA.  So one dose it is this time.  One dose is bad enough.  We plan on attacking it with every anti nausea med we have.  Ben has agreed to try to keep it at bay so it doesn’t overtake him.

Despite the pain, we did manage to attend a most delicious meal at Mom and Dad’s.  A send off of sorts for Zak who was heading out of town to work for two weeks.  You will note there were a couple of boyfriends along for the ride..

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I kind of caught everyone off guard here – especially the two cranky looking ones on the left.

One last thought that I did want to write on here so everyone is aware.  Flu season is around the corner.  By mid October I really don’t want to have anyone in the house if they haven’t had their flu shot.   Thanks in advance for your consideration. If you don’t want to be immunized, no problem.  Just be upfront and honest – I will meet you elsewhere for coffee etc.

And on that note I must go buy some chicken before heading back downtown for chemo.  #prayersforben

On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.  Psalm 138:3

POST SCRIPT: After I signed off on this post, the Pain and Symptom Management nurse called me. After explaining how much pain Ben is in, she asked us to come down to the Cancer Agency immediately before chemo. So here we are right now, waiting for the doctor. Hopefully they can figure something out before chemo.

Also…I was unsuccessful in my quest to pick up chicken. In fact, when I got to the local grocery store and discovered that the chicken I wanted wasn’t there, I promptly burst into tears. Doesn’t everyone cry over a lack of chicken? Thanks for the hug, Linda. You should have seen the look on your face when I started crying. If I hadn’t been so upset I would have laughed.

POST POST SCRIPT:  We received the call.  Second try at nerve block happening TOMORROW!  God bless Dr. Radu.

An Honest Love Letter … Saint-Onge Style

To my Groom,

I am sorry that you are in so much pain.  It truly, physically hurts my heart to watch you suffer.  I wish I could take all that pain away.

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(I bet this is the face you are making right now as you read this)

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, “LIAR!  You would not agree to taking all the pain!”  Fine.  You caught me. You’re right.  That was, in fact, a lie … you know me too well.  But I would definitely agree to take half of it.  I would totally take half. Or at least 35%.  But probably half.  Asking me to take it all on would be a little much, don’t you think?  That would just be mean, to want me to take it all.  But I would agree to a solid 50%.

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My Dear Ben … you know I have loved you almost from the moment I met you.

There are plenty of people out there in this world who love you deeply, but none as deeply as I.  This is a truth that I know without a shred of doubt.  Here’s how I know:

I am the only person who is constantly exposed to your flaws.  I am the only person who, for two and half decades, has seen you at your worst, your angriest, and your saddest.  I am the only person who has seen it all every single day of your entire adult life.  I am the only one who truly knows the real you.  And still I love you.

When I think about the fact that I am the one person chosen to be your other half, I feel so blessed.  How lucky am I?

The rest of the world merely gets to see you at your best, which is a great way to see you, but its easy to love people when they are minding their manners.  Every day for 23 years I have been blessed to be the one to bear witness to the good, the bad and the ugly.  I have been blessed to have been the only person you trusted enough with your real self.  I love you more deeply then I could adequately describe.

For any single moment in our life together that I may have failed to recognize how lucky I was, I am truly sorry.  I mean that.

When I was 22, I did not fully understand the trust you were placing in me by choosing me above all others.  I’m not sure I fully understood that until recently.  I think it may take others a full lifetime to begin to grasp that idea.  Some may never get there, and instead they will just casually walk away when the going gets tough.  If there is one thing I am grateful for in this entire, shitty situation, it is the fact that I have been able to suddenly understand / see / feel what others often never do.  A deep, profound, honest understanding of what love really is.  I feel lucky to know that.

I think most people grasp the idea that love is not really about the biggest ring, the nicest house, the newest cars and the best vacations.  Many settle comfortably into that area of love where they feel lucky if they have someone to laugh with, who is happy to see them when they come home at the end of the day, and who rubs their back when they have the flu and are vomiting endlessly.  And they should feel lucky, because many don’t even have that after a few years together.

But you and I, we have all that and so much more.  We are definitely not perfect, but boy do we have more than that. And if I was asked for ten reasons why I really, really love you, I would not say things like “he brings me flowers” or “he rubs my feet” (partly because you do not.  haha.) I would say this:

a)  At 23 years old I mentioned that I may not wish to change my last name when when we got married.  You said, “OK.”  I said that I wanted us to both have the same last name, and why shouldn’t it be Insley?  You said, “OK.”  (I call liar on that one, but I loved you for your response, anyway.)  You suggested we randomly change our last name to Aachmed because it sounds funny and is always at the beginning of the alphabet, and you meant it.  (I am glad I was the one who held fast to common sense that time.)  You made me laugh.

b)  At 23 years old we found out I had cancer, and you never showed any fear.  You very matter of factly came to my appointments and my surgery.  Later on you lied to my parents about the recurrence when I asked you to.  (Then you caved and told the truth when Mom pushed you, but it was a good try.  Thank you)  You brought me Smarties and People Magazines after every general anesthetic for the next year.

c)  For the next decade I was consumed with fear over my health.  At times the fear was debilitating and it deprived us of many moments of happiness when I couldn’t see past it.  You stuck with me.  You took over the care of the kids when I couldn’t do it, you rubbed my back to help me fall asleep, and you listened to my ramblings.  You constantly tried your best to teach me about the power of positivity, and you never quit on me.  You were always my source of strength when I had none.

d)  At 24 years old I saw the biggest spider I have ever seen in my life, running across the floor of our home.  I trapped it but was too scared to do anything else.  You are also petrified of spiders, and you were at work at the time.  When I called you, you came home.  On duty.  In uniform.  You helped me trap the spider in a tupperware container and then, being too scared to kill it, we drove it into town and pepper sprayed it. (Interesting fact…. pepper spray doesn’t affect spiders).  We still laugh about that.

e)  At 27 years old you fell off a roof when arresting a bad guy and broke your tailbone.  Shortly thereafter I went into labor with Zak, and you stayed by my side even when you physically couldn’t stand up due to pain and had to lay down on the dirty hospital floor. But you stayed to welcome your son into the world.  And you glowed when you held him.  And lets face it … its not a secret that Zak was not a cute baby.  🙂  Still, you glowed with pride.  (For anyone reading this who doesn’t know Zak … rest assured he was extremely cute by the time he was 3 months old.  He remains exceptionally handsome to this day.  He looks like his Dad)

f)  At 31 years old you had a boss who worked so much overtime that he nearly doubled his yearly salary, and he bragged to you that he worked so much that he had never managed to make it to one of his kids’ birthday parties.  You, on the other hand, never missed even one of our kids birthday parties.  Ever.  To this day.  How I love you for that.

g)  At 32 years old you stayed entirely calm when we thought my appendix was bursting.  You were reassuring and solid, and the only reason I knew you were scared was because of the speed with which you drove me to the hospital.  You have always been my rock.

h)  At 38 years old I had a major knee surgery and was stuck on the couch in a full leg cast and in unbelievable pain.  In the evening you tucked me in on the couch, brought me everything I needed, left the phone by my side so I could call you upstairs if I needed anything, and then went off to bed.  When I became violently ill, you flew downstairs in your underwear and cared for me for me under what is best described as ‘utterly disgusting circumstances’.  And then, when I was too sick and too scared for you leave my side, you curled up all 6’2″ of yourself on our tiny loveseat next to the couch, with only a baby blanket to cover you, and stayed there all night while I slept.  Just so I would feel secure.

i)  At 44 years old you discovered our beloved baby had an addiction problem and was headed rapidly towards death.  You were there for him instantly.  You supported him with words and with actions.  While others criticized us, passed judgement, or simply ignored our circumstances, your emotional support for our child never waivered.  In addition, you did not hesitate for one moment to spend thousands and thousands of dollars that we did not have to ensure he received the best chance possible.  You are part of the reason we have been given back our most amazing son.  You are part of the reason that the world now gets to experience the wonder that is our boy.

(and let me point out here again that you did not hesitate one second to find money we didn’t have to pay for our son’s return to health.  So when I beg you to return to the naturopath and let them work in conjunction with the oncologist, and you refuse to go simply because of the expense, it kind of makes me want to slap you.  I am not asking you to choose between saving your own life or saving our child’s life.  I am asking you to put the same importance on saving your own life.  Our son is alive and thriving.  Its your turn to allow yourself to be cared for.  I would sell anything and everything if it will help you.  Given the choice, that is what each of our kids would choose too.  “Things” do not matter, my love.  You matter.)

j) At 46 years old you were diagnosed with cancer.  Horrible, horrible cancer.  And you kept that most horrifying news to yourself until all the tests were complete, so that you wouldn’t needlessly scare me.  You remained my rock, even when it was you who needed a rock to lean on.  You still thought of us first.

k) At 46 years old you have battled and kicked and punched this awful disease on a daily basis.  And while sometimes you can still be a bit of an ass, more often then not you do everything with a smile on your face.  I know you do that so we will not be scared.  You stay positive, not only for yourself but for us too.  You continue to do everything you can around the house.  You continue to support the kids, to be there for them, to talk to them.  Whenever possible you still fight through the pain to spend time with them.  Because of your strength, they barely notice that you are sick.  They understand, but your strength allows them to pretend you are well.  I don’t think there is a better gift you could give them.  Some day they will understand what you have done for them.  Each of them would name you as their hero.

I guess that was eleven reasons, and I could still go on.  I find new reasons every day to love you just a little bit more.  And even though cancer has not eradicated your occasional ability to still be an ass,  🙂 I find lately that the list of “Reasons Why Ben Can Be An Ass” gets shorter and shorter.  None of that really seems so important anymore.  I’m grateful for that.

A few weeks ago I looked at you and told you how much the kids and I need you.  That you must win this fight.  That you cannot quit.  You looked back at me, and through your tears you said, “I know.”

I have felt horrible about that moment ever since, and I have been riddled with guilt for putting such an overwhelming sense of responsibility on your shoulders.

So, here’s what I really want you to know ….

I do need you.  We need you.  Given the choice, I do not want to live a moment without you by my side.  We were made for each other.  I know this to be true because I have low tolerance for many others (lol) and yet I am still here with you.  🙂 There is no one else I want to grow old with, nor could there ever be.  That is a fact.

The kids and I anticipate that the end result is that you will kick the shit out of this disease.  We believe that you, our hero, will kick the shit out of this disease.  But we know this is the hardest fight of your life, and I want you to be able to focus on what you need to do for yourself, and not worry about us.  So I do not want you to bear the pressure of feeling that you have to fight for us.  I just want you to focus on you.  And I want you to know that we will all be ok.  Whatever may come, we will be ok.  We will be ok because we have learned from watching you.  You have taught us well.  You have been the best example of resilience, perseverance, and positivity.  Not just in the face of this wretched disease, but through your entire life.  You are a truly amazing man who has overcome obstacles that most are not aware of.  I am endlessly and forever able to provide examples of your awesomeness to our kids.

You will never hear me say that I am grateful for cancer.  I am in no way grateful for cancer at all.  I hate that effin disease and I cannot wait until it is eradicated.  But I am grateful for the opportunity we have been given to think about how lucky we are as a family – to have each other, to love each other, to appreciate each other.  Every moment is special to me now.  As I watch you, I see you feel the same, because you have been loving us softer.

I do not have the talent to express in writing exactly what I am feeling, but I hope this gives you a bit of an idea.  You have given us everything.  You do not owe us anything.  We love you every minute.  We always have.  We always will.  We want all your focus to remain on yourself and your own health.  Thats all.  But you must drink the green juice I make you every day.  I insist.

I remain forever grateful for my life with you.  You are an Honourable Man.  You are a Solid Husband. You are a Marvellous Father.  You are my Best Friend.  You are Less Of An Ass Lately.  You are my Only One.  Also, I know all your secrets so you are stuck with me.  You Frustrate and Challenge Me.

With appreciation, gratitude and love,

Your Bride xox