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.



This Time Last Year

At this exact moment last year, I was likely getting ready for bed.  Nothing unusual happened that day, except for the fact that Ben had gone to visit Dr B to find out the results of his recent MRI which he had due to his chronic back pain.  Of course it had something to do with his previous back injury.  Duh.  The only question was whether or not it required surgery.

I was at work when Ben went to see Dr. B.  I was anxiously waiting to find out whether he needed surgery, and I sent him several texts to find out what Dr. B had to say.  I was praying he didn’t need surgery.

“No surgery” was Ben’s reply to my text.  Yay!!!  I was happy and relieved, and didn’t really think much of it when I got home and noticed that Ben was on the quiet side.  I do know that I was annoyed that he hadn’t unloaded the dishwasher.

How I wish he had needed back surgery to repair a disc.  Instead, this was what happened … (click on D Day)

I should have prayed for back surgery.


It’s the Day Before Surgery and All Through the House…

Well it’s a day before my surgery and I figured I should write a quick review of the Dave Matthews concert before I see the Foo Fighters this Friday. Let me first say that it was a pleasure to attend this concert with my lovely 14 year old daughter Raegan. She never whined or complained and was just a joy to be around. Once we got the venue, she reminded me that Rogers Arena did in fact sell popcorn and drinks to the concertgoers. So we both loaded up on popcorn and soda and took our seats. Well it turns out that Dave Matthews is so awesome that he doesn’t need an opening act. What he did was open the show with an acoustic seat and gradually added band members until the full Dave Matthews Band was on the stage. Raegan lit up as soon as they started playing “You and Me” which was the only song that Raegan knew – and she loved it.


The rest of the show was great. He played all of my favourite songs except for 2 – “Gravedigger” and “Old Dirt Hill”. Once the encore was over we waited for almost everyone to vacate the arena before she helped me hobble to the SkyTrain for our ride back to Surrey. We had a really good time.


So surgery…I am betting the farm that it will take care of the constant pain in my ass and right leg all the way down to my foot. Despite taking my pain meds, I am sitting at my desk typing this as fast as I can because the pain is so bad I feel like throwing up. So pardon me if you see some grammatical errors.

Here’s what I’ve been told. There are two people qualified to perform this surgery. It’s non-invasive. They are going to use a needle to freeze (and hopefully kill) the tumour that has caused the fracture in my pelvic bone. Then they are going to cement the fracture with orange play-doh and fairy dust. Just testing you. Pay attention now. They are going to cement the fracture with some kind of glue (I’m guessing) and then perform a nerve block on that god damn nerve that goes all the way down to my foot which is driving me fucking crazy!! So I am hoping to wake up tomorrow afternoon with significantly less pain. Fingers crossed.

Until then I will continue sitting in the living room for ten minutes at a time with my guitar, amp and a few pedals working on various Foo Fighters songs. Thankfully my bride has allowed me to have an amp, three guitars and a handful of pedals in our living room so that I don’t have to navigate the stairs to my man cave.  Thank you, honey bunny.

And for those who are interested: the J Rocket Audio Designs Tim Pierce Overdrive & Power Amp kicks huge ass. Great for Foo Fighters tones.

Tattas for now!

Surgery – Done

We checked in at 5:45 this morning.  Dr S (the surgeon) came in to see us almost immediately to give us the update and talk surgery.
With regards to the PET scan, he said that in fact the lung lesion(s) did light up on the PET scan, which is usually indicative of cancer.  Having said that, the original bone scan did NOT light up so we briefly thought it had not metastasized to the bone, when in fact it has.  My point being that Dr S is still not entirely sure if the lesion on the lung(s) is cancer or not.  Either way, he is not concerned at the moment as he says that can be dealt with later.

The PET scan also showed something “suspicious” in the pelvic area, however he physically looked in that area himself during surgery and could not see anything suspicious.  He called it a red herring.  Maybe there is something there, and maybe there is not.  We’ll hope for ‘not.  I’m quickly learning there is little about this disease that is certain. The scans – good or bad – are not always correct.

One of the things we didn’t discuss a lot before the surgery was the fact that Ben was carrying around a blood clot in the vein leaving his kidney.  That was very frightening for us, because if it had freed itself before or during the surgery it would have been fatal.  So there were two anesthiologists who met with us before the surgery, and who worked together during the surgery.  They explained that they would be inserting a camera down by his heart so that they could see if a piece broke off and if so they would do “their best” to stop it.  That was rather horrifying.  Dr S said that the clot was the first thing he would be going after once he opened Ben up.  Needless to say, I spent the first hour of the surgery on pins and needles praying that the surgeon did not walk in the waiting room to talk to me.

As you have figured out by now, the amazing Dr S got the clot out without any issue and all ended well.  There is no further concern there at all.

I spoke in person with Dr S after the surgery and he was very pleased with how it went.  Ben lost very little blood and did not require a transfusion.  There was quite a bit of cancer in the tissue around the kidney – more then they were aware from the scans – and also in the lymph nodes, but I believe he was saying that he got it all.  There was also a lot in the vein leaving the kidney – but I also believe he was successful in removing all of that.

What remains of course is the cancer in the spine / sacrum, but as far as I am aware there has been no negative progression since the ct scan. Dr S said that Ben should just recover (about 6 weeks) and then we will go to the oncologist and discuss next steps.

I hugged Dr S – he was very reassuring and extremely caring.  He talked about our kids and really cared about keeping Ben healthy for our family’s sake.  He seemed to be saying that despite the fact that the spine can’t be operated on, he expects Ben to carry on and we will just deal with the rest in good time.  Like I said before….treatment until there is a cure.

As I write this, I am with the girls at my sister’s house for the night.  Ben is still completely out of it and extremely medicated. His blood pressure is way too low and his heart rate is too high, but he has been through such a trauma I don’t think that is a surprise.  He is being closely monitored and they will call me if necessary.  I will go back in the morning but probably without the kids this time.  Jaime was extremely upset when she saw her Dad – she found it shocking to see him like that.

Unfortunately Zak has not been able to see Ben yet as he had to leave right after the surgery to go for his University interview.  And….he is in!  So that was great news I was able to pass on to Ben…he will probably not remember by morning.  Lol

In any case, I am exhausted and am going to sign off.  Ben does not have any means of communicating right now as he needs to sleep, so he won’t be returning texts, and he is not in a position to see anyone.

As usual, my family was amazing and have pulled through in ways too numerous to mention.  Zak was a rock, and also a huge thank you to Colleen, Martine and Michelle for sitting with us and just being there.  Thank you to everyone for all the texts, messages of encouragement and love, and for all the prayers that were clearly heard.  The Saint-Onge’s are very blessed.



Well, the Saint-Onge’s are prepping for tomorrow.  Things are starting to fall into place with a few minor glitches.  Nothing we can’t handle.

Tomorrow we will all make the trek down to VGH for Ben’s surgery.  We have to phone later today to find out what time the surgery will be.  We are hoping for earlier rather then later, as Zak was contacted for a University interview that has been scheduled for 3:15pm.  He was rather devastated to discover the conflict, but we told him that of course he must be there.  Life goes on, right?

So hopefully the surgery is in the morning and then we can bring him back for his interview, which he will nail, of course!  That was minor glitch number 1, but it’s straightened out now.

Minor glitch number 2 was Jaime discovering that she had made an error in her work schedule, and she works at 4 pm tomorrow.  Poor kid was horrified and scrambling to get that changed, but given that Zak has to be back at 3:15 anyway, she’s now going to come back for her shift and then I’ll bring her back to Vancouver afterwards to spend the night.  So that all worked out too.

Minor glitch number 3 is that Jaime suddenly and unexpectedly hurt her neck last night.   One minute everything was fine, and the next minute she was in horrible pain.  (I know that feeling.  Poor kid).  It could be due to the fact that she did this yesterday:

Yes, that is Jaime on the right after spontaneously competing in the Spartan race on Mt Seymour.  (Who doesn’t decide they would suddenly like to race in an obstacle course on a mountain?)

Anyway, she is currently in quite a bit of pain and unable to move.  She is laying on an ice pack, and can’t even take an Advil due to her allergy cleanse.  More about that later.

When we were at the hospital on Friday we had the anesthetist check the results of Ben’s PET scan.  He said there was no negative change since the CT scan…whew!!!!  As mentioned, I hadn’t wanted the results of the PET scan, but when faced with the fact that the Dr sitting in his office right in front of me knew the results, I just couldn’t resist.  I had to ask. I was so relieved by what he said.

So today we are all together as a family, with plans to go shopping for a suit for Zak (grad gift) and just enjoying each other’s company before our little world gets shaken up again.  Fingers crossed that Jaime’s neck issues work themselves out.  Honestly I probably would have taken her up to the hospital for an X-ray (she is in that much pain) if it wasn’t for the fact that we will be there all day tomorrow anyway.

I’ll leave you all with this thought that I am working hard to focus on each day:

Hug your loved ones.

Wendy xo