The Happy “This Time Last Year” Memories are Officially Over

Its happened.  At 5:20 pm tonight I crossed that dreaded line where all my happy memories of “this time last year” now officially involve cancer.  With a small “c”.

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At 5:20 pm on April 10th, 2015, Ben told me he had cancer.  One year ago today.  365 days. I can still hear his voice as he spoke the words.  It haunts me.  I can hear the fear in his voice as though I’m hearing it again right now while I type these words.  “Where?”  I asked.  “In my kidney and in my bones.” He cried, and I knew right then that there was to be no happy ending.

Yes, over the next few weeks we briefly had a slight reprieve where we were told the cancer was on the bone instead of in it, and I allowed myself to think that it might be possible to at least buy him some years of treatment.  Maybe in that time a cure might be found.  But in short order we learned that the bone scan was wrong and the cancer was in fact in the bone.  And everywhere else.  And spreading rapidly.

How we cried the day we heard that.  I have to actually shut that memory down because it hurts too much to handle right now.

Just when we thought things could not get any worse, July 14th rolled around and that day we discovered that Ben did not have kidney cancer, per se.  He had collecting duct carcinoma.  A rare and incurable cancer without even the teeniest, weeniest chance of survival. Nada. Nothing.  Not a damn hope.  No one knows why it happens.  “Just bad luck” we were told. There is literally no rhyme or reason for it and there is no known effective treatment. It is so rare, that if there is one thing you do not have to worry about in life it would be getting this type of cancer.  You have a better chance of winning the lottery.

When we first heard the words “collecting duct carcinoma,” Ben left the room to be sick and I asked “How long?”  The resident oncologist looked at me and said, “One month? Three months?”  I never could write that in this blog before now because I never told Ben about that conversation.  But thats what happened.  One to three months.  That oncologist did not know The Titan very well, because Ben went on to fight for another six months minus one day.  And every single moment of every single day I lived in fear.  To amuse myself and take my mind off the horror I often thought, “this day last year we were …. (insert happy memory here).”

Anyway, now I have crossed the line where every memory of the past year is now surrounded by cancer crap.  I have dreaded this day for months and here it is.  Bam.

I miss you so much Ben.  I want to see you and talk to you again.  I texted your number the other day, just to see what would happen.  You didn’t respond.

 

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Hi Ho, Hi Ho, Its Back To Work I Go

A couple of significant things happened today.  First of all, its Lelita’s birthday.  Hahaha. Lelita, your birthday gift is that you get top mention in my blog post!  🙂

Aside from that major event, I returned to work today.  361 days after my whole world collapsed in one moment that I will never forget.  It was a very challenging day, even though I clearly work for the best employer and with the best people who are extremely understanding and helpful.  And forgiving of my fried brain.

I found it weirdly interesting that I never cry at home and always feel like I have everything together.  Obviously I don’t have much choice since the kids are here and I promised them at Ben’s service that I would not break.  I intend to keep that promise.  So I pretty much expected that other than being slightly nervous it would be fairly status quo.

Not so.

I teared up every time I turned around.  It was like a tap turned on and I had a permanent leak.  I cried every time someone looked at me with a sympathetic smile, every time I saw one of Ben’s old colleagues, every time I saw one of my old colleagues, every time someone said “hi,” every time someone said “glad to have you back,” every time someone poked their head in my office …. pretty much every time anyone breathed in my general area.

It was embarrassing.  And exhausting.  And gave me a huge headache.  I don’t know how I will manage going back for the next shift.  Also, I seem to have a combination of “pregnancy brain” coupled with “chemo brain” coupled with “head injury,”  although none of those things technically apply to me.  I believe I have always been reasonably competent at work, but apparently not so anymore.  I don’t remember people’s names, I don’t remember my passwords, I don’t remember the computer programs, I don’t remember much of my job description … I didn’t even remember my phone number or how to sign onto the computer.  Not even joking.  I had better get it together, because I’m pretty sure the understanding will only last so long and I do have three kids to put through university.  Unless the Lottery Gods are on my side, I need my job.

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On another note, today is the two year anniversary of Zak’s sobriety.  To see how awesome my kid is, click on his name below:

Zak Saint-Onge

I don’t have adequate words to describe how happy I am about Zak being two years sober.  I don’t have adequate words to describe how heartbroken I am that Ben is not here to see it for himself. He deserved to celebrate alongside Zak.  His support helped save Zak’s life. Tomorrow night Zak takes his two year cake.  One year ago today Ben and I were utterly ecstatic. Two days later he found out he was going to die.  One year after that he has already been dead for almost three months.

I can’t touch on that topic any more right now.  I’ll save that for another time.  I need to go find the off switch for the leaky tap I have going.

I’ll leave you with the last great thing that happened today.  A little piece of Ben came home (for about 30 seconds, mind you, but something is better than nothing).

Your guess who is behind the mask:

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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.