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Well this is definitely the time of year I feel compelled to write. It’s been two years since I lost my husband to brain cancer. Looking back on some of my previous postings, I realize I don’t come out and write these words very often. I skirt around them; I allude to them and paint a water coloured landscape where things are vague and it’s more about big-picture ideas than detailed events. This is how I have liked it up to this point.

As this anniversary approached I had a few friends ask me if it’s gotten easier now that a bit more time has passed…now that there’s been two whole years between me and that other reality I was living.

Time – that old cure-all.

The easy answer – and the one that everyone is looking for is yes… of course time has helped. I have had two years of experiencing people and places and events, between me and that other world in which my husband was battling for his life. Time helps get over any traumatic experience. It dulls the edges.

Well this is what I thought – that the edges were supposed to get duller. The sharp blade of loss wearing down slowly. Maybe I had heard it somewhere once? Maybe it just seems logical; the general consensus.  I don’t know. But after having more that a few people ask me if it’s gotten easier, I started to think about it. 

And here’s the thing – for me, time has proved invaluable in that it gives me longer stretches of relief. I think about Kevin every day and I smile. He was so f*&king funny. He just had this way about him, and he shared it with everyone. I don’t need to tell those of you who knew him. I swear he had this sort of smirk behind his eyes – like he knew something you didn’t and it was hilarious. He brought people together. A lot of the time he was just ridiculous. Most of the time, really. To me he was the best friend in the world. We were lucky like that.

So now when it hits hard, it still hits just as hard. I could use the word emptiness, and although it’s strikingly painful, it’s usually fleeting. It comes less often now, and I can pull myself out of it pretty fast. I just think about how much it would hurt him to see me like that and then I pick myself up.

If you’re reading this and you were lucky enough to know Kevin, please think of the best and most funny moment you shared with him… maybe it involved minotaurs? nerd capes? some sort of limerick?

If you didn’t know Kevin, but have had loss in your life, then remember the people you’ve loved and all of their lovable qualities. If you haven’t had loss in your lives, then hug the people around you tightly, and start laughing.

Something that makes me feel better? Realizing that Kevin did, indeed, know something we don’t. Let’s hope it’s hilarious.

Theme Song, One of Kevin’s favourites:

“A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses.”
– Hippocrates

The Dragon that greets patrons of Soul Mama, a vegetarian restaurant in Melbourne

The Dragon that greets patrons of Soul Mama, a vegetarian restaurant in Melbourne

Melbourne is in the running for one of my favourite cities in the country.  It’s beautiful and culturally-varied.  I couldn’t help but notice that people are pretty darn friendly there as well (including my hosts, who were personally responsible for me enjoying a deliciously diverse menu and eating the very best I have in months – thank you Lynch family).

Not only are the cafes and restaurants dynamic and never-ending, but the city’s hospitals ain’t so bad either.  Actually that implies I’ve seen more than one, but really, one hospital tends to fill the quota, wouldn’t you think?

I wasn’t really, seriously sick, but my kidneys had decided to let themselves be known to me.  I had to get it all sorted out by spending the night hooked up to an IV.   The medical system here is very similar to Canada, and because I was in noticeable pain they got me through administration quite quickly – and then doled out morphine with similar speed.  I felt very well taken care of (thanks morphine!) and in general I’m quite okay with hospitals; comfortable enough with how it all works and what to expect…   I know I’m an expert because I was able to get the gown on with only minimal assistance and a short question and answer period….

It was the first time I had been in any sort of medical facility since Kevin’s illness and it was emotionally hard for me.  It brought back so many memories.  Being in the fevered-pain I was in, not having all my defenses intact, it got a little tough there for a while.  As the pain slowly subsided and I knew I wouldn’t have to stay a second night, I actually started to delve into the memories of our journey through the medical system these past couple of years.   What a journey it was.

View from St. Kilda Pier

View from St. Kilda Pier

The tests and the appointments.  The chemotherapy, radiation, steroids, anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-convulsants.  The CT scans and MRIs and ECGs.  We had appointments everyday for a while there.  Ambulance rides, stretchers, wheelchairs, walkers.  We had handle bars and poles and railings, so much equipment for normal, everyday activities.   Physiotherapists, nurses, oncologists, GPs, home-care and finally hospice.    There were a minimum of six hospitals that we became all too familiar with.  We were proficient in a field that no one should even have to think about.

This is a sad trip down memory lane.  I’m sorry if it’s hard for some of you to read.  These are the thoughts that I explored while lying in that hospital bed, and when I faced some of it head-on again, it became a little easier to deal with.

There is no real pattern for this whole healing process.  At every turn I find a new way to address a feeling or thought.  It must be one of the most reflective times in my life.  Learning new, honest and organic ways to sift through my emotions is an art-form that takes time and effort.   I’m lucky to have both these beautiful surrounding, and the amazing people around me;  it makes it all a little easier.

I know that my body needed the rest (and the medicine) and when I felt well enough to be discharged I was able to head back to a very comfortable home where I was made to feel welcome and at ease.  This was invaluable, and really, if I had to be sick, I’m glad I was where I was.  A little down-time has refreshed me in new ways.

Willows Beach, April 2008

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