Monday, June 26, 2017

It's been a year

Here I sit, Not knowing how to start  This is a sad day, although I've had many in the past year or two. Some happy ones, too, But today I am focused on the sadness and grief this day, June 26, 2016 brought us.
That morning Kevin drew his last painful breath. He stopped breathing. No words uttered. Eyes remained closed. His life ended  Kevin died one year ago today.

Sometimes I dwell on the "what ifs" and bring myself down over actions we should've taken long before he became sick. But that comes from hindsight.  

After he was diagnosed with cancer, we met so many cancer victims and were focused on the ones who were persevering. Survivors who fought to beat the odds that were stacked against them. Kevin found comfort in their courage and faith. Faith in doctors, nurses, family, friends, Specifically, faith in Florida Cancer Specialists and Research Institute.

Kevin also recognized how hard the horrible path was for those who lost that battle. It was devastating. Thoughts of their struggles were in the back of his mind while he tried to concentrate on getting better. 

Chemotherapy and radiation treatments ravage the body about as much as the cancer they fight. No one can imagine the effects of both the disease and treatment have on the human body. We need not only find a cure, but we also need prevention.

On that day a year ago, all I could feel was the huge hole in my heart.  I thought about the hole in many people's hearts. Those who loved and appreciated Kevin. I didn't think about everyone else who's died and left other holes in our hearts. Just Kevin. I did before and have since thought about others I've cared about who've died. But not on that day.

We had a good life together. Just now I walked around the house and took a couple of pictures of photos  we had/have scattered around. Thankfully, we always took pictures to remind us  of happy times:

On my desk is a picture I took of Kevin at the Boynton Beach G.A.L.A. (art & craft fair) in the early 90's. And Kevin always had this picture of us on his desk. It is of us at the hotel's Tiki hut bar on Sanibel Island in the mid 90's. We spent a few vacations there wandering the beaches that were covered with seashells.

A kiss we shared on our wedding day. And Kevin wearing his Buzz Lightyear  3-D glasses at Disney. Kevin wrote the messages on the wooden conversation hearts for this photo frame.

Yes, it's been a tough year. However, I've had so much support and felt loved by friends and family. That's what gets me through tough times, blue phases. I made new friends. And am taking care of myself.  

I have a head full of thoughts I want to share and write about. Some other time. Not now. Not today.

Our wonderful memories and Kevin's spirit have filled that hole in my heart. It still hurts. I still miss him.

I  love you Kevin.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Recounting June 2016

I really enjoyed celebrating my birthday and spending time with  my daughters, granddaughters and some great friends in May. We shared many adventures, laughs, meals and time with each other. It was so wonderful, I was homesick when I returned home. Wish I could be in two places at once.

But what's really been on my mind is what mine and Kevin's lives were like a year ago. He spent  23 days, from my birthday on May 12th to June 3rd in Bayonet Point Hospital in Hudson, FL. On that day in June 2016 he was released and sent home with Hospice Care for another 23 days until he passed away on June 26th.

I was in a fog for the six or eleven  months after he died. There were days when I was sure I'd passed some level of grief and I was moving on, the way grieving people should move on. But really most of those days were dark, lonely for Kevin. Time was passing with little relief. I kept busy doing my crafts, going to the gym, trying to keep in touch with family and friends. Sorting through Kevin's things, letting go a little a little her and there. Time will help me heal, I kept telling myself.

Something happened while I was staying in Boynton Beach. It was my third visit to Stephanie's since Kevin has been gone. Visits last summer were consoling while I was in a state of shock and utter confusion. This time was more like going home. We'd always considered that city our home. We had some wonderful years there with the girls, the grand kids  and many friends. Even scary things happened, like my having breast cancer, but we got through it together. The place has grown and changed. This time the familiar faces, loved ones and Kevin's favorite beach helped clear my mind and out of the fog.

I need to stop mind wandering aimlessly. Kevin wouldn't want that for me. I've felt guilty, angry, sad, lonely, endured heartache and all things negative.  I am not sure why, but since this visit I feel focused on recalling our last 46 days together.

Maybe because in hindsight, I know I should've realized he was dying. None of his doctors said so. Instead they were trying to get him released to a rehab facility, which meant (to me) there was more than a glimmer of hope.

He went downhill fast this time, while in the hospital. The staff was doing their best to keep him maintained with transfusions and tweaking medications. Actually, the list of problems and complications that landed him in the hospital a final time signaled all was down hill.  I see that now.

We knew his life was in danger when he was diagnosed the cancer in April 2015. Yet we never prepared for his death.

His oncologist even called me, pleading with me to do what ever I could to get him into a facility close to home and near the doctor.. As the days went on Kevin could no longer sit up, let alone undertake physical therapy sessions at the hospital. I tried to encourage him, but it was more than he could handle. The facility near home rejected him. They realized his state of health was beyond rehabilitation. A nursing home near the hospital offered to take him and promised therapy, but hospital staffers that I trusted warned me, the home could not provide what Kevin needed.

Our last hope was HOSPICE. I was adamant that Kevin receive physical therapy so that he could regain enough strength for more chemo and better health. I believed anything was possible. HOSPICE staff explained they would provide therapy and that we had the option to drop HOSPICE care once Kevin was well enough for chemo..I believed with all my heart he would be recovering and back to fighting the cancer that was once again growing in his lungs, brain and bones.

Dr. Tang would not agree to being his representative//physician while he was in HOSPICE care, so the HOSPICE doctor took over.

In the meantime, Kevin became less responsive. Doctors at the hospital and then HOSPICE staff started communicating through me. Kevin's responses to me were yes, no, I'm sorry or I love you. His moving was confined to helping pull himself up in bed or tossing and turning in his sleep.

Between his not communicating and my not facing reality, we never got to talk about what was to come.

A year ago today was Kevin's second day home from the hospital. Halfway through the 46 days. He wanted so much to go home.  HOSPICE staff came by on his first and second day home to get him settled, do their evaluations and then started their visits and routine two days later. It was actually less stressful having home home rather than in the hospital. He was sleeping most of the time. He was confined to a hospital bed in our living room and I slept on the couch during his last days home, so I could be close by in case he needed me.

I can't help it. I need to dwell on those days and every last piece of our lives together. June 26th marks one year. I've somehow made it through every day on the calendar that had meaning for us.

Something inside me needs to walk through those days again. For some reason it is essential.

If we had our way, he'd be sitting in front of the TV right now watching baseball. Or better yet, we'd be at a game. I miss Kevin every day. He is always in my thoughts and prayers.

Thank you for reading my posts and  your support. I am fortunate and grateful to have loving, caring friends and family.