I met Ray in 1976, I was 19 years old, he was 21. Six months after meeting and falling in love, we were married. Our four children, a daughter and 3 sons, joined our family in the first six years of our marriage. We worked side by side in our family business for almost 35 years.
In December of 2006 Ray was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. After going through 6 months of Chemo Therapy, he was given a clean bill of health.
In 2010 the Cancer came back. This time Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma B Cell. We were told he would need a stem cell transplant in order to survive.
After going through the stem cell transplant his body started to shut down. First he suffered a heart block, than a staff infection, diabetes, kidney shut down, and than his lungs began to fail.
At the end he was on life support. I had promised him when the time came I would remove the life support and let him go. It was the most difficult decision I have ever made. Sometimes I still wonder—–what if—–what if—— did I do the right thing???? Do you relate?
I have related to you the story of my husbands illness and death in a rather factual, unemotional manner. Also, I do not know how to fully relate the pain, the loneliness,the crushing heartache, the feeling that I just wanted to die along with him, and the end of my dreams. I know first hand what it means to say, “I have been through a life changing event.”
I learned there was no way to go around grief or avoid it. I learned that each time I rode those waves of grief, I would come out on the other side, just a, tiny, tiny bit better. One day I started to see light at the end of the grief tunnel. My instinct for survival kicked in.
I could write about sitting in Rays favorite chair for hours, wearing his coat, smelling his cloths, grief induced migraine headaches, widow fog, sleepless nights, loneliness in a crowed room. I bet there is a good chance you already know about all these things, and perhaps more.
I do know that when I started to express gratitude, and acknowledge the many miracles in my life, things began to change. I began to feel hope…..hope that there was a wonderful life ahead of me, hope that I still had life lessons to learn. I also had hope that there was still joy to be had in my life.
I will never “get over” Ray. I will never stop missing him or my old life. I WILL go on living, I WILL honor him with how I choose to live. I WILL find joy in my life!