I heard a crash and than a thud and I ran screaming from the bedroom. In that moment I felt out of control and that my whole world seemed to end. The thud was the sound of my husband Ray falling down the stairs. My heart seemed to stop, I thought I would find him dead at the bottom of those stairs. My screams woke my son who was able to get his Dad and me handled at the same time.

Ray was so ill at that stage of his illness. He had just come off of a very hard month of chemotherapy. I watched as he aged 30 years during that month of treatment. His doctors felt his immune system was working well enough for him to travel back east to visit our son and his family. He was fighting hard for his life and he wanted so badly to go back east. To this day I don’t have any idea where he got the strength to go.

My beautiful daughter helped make the travel arrangements. I am forever grateful to her for all her help during her fathers illness. I handled the bags, got Ray through security and made sure we got to board our flight with the special needs passengers. It’s about a 7 hour flight to South Carolina from Sacramento California. Ray made the flight even though most of the time he just sat very still, barely moving. He was using all his strength and determination to get to our destination.

We stayed a week enjoying our visit with our son and his wife, and their 3 children. In spite of his fall down the stairs in the middle of the night Ray soldiered on! I have thought a lot about that fall and what I felt was my out of control reaction that night. I have come to the conclusion that that fall brought everything to a head for me. I had cared for Ray night and day for almost 3 years. I had worked from home, telecommuting to pay the bills. I had been his medical advocate, chauffeur, nurse, and yes. the one person he could confide in….he was my most intimate life partner. I loved him unconditionally. If he expressed his emotions or became angry, or if he had medication induced mood swings I would still love him. So the night he fell down the stairs all the bottled up emotion came tumbling out in my screams.

The day Ray passed away he was in the hospital on a ventilator. I was with him, along with three of our children. I held his arm as he lay dying. I felt his spirit pass right through my body the moment he died. I felt him linger close by me. I felt totally drained of all emotion, it was as if I had also left my body.

Perhaps my emotional outburst when Ray fell down the stairs had somehow strengthened me, calmed me,and prepared me in advance for what was to come.

It has taken much contemplation during my grief to slowly put everything into perspective. Being patient with myself. Being able to talk to those closest to me, sometimes repeating the same story over and over again has been very healing for me. And I am realizing that in the last 2 1/2 years since Ray passed I don’t find myself sharing that story or others quite so much as the pain heals and peace replaces what once seemed a dark hole too painful to face. And, as that peace has overtaken the pain, I have also been able to connect back to the love and memories I have with my late husband at an even deeper level!