Tomorrow would have been my 23rd wedding anniversary. I think it still is, though, even though my husband is no longer here with me and I’m no longer married…have no husband…am no one’s wife. The anniversary date doesn’t change. 23 years ago, we were in fact married.
The last anniversary we shared together, 3 years ago, was odd. We were trying to eat a fancy dinner out but were instead often staring blankly at nothing…and existing in a thick fog consumed with my husband’s recent out-of-left-field terminal colon cancer diagnosis.
He didn’t get me a final anniversary card and provide his scribbly “Love you, Eric” at the bottom. He didn’t get me a final gift, trying to outdo whatever I would buy for him. He didn’t even know what the hell to do or think or how to act at that point…about anything. And neither did I.
As I look back now, it was interesting how we both faced his devastating and dire prognosis, at first, with a continuance of normalcy…as if this wasn’t happening to him, to us, to our family. Denial, maybe. We were both simply paralyzed. I don’t think either of us had ever experienced this kind of paralysis before.
I know I’ve grown stronger and have made progress in attempting to rebuild my life without him here. I know that I’ve cut back, simplified, stripped down, shifted, realigned, retreated, figured some things out, healed a bit here and there but still fight with demons in other places…and am trying to be courageous by attempting something I know he would be proud of…as I try to force myself to rise from the ashes. I can say with confidence that this is happening…albeit, slowly…but that he would have expected it of me. He expected me to get on with it, as I would have expected him to do the same.
However, I have discovered some new challenges for myself that I never contended with before. A few new things…where I continue to dwell within paralysis.
One of these things is the tradition of going to doctors for checkups or exams. As a middle-aged woman, I know how imperative it is to have routine preventative exams each year to ensure that my health is on track, that there are no problems developing, and if there are, have them squashed and taken care of immediately. I am educated and employed and have sufficient health insurance which covers all these exams and tests. People have fought for these tests and exams to be covered. Laws have been written to ensure that these tests and exams are covered. There are people out there not as fortunate as I am in this area and who forgo these tests and exams because they have to feed their kids instead.
I have never had an issue with this before. I’ve always been the organized wife and mother who ensured that my kids and I had our appointments and checkups, like clockwork. I’d ask my husband to make his appointments, but there’s a reason why men making doctor appointments is a stereotype – because stereotypes are sometimes rooted in truth. I don’t know if a simple routine appointment would’ve saved my husband’s life, but I’m sure it wouldn’t have hurt.
Ever since my husband’s diagnosis, and then watching such horrifying things happening to him…slowly…and then quickly… over time, I’ve been paralyzed about this once efficient and rational area of my life. I’ve essentially devolved or gone backwards on this issue…and have remained there.
It doesn’t help that I made myself get an early colonoscopy last year, and the Doctor discovered two precancerous polyps that needed to be removed. It doesn’t help that recently, for the first time in my family’s history, a maternal blood relative has been diagnosed with breast cancer. It doesn’t help that I’m pre/peri-menopausal and have noticed significant changes with my body within the past year. It doesn’t help that I cannot get so many images, smells, sounds, feelings and even tastes out of my head after witnessing what cancer does to an otherwise young-ish, robust, healthy, beautiful man.
At this point, if there’s something wrong with me…I’d rather not know. I’d rather live in ignorance. It is indeed bliss.