My sweet husband, the love of my life, passed away early Wednesday morning. We had been married 29 years, 6 months, and 7 days, and I’m left with a gaping hole in my heart. He was the strongest, most generous and most honest person I’ve ever known. Oh yeah, and he was funny too.
He had just spent one week at UCLA Medical Center, and one week at USC Keck Hospital. He had to drop the clinical trial he was participating in. He was poked and prodded, x-rayed and tested more in those twelve days than most of us will be in our lifetime. And still he kept going. We realized we weren’t going to win the war, but maybe we could fight some small battles and he would get to go home for his remaining days or weeks.
After surgery for a procedure we hoped would send Don home, he came out on the other side with a breathing tube. I sat on his bed with him, and because he couldn’t talk, was writing questions on a legal pad. After he understood what had happened, he wrote “Focus on the good”. Even from a bed in the ICU he was urging his family to remember the many blessings we have, and to give each other grace. He came off the ventilator that morning.
His last day, Tuesday, was a gift. Though he was still in ICU, he felt a little better and was more himself than he had been in weeks. He laughed and joked with us. He watched TV. His eyes were bright. But his lungs gave out on him early Wednesday morning with Andrew, Molly, Carrie and me by his side, as well as our best friends Dave and Kathy Gallagher. He was peaceful and not in any pain. We were able to experience a sacred time with him, for which I’ll always be grateful.
Through Don’s blog, he pulled back the curtain just a bit to give us a glimpse behind his humor to the pain he dealt with every day – both emotionally and physically. But it was only a glimpse, because, true to his nature, he was protecting us from really seeing the horror of what this cancer was doing to his body. He always said that his greatest sadness in this journey was the pain he caused me, our kids, and our friends and family.
Don’s blog provided him a creative outlet, as well as a bit of sanity in this insane experience. Thank you to all of you who faithfully read it, commented on it, or shared it with friends. He got so much satisfaction when someone going through a similar situation would contact him to say how much the blog had helped them. But I don’t think Don was trying to be inspirational. I think he was just trying to be honest. He was just being himself.
We will be celebrating Don’s life this Monday. We’d love for you to join us.
Monday, December 3rd
La Canada Presbyterian Church
626 Foothill Blvd, La Canada, CA 91011