Trying to Get Through Those “Dates”

When one loses their significant other, especially when it’s the love of your life, the emotional roller-coaster becomes even tougher. I’m now going on month 10 since my darling wife left this world. However, this month comes with another date, our anniversary.

I used every bit of willpower to get through the holidays. For those in this situation, does it seem that the holidays go on forever? Now comes the date of our wedding anniversary, then her birthday and one-year marker. I don’t know how others handle it, but this part of the journey feels like I’m “bracing” for the hurricane of dates to come and go.

Many people have said that, “it doesn’t get better, it just gets easier.” I’ve heard so many “dates” on how long before you start to feel better, or at least somewhat functional. The majority have said it’s about a year-and-a-half. I’ve also heard the second year is the worst because you start losing your support group. The other ones go out to three years and I’ve heard of those struggling after five years and longer. Perhaps I can get more insight to this one too.

I read where the dates of anniversaries, birthdays, etc., mark the passage of time in this what I would call an unwanted journey. Prior to this last week, I thought that I could get through the rough time a little easier as I try to prepare and brace myself.

A quick lesson learned as you can never prepare, no matter how hard you try. This last week was one the worst. Trying to escape the overwhelming sadness that will blindside you is not possible. There’s a lot of truth to the saying, “you can run, but you can’t hide.” I’ve been running as fast and as hard as I can, but there’s no hiding.

One way I’m trying to cope is to do things “out of the box,” or out of my comfort zone. I am trying to do what I can to ease the pain, but realize I just have to “sit in it.” But, once the big dates have passed for year number one, I’m going to take a two-week cruise around Europe, something I would have not considered prior to all of this. I don’t expect to feel better overall, however it’s a different environment which makes for a distraction.

The month of May is one of the big “dates.” Her birthday was on May 8 and she passed late on the night of the 24th. Looking back, it’s almost hard to believe that one year is almost here.

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There Will Never Be Another Sally

Sally’s final days were handled with pure dignity and grace. Her attitude was amazing. Her best friend, Donna, flew in from Oregon for a last visit. Other co-workers came by the house. My two other sisters, Sally, Marylynn and her husband Loo also came out. The picture below shows them all.20170507_142230 She was well enough to celebrate her birthday on May 8. That one-year anniversary for me will be here soon and I know it’s not going to be easy.

My sister, Susan, helped out with the cooking and other household chores, plus taking care of Sally and looking over me. She stayed for three weeks and I told her to go back home, especially when I knew it was getting close. Susan refused to go home as my wife Sally asked her to stay.

The pain was getting worse for Sally as morphine doses had to be increased. Hospice was called in for occasional visits and check-ups at the house. On May 20, Sally told me that it wasn’t going to be long. We decided to take her to the Hospice House, a facility often used for the terminally ill, in Idaho as we were no longer capable of providing her with the best care. This became so real that I couldn’t ride in the ambulance to the Hospice House, something I still regret.

I spent her final 5 days in the room. I never left her side and let me know how I felt. She had visitors, but Sally went almost comatose due to the medication. However, the Hospice people said that they “can hear you” in that state. I always took conversations outside that related to Sally and that situation. I only wanted her to hear the positive.

My sister Susan was exhausted and emotionally strained. Neither one of us had been through anything like this. In one sense, it felt like a long funeral. On the early morning of May 25, my wife, partner, and great love passed on. Susan was at my house and I was with the doctors when it happened. I was in the middle of doing a project on my computer.

When it happened, I went and sat back down at my computer, completely emotionless. Some say that is normal, but I don’t have an idea of normal is. Susan drove over from my house and took me home, which would be the last night I would ever sleep in that house. The following day, Susan flew me to her home in Georgia.

Sally and I had many discussions, and nothing was left unsaid. She told me that it was ok to eventually find someone else. I quickly said, “there will never be another Sally.” I once heard that George Burns say, “there will never be another Gracie,” and he never remarried. I completely get it. We took a lot of trips, especially in the past few years. We both agreed, “it was a great run.” But, I never counted on it ending like this and so soon.

Writing all of this down is very tough, but maybe it will help someone else. But I have to say, the Hospice people are amazing and wonderful. My good friend’s sister works at Hospice and I don’t know how they do it. They are indeed special people.

A Brief Period of “Normal”

Sally finished all of her treatments in early January of 2017. Things were starting to look up. The lymphedema seemed to be subsiding and after four to six weeks, she started to feel better. I was starting to think that things were going to be okay.

My wife was one the hardest and most dedicated workers you would every meet. She worked at the cosmetic counter at Macys in North Idaho. She managed the Estee Lauder counter and helped countless people with makeup, fragrances and skin care.

Sally wasn’t just good at her job, she was the one of the best. She rarely called out sick. One year, on Black Friday, she developed laryngitis and could barely speak above a small whisper. The mangers were told about her condition and they asked to her come into work anyway as they were short-handed. The next thing I know, she’s getting ready for work, but I decided to drive her.

At the end of the day, she had one of the highest sales totals for that day. I was surprised, but yet I wasn’t. She had so many people who would come to Macy’s just to see her. Other associates who were available, tried to help Sally’s loyal customers. Instead, they would stand and wait for Sally to finish up with another customer. It drove the other associates nuts, but I thought it was awesome. At the end of the day, though, her coworkers loved her. The picture below was taken on New Year’s Eve. How Sally got the strength to go to that party was nothing short of incredible.

I used to television weather at the local station. Sally was a good sport when people would come up to me as ask about the weather, say they recognized me or in a few cases, have her take a picture of me and a fan. But, there were many days when I thought she was famous one. I lost track of the many times we would have lunch and a Macy’s customer would come up and say hello to her or ask when the next gift with purchase was going to be.

When Sally put her mind to it, she could sell anything. When she first took a job selling fragrances at another department store when we lived in Vermont in the early 2000s, she was very apprehensive as she never sold a single fragrance. However, in about six months, Sally was breaking sales records.

When Sally was first diagnosed with cancer, I told her to “life her life,” and she did. In late March of 2017, she went back to work. For a brief time, I thought that things were going to go back to some kind of normal. We would go to lunch during her break and watch TV in the evenings, just like we used to.

I remember one day when I overheard her telling a customer that she was cancer free, hoping that she was right. A short time later, things changed.20161231_203507