Have you read Kalissa’s blog post about the box and a ball? You can find it here on her blog. It’s really a wonderful analogy to understand grief. For you new readers, I lost my husband, Kramer, to lung cancer last year and today’s post is a little about how I’ve been handling the grief.
More or less Kalissa’s blog post says when grief is fresh the ball in the box is big. Everytime the ball(grief) bumps you (the red rectangle), you feel grief.
As time passes, the ball shrinks and therefore you aren’t bumped by the ball as often. I can honestly say I’ve been moving towards the smaller ball on most days.
I don’t cry as easily. I can see that there is life beyond this. I can see that I have to make choices for myself and not stay stagnant.
But…every so often, my ball jumps back to the bigger size. It often happens for a moment or a day but this time it’s bigger and has been for a week or so. I’m okay. Really I am. But I really like to be honest about grief and how it has been working for me. I know so many of you want to be helpful to friends going through grief and unless you hear how it sometimes works, it’s harder to be helpful to friends.
Seriously…do read Kalissa’s blog HERE.
Well what happened to make my ball big? The calendar.
Last year the weekend after Easter we had big plans. We were going to have all of my family at our house and we were going to have a “Meet the babies” party. On my side of the family we don’t really have a baby shower. After babies are born we have a family get together. Everyone comes, guys and kids included, they bring presents and “meet the baby”. Well we had two babies to meet, Gannon and Georgia.
Two weeks before, a frustrated Kramer, said no…he wanted to cancel all of the plans. He had spent the two previous weekends in the ER with complications with his lung cancer and didn’t want to be hosting family here and something go wrong and he’d have to go to the ER again. To this point, we thought he might be okay. When we had been doctoring, his main doctor said this was all curable. In February they had tried to remove his tumor, but failed. Even then, they said, this is all curable. I was hopeful that he’d stay be with me and this was more or less a big bump in the road.
He had started to need oxygen but that was all explained away as normal. He had started to be fatigued but again, he was going through chemo and radiation, considering that, he was normal. He complained about headaches but again, we thought this was all just part of treatment. Most everything could be explained away as part of treatment.
So on the weekend after Easter last year… I finally figured out that all of this was not normal. It was the weekend that my hope died. It was the weekend we found out the cancer moved to his bones. It was the weekend we found out that cancer ate his C2 vertebrae in his neck and that his neck was broken. If you want to read the account of Kramer breaking his neck and all that happened a year ago, you can find it HERE.
This was the weekend that Kramer slowly started drifting away from me. This was the weekend I learned that I had to step up. I had to make the decisions. I had to let go of my belief that this was curable. I had to hold on tighter than ever but I had to start to letting him go. I knew cancer was going to take him away from me. I didn’t know when, but I knew there was no hope that he was going to ever be his old self.
I remember the chair in the ER that I was sitting in. I remember the look on Kramer’s face. I remember everything from the moment they told him his neck was broken. I remember feeling like I was in a movie watching this happen to someone else. It replays in slow motion. There I was…there we were. This couldn’t be happening to me. Not me. Not my husband. Not the love of my life. Not the father to my kids. Not the mainstay of us all. This just couldn’t be happening to him. It couldn’t. But, it was…and there wasn’t a thing I could do to stop it.
It was the weekend that I learned to fake being strong. He had to see me as strong. He had to see me as able to face life alone. I had to start letting him see that I would be okay-even if I didn’t feel like I was going to be okay.
I can’t tell you how many times I hid my grief. I can’t tell you how many times I cried in the shower toweled off and forged ahead. I can’t tell you how many times I lied to Kramer and let him lie to me…saying we could do this when he was feeling better…or we could do that when he was feeling better. I knew there was no feeling better. I knew there might be a day…there might be a glimpse of better, but there was not better.
I needed to know what to expect for the final times of his life. He didn’t want to know. He never asked. I had Kalissa pull the doctor aside one day without Kramer knowing and had her ask what kind of life expectancy he had. The doctor said they had a algorithm that gave a suggested time. At the time, they said 11 months….I told the kids. I never told Kramer. He didn’t ask and it was his right to not know. I asked each of the kids if they wanted to know. They did…things didn’t last 11 months. It was only 33 days later and he was gone.
In a way, I’m thankful he didn’t last 11 months. Kramer’s overwhelming wish was that he not be a burden to us. He never was. He would have hated being in a hospital bed in our home. He would have hated that our last memories of him be long and labored breathing. He would have hated looking weak. He was strong to the very end.
…and so here I am today. The grief ball in my box is really big and has been for a few days. It’s okay. I know it will shrink. For me, today is a day to mourn. Today is a day to remember. Today is a day to let go. Today is a day to remember my innocence in cancer. It’s a day to remember that this is anniversary day of the first day, I took one step forward into world knowing he wouldn’t always be with me. It was the day I learned to “fake it until I make it”. No, it wasn’t the day he died…but it was the day I realized he would and I’d be left without him. It is the anniversary of the day my innocence died.