Longer Than….I AM IN Love With YOU

When did I fall in love with my husband.? I can’t really say when because  I have always been in love with him. From the first time we were sledding down Madden Hill and the cold and wind was whistling through my coat to the first “official” date (He asked my father’s permission to take me for a coke after church) when he sung Mr. Bo Jangles to me, I was in love with this handsome 19 year old boy from Chicago.

I saw him every day after school because he worked for my father. (It wasn’t easy to get a date when every guy wondered if dating me would end up meaning their job if they got out of line). He would make a “mistake” on his time card so that I would have to walk down to the Mill and ask him what time he left work on Tuesday or something like that. I wasn’t aware that he had already pre arranged everything with my sister. She was in on all of his “mistakes”. I remember her telling me that she wouldn’t mind if he would be her brother in law. *smile* It only took 20 something years for that to come true.

I loved everything about him. I loved his voice. I loved his mannerisms. I loved that we sang and harmonized so well together. I loved that he was as comfortable in a  suit as he was in jeans and a tee shirt. I loved the whole package.

I knew that he had feelings for me. I could see it in his eyes and that old song that said “….its in his kiss…” I was hoping that he felt the same thing as I did, but I wasn’t about to tell him. My mother was old fashioned and she said to never tell a boy how you felt. You let him tell you. So, I did but he never said those words. Someone told him that he wasn’t “good enough” for me and he didn’t call anymore. …..I was devastated.

It was the memory of him that I took with me into my first marriage. I told my first husband on our first date that I loved another man and that I didn’t know if I could ever love him. Why he didn’t run, I don’t know. 

Soon after I began dating my ex husband, I learned that the love of my life was marrying some one else. Within 30 days of our last date, he was engaged to another. I  was devastated and I thought that I had nothing better to do than get married to someone who acted like they loved me. I knew that I didn’t feel the same, but that didn’t matter. There was a song out that said that if you can’t be with the one that you loved, then love the one you are with and foolishly, I did.

 Within a year of meeting my ex husband, I was married. The next month after getting married, I began nurses training and 18  months later at the age of 21, I became a mother. Life took off.  I was married, a mother and working part time as a staff nurse….I had replicated the life that was expected of me and I was totally miserable. The only bright spot in my life was my son. My beautiful son was the only good that came out of  18 years of my first marriage.

Eighteen years is a long time to be unhappy and without hope. Early on, the marriage turned loveless and at times violent. When things would become violent and I had to recover from being beaten, I would see the face and hear, “Mr. Bo Jangles” as he once sang it to me.  I found safety in those memories but I never thought that the day would come when I would be with him. He with me and I with him.

I loved him completely and I tried to stop loving him so that I could be true to the one that I was with. As long as I was hurting physically and emotionally, he was never far from my heart, my mind or my thoughts.

Then, came the day when he walked in the front door where I worked. I didn’t recognize this man who had a full beard, but the moment that he spoke, I knew it was him and my head began to whirl. He was divorced for the second time. He was looking for my brother. My brother was killed 9 months before but he wasn’t aware. When I told him about my mother, he was so sad to hearof her passing. He always admired my mother and thought that she was a special woman. He had known her from church when his dad pastored my home church (It is the one in which  we are  renewing our vows)

We left there to get a cup of coffee and to catch up on how life was over the years. I didn’t hear from him for months after that. I thought that he was lost to me again, then one evening  months later, there was a voice message and he was coming to town….

For the losses that I suffered then ( My brother was killed,  nine months later my mother died from cancer, 6 weeks after my mother’s funeral, I was served with divorce papers, three months after that, my grandmother, my mother’s mother died ) he was a comfort. He has been a comfort to me from that time to this….He is still the safe place to where I run for safety.

We are two souls that have melted into one and it began 38 years and it is greater today than in the past. Cancer and death will not be able to break the love that began in the “forest primeval…. I’ve been in love with you…..As Dan Fogelberg sing, ” I been in love with you…..I am in love with you……”

Shadows of a Relationship

I seem to be observing how relationships bear the strain of this terminal state.  I watch as my husband’s children (blood and step) seem to be dealing with the final stages of this disease.

The oldest daughter just can’t seem to get enough of her father. She emails daily and she desires to hear her father’s voice. She is experiencing the grief and loss and she suffers so much from the thoughts of loosing her father to this cancer.

His oldest son also suffers, but he is avoiding his father. He puts his 1 1/2 year old daughter on the phone and lets her babble away. He is having a hard time talking to his dad about anything, even the weather. That is understandable. He isn’t avoiding his father because there is a problem between them, he is avoiding so that he isn’t reminded of how sick his father is.

The youngest daughter has been absent from my husband life until a week before Christmas. She wrote last in the fall of 2005, but he didn’t receive the letter until February of 2006. My husband replied to that letter and he informed her that he had cancer. Almost two years later, we receive a letter with picture of three little girls, my husband’s granddaughters. He has never seen these children. He was never informed of their coming. He was not informed of his daughter’s marriage until almost a year after the event.

The first letter was full of venom and hate coupled with self pity and revenge for things that my husband was not involved in. This last letter was totally different. It was a “perfect” picture with statements that were a little on the questionable side of things. In this letter, she wanted to let the past go and mend their relationship.

Even though this letter answered a prayer of his, he was reluctant to enter back into any kind of relationship with this daughter. He was afraid of the  pain that he knew he might have to bear should he allow her back into his daily life.

In her letter, a phone number and address was given. The first information in four years as to her wherabouts. My husband called his daughter to tell her that he had received her letter and just to talk to her. He said that it was like pulling teeth to get her to say anything to him. She didn’t sound excited or happy to hear his voice.

When he thought more about contacting his daughter, he became apprehensive. He remembered all of the painful things that were done to him. He knew that she was influenced by her mother.(who is mentally ill) but there was one incident that he just could not get past.

 His daughter and her boyfriend tried to run my husband and I over with a pick up truck while we were riding the motorcycle. My husband said that he still sees her mocking face in the window of the truck as they drove off.

He is afraid. Afraid that he doesn’t have the emotional stamina to deal with her unpredictible behavior. He is afraid his heart will be broken. He doesn’t want to love his granddaughers only to have to watch his daughter take them away when she becomes upset with something said of done. He is afraid that there will be harassment like we endured in the past…too many painful and difficult memories. He is afraid that his heart will be hurt more and he doesn’t have capacity for any more pain.

He knows that he still love this child, but he doesn’t trust this child. He doesn’t trust her to not bring chaos to our lives. He doesn’t trust her motivations or her unspoken agendas.

He speculated that her motivation for writing now was because she wanted to be included in any inheritance. I smiled a sick smile at the thought of an inheritance. We lost everything years ago. But, that would not be out of character for her to try to come back to the fold thinking that there may be something material to gain….

He doesn’t want to risk loosing the relationships he has with his other children. The pains of the past have alienated her from her half brother and sister and her stepbrother and sister in law…too much to risk to have everything blow up in his face.

He wrestled with the dilemma and debated with himself as to what to do. With a heavy heart, he wrote her a letter and told her that he was happy to hear that her life has settled down and that she is a mother. The little girls are lovely. He said that he loves her and always will, but he has nothing to offer her and he doesn’t have much time left on this earth. He wrote that he feels that it is safer for everyone to love her from a distance. He asked her to try and remember all of the good times that were had when she was younger. He wrote that he would rather her remember him as he looked when they last saw each other in the courtroom two and half years ago than how he looks now.

When he was finished writing the letter, he handed it to me and asked what I thought. I thought to myself how all of the current day “experts” on family and divorce would disagree with what he was doing. I thought how he was playing into the lies that her mother said about him. Things like he never loved her and that she was just a burden because of the support money. It would give credance to all of the lies her mother has always told her. But all of that doesn’t matter now. Time is running out. She waited too long to mend something that was so broken. He has nothing more to give.

In life, there are seasons and there are windows of time. If they pass, they are never regained. This window is closed. This life is ending. The season is mid winter and there is no promise of spring…I  feel pity for the child because so much was given and sacrificed to be able to stay in her life. With the sacrifice, was wounds and the wounds are too deep to mend. Not now, not in mid winter.

Dan Fogelberg’s song rings in my ears, so I decided to post it here. My husband and the artist share many things including their first names, so when the last scene of the video appears, it is hard for me…The song speaks to the heart of the matter. We will always see her as the face of a child.

Update to Life Verse

As I was reading, “In the Light of Eternity”, my husband and I ran across this scripture, “We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” 2 Corinthians 4:18.

The truth in that verse seemed to jump off of the page to my husband. He has fixed his eyes on the unseen. It is the eternal that is more real than not. The unseen things are the memories that have been made over the years.

The birth of his children, the time spent with his Grandma Watson, Grandma Rosie and the Russell farm, the first love and now this love that is shared between us…these are things that are intangible. They will last for eternity with him. He is the source of love in the lives of so many. He is now closer to the things that are unseen than to the things that are seen.

That is the way of the spirit. He has one experience that will best explain what his spirit, or the unseen  brings to him. When we first began seeing each other, I stayed the night with him at his house. About 5 am, I woke to find him crying and holding the outside door open. I noticed a faint scent of lavender and vanilla in the air and I saw that he was crying as if his heart was broken.

I asked him what was wrong. Why was he holding the door open and who was he calling to? He said that his Grandma Watson had come to him in a dream. She was holding the hands of his daughters. The oldest one was on the right and the younger one was on the left. He said that his grandma told him to not worry and that she was caring for his daughters. When Grandma turned to leave, he cried for her to take him with her. He was pleading with her to not leave him behind, but to take him too. He had followed her out of the bedroom and watched her go out of the door.

He cried like a broken hearted child. He was undone by the whole experience. As he calmed himself, he tried to talk himself out of believing that anything out of the ordinary happened to him.

I explained that I believed that God had allowed his Grandma to come and bring the message to him. I believe that these kinds of experiences are precious moments for the purpose to comfort and these are wonderful experiences to be cherished when we are able to see or have contact with those who have passed over to heaven and they are sent back to us for a reason.

Of course, it spooked him for a while. It was beyond his comfort zone. Then I asked him if his grandmother wore a scent of lavender and vanilla. He said that she always wore something like that. I told him that what he had experienced was real because I could smell the scent.  After I told him this, he was more comfortable with having the experience. He was more afraid of what others would say if he told them. He was especially concerned what his mother would say if he told her.

I said that it wasn’t her visitation and nothing could be said that would take this wonderful event away….That is the things that happen when the spirit, the world of the unseen, comes close to the tangible world.

Now, I think that he is taking even more comfort in seeing his destiny. I think that he will look more for the unseen, the intangible. I think he will be looking for his grandmother to come to him and take him to heaven.

I think that this is the verse that will be placed on our wedding cake because now, the unseen is becoming much sweeter and longed for in our hearts. It is the spirit things that will become more of a reality as these days pass….

Living the Moment

Today has been exceptionally hard. My husband and I were talking about the Wedding/Renewal ceremony and the next moment, we were discussing his funeral.

We held each other as the sobs came pouring out of both of us. He is so tired all of the time now and he is loosing weight at an alarming rate. He said he wasn’t going to speak to me about the funeral until we got through with the Renewal ceremony, but I already knew that he is loosing this battle and it is always on my mind. He said he thought that I already was sensing what he was feeling. Yes, I have been feeling his weariness and his sorrow….

I started reading to him the book, “In Light of Eternity” by Randy Alcorn. It is a book that has perspectives on Heaven. He needs to hear what is between the covers of this book so that he will not be so afraid and so he won’t keep hanging on to me and the things of this earth.

He bravely said that he was trying to hang on and not leave me, but every movement causes  great effort and his hands are shaking in their lack of strength. He is fading. I doubt that we will make it to March. I think that we have weeks left and not months.

March is so hard for me already. Both my parents died in March. My birthday is in March and my mother was buried on my birthday. It took years for me to not think of my mother’s death before thinking of my birthday. My Aunt Frankie and I were with my mother at her passing.

My mother’s passing was unusual. We thought that she was sleeping. The next moment, she sat up in bed with her hands stretched upward. She had a look that is beyond description. I don’t know if it was one of terror or of sheer surprise. I think that the angel came and it was so awesome that she was afraid.

I went to her and held her in my arms as she breathed her last breath. She closed her eyes and then she was gone. Her passing and the look on her face was what I thought about on my birthday. A few weeks later was when my husband came into the door where I worked. His return helped with the hurt of my mother’s passing.

Somehow, love came back into my life and I began to celebrate my birthday again. Oh please, not March. Not March. I don’t want his passing at all, but I know if a miracle doesn’t show up soon, he will be leaving me before spring….this will be the harshest of winters for me.

Now, in the midst of planning this celebration,  I have to think and concentrate on how to arrange his burial….that will be no small task. I also have to think about informing his children about his condition…I am too tired now to think on these things. I am weary with grief and I just want to set with him and hold his hand….

Everything in me says that this is so unfair, but no one promised that life would be fair. Life just is. And there is no promise of tomorrow, just today. That is why we live in the moment and not for tomorrow. Tomorrow may never come….and if it meant that he would never leave, then it would be alright if tomorrow never came so that I could live in this moment….

Our Life Verse

In preparation for the Wedding/Renewal, my cousin asked me to think about a life verse that best describes my husband and I. This is to be attached to the flowers on the cake. When she asked me yesterday if I had given the verse any more thought, I said that  nothing particular had come to mind, but I would get one to her in the next few day.

The first verse that came to me was the Mizpah, “The Lord watch between thee and me until we meet again.” I can’t remember where the verse is, but I know that it is when Abraham and Lot split their flocks and it was a blessing given to Lot by Abraham. I thought to myself, that is our parting verse. That is what I want when the time comes for my husband to leave this earth, for the Lord to watch between me and him as I am left here to walk alone. But, that is for the next life and not this one….

I will have to think more on what verse of scripture that best suits the occasion. I just can’t seem to put a finger on it. I know the first marriage, I had the verse from Ruth where says to Naomi, “Whether Thou goest, I will go and wherever thou lodgest, I will lodge, Thy people shall be my people and thy God, my God.” That was because I was entering into a marriage with someone who not an American and I always was conscious of the possiblity that I may be living in England or Europe with my British husband. I was willing to go if that was where he would be happiest. But, I never made him happy and he didn’t want to go where I went, so that verse was of no use.

Maybe I need to look in the Song of Songs for the verse. It is the Love Song of the Bible and that is what I believe that my husband and I have found. It is the love that can be experienced on this earth that filled my heart. It answered what I longed for. He  became my whole other half and that is why his leaving is so devastating and that is why I have such fear for myself when he is no longer here.

Something will come to me. I hope that it comes soon so that this minor detail of this preparation is taken care of. We are coming down to the wire. The ceremony is this coming Saturday at 5:30. I am looking forward to the candlelite service and I am hoping that I can wear that dress without busting the zipper….I don’t want to think about a wardrobe malfunction. *smile*.

A Shadow of Myself….

Sometimes, in the night, I wonder just how much this journey is going to change me? I have always believed that we are a sum total of all of our experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Will I become more reclusive? Will I venture out to dispel the loneliness? Will I cling closer to my family? What will this mean in my life? How will I ever recover from this loss?

I already know that financially, I am toast. I don’t know if I can live long enough to pay all of the outstanding medical bills. I suppose when I return to work, I will have my wages garnished for the next 20 years to pay what the insurance company failed to pay. It seems like a long jail sentence to serve, but that is what happens when the government requires you to loose or give up everything without regard to the surviving spouse.

Physically, I already feel the effects of the stress. I have an ulcer and it gives me a rough way to go. I know that I don’t eat well and I should exercise to exhaust some of this anxiety. Instead, I only think about what my husband needs to eat. Sometimes the money gets close before the next Social Security benefit money is deposited. I do without so that he can have what he needs.

Emotionally, I don’t recognize who I was. I once had a very clear understanding of the person that I had become. I have lost contact with that person. I feel so distant from myself. I understand that is a coping mechanism and that I will find my way back. It is just that I wonder if I will recognize myself if that happens?

Spiritually, I am on hold. I once believed that a thought was a prayer when it was directed heavenward. If that still holds true, then I haven’t stopped praying for a very long time. As far as me setting aside a block of time when I concentrate on lifting up a prayer in the Sunday School sense, I haven’t done that for a long time. I can’t seem to concentrate or stay that still. I have too many things that run interference. I have a hard time sitting still and watching TV. It is a surprise to me that in my restlessness, I am unable to accomplish anything.

Even though I see him becoming more emaciated, I still cannot get my head around that he is leaving. I just can’t get my understanding to accept this as a fact….I just can’t.

I don’t think any of this is abnormal given these circumstances. Some would call it self destructive. Some would tell me to snap out of it. Some would avoid me like the plague because I represent what could happen to them and their life.

I hope that this shadow of myself that I have become will be dispelled when the sun shines in my life again. I don’t know how it ever will without my husband, but I do know by others and their lives there is life after cancer. It is eternal for the one who is afflicted and it is survival for the one who is effected.

Living in the Shadow of Perceptions

For the past week, I have been struggling with a concept that I see in my life and it seems to be in so many areas that are important to me. I wish that I knew how to formulate into words what has been “eating” at me, but I am still having trouble.

It is the idea that our perceptions are reality. I have my perceptions. I write about them on this blog because I find that everyone has their own perception of what it is like to be where my husband and I are in this journey.

As a parent, your perception of an insident may be that it was ”’cute” when your child behaved in a particular way. It was totally different as your child relates to you the same insident. I remember something like this between my dad and my brother.

My dad was changing a flat tire on the old Model T or A, I can’t remember which. My brother was always in my dad’s shadow and at 4 years old, he wanted to “help”. My dad, being the type of personality that he was, allowed his young son to tighten bolts on the car wheel. For whatever reason, my dad failed to go behind my brother and make sure that the wheel was tightened. So as they went down the road, the wheel came off and rolled down the road. My dad had a terrible temper and proceeded to “whip” my brother until he wet himself. (Today, the spankings and whippings that we all received would have resulted in my dad being arrested for child abuse. That was then. ) My dad put the wheel back onto the car and that was that.

When my dad told the story, he was chuckling and thought that it was a funny story, but I had heard this story before from my brother. He didn’t find it funny at all. In fact, it was a major reason why my brother was afraid of my dad and my grandfather most of his life.

Same story, different perspective. Today, we allow our perceptions to determine our reality and we make moral judgemnts based on our perceptions. It isn’t the perception that is so troubling as it is judgement that is passed upon your perception.

I experienced this kind of thing in regards to our wedding celebration. I made a decision based on my perception. Of course, our perceptions are formulated from the fact that cancer takes center stage in our life. It is the cause of our daily events and it is the major reality that we deal with.

I felt so bad when I didn’t realize that a decision I made regarding the Wedding hurt someone that I love very much. It hurt them and I felt like that the only thing to make it right was to cancel our celebration. It was a decision that my husband and I came to unanimously and at the same time. We stopped everything in its tract.

I realized that I had a terrible fear that if I offended those that I depend on, they may not be there when I need them the most. I walk on egg shells because of this fear and frankly, this fear takes away my individuality as a person. I hate being that dependent, but I am in a vulnerable situation and the fear of the unknown has great influence on me.

This terrible fear reduces me from being a confident and decisive person to being a sniffeling blog of a human being and I hate it. I hate living in fear of what is going to happen to me if my husband doesn’t survive. What if I am left totally alone without support or help when I can’t pay the light bill or even when I need help with the arraingements with my husband’s burial…

I live in such terrible terror and I am so tired of it. I have to find a way of living outside of this fear and I have to understand that the perception of others cannot influence what I know to be true.

With much encouragement, we have set the date of our celebration for February 2,2008. I hope that we can have this celebration of our love and more than that, of my husband’s life. He is not doing very well right now. He is tired and he sleeps alot now…He is becoming a shadow of the man that he was and it hurts to see this….that is the world of my perception and it is my reality.

All of this reminds me of my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary. We did not know that my mother was so ill. She was determined to have this celebration but the night of the celebration, she went to bed an never got up.

I received a call at work the next day and my mother was taken to the hospital and then tranferred up to IU Medical Center. She was diagnosed with late stage multiple melanoma. They gave her two years to live and they were right.

There were two things that enabled her to hold on. The celebration was one and the birth of my nieces second child was the next. Two days after the birth of her great grandson, my mom left this world. It is a testiment to her will. She wasn’t leaving until she saw that baby’s face.

I wonder if this isn’t the same with my husband. In the back of my mind, I wonder how long will he last after this celebration? He wants to give celebration to me as the final demonstration of his love….I am so humbled and I am so afraid. This will be in the back of my mind as I plan and anticipate this wonderful day…

In the midst of this joy, there is fear…I am so tired of living in the fear of the unknown, the fear of perception, the fear of his dying and most of all the fear of being alone….

Will I ever break out of the fears that are in these shadows and live again?…I wish that I knew….

I want to thank Roads at “Price of Love” and the Merry Widows site for their encouragement….I appreciate your help as I walk this journey. With your kindness, I know that whatever comes, I am not alone…..and I won’t lose heart.

Friends Help Dispel the Shadows

One of the hardest things to cope with is when folks seem to forget, that in-spite of the cancer, you are, for the most part the same as you always have been.

At the core, my husband is the same person that he has always been. It isn’t a true statement to say that he is the exactly the same. No one can be exactly the same person once you hear the doctor say the “C” word in regards to you. When the word, “cancer” is spoken with you as the subject of the sentence, the world stops spinning on its axis for a long period of your consciousness. Yet,  the changes that cancer brings to you does not erase the person that you have become over the years.

At first, family and friends rally around like troups deploying for battle. They come with fruit baskets, cards, smiles and hope. It is all so new and they are very sincere when they come to visit you soon after surgery or a treatment. As times goes on and each day fails to bring a change that indicates that you are one of the few survivors, they seem to become more infrequent and then the cards fail to find their way to your mailbox. The phone doesn’t ring for days on end and there comes a time when you resign yourself that it is “you and me, babe”, knowing that the day will come when it is just “you”.

Now, that it has been a little over 2 1/2 years since this journey began, you are accepting of the fact that friends and family mean well, but they aren’t coming back. They are off living their life and they are so sorry about yours, but they have a life….and so it should be. There are some days that the isolation gets very oppressive and the loneliness sets in. Sometimes, you begin to wonder if you ever lived at all. Then there is a day like today.

My husband has an old friend who was in a “MotorHead” kind of car club back in the days of “run and gun”. They each had cars that they resurrected from junk yards because they didn’t have the money to lay down for one of the new shiny cars in the showroom floors. Mainly, they liked the challenge of building their own motors that would perform far past what the factory said they would.

Like the friend remembered today in conversation, all day Saturday was spent adjusting the valves, and fine tuning the motor in cast there was a challenge to run for “pink slips”. (Back in the day, if you ran for the slips, you didn’t get paid out with anything other than signing the back of the title. It was nothing like what is on the TV shows). Then, you washed and waxed the outside of the car so that it would reflect the street lights. It was Saturday night cruising and all of the best cars and the cute girls would be turning out.

The passion of these two young men were in the cars that were 20 year old “sleds”. They were 1951 Ford, 1965 Ford Galaxies, 1967 Barracudas and a few of the new 1971 Challenger/T’s, but most were of the older genre.

As they talked cars, a twinkle was in my husband’s eyes and for a moment, he was back in time remembering the smell of burnt rubber, drag strips and gasoline. It was wonderful. His friend brought his laptop with pictures of his old “sleds” and Daddy Don Garlis’ car museum. My husband brought out the pictures of his old ’51 Ford. It was magic.

We talked about our kids and topics of current events. Touched on politics and religion. You know that you are good friends when those subjects are brought up in conversations and still leave as friends.

The friend drove down his new corvette and he took my husband for a ride. A wild 140 mile and hour ride down the old drag strip…Once speed is in the blood, it never leaves…Before we could imagine, time had gone and it was drawing on sunset. It was time to go…

There is not a drug in existence that can give what was given that day by an old friend. The smile on my husband face was priceless and the time was gold. There will never be words that can express what all of this meant.

As the friend left, he said that he had maybe 20 true friends in his lifetime. He always has considered my husband as one of those lifetime friends. What makes it sweeter is that my husband’s friend happens to be my cousin. My husband did not know of that relationship between his friend and I. It seems that my husband was drawn to people like me all along. That is something to savor. There is a huge gratitude that is felt when anyone, especially friends, can come and dispel the Shadows…

In the Shadow of Worry and Fear

I went to a Bible study with my cousin last night. This study is at the church that my cousin attends. I knew several ladies from high school and my cousin is an elder at the church. I accepted the invitation because it would be great to get out of the house and it would mean that I would get to spend time with my cousin.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that the study was going to be about worry and stress. These are two of my daily living companions and I seem to know them so well. By nature, women are the ones who worry more than men. They worry about eveyone but themselves most of the time. And they not only have their worries, but they are worried about whatever you are worried about….what wonderful creatures women are….we worry because we care.

I sat quietly most of the time watching the faces of these women. They were in differnet stages of life, but the majority are in my age group. The kids are grown and we are left with our mates in a house that was once full. I wondered if they were ready for what I brought with me. Was this a group that would handle the shadow of life that I was carrying with me.

It seemed that there was a lady who was waiting for me to come. Her husband was just diagnosed with a rare cancer. I could see the fear in her eyes and I felt so sorry for her because she and her husband are in those first stages of this journey.

The beginning is where everyday is a whirlwind. Trying to keep up with the tests and the preps for the different tests. Keeping up with all of the paper work (I am a lousy secretary. I didn’t take the papers out of the bag. When the bag got full, I just got another bag. I don’t recoment this kind of record keeping) It is that part of the journey where you learn if there are options in treatment.  Being bombarded by all of the facts that are given to you, you feel overwhelmed. You are unable to keep up with all that the medical professionals are spewing out of their mouth. They say things so fast; they must go on down the hall and see the rest of the patients that are waiting in those lonely cubicles called treatment rooms. It is in this stage that you feel like your feet aren’t touching the ground and you are looking for the door that gets you out of this bad dream. Then you realize that you aren’t asleep. This is real.

I suppose that she and her hubby are grateful that they have a firm diagnosis now. They had traveled all over to find someone who could tell them what was wrong.  Now they know. As strange as it sounds, the worst part is not knowing what is wrong.It feels so upside down when you are relieved to be told that it is cancer. But, you do feel relieved.

This lady’s husband has cancer is in the salivary gland. Cancers in the ENT/Ears, nose and throat are very hard to treat. The surgeries are so disfiguring and the chemo is severe. This is what they have to look forward to in the days ahead. But, it is better to know than continue to live with the unknown.

That was one of the major fears that the study talked about; fear of the unknown. That fear is so primevil. Of course, you fear what you don’t know. The dark, the boogie man, heights, being alone all of these things are out of our control and we are afriad.

The leader of the group asked us to think about our greatest fear. My greatest fear is of being alone. Then I thought, “What a oxymoron”. I fear being alone, but I crave solitude. But, solitude is not being alone.

Solitude is a comfort with being alone with yourself. I need that time to recharge my batteries. Most women give and give and rarely take time to give back to themselves. Lately, it is harder to find times of solitude because I am with my husband 24/7. There is nowhere else I want to be. I want every hour, minute, second to be with him. Solitude is where I talk with my God about all of the things that I am afraid of, but we don’t talk about being alone.

Intellectually, I know that I am never alone because He is with me, but I like having someone with skin on to hold me and come in the back door around dinner time. I like having to call someone when I arrive at a destination to say that I got there alright. I need someone to care that my car won’t start or if I have enough covers on me when I sleep…to be without my husband is almost enough to scare me stupid…and yet, I know somehow, I will find a way to live if he should not be here with me….

I don’t talk about this fear because I don’t want my kids to insist that I live with them. I am not afraid to be by myself in a house. I don’t talk about it because I don’t want to face the fact that unless God intervenes, I will be on my own and that is a different kind of alone than just having an empty house.

This kind of being alone is the part where a part of my heart is lost. A part of my mind is gone. It is a part of what makes me delightful is missing and I don’t want to loose that part of me. I am afraid of the changes that being alone will make in me. That is a fear under the unknown category.

I didn’t have to say what my greatest fear was in the group. I was relieved because I am not ready to face that fear… I am still at the stage where if I don’t think too much about it, it will go away. I know that is denial, but I need to stay there just a little longer, OK?

There’s a Song in the Heart of a Woman…

Fifteen years, what a Milestone!!! Where did all of those days go? It seems like yesterday that we were sitting around my dining room table sifting through a mountain of support payment receipts. His second ex wife had served him with the papers that she was taking him to court for back support and more money.

As the afternoon was being consumed by the gathering of proof that he was not behind in his support, I was being consumed with anger. Why was I doing this? Why was I helping him prove anything? 

A few months prior to this sorting of papers, the subject of getting married became a topic of conversation. At that time, he informed me that  he felt like he had been married all of his life and that we didn’t need to be married. He said that I was stuck with him. As I processed all of that, I kept my mouth shut. I decided that if he was not ready for a commitment, then I was not about to push him into it. A man who is trapped, pushed, beguiled, ultimated or intimidated into marriage is like teaching a pig to sing. It sounds bad and makes the pig mad. So, I was not about to do anything close to pushing him at that time…didn’t mean that I didn’t want to be married.

On that Saturday afternoon before the court date on Monday, we were being swallowed alive by his lack of record keeping, and I was becoming very frustrated. As he saw me head out the door for a walk (when I am extremely frustrated or angry, I walk) he knew that I was really upset.

When I returned, he inquired as to what it was that I was so upset over.  I  informed him that I did not want to walk into any courtroom and hear myself referred to as an “girlfriend”. I informed him that I was too old to be anybody’s girlfriend; my mother did not raise me to be anybody’s mistress or girlfriend and  I was not stuck with him because I was not married to him!!!

I turned to go to our bedroom and he followed. He looked like I had just shot him between the eyes. He asked me if I wanted to have a big wedding or what did I want to do. (I guess when you think about it, I did push him into it…*smile*.) I told him that I did not to want to walk down another aisle. I had absolutely no memory of my first wedding from the time I began walking down the aisle and I did not want to do that again. He asked if I had ever been to Jellico Tennessee. I hadn’t and he said that it was a pretty little mountain town and he thought it would be a nice place in which to get married.In the next 24 hours, he was arranging a trip to Jellico Tennessee. 

Because I didn’t want to go through all of the hundred and one questions that I knew would be coming, we needed a reason to be going out of town. I thought that a trip to find raw material for the company would be acceptable.It was true, we needed another supplier for the natural, raw material we used in manufacturing. It would not be a ruse. We would just get married as well as find another supplier.

He was right about the town. Jellico sat on top of a mountain ridge. As you come down the interstate highway, it looked like a winter picture postcard. There was a dusting of snow on the rooftops of the buildings and the town was laid out around a town square. It was very “Norman Rockwell”.

Those days are so long gone. So is the money, the business, the house and cars. Every material possession that I once had is gone, gone, gone and I rarely think about them. In light of cancer, all of those great and important concerns melted away like the snow on that mountain.

I smile when I think about  those who shook their heads and wondered what I was thinking. At that time, many accused my beloved of being a “gold digger”. We had to endure those days that were full of the gossip about the  “Biker and the Business  Woman”. How foolish of all those believed that he was taking advantage of me.

They could not have known that our hearts knew each other fully for years before we ever married.   Our hearts were made from the same mold. Few people who knew him ever saw the man that I knew. They never knew him as the artist with his painting, the musician who played his bass violin in orchestra.  And I was the vocalist who sang at weddings and funeral, musicals and theater. I shared his love of  classical music and art… Most people never knew those things about us, but we knew. He found the hidden me, the one that no one knew existed….he found and knew that woman.

Like the words of a Dan Fogelberg song, “There is a song in the heart of a woman that only the truest of loves can release….set it free, oh set it free….” It was my husband who finally released that sweet music that was hidden so deeply within me…Only he could find it, only he could hear it, and only he could set it free in the shadow of the mountain in a snow covered town called Jellico….

It is fitting that Dan Fogelberg be in this posting. For those who are unaware, this wonderful man, artist, and remarkable talent died of prostate cancer in December 2007. He was 56, one year older than my beloved. May He Rest in the Arms of God’s and May His Wife Find Comfort in God’s Love….