I’m trying to start this post but all I can think of are cliches.
When Michael had his surgery in August 2015, we were so optimistic that it would end his cancer struggle. We were so looking forward to putting cancer behind us and moving forward with our lives.
Well, we did. Just not with our Daddy with us.
But I’m jumping ahead. After his surgery, Mike was trying really hard to get back in shape and get strong enough to go back to work. But no matter what he tried, he just couldn’t get his energy level up, couldn’t get his appetite to improve. About two months after Henry was born in October, Mike went in for a check up at the hospital. They did scans and found that the cancer had come back, his fourth diagnosis. We were crushed. Doctors started him on chemotherapy and radiation but by February 2016 they took away what little hope we had left. They said there was nothing more they could do for Michael and they gave him about 4 months left. By that time the cancer has spread into his liver, spine, pelvis, spleen cavity, lungs, ribs… There was just too much and his body couldn’t take any more, and the treatments weren’t working.
Unfortunately, by that time Michael was so weak, doing any exciting trips or vacations were really out of the realm of possibility. We spent quiet days at home with our new baby, took a couple short trips to nearby Palm Springs (Mike loved sitting in the heat by the pool) and just spent quality time with family and friends.
Less than three months after getting that news, my husband Michael passed away. He died at home on May 5th, 2016 at about 3 in the afternoon on a Thursday. I cried and cried over his body, not even caring who was around or who heard me, I clutched his hands, his arms, his legs, not wanting to believe he was cold and gone. After that outburst I went curiously numb and stayed that way for days.
We held his funeral a few days later on a Monday. I didn’t cry, I just felt numb. I think part of me didn’t want to accept that it was all over, that my life with him was all over. I had been with this person for the past 13 years of my life, since I was 17 years old. I’ve never been an adult without him. I really, really thought he would survive all this cancer and we would go on with our life. It would be a hard life and he would be disabled, but we would still be together.
Our former catering company donated the food for the event and a wedding event venue we used to work with graciously allowed us to use their facility for no fee, as well as a DJ. A lot of our friends and family were there, overall it was a very nice day.
It’s been over a month since he passed away and I’ve already hit a couple of milestones: his first birthday after his passing, the first father’s day. It’s been incredibly hard. Every day I have to convince myself to keep going, to take care of our son who’s just 8 months old. I miss Mike every day and I think about him and the life we had together all the time. I have a new life now, a life I never thought I would have, a life I never wanted.
When I pictured myself having children, I never expected to be doing it alone. I don’t think most single mothers do, but I was confident Michael and I would never split up. I know that Michael didn’t want to leave us and he desperately wanted to be a father. He would have given anything to be here to help me raise our son together. He was so looking forward to all the things he would teach our son one day. But now it will be up to me, and sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the prospect.
This is our new life, for better or for worse. Henry and Mama take on the world.
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I have been scrolling through your blog posts and my heart aches for you and Henry. Our stories are rather similar to each other. My first husband died suddenly (on May 6th) from a brain aneurysm. He was 36 and I was 33. We had three little boys – ages 3, 7, ad 9. It was a truly horrible time in my life and I just couldn’t see how I would ever feel normal or happy again. We were married almost 13 years, together for 17.
Well, it is has been a long time since then (24 years) and I just want to tell you that with time, life becomes good again. I am happy, my kids grew up to be happy, strong, content adults. It was not easy tho. I think writing in a journal or on your blog is a great way to record your feelings and to look back at how it was, compared to how it is now. There are times I really miss Mark tho. When the kids do something cool (graduation, marriage, starting their families) I am sad he isn’t here to enjoy it and share in the pride. My current husband (I remarried four years after Mark died) loves my kids dearly. They have an incredible step-dad. So that takes the sting out. Anyway, I was thinking of you and the parallels of our experience so I am sending you this note. Hang in there. Also, feel free to email anytime you want. I would welcome hearing how you and Henry are doing. (BTW, I love his name!) I live in Northern CA and even have a 4th child. My husband and I wanted to have one together so at 40 years old, I went for it. Life is crazy, unpredictable and so good. <3
Thank you so much Bernie. It’s good to hear experiences from other young widows. I feel like so much of the literature and narrative “out there” paints widows as old women at the end of their lives, I didn’t find a lot of experiences that looked like mine. I do feel normal again most of the time and I’ve even been dating a good man for about six months now. I still miss Mike sometimes but it’s like you say, when my son does something new for the first time or when I’m having a hard time with him and feel like my late husband would have been a “better” parent. I’m taking life day by day and not letting myself feel guilty about being happy. It’s what my husband wanted Henry and I to do, go on and live happy lives.