In those final days we had one goal and that was to guide Pete on his path Home. While he lay in the bedroom we would all pow-wow in the kitchen discussing what we could do to convince him it was okay to say goodbye. Like getting his uniform ready, ordering all the missing pieces, and taking it to the dry cleaners. We made sure he was aware that there was nothing left undone. We were sometimes prompted by our interpretation of dreams he shared with his dad when he stayed up with him all night. We listened very carefully to what he was trying to share.
My father-in-law also lovingly guided him through his letter to Lucas which he had yet to write. Izzy’s had already been written long before that. I reassured him that everything he wanted to say to me had already been said throughout the years. I knew how much he loved me and that no matter what he told me, he would never have felt it was enough. As in true “Pete” fashion, he remained a perfectionist up til the end. When he was heavily sedated, I sang to him “Go Rest High on That Mountain” by Vince Gill; once again giving him permission to let go. It seemed the words were meant just for him and I know he heard me.
Today, I consider it an honor to have had the opportunity to support him through his transition to Eternity but it wasn’t always like that.
During most of his battle with cancer he was closed off. He felt he couldn’t share his feelings with me so he bottled them up. Maybe they were just too complex? Maybe he was protecting me? Maybe he didn’t know what he felt? Most of all, I know, he was angry and scared and we, his family (mostly me) took the brunt of that.
I sensed a softening when he finally accepted his fate. He began to smile more, laugh, and pursue things he enjoyed even if that meant he had to redefine his hobbies. No more SERE or mountain climbing but war movies and guns could temporarily fill that void.
In his final moments Pete’s unspoken words were replaced by the hospice nurse’s words, “He needs you, you are his one true love.” Part of me was bitter that he didn’t tell me that himself but she did, and in the end, that was okay. I understood that if he had fully expressed himself, he would have admitted the finality of it all. In his final hours his actions proved his love for me. Although he was mostly unresponsive, he always responded to me. That proved the nurse’s words to be true and gave me the peace of mind that he loved me no matter what CANCER had allowed to come between us.
I wrote this the other night in a tearful state after I came home from a party where once again I was reminded he was gone. I cried hysterically after leaving that party where I got the first, “I’m sorry for your loss,” in a while. I hated it. With that statement, I was automatically set apart from the crowd. Someone’s compassionate words were once again skewed; causing them to infiltrate every fiber of my being.
As anyone familiar with loss would tell you, grief is sneaky. Recent circumstances have led me to believe I am regaining some normalcy and then it hits like a ton of bricks again. It will for a long time and that’s okay. My world won’t end.
I get so angry when I hear of people accepting a life of nothingness after loss. I would challenge them to consider how they are honoring the life of their loved one by curling up in a ball in the corner? What would the grieved think of who you are today?
As for me, I will continue to move forward and remain thankful for the time we shared together. I choose to meditate on the sacred times we shared before cancer became all consuming.
How have you found the strength to move forward after loss?
What have you learned from the grieving process?
Did you face any regrets after loss? How have you forgiven yourself or others?