A week ago today, I said goodbye to you.
I held your limp hand for hours, laid by your side in bed and whispered things I’ve told you a hundred times.
I kissed your feverish forehead and told you to run to the light as fast as you could when you saw it.
I wished you would open your eyes and look at me, to be able to focus long enough to know you understand everything I’d said.
And I know you heard me even though you couldn’t tell me.
I had to take a lot of breaks from the reality that was sinking in that day.
I walked around outside, busied myself with your laundry and talked with everyone that was there with us that day.
I swabbed your mouth with water, placed cool compresses on your forehead and massaged your feet.
I know how much you hated that catheter – and I know you were relived when I asked them to remove it.
I made sure you were as comfortable as you could be, and I pray that you were.
I stared at your half-open eyes, knowing you weren’t able to see anything going on in your room.
But I know you could hear me.
Your breathing changed dramatically when a nurse asked you if she could get me from the other room to lay with you for a while, almost an excited reaction I’m told.
And then the breaths became more normal (for you) after I settled by your side.
We all watched and heard your breathing gradually change during the day.
We felt the fever take over your body and the stark coldness take your feet and hands.
Along with your parents and mine, and a dear friend, I ushered you to the gates of Heaven, which is as far as I can take you on this journey.
I held one hand.
Your mom held the other.
Your dad held your arm.
My mom stroked your hair.
My dad rubbed my back.
David stood at your feet.
We all watched as your breathing lost its rhythm and your eyes drifted.
You gritted your teeth with each breath through the last few minutes, pushing as hard as your body would allow.
And then, finally, peace.
4:55 am. Wednesday. November 10, 2010.
Your final breath in this world.
And your first breath in another.
We all kissed you goodbye.
Everyone backed away form the bed.
But not I.
I buried my head in your chest and wept.
You were warm.
I needed to feel your warmth; I know my world will be so cold for a time to come.
Even though I knew this day would come, it still shattered my heart into a million pieces like a glass thrown to the pavement.
I know that, over time, I will be able to delicately sweep up the shards and glue them back together with sticky memories and reshape the vessel that is my life.
But right now I miss you. Fiercely.
I’m relieved that you are free from all of the pain and helplessness you endured.
You were only two days shy of your three-year diagnosis anniversary.
Even though I so hoped you would make the three-year mark, I also know it was just your style to finish your deadline early.
I am taking moments every day to myself – just to cry and let the grief consume me.
Today has been especially difficult.
Last Wednesday is pretty much a blur, except for the frozen frames of a two hour period in my mind; 3am to 5am.
I too vividly remember the call I received last Tuesday morning at 8:17am that so began the worst day of my life.
I try not to think of it that way; because I know you were released and freed from pain – and it’s often said that the day of one’s death is to be celebrated more than one’s birth.
I just don’t feel that way today, at this moment.
I have to tell you that I am so thankful by the amazing gifts you have given me.
Besides our beautiful children, you have given me loyal friends that I would have otherwise never met.
They are helping me through this difficult part; showing me different sides of you that I never got to see firsthand.
I found a stack of letters you wrote to me while we were dating.
Reading your words was difficult, but a needed reminder for me.
I fondly remember the days when we would daydream about our future, a home, kids, forever.
On Monday, I had a panic attack when I went to nervously spin my wedding& engagement rings on my finger and they weren’t there.
They have been so loose the last month or so that I took them off and put them in my wallet for safekeeping while the girls and I were at the waterpark. I feared they might get lost while wrestling with the girls in the water.
I’ve worn my engagement ring for more than 10 years: 3,870 days
And my wedding ring for 3,392 days.
I rarely take them off.
I suppose that there will be a day when it will feel natural not to wear them, not to have a sparkly reminder of what was.
They are part of me.
Much like you.
I never imagined what losing you would feel like.
I couldn’t fathom it.
I guess I still can’t find the words to adequately explain how much I miss you.
There are many, many times a day that something happens and my first thought is, “I have to remember to tell Chad that later.”
Only, I can’t.
I know you can see and hear everything now – you know my daily struggles and grief. I don’t have to tell you anything. You already know.
I keep going back to the early days of this journey; when we laid in bed at night and discussed our plan of attack to battle IT.
You were always so positive, even when I cried into your shoulder and told you it wasn’t fair and things like this aren’t supposed to happen to us. We were invincible.
And you always reminded me that we still were. “It is what it is, Skye. It can’t change who we are together” – is what you would say.
And you always repeated: Cancer would never win. It may take you, but it could never take us.
I’m holding onto that today.
IT did not win. IT may have taken your body from me and left an empty hole in my life.
But you taught me to stare IT in the face, fight with two fists, laugh when you can and thank God for all the good times along the way.
I miss you; the way you smell, your brand of laughter, the excruciating amount of time it took you to make a decision because you had to think of responses for every possible outcome from every possible angle, your shoes tucked neatly inside the hall closet, the orange plaid flannel shirt you wore during the Fall, the way you held your chocolate chip cookies over your glass of milk each night to catch the crumbs, your truck parked in the garage, arguing over radio stations in the car, being in a room with you and not having to speak because we were just content to be, begging you to sit still for five minutes and leave your ‘to do’ list for tomorrow, listening from the bedroom as you made the girls pancakes every Sunday morning. I miss a million tiny little things that made you who you are.
A week without you has passed, that’s true.
We’ve also had a full, rich, beautiful life that cancer cannot rob from me.
I’ll survive another week.
And then another.
Thank you for the stars tonight.
The clouds from the storm broke briefly and I saw a beautiful display.
I love you, too.