Almost two months ago I penned my last new entry on jimmiekepler.com. Life got in my way. My bride of over forty-three years died on April 12, 2018.
She fought two types of cancer. Cancer one made its presence known in December 2013. Its name was neuroendocrine carcinoid. For those who haven’t heard of that flavor of disease, it is the same type of cancer that took the life of Apple Computer’s Steve Jobs. The second type of cancer entered her life making itself known in May 2015. It was an aggressive bully named Melanoma.
I will always think of cancer as a dumb disease. Why’s that? Cancer lives in a host. Cancer works to kill its host. When the host dies, cancer dies. How dumb is that? In my mind, it’s pretty foolish.
Cancer is evil. Cancer sucks. I hate cancer. Cancer destroys lives and changes people and families forever.
I am at the point of getting on with life. I have so many of the estate things that still need to be cared for. I’m amazed at how slow the process works for getting death certificates. They are the holy grail for handling a spouse’s passing.
One of my sweet wife’s comments to me during her last weeks was, “This isn’t the retirement you had planned.”
She’s right. I had retired the end of last summer. My retirement plan was to write full time. I’ve been freelancing since 1980 with a solid history of sales. Instead, I spent most of the last six months being a near 24/7 caregiver.
I remember the morning of March 21 distinctly. I had taken my wife to the emergency room the night before. I had never seen a person as confused, lost to the world, or sick. The morning of March 21 I learned that terminal no longer meant “down the road” or “at a later time.” It now meant maybe today at the soonest and in a few days at the longest.
After moving her from ICU to in-house hospice for a week, she was able to come home for hospice care as she desired. The total time from going to the ER to dying was twenty-three days. From her first Melanoma surgery until death was 1001 days.
She and I were blessed with her two sisters that helped with her care. Without them, no matter how good the hospice care, it would have been nearly impossible to survive the last days.
So I move on to my search for the new normal. I’m still searching. Someday I’ll find it. As I write and search, you may see me writing about it from time to time on jimmiekepler.com.
Oh, life didn’t get in the way. I experienced real life in its rawest form. I felt the hurt a man can only suffer from loving a wife and being loved by a wife for over four decades while living out the “until death do we part” words of our marriage vows.
I also saw the love of family as sisters loved and cared for their dying sister. I saw my grown children go through the emotions of losing their mother. I experienced the loving care of neighbors, lifelong friends, and our church family. Precious memories, like the posted photo. It was the last time she was out of the house where she wasn’t going to the doctor or hospital.