The Perspective I Gained When Cancer Killed My Husband

Woman holding sparklersPerspective – what a gift. Although it didn’t feel like a gift when it was given to me.

16 years ago, I sat on the edge of a hospital bed and watched #2’s Dad lose his battle with cancer (yes, f’in cancer) and take his final breath.

In that moment, my life changed forever.

And while I wouldn’t wish that experience on my worst enemy, I wouldn’t choose it as my life, I also wouldn’t want it any other way.

There I was, a widow with a 17 month old child. A child who couldn’t begin to comprehend the enormity of what had just transpired. A child who barely spoke and needed his Momma. A Momma who was herself broken.

But we kept at it, every single day, we kept at it. We planned a funeral, we greeted the guests, we hosted the lunch, we wrote the thank you notes, we had thousands of awkward conversations with people, we patiently answered “no” when people asked if he had died in the Twin Towers, we filed for Social Security, we cleaned out his closet, we went to work, we went to school, we went out with his friends, we went on vacation, and we kept on. And we kept keeping on…

Fast forward 16 years…I’m remarried, #2 is a senior in high school , he’s a big brother…we’re okay! In fact, we’re pretty damn good, but we’re different…very different.

The people around me now, some of them know, but most of them don’t. 16 years later, it’s still an awkward conversation. Many of them marvel about my type-A personality but yet cool, calm demeanor. To that there is a one word explanation…

Perspective.

No one is dying, I’m healthy, my kids are healthy, my spouse is healthy…what more can matter?

Has it been a tough road? At times, hell. But frankly, I am the woman, the wife, the mom, the friend, the person I am today because of that tough road, that hell.

But as tough as it was – it could have been worse. I wasn’t the Dad whose wife was diagnosed with cancer when she was pregnant and sacrificed her health and her life to give life to their son…

I wasn’t the parents of the toddler in the next room who passed away that very same night…

But I was the Mom of #2, so despite my personal hell…I kept on.

It seems like a lifetime ago – and in many ways it was. The other day, a friend of mine was sharing the devastating news about another friend of hers who had lost her spouse. She was telling me how she was sharing with the new widow about a friend who had been through this and I didn’t even realize she was talking about me!!! 

Perspective.

The death of a loved one, especially one whose life is cut so short is something you never get over. But you do get on. And for that, I’ll be forever thankful. And if you are lucky, if you are willing to shove aside some of the grief, if you are willing to look for something good in the middle of hell, you can find a gift. Perspective – the eternal gift that has made me the person I am today…

The gift that allows me to not always sweat the small stuff…

The gift that allows me to just stop, hug my kids and say I love you...

The gift that helps me pause and realize, some of this shit just doesn’t matter…

In fact, most of it just doesn’t matter.

The gift that has allowed me to be the Momma I am, just doing the best job I can.

So today, I raise my glass to you DJO and say thank you. I thank you for the memories of the life we had, I thank you for the gift of #2 and I thank you for leaving me with the unexpected gift of perspective.

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