Monday, February 7, 2011

Here's Looking At You.

I’m sitting here next to my mother’s bed while she sleeps. It’s nice to see her sleep, as when she is awake she is just in pain. Earlier when she was awake I asked if she heard the doctor earlier, who was talking to me about her possible discharge. They can’t seem to find any medication that takes the headache away for more then 10 to 15 minutes. They have used up all of their arsenal, and feel that it is time for her to be at home, where she basically has all the same medications.

My mother turned to me to ask what I was giving Mike when he was at home. It was a question that surprised me, as other than remembering to tell how much they miss him, my parents don’t often ask too many questions about what those days of hospice were like. I let her know that he had various medications that would calm him, but mainly I was giving him high doses of morphine. She has her own supply of morphine at home, but the goal with the medication is very different. I explained to her that the goal with her is to reduce pain so she can get through each day as best as possible, and the goal with Michael was to keep him sedated, as he would otherwise have been suffering not just from the pain, but that he was no longer able to swallow, and I had to keep him from getting agitated. She nodded in an understanding way.

After she fell back asleep, I pulled out my laptop, and started going through all of our pictures. I haven’t done this in awhile, as it usually just brings me too much pain. But having my mother ask me that question earlier made me realize that those were still some very special and loving time. Death is difficult yes, but it can also encompass so much beauty. I really miss taking care of him.

Michael and I were very fortunate, that in our short time together we were able to do a lot of traveling. We went on many local weekends away, as well as many larger vacations. Some were with the kids, or with family and friends, but mostly it was just the two of us. We traveled very well together. We are both very easy going people, and besides, I just let him take the lead in planning each of our days. As I look at the photos that span from a couple of months of knowing each other, to a few months before his death. Each is filled with such love and joy. I particularly love to see photos that I took of him, or that he took of me. In these I am able to see him looking directly at me. I can see the love and delight in his beautiful eyes. In looking at the photos of me looking at him, I see the happiness that I never had before experienced. My kids, and my parents, always told Michael that they had never seen me as happy as I was with him. The photos of me looking at him clearly illustrate this.

It’s nice to look back at these photos and feel joy. I’m sitting here with a smile on my face and a bit of a giggle when I see one of us being goofy for the other. Some of those photos were when we had what I call our innocent days, which were prior to cancer. We had nothing but time ahead of us, and we were carving out a future that seemed without limits. I then look at the photos of us post cancer, and that same joy is still present. It serves as a reminder that even in the thick of facing his illness, and our limited time together; we never let it take from the joy we felt with being in each other’s company.

I must admit, although I am still not quite the same, meaning I walk through my world feeling quite depressed, I am changing. I am slowly allowing those memories that for awhile made me feel cheated, to now begin to remind me of how lucky I have been.


  1. i understand this writing. for a time my memories and looking at my photographs made me feel so very sad. then a small measure of joy came back that i did have that time with my Dragon.

    you were lucky. MIchael was lucky. you Are lucky to have had him in your life and he Is lucky. past tense. present tense. it is really all the same. i am happy you are finding some happiness with your photos and memories. i wish you peace.

  2. In the past, I've often though of how you have such wonderful photos how it's so easy to see that special spark of love that you had for each other. I'm glad that you are finding joy in looking at them now.

    Recently, I was searching for particular nature photos in some files from hikes and canoe trips and, as expected, encountered photos of him with our dogs, paddling the canoe, etc... It was good to see photos of him looking well and having a good time, but did make me sad too. I suppose I still have some trouble with the "why did this happen to such a nice person" issue, but as time passes, that is becoming less painful to me.

  3. Really lovely post today. There is such transformation when one can look at the past with joy vs. sorrow or be able to at least separate the two. It is good that you can help depict the passages of grief in such a moving and descriptive way that help illustrate the process to those involved, as well as those who haven't experienced it to your extent.

    The point came to me listening to Alicia Keys and her song "Sleeping With a Broken Heart." She says that she has chosen to hold on to love instead of the pain and for me that was a light bulb moment. I found that focusing on the love and the happy memories really did matter most and helped me heal to an extent that I hadn't felt before.

    Gorgeous photos too. I am always struck by the love that I see in them and it lifts me up.