Sunday, August 5, 2012

The longest, darkest night

I go home and plop myself on the couch and put my feet up. My son came downstairs to go out back and smoke. I told him, "Guess what the doctor told me today? I have cancer!" He was leaning over the couch above me. "That is so f**ked up." I decided to make light of it and said, "If anything happens to me, I am going to leave everything I own to Louie." (Louie is my Boston Terrier) He gave me a Huh, and went outside. I watched MTV's 100 all time bands and really relived my life in music. Every single great song that came on was associated with a memory. It was wonderful. The music lifted my soul. When it ended; I continued to watch Saturday Night Live. Thought I would laugh myself happy. I already had my tears, no need for a pity party. It was a Jimmy Fallon Special and I laughed and laughed. It felt wonderful. Couldn't believe how talented he is.  Laughter is healing.

The problem still persisted that I didn't know what I was supposed to do. Who was I to talk to? Do I just sit here and wait until the surgeon calls me in for the hysterectomy? What do I do? I get on the computer and look for endometrial carcinoma. Okay, it's very common, women get it, get a hysterectomy and it is over and done with. Could be worse, I could have cancer in a life threatening place that wouldn’t require an operation but months of chemo and radiation. I just have to wait and see what comes. I look up the doctor and check out her report card. She has been doing this for quite a while but has poor beside manners. Make a mental note to see for myself what that means later.

Thanksgiving rolls around. My husband’s supervisor, Kabra, joins us for dinner. I am now eating gluten-free and plan on enjoying my dinner, so I find a complete gluten-free dinner recipe. It sounds fantastic. I get up early and make everything from scratch. Made gluten-free corn bread for the stuffing, fresh cranberries, put the gluten-free turkey in. Who knew there was gluten in turkeys? I didn't. My son had recently put a tattoo on Kabra of a Celtic cross with butterflies. It needed a little touch up but looked vibrant and fantastic. Everyone loved the dinner, especially my son. Never saw him eat a Thanksgiving dinner so fast and clean his plate. Thought he would lick it clean. He was really impressed. I haven't been able to impress him with my cooking for a long time so I was really happy.

Sunday night before my appointment, I am in pain. Feeling bad, I can't really cook dinner and ask my husband to just run and get something quick, it's already 8pm. He says he'll go to In 'n Out because I can have "protein style" without the bun. I go into my son's room to ask if that would be okay with him, ask him what he wants and apologize I don't feel that good. Later on that night, he comes into my room carrying the dog, Louie. He knows I always sleep better if I have the dog, I call for him every night but if he is with my son, he won't come to me. He puts him on the bed and I tell him "He won't stay; he'll go scratch to get out and be with you." He says, "He'll stay." He looks back at me, hesitates and smiles at me. I felt compelled to stop and talk with him, to tell him that I'm really gonna be okay, not to be afraid for me, and that I will really need his help through this surgery. But he's shut the door, I start to cry, I don't know why. I think it's just because I feel bad.

I finally get my appointment with Dr. Kowalski the Monday after Thanksgiving. I wake early and get ready for work. As I was leaving, I saw the light on in my son's room from under the door. Nothing unusual, he probably stayed up all night drawing again. Worked through the day and leave early to drive across town to my appointment. I sit in the waiting room surrounded by men and women. It's a cancer clinic so I know everyone has been touched by it somehow, whether for themselves or if they came with someone. Everybody looks worried like me. They call me in, take my vital signs and put me in a room. The doctor comes in, introduces herself, says she will be examining me, to take off everything from the waste down and she'll be back in. She takes a quick pelvic exam and then tells me about the procedure, what to expect. She leads me down the hall to the finance person and the surgery scheduler. We get the approvals, my schedule for pre-op tests and exams at the hospital and date for the surgery and I am off.

I call my husband before I pull away. I have to get home and tell my son he will probably have to drive me to and from the surgery. He will probably love being able to drive the Benz. I just got it in July and was still getting used to it myself. I get home, the dog is outside, I call him in and start looking in the fridge and pantry for what to cook for dinner. I figure it out and go upstairs to tell my son I'm home and is he okay with what I am cooking. I can hear the tv on, see the light on, no response. I listen to hear if he's on the phone, he never ignores me. Maybe he is sleeping? I knock a little harder on the door, nothing. I get that feeling in the pit of my stomach something is wrong, I pound on the door, I scream for him to answer me, I keep shouting his name. I run downstairs and get a butter knife to open the lock on his door. I see him lying back on the bed. He is holding a water bottle. I don't have to take two steps in to see he is gone. I touch his arm and he is really cold. I am too late. Nothing I can do at all to bring him back or revive him. I call 911, my husband and sister. go downstairs to wait for someone to arrive. A barrage of people start coming in, fire emergency, police, grief counselor, coroner, and finally the mortuary people. The take photos of the house, ask me questions about the timeline of when I saw him last until I found him. I'm numb.

Not only do I have to worry about what's happening to me but now I have to plan a funeral. I cried lying by his phone looking at the text messages coming in. Someone posted it on Facebook and it went out of control. I never saw so many unhappy people. I learned a lot about him in the next few days. He was really, really loved and admired. Cancer took a back seat. I had my date, a few days before Christmas. I had the funeral a week later in Las Vegas, then a wonderful memorial service in Santa Cruz with many of his childhood friends in his hometown. They raffled off many of his things that would be great mementos for his friends to be able to put a plaque at the Capitola wharf. They played songs in his honor at a little club across the street from City Hall called the Jury Room. The place was packed.

My sister drove back from California with me to Nevada so she could stay with me during the surgery. I had a full day on Monday of pre-op tests. We made it home around dinner time, got settled in and went to sleep.


  1. The entire journey is still so unbelievable to me...... unreal.

    1. Even I am dumbfounded that this is part of a life that has been so amazingly wonderful and funny and filled with doing so many good things for others just because I have been given so much to share. Bless you for taking this difficult journey with me - like Samwise and Frodo, you are always there for me, steadfast and sure. Thanks for the honey, Honey.