Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Deathiversary

There are lots of fun observations to be made about the picture above...let's not go there ;) What I love about this picture is that it reminds me of a great day on a great vacation with a great friend. I think I've said before that I sometimes have to remind myself of all the good things and make a list. It's always a long list of good things, and in the past 4 years that list has always included Michele. Yesterday was the anniversary of Michele's husband Phil's death - his "deathiversary" as we choose to call it.

That day, 4 years ago in sunny southern Cali was the day she started on the path towards me. I, unknown to her, a stranger, was walking the Cancer path (kcuf recnac) in Austin, Texas. My countdown to the final days begins each year at the same time she is re-experiencing the day. It's funny, I keep expecting each year to be easier, and in some ways it is...but the day and the countdown to the day just isn't that much easier. It sucks. It's a kick in the stomach and a sudden transport back in time to a place that is so unreal and yet so real that it is almost incomprehensible.

Every day leading up to "the day" is full of intensity and memories - "at this time we were...(fill in the blank)...we only had (fill in the blank) days/hours/minutes left and we didn't even know it...." etc. The first year was the worst, and every day had something to mark - day of the 3rd diagnosis, day of the family trip to Disney regardless of the diagnosis, the day we checked into MD Anderson, my birthday in the ER, the day they told us how bad the prognosis was, the day we chose treatment anyway, Halloween (the last day he was home), three days later when he suddenly died without any real warning at all....(my list looks like lots of warnings, but it isn't real until it happens).

I walk the path of events and memories every year, and this year is no different. When Michele's deathiversary passes, my Death March begins.... What is different is that each year I get better at finding the good in the memories and I try to focus less on the tragedy and bitterness. I am getting better at it. I do have to work at it. I still have my days where I wallow in self-pity for a while, but they are few and far between. I also know something I didn't know that first year. The stepping stones of grief would bring me a wonderful friend. Last year on Phil's deathiversary, we ran a half marathon at Disney and for Daniel's we ate sushi and sang karaoke (yes, that's right - we all grieve in our own ways ;). This year we weren't together for the day, but will "celebrate" soon. So glad to have you on this path my friend. Champagne this weekend, we deserve it.

Happy Tuesday! - Michelle D.


  1. It is so helpful to hear how you continue to find joy in life. I lost my husband on 1/13/09, 22 days after diagnosis of a brain tumor. Needless to say, Christmas will never be the same for me. It is good to know that some day it will be possible for me to reflect on the good memories of this time.

  2. Your words help me to better understand how my mom feels each year in August. Not only was August the month of my dad's birthday but also the month of his passing. My mom came to me this year on the anniv of my dad's passing and had lunch with me. I knew why she had driven from Lampasas to be with me that day. I didn't know exactly how to handle things...do I talk about dad or do I just let her talk. She and I talk but I think she holds alot of things inside. My dad was sick for 7 years with his lung disease and after the first year we stopped thinking he is going to die tomorrow or even that year. We just lived life. I know now that each year on August 11th (my dads birthday) my mom starts to relive the details of what unfolded from that day until August 25th when my day took his last breath. Thanks for sharing your story it sure helps me understand a little bit better.