Sunday, November 1, 2009

20 Day Before His Death

I'm not really sure why I'm sharing these vignettes. Maybe so you know me, know him? I think that somehow if you know us, his death will mean something more to you. And if it means something more to you then it will, in a weird way, not be such a loss. Another widow friend of mine calls this Widow Mouth. It's when a widow shares the whole story of how she became widowed over and over and over again, all details included, in an effort to make it more real, or less hurtful or ________ (fill in your reason here). But the real purpose of Widow Mouth is to feel more at peace.

In the retelling of this story I see now the signs that he was not doing well. I didn't see them then. I saw life and fight and being cancer free. In re-reading these posts I now see death and discouragement and tiredness.

Our story, in it's retelling, brings me closer and closer to some weird sense of acceptance. He's not coming back. Ever time I tell it, I feel that and it becomes less and less terrifying. It makes sense of the senseless...sometimes.

March 26, 2009
A Visit To the Cancer Center
20 Days Before His Death

Yesterday, I was afraid of Art.

He had a PetScan.

We arrive

and wait

for wheel chair transport, compliments of the Cancer Center, to take us to the imaging Mark Taper Imaging Center.

At Taper Imaging,

we wait…

and fill in paperwork.

We move to the you-are-responsible-to-pay-for-uncovered-costs-associated-with-this-procedure-sign-here window.

We move to the waiting room with the TV that no one is watching

And wait.

We are led to a small, muted yellow toned room where they remove, from a lead lined cylinder, radioactive material. The nurse injects it into his just-put-in-for this-procedure IV line.

We are led to a purple waiting room with semi-comfortable chairs where…

he moves from the wheel chair to the semi comfortable chair.

I wait for him and

we wait

for an hour.

They come for him.

The nurse we know. She is sad to see him again, looking unhealthy.

We wait

for Art to get back into the wheel chair. He and the nurse leave.

Art waits in a tube that takes pictures of him, six inches at a time.

I wait in the purple room.

He and the nurse return.

Three hours have passed since we have arrived.

We wait for the elevator to go to the cafeteria.

He waits…

at a table while I get lunch.

We go to the cancer center to have his picc line cleaned.

He waits.

I wait

and worry. He is looking uncomfortable and is telling me he doesn’t want to wait anymore.

I insist we wait.

He insists we go home.

I debate. Infected Picc line? Clogged Picc line means new picc line on Tuesday or worse another hospital stay.

He starts to get mad.

I hold my ground.

I offer my lap, where he can lay his head and sleep.

He sleeps.

I wait.

Nurse comes.

She waits while I rouse him.

He sits up, he gets his bearings

The nurse leaves. I wait 20 minutes before he can move to the wheelchair.

I wheel him into the Picc line cleaning room.

We wait for the nurse.

He gets weighed. 160lbs!!!!! only on his 6'6" frame.

We wait for the nurse.

He gets mad.

“I’m not waiting.” he says.

“We need to leave!” he says.

I ignore him.

I try to find the nurse.

“We need to do labs on him.” She says.

“I am waiting for doctor’s orders.” She says

He raises his voice to me.

“I’m not staying. We need to leave…now.”

I think “Who the hell do you think you are?”

He raises his voice to the nurse, “I am not waiting for labs.” He blusters.

I leave the room.

And I see that I am afraid.

Afraid of his anger, afraid of what it says about me. I take on its message, believing that it speaks the truth.


it says.

"Not good enough!"

it screams.


I am either brave enough to look at it

Or too exhausted to care.

Either way, I know, the anger was lying.

I am good enough.

I am worthy too.

The cancer has made that clear.

And so has he.


  1. Thank you for your post, Kim. I agree that it is important to share our stories so we can help find some peace and everytime the story is told, it becomes more real and a little less terrifying in the telling. My husband died suddenly on March 20th of this year and as I started to read your post I found myself calculating that as you were spending this difficult time in the hospital with Art, I was saying goodbye to family, the day after my husband's funeral. Reality was starting to rear its very ugly head.

    And here we are, where none of us wanted to be. Thankfully we've found each other and we're able to support each other in this new, undesired reality. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  2. Just found this site tonight. Almost two years since I lost Michael. Lost Michael. That always cracks me up. She lost her husband. why aren't you out there looking for him? The other one: "my late husband" -- he was never late for anything. What do I call him? My former husband? My dead husband? Anyway, thank you for being there. Someone told me the other day that I am obsessed with my husband's death. Of course I am. What a silly thing to say. Kathryn in Virginia