Wednesday, June 15, 2011

There is a Huge Difference .....

                                                                        picture from here

.... between a battle and a war.

But unfortunately, when you're in a war .... there are many, many battles to fight.

I am not sure what your beliefs are ..... I don't think our differing beliefs will matter as I write this.  At least I hope they won't.  I write to speak out .... to share my guts with you.  All of you.  And we all "get IT" .... in spite of what we believe, or what we don't believe.  And that's the bottom line.
You "get" me.
As I "get" you.
And with this post, I am going to share what I believe.
What gets me through.

I  (and when I say "I",  I mean "we") .... am in a war.
A huge freakin' war.
This war most likely started the day I was born.  But at this moment in time, and for this post,  I'm saying that the "war" began on December 18, 2007.  Somewhere around 2:00 in the morning.
That's when Jim's life ended .... and the war for mine ..... began.

I think this war will continue .... until the day I die.
And on that day .... I will have won the war.
Because I'm not giving in.
I'm not waving the white flag.
I'm not surrendering.
I will NOT let the "other side" win.

I have not always felt this way.
I am amazed that I'm still here.
Amazed that I'm stronger than I ever was.
Amazed that I did not wave the white flag.
Because I wanted to.
Very, very much.

The pain of being widowed is too much to explain.
Too much to understand.
Too much to see.
Too much to live through.
It's just too damn much.

And not only have I been shoved into this war for my life, but I've had to fight many battles since the end of 2007.
I am very exhausted from all of the fighting.
From all of the battles.
But I won't give up.

The first battle, was the battle Jim's surgeon told me about ..... only seconds after he told me how sorry he was that Jim had died.  How shocked he was to see that the surgery was a train wreck before it even began.
In one breath he told me how I lost my husband.
In the next, he told me that I'd most likely lose my children.
All 6 of them.
Bedside manner ..... he had not.

He was very concerned that what killed Jim, might also kill our children.
And he made no bones about it.
He said that it was mandatory that I set up CT scans for all of them.
And that they will have to scanned regularly .... for the rest of their lives (which, hopefully, will be long. Much longer than Jim's).

That was the first battle.
We survived the first scans.
It's now time for the second round.

The next battle I entered ..... was only a couple of months after Jim died.
His mother .... our mother .... had heart surgery.
She never really recovered.
She died shortly before what would have been their 50th wedding anniversary.  Shortly before what would have been our 25th.
Less than 5 months after he died.
I was with her when she died.
I told her that I envied her.
And I told her to tell Jim that I loved him .... and that I was doing well.
Yes,  I told her to lie to Jim.
About the "doing well" part .... not about loving him.  :)

The next battle was the on-going, never-ending remodeling of our home.
I had put it off year after year because I knew it would be miserable.  After Jim died I figured I couldn't feel any more miserable, be at any point lower in my entire life, so I decided to have it done.
I'm still not sure if that was a good decision or not.

Then I battled with our 2nd son (5th child).  He was supposed to start military school the January after Jim died.  But I let him stay home .... and told him he had a 2nd chance to improve his grades.  And he did not.  So he went to military school in August.
And spent the next 9 months giving me hell.
I still think that was the right decision.

Then,  barely over a year after Jim's death, I found out that I had a tumor in my hip.  But that it probably wasn't cancerous.  And wouldn't be too difficult to remove.
I went into the hospital thinking I'd have to stay one night .... and went home 5 days later.
And the tumor?  Oh, it was cancer.
But, it was a "good" cancer (?) which would never appear anywhere else in my body and would most likely never reappear in my hip.
After one year of regular MRI's .... I was given the "all clear".
My MD isn't all that comfortable with that so we'll probably continue to monitor it.
But the surgery .... and the aftermath .... was pure hell.
And I remained in hell for a very long time.
All while I tried to grieve the death of my husband.

See, that's the thing ..... I was so busy fighting all of these battles for the first year and a half, that I didn't have time to just grieve .....

There have been other battles since then.  Too many to list.
Last week, I found myself entering another one.
I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
After all this time .... and all of these battles, nothing seems to surprise me now.
Sadden me?
Scare me?

It's just another battle.  Of course, this one will last the rest of my life, but I intend to win it, too.
Or at least to fight it the best way I can.

I don't write this post to say "poor me".

We are all in this war.
And we have all had our battles.
You name it.  We've fought it.

But here's the important thing.
We're still here.
Are you paying attention here?
Because, damnit!!! .... That's worth repeating!
Say it with me ....

I know that there's a huge war going on for my life .... for my soul.
But my enemy will NOT win it.
I bet he thought he would.
I would've bet that he would.
I think many of my friends thought he would.

But he has not.
And he won't.

Because I am not alone in this war.
I have you.
You have me.
And I have God.
Even when I didn't feel Him there .... He was there.

We are all soldiers in the same war.
We fight the same enemy.
We have different battles, but the war is the same.

And it's a war that I damn well intend to win.
And I intend to be here to help you win yours.
We will win.
We are stronger than we thought we were.
And we will not be beat.

We might lose a few battles .....
But we WILL win this war.

And I am prouder than I can say .... to fight this war next to you.


  1. Thanks for sharing your heart. I told my husband (I had that chance) to don't worry because he would be OK with our Lord and we'll be, too... So, my battle is and will be to honor that promise I made, missing him every day, minute, second of my life but trying to make life happening...for me and my children who are in the university and have a complete life ahead of them.
    It's so dificult but it's the only way to still alive and honor him, our love of 23 years!
    I also wait on God to be with me in every battle!

  2. I definately agree with the battles. I think what makes this harder is that we are fighting alone without a life partner, while grieving. Some of my battles are the same as yours, child giving me a difficult time, remodeling issues and I add taking care of a second home that had been my mother in laws. Being treated unfairly at work, being the veteran TA there, fighting the fight for myself and others for fair pay/ treatment. I won't give up either, because I am here getting to live a life- no matter how much a part of me feels empty and hurt without my love. I also refuse to believe that there will not be someone else. There will be in time, but just different when it is the right time. To give up would be to live without hope- done enough of that! So I choose to live with hope that eventually thr struggles will get easier and there will be some reward!

  3. The timing of these posts are never ever off. I can always's amazingly helpful to know I am not alone. My latest battle 7 months after losing him is an enlarged Thyroid. After 2 1/2 years of Charles sickness...I cannot be sick. I'm still in the diagnosis phase...I only got the call on the results of an echo yesterday so now I have to do more tests. I am not scared, which is the new me, the old me would have been terrified. But I am young, healthy, and I don't fear the worst outcome. But our boys are only and 5 and 10 and I am so sick of the enemy giving us new challenges to live through. I just scream at him to go away on the inside while I sit serenely in front of my children so that they can continue their grief. I too am battling remodeling contractors. The battles are very hard but the way I see it, it's a win-win to stay or go. I envy those that get to go;BUT, I'm in no hurry to join them. Life is too precious. War on....bring it! Thank you for the post Janine...beautifully said.

  4. Thank you Janine for your words of encouragement. I do want to give up many days and many days I do not care if I lose the war. But then you are there telling all of us to keep fighting and collectively through inspirational posts like this one, we won't give up. How true that I am also very proud to fight alongside all the widows and widowers and especially those that visit this blog site.

  5. You certainly have had more than your share, and thank you for sharing with us. I believe that physical illness is an outcome of the stress and emotional pain and having to sustain the grief and in some cases long periods of caregiving preceding our loved ones' passing. I'm surprised I'm alive at all, because during the caregiving years I had a few times when I didn't think I would make it. Then, after he passed, I had to make a choice every morning, "do I want to live, or do I want to die?" It was the fact that I am a mother that kept me choosing life. When children lose one parent, tag you're it. Last summer, 8 months after he passed, I made a Dr. appointment. I had a few minor issues, but drew the short straw on my mammo (first one in three years, I literally had no time to take care of myself). I went through a stressful period of finding out what the diagnosis was, fortunately no cancer, but now have to be checked more often. Last summer I didn't care very much. This summer I do care, and hope to hear good news when I go for checkups, so I see that as progress. Arthritis is a condition that can start from extreme stress. But you're right, we are still standing, we are being kept around for something. Life is choosing us, and expecting us to give back to it. Plus we have kids to consider. It's all incredibly hard, but here we are. So fortunate to have this space to share and support one another.

  6. What a great post Janine. I, too, feel like I am constantly at battle with life. The last seven years have been battle after battle and I realize it will never stop until I stop breathing. I enjoy the repreives when they come and I breath and take care of myself. Please take care of yourself, Janine.
    Widowed Warrior
    PS - For What its Worth - some unsolisited advise with the RA - diet can be a big factor. I have a couple of girlfriends with RA and they have held it at bay by eliminating wheat and sugar.