Sunday, August 10, 2014

It was a year ago today.  I thought it appropriate to share an e.e. cummings’ poem.  In our wedding bands we have inscribed a quote by e.e.cummings, “only by you my heart always moves”.  And as I look upon this last year, the hardest year of our lives, I do not want him to be forgotten.  He will remain in us and with us forever.  We are forever blessed by his love.  We will never be without him; he is in us now.

(i carry your heart with me (i carry it in) by e.e. cummings

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart) i am never without it (anywhere i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, ,my darling) i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true) and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)


Friday, March 21, 2014

It hasn’t escaped me that I haven’t written in the blog since 2014 – seven months and eleven days since Derek’s death.  I think little about anything else.  As others move about their daily movements throughout life, I am painfully, acutely reminded of his absence, our loss.  It is brutal and there is nothing that lessens the pain.

A good friend of both Derek & I recently asked me about my belief in religion since Derek’s diagnosis and death.  I faltered at answering his question in the moment.  There is so much that I could say about my sense of love, spirituality and connectedness to one another. But I can’t speak to religion.

I can tell you that this loss has profoundly shook my faith – in humanity, in any belief, in my own purpose, in any God that would allow such suffering, in fate and in our greater purpose.  It has profoundly changed me.

On my iPhone I have a picture of our family on my screen saver.  I have to input my password to get to the main screen.  Derek is there with Gabe, Emma and I, smiling and happy.  I remember the day that picture was taken.  It has been two hundred and twenty three days since August 10, 2013.  I still can’t sleep.  It is a day before for most people (a mere two hundred and twenty two days).  I don’t live like that anymore.  Derek gave me a preview of what that was like when he was on the vent.  He counted in hours instead of days.  I will never forget when he held up his fingers forcefully to tell me how many days he was on the vent because I was counting days vs. hours.

I can only remember bits of what it felt like to be happy.   It seems like a dream that you can’t quite remember when you wake, just a remnant of a feeling that you had for only a brief moment of time. You struggle to get that back, to remember but as you move towards the day, you lose any fragment of the dream until finally, it is gone.

When I met Derek I had never felt truly happy.  I struggled with depression early ever since I was a child. But with Derek, I was happy.  And while I’m not disillusioned to believe that one person can make you happy, I do know he was my person.  He was the person that could make me laugh so hard that I would cry, that when I met made me feel like I was the only person who existed, that I felt safe with more than any one person on this earth, that I could tell anything to and he still loved me, that he would do anything to make me feel his love, nothing that I wouldn’t do to feel his love, make him happy, make his dreams come true, go to the ends of earth… .

The beauty is I had that, even for a brief moment in my life.

I wanted to tell my friend something easy, something simple, something absolute.  But there was nothing that I had learned over the last year and seven months that made me more absolute about anything.  In fact, I was even more uncertain that I had ever been.  I wanted to tell him there were no absolutes;  nothing that you could count on.  I wanted to tell him not to take life for granted, live life to the fullest.  I wanted to tell him to love those around him, don’t let a single minute slip by.  I wanted to tell him that life is short, don’t blink.  I wanted to reassure him that it would all be ok.  But all of these sounded like cliches, not at all what he had asked me, not what he really needed.  They were my truths, perhaps nothing of his.

“Happiness is just outside my window”.  The Fray

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Gabe and I lit a candle for Derek to honor his spirit and presence on Christmas Eve.  We wanted to acknowledge he was here with us.  We would continue to let that flame burn throughout the next day into Christmas, to keep his spirit alive.  I felt it paled to Derek’s true spirit, so full and vibrant, there was really nothing that could begin to represent his spirit.  There was just a huge hole left which Derek used to fill.  Gabe cried as he told our family of friends the purpose of the candle.  I felt powerless to take away his pain, as I knew my own pain was inconsolable.  Gabe and I were so alike, we would usually pretend that we were ok.  It was only those days when we couldn’t pretend anymore that people would see our pain.

Four months and fifteen days… .   My therapist had asked me if I was still counting in hours, days or months.  I lied to her and told her it was just months as if lying to my therapist was going to conceal that awareness to myself.  I didn’t even know who I was anymore.  I just knew it had been four months and fifteen days and it was Christmas.  I never thought my life would be without Derek.  It seemed incredibly cruel on Christmas day, for me and Gabe and Emma.  Christmas.  It was just a day.  But a year ago on this day, Derek was here.  We were happy, before four months and fifteen days ago.

But there are days when strength isn’t enough and you’ve said all the prayers you can say – for yourself, for others, for another day even.  It was one of those days. Even the candle had to go out.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

And still I dream he’ll come to me,
That we will live the years together,
But there are dreams that cannot be,
And there are storms we cannot weather!

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living,
So different now from what it seemed…
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed…


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

There are so many things that I miss about Derek….

When you are with someone for almost twenty years there are so many things that you do for that person, so much that you give unconditionally, sacrifice without question and compromise with gratitude.  And as a caretaker for someone with cancer, you give so much to change the course of the cancer, to save the one you love.

I would have given anything to have saved Derek’s life, even my own.  I begged to have the course of our lives change. I begged for some other outcome.  I would have done anything, anything. I ached to do something for him, lost without this meaning in my life, to do something for Derek.

On Sunday, December 8th, Isaac and I ran the Tucson Half Marathon.  I was grateful for Isaac, holding my hand, literally at the end and figuratively through all the training.  I was doing something for Derek.  We ran for him, ran with a purpose, a tribute to my beautiful husband.  We ran to raise money for cancer, we ran because we could.

For the first time in four months, I felt some sense of peace because I could do something for Derek.

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October 10, 2013

Each one of us has a person, a person that makes our heart beat faster when we see them and slows our heart when were upset.  The person we go to when there is nothing more to do.  The first person we think of to talk to, the last person we want to see at night before we retire.  The person we open up to more than any one.  The person that loves us no matter our faults and perhaps because of our faults.  The person that loves the very things that we hide from everyone else.  The person that knows all of our secrets and still loves us.  The person that makes us feel whole.  The person that makes us feel that we are the only one exists.  The person that sees us as beautiful.

Derek was my person.  And I always thought that I would see him again.

Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone

Susanne the plans they made put an end to you

I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song
I just can’t remember who to send it to
I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again
Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus
You’ve got to help me make a stand
You’ve just got to see me through another day
My body’s aching and my time is at hand
And I won’t make it any other way
Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again

Been walking my mind to an easy time my back turned towards the sun
Lord knows when the cold wind blows it’ll turn your head around
Well, there’s hours of time on the telephone line to talk about things
to come
Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground
Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you, baby, one more time again, now
Thought I’d see you one more time again
There’s just a few things coming my way this time around, now
Thought I’d see you, thought I’d see you fire and rain, now

James Taylor

Memorial Services

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Adair Funeral Home, Avalon Chapel
8090 N. Northern Avenue, Oro Valley, AZ 85704
(520) 742-7901

Memorial Service
Sunday, August 18, 2013
10am – 12pm

University of Arizona Medical Center
DuVal Auditorium
1501 N. Campbell Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85721
(520) 694-0111

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the the University of Arizona Cancer Center, Family Assistance at; Lung Cancer Alliance at; or Stand Up To Cancer at

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Derek continued his fight to live throughout the night but by the morning his breathing had changed.  We knew it wouldn’t be long.  Marissa, his night nurse, had talked with us about  what to expect.  Eventually we knew his heart could not continue to compensate for the lack of oxygen his lungs were receiving, even with 100% oxygen being administered to him.  I recognized the death rattle Derek was making after having heard both my grandparents make that sound.

No matter how much I thought I was ready for this moment, there really is no possible way one can be prepared.  I had a full blown panic attack.  I had to use all my therapist skills to stabilize and ground myself.  I was standing in the bathroom of the ICU, saying the Serenity Prayer over and over again.  I had to pull myself together.

As my final gift to him I wanted to be with him, hold him.  I wanted him to be comforted as he was dying.  Stephanie, his day nurse, moved him so that I could climb next to him and hold him.  We used to always sing to our children at bedtime.  Each of the children had their own song.  Gabe’s song was Lullaby by the Dixie Chicks and Emma’s song was Fix You by Cold Play.  I knew all the words to those two songs as well as numerous Dave Mathew’s songs.  Both Fix You and Lullaby were most appropriate and I knew he would recognize the songs we sang to the kids.   I also knew he would be comforted by the Dave Matthew’s songs including our song, Lover Lay Down.

I kept telling him that even though he didn’t want to leave, he could leave knowing that he had lived the most beautiful life.  He could be proud and his legacy will live on.  His children were proud to have such an amazing father and we were all so grateful to have had any time with him.  I told him he had given me the greatest gifts of all, two beautiful children and he will always be with us through them. Stacie and Gayle were also there telling him he could let go and how much he was loved.

His heart rate slowed to nothing and he took his final breath.  Time of death was declared at 11:36am, August 10th, 2013.

I had asked that the children be brought back to the hospital.  They were both struggling and I had asked Jo Honea, Director of Satori, to be with them to help stabilize them.  They couldn’t see him like that anymore.  It was too much.  I had to tell him that he had died.  The two flights down seemed like an eternity.  I held them as I told them he died.  Our children are amazing.  They could tell me what they wanted.  They didn’t want to see him dead.  They both wanted to remember him as he was before, the beautiful and vibrant father they had always knew.  They both needed me but there was still more that I had to do.  I promised them that as soon as I could finish with things in the hospital we would be together.  We would finally go home.  I offered that they could go home now and wait for me but both of them didn’t want to leave without me.  We agreed they would wait downstairs until I was done and then we would all ride together home.  All of our family and friends were helping us.

I went back upstairs.  Everyone was waiting for me.  I told Pam to start the bereavement process.  They were making molds of his hands and fingerprints to honor him.  It would be something the kids and I would always have.

There are things that don’t make any sense intellectually during these moments but make sense emotionally.  I was struggling with the overwhelming feeling that I just wanted to bring him home.  I knew that wasn’t possible but I so wanted him to just come home.  It felt too hard to think he would never come home again.  And I knew he would have just wanted to come home.

I had them dress him in his clothes, shoes and all. He would have wanted that.  I asked that everyone else leave so I could be alone with him one last time.  I climbed up on the bed and just held him.  I put my head on his chest for the final time.  It was hard to believe he would never hold me again.  I would never feel his physical body.

Even though people were telling me that it wasn’t a good idea, I was insistent that I stay with him as he was moved to the morgue in the basement.  I needed to see where he was going.  And I was honoring my commitment to him, that I would care for him.  It was important to me that I stay with him as they transferred him from the ICU to the morgue.  I knew they would put him in a body bag.  Derek had worked in Pediatric ICU.  He had told me what happened to the kids after they died.  I didn’t want to be sheltered.  It wasn’t necessary.  Stephanie and Victor transported him down with me to the basement morgue.  I watched as they placed him in this room, with others that had died. I hated that I had to leave his body there, alone, but the time had come that I had to let go.  Kim promised me that she would care for him and make sure the funeral home took care of him.  Kim had worked with Derek.  I watched as Kim shut the door.

Goodbye my love.  Goodbye my lover.