Emilee's Poem Board

When Emilee was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in May 2015 at age 59, she was at stage four, with metastases to both lungs, and right adrenal gland. She died this past January 31, 2017. She was a stubborn, stubborn, and one more, stubborn patient. That is probably why she lived a lot longer than they thought she would.

The twenty-one months Emilee and I had after her diagnosis were bittersweet. It was a mixture of ups and downs, repeated crises, and a few quiet periods here and there. Always, like the elephant in the room, the cancer cloud was hanging over us. Chemo bought time, precious, precious time. But with a price…

Grief is no picnic. Since Emilee died, I have realized how unbelievably well my tear ducts work. Who knew I could cry so easily and so often? It was a surprise to me. It still is a surprise to me and I never really know when a sudden wave is going to hit me. The waves aren’t as strong or as frequent, and the tsunamis seemed to have quieted, but the waves still keep me on my toes. They humble me.

I am working on putting my life back together. Like Humpty Dumpty…all the king’s horses and all the king’s men… I am hoping my fate is better.

Life now, after being Emilee's caregiver for two years, leads to many questions. It is taking me time to try to answer those questions. And, I am still coming up with new questions.

There is such a mix of sadness and joy. I mastered the sadness part pretty easily, and am just beginning to feel the joy. Joy to be alive, to start to live again, to have this opportunity to talk to other people who have also lost a spouse after cancer and are struggling to put the pieces back together again.

I still have so much to learn. Emilee taught me a lot while she was alive. Now I have a chance to share what I am going through with others. It makes me feel like I am doing something worthwhile, giving me a purpose.

Life After Emilee is my living room, where I share about my experiences of losing my spouse to cancer, what has been happening in my life since she died, and the new path I am forging as I go on living. I invite you to share it with me.

A random act of kindness can have a reverberating effect. A pebble thrown in the lake makes concentric circles of waves that extend far from the spot where the pebble hit the water. I hope to touch hearts in this way, and, perhaps in sharing, give those who have also lost a loved one to cancer a little comfort in knowing that you are not alone in how you feel.

I hope you accompany me for a while into what is for me unchartered territory.

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