It has been three years since Jim died and seven years since we knew he was going to die. We made many mistakes as we approached his death.
My advice to caregivers, and I know there are many, is to talk about what will likely happen to your mate. He or she will die before you and you will live beyond that day.
Talk about what they see you doing and get their permission to go on without them. Don’t ignore the situation and pretend that a miracle will happen or that you, the caregiver, may still die first – car accidents, stroke, heart attack – you know – those instant death things.
We tried to go on and did not feel strong enough to deal with the reality of the situation. We never talked about him dying and me living…..
It hurt too much to think about the possibility of losing each other and saying it out loud would make it true – a reality.
It has literally taken me three years to get to the point I thought I would be at within a few weeks or months of Jim’s death. That point is one of contentment, security, self-confidence and hope. Now that I am here, I believe that a conversation with Jim would have allowed me the freedom to get to this point a little sooner.
Grief has changed a little bit too. Instead of thinking about him during the day now – he comes in my dreams and I wake up, having had some time with him, having heard his voice again and seen him strong again – after these dreams, I end up, once again missing him so much it hurts my soul – the pain of total emptiness engulfs me – reality engulfs me……
That does not happen very often – so…
I go on now a little longer, a little happier……
I go on..
Maybe I am finally getting it together.
When I get old and ugly
I’ll turn around and say,
“Where did he go – that friend of mine
Who said he’d always stay.
He said he’d always be there
In sunshine or in rain
He said he’d always be there
Not just inside my brain.
He took good care, his whole short life
Of me and him and ours.
He showed the spirit of hard work
From that he never cowered.
How fair is it , that now he lays
Beneath the soil so cold
How fair is it that he has missed
So much he can’t be told.
His spirit, in my mind and soul
Lives strong, and this I know
His life, not wasted, not one bit
Will shine, will fly, will grow.
We’ll keep the faith, for you, my dear
As each day starts another
We’ll talk of you and learn from you
You are our absent brother.
Our love is true, and lasting through
The tough times and the fun
Wish you were here is what we say…
We love you still my hun.
Isn’t it ironic that on the exact day – the third anniversary of Jim’s death day – his granddaughters ran in the Terry Fox Run with stickers on their jerseys that said,”I am running for Big Grandpa”. His second son and his whole family including grandson and youngest granddaughter also ran for a cure. Jim would be so proud.
Isn’t it also ironic that on this same day, Jim’s four-year-old granddaughter went to her first hockey practice? It took her mom and I three separate trips to Canadian Tire to get her hockey stuff and then figure out how to assemble it, resize it and attach it all to her little body.
I cannot say how many times I was wishing Jim had been here for this. He loved hockey and he would know what to get little Naomi and also how to get it on her.
He would be so proud of his grandkids. I am sad for him having missed this day and sad for me that I could not watch him enjoy this and share our family together.
I am, however, glad that I can be here to help my daughter on days like today and represent Jim in some way.
I am the teller of his stories, the author of his legacy.
As long as I am here, so is he.