At the end of September 2009, Jeff (my fiancé at the time) was diagnosed with stage IV esophageal cancer. It was like the rug had been pulled out from underneath us – here we were planning our future together and now our future was uncertain. But that's not the cruel twist of fate....
He was to start chemo in October but before he did that, I wanted to get married. He was reluctant, worried about marrying me under these circumstances but I won out in the end by telling him – I would rather have a few moments of extraordinary, then a lifetime of nothing special. And we had extraordinary…..we planned a beautiful wedding in just four days, and two days after that he started chemo.
He did well on chemo – his cancer markers started to decline and his Dr’s were please with his progress. Enough so that they told him they would give him a break so we could go on our honeymoon. In January we went on a cruise to the Bahamas and had the most relaxing, romantic, incredible vacation…..we left our worries behind and just enjoyed every second we had together.
When we returned Jeff went back on chemo, only this time his response was amazing….so much so that the Dr’s started talking about doing radiation as well. Radiation started in May, a long grueling month, but Jeff managed to smile every day and in June we got the most amazing results – the tumor in his esophagus was GONE. The Dr. who had done his scope told me immediately, warning me that they still needed to do biopsies, but she was very pleasantly surprised. Well, the biopsies came back two weeks later showing NO active cancer cells. Now to work on the lymph node involvement!
The chemo started again in June – his cancer marker test results came back within normal ranges. Nothing but good news! We were realistic, that “curing” stage IV esophageal cancer was not going to happen, but in the least we thought by going through everything he had in the last 9 months we had bought him YEARS more.
But that would all change on July 17, 2010. Just two weeks ago. We were laying in bed that night watching tv as we always did, curled up next to each other holding hands when Jeff complained of a throbbing headache. I gave him a couple of Motrin and he laid back down again….but within seconds he sat back up and said he was so dizzy and lightheaded. He leaned forward holding his chest and said he felt like he was having a heart attack. Before I could respond he fell back into a seizure. I dove over him and called 911, started cpr…..but he was gone. Right before my eyes he was gone. The paramedics tried everything but nothing brought him back. I found out later he died from ventricular fibrillation which led to cardiac arrest.
Were we not just celebrating how well he was doing? Had we not just booked a camping trip for the following weekend? Were we not enjoying a calm after the rollercoaster ride of emotions we had been on for the last 9 months?
I wake up every morning and I am again hit with the reality that my dear sweet man is gone. I live with no regrets – I know in my heart we could not possibly have shown more love, more appreciation to each other every day. I was his princess and he was my prince, there was nothing left unsaid. Yet I am still left with this aching emptiness inside. I feel robbed, I feel overwhelming sadness, I feel lost.
Jeff was every second of every day, we were best friends and always did everything together. If I wasn’t with him, I was talking to him. If I wasn’t talking to him, I was thinking about him. Even now, he is in every thought.
I know I am supposed to cherish every memory…..and we lived a lifetime in the last 4 years, we created so many happy memories. I will ultimately continue my life as he and I had lived, enjoying each day, finding a new reason every day to say Life is Good. But not just yet…..my heart is broken and as much as I want to be strong for him, as much as I want to smile again, as much as he would want me to…..the sadness wins over. I am hopeful that it won’t be like this forever. I am so grateful for every second I had with him, so thankful that God showed me what true love should really feel like, but I still feel cheated out of many more years of happiness.
Please tell me that this gets easier??