I was widowed on the 8th May. I feel like I am a refugee in a foreign world.

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Comment by Charles E. Nelson on June 5, 2018 at 7:00am

Dear Pete,

Forgive the delay - more writings gone down the black hole of cyberspace. It really is maddening, and I shall indeed avail myself of your kind offer of using your email address for more lengthy communications. Mine is charlylary@peoplepc.com. I sometimes write in a word program, edit, then copy the piece into an email or post. This at least keep my original writing stored in the event of some glitch or mistake on my part from eliminating hours or work. I humbly accept your invitation into your exclusive club therefore, and shall abide by the bylaws I swear.

As I imagine you walking the shore listening to the lovely voice of Beverly Sills, smelling the salt air and feeling the ocean breeze on your face, I smile that you have this soothing place in which to begin your healing from your devastating loss of Neil. Before moving 7 months ago, I lived in a rural part of New Jersey on a piece of property Larry and I purchased in 1984. It was incredibly peaceful and secluded, with lovely views and acres of protected woodland surrounding us. Much wildlife passed through our yard daily, and we felt we had found our small piece of heaven on earth.

After losing him I spent the first summer struggling , mostly in vain, to feel anything besides crushing loneliness and grief. I was extremely limited in my physical capabilities, so others took care of yard work for me. I did what housework I could manage. Mostly, I obsessively maintained what I suppose was a small shrine I had arranged in the living room with a photo of Larry and myself, a few of his favorite possessions, and flowers. I would sit for hours staring at it, listening to quiet music on the stereo, and cry until I couldn't imagine any more water remained in my body.

I will write separately from this about Larry's memorial, and a few more details about the situation in which I found myself. I don't mean to sound cryptic, I simply am afraid I will lose yet another message if I continue much longer. Do know my friend that your kind words are very much appreciated indeed, as is your trust in furnishing your email address. I had a few people who were very skeptical at first of my joining Legacy and sharing with "strangers" my most intimate and heartfelt feelings. I never question the identities or motives of anyone in this unfortunate family to which we now both belong. 

I send you wishes for peace today dear Pete, and a hug full of friendship and support. Your king's ramsom will unfortunately come due - neither I nor anyone else can spare you of that, no matter how much I would wish to do so. Just please believe me that I, and all of us here, have had to pay that awful bill, and we have gotten through the earliest part of our grief just as you will...with a little help from our friends.

Much Love,

Chuck 

Comment by Peter Buchanan on June 4, 2018 at 11:53am

Dear Chuck, 

Thank you for your lovely reply and putting my mind at rest.

The celebration of Neil's life went exactly as he would have wanted it. Lots of laughter, happy reminiscing and just a slight tinge of sadness. 

I hope you won't mind, but I am obliged to welcome you to my exclusive club-the 'Where did that entire message disappear to' club. I thought I had exclusivity but feel somewhat relieved to know there is another like me at last! I am equally challenged on computers and cannot 'touch type. Many hours of my life are spent having to redo emails and messages over and over with much muttering and gnashing of teeth.

I cannot tell you just how touched I am with the care and love you afford me and want you to know I truly appreciate it very much.

I fully understand what you are saying about slowing down and then the wave crashes. I am going through a stage where I am redecorating our kitchen, repacking our cupboards, ALL of them including all the kitchen cupboards. This time they look as if they are being entered into the world's neatest, tidiest and best colour coded cupboards ever and that scares me a lot. I love neat but not overboard neat.

I also used to be one of the laziest people alive and now since Neil's death I walk along the beach (our apartment is opposite the beach) to the next town and back listening to a wonderful American lady called Beverly Sills (my favourite opera singer) and arrived home 2 hours later. A world record for me. I don't remember hearing a single thing on my earphones, or if I patted any dogs or greeted any passersby, but I do remember weeping uncontrollably twice and not caring if anyone saw me or not. I also started to talk to Neil, telling him that I'm not too sure if I'm going to be able to cope with this intolerable pain of having to face life without him. I don't want to be strong for anyone any more, least of all myself. Maybe even though things are hectic my payback time seems to have arrived with a vengeance too. I take back what I said about there being a very heavy price to payback for having loved so deeply and intensely, it's beginning to feel more like it's going to be a king's ransom instead. That said, here's a big hug for you and thank you for 'listening' to my whingeing,

Love and more hugs, 

Pete

Comment by Charles E. Nelson on June 3, 2018 at 4:06pm

Dear Pete,

How lovely that you could have such a wonderful celebration of Neil's life with your friends and family. That you both took part in the planning is just another example of how brave and courageous you both were, and I hope this brings you some measure of comfort knowing things were as he wanted them.

I am limited here by space for characters - I wrote a lengthy description of what was held for Larry, but it exceeded the limit, and in trying to edit it I somehow lost the whole thing. I am most definitely not to be confused with someone technically proficient with computers and the like.

 I shall give it another go later.

My Friend, I am not, nor will ever be, offended by anything you say. I don't consider myself religious, although I do attend an LGBT community church on Sundays. The small caring group has given me new friends, a sense of belonging in my newly adopted state of Texas, and something to get me out of the house and into the world again. More about all that at a later time also.

I just wanted you to know I am thinking of you, and can imagine how exhausting physically and emotionally your celebration must have been. Please rest up, and be gentle with yourself. For me, once things began to somewhat quiet down, my grief seemed to surface with a vengeance. I am sending wishes for some peaceful days ahead, accompanied by a big hug.

Much Love,

Chuck

Comment by Sara Murphy on June 2, 2018 at 9:57pm

Hi Pete.....Chuck is very wise and often offers good advice.   I'm glad the Celebration of Life for Neil went well.  You mentioned you're not religious so you may not believe in an afterlife but I hope you'll take comfort in my belief that Neil is still with you, just in a different way.  Your souls are too connected, he's not going to leave you.

My husband, Ken, was also sick for many years.  He passed away in Jan 16 at just 52 years old.  We had been together for 30 years and built a beautiful happy life for ourselves.  One thing I'll never get over is not having had a proper good-bye despite the fact I was standing right next to him when he passed.  His illness was not cancer but with his organs (heart, liver, kidneys).  Long story but he had been in the hospital for a month and even still, wasn't expected to die.  He had conversations with his doctors before they left at 6pm and was in the middle of a conversation with me at 7:50 pm when he just went into cardiac arrest.  The only comfort I do have is that neither of us was stingy with the "I love you's" so I know he passed knowing he was loved completely and I know the same.  It still would have been nice to have said good-bye, (or til we meet again).

Wishing you a peaceful night,

Sara

Comment by Peter Buchanan on June 2, 2018 at 4:16pm

Dear Chuck, 

It is your turn to make me weep reading your story. The awful thing about your beloved Larry is the fact that he and you will have grabbed the opportunity to lengthen his life. I'm sure you will both have been filled with hope and anticipation for a long remission and making plans for when it happened. How absolutely awful for him and for you that the trial drug had such catastrophic side effects. I cannot imagine the devastation that was followed by the other massive blow for you that you couldn't be with him at the end. 

We both have very long stories and yes, I would love to hear more about yours and Larry's. Your kind support is most appreciated Chuck and you have not offended me at all with anything you have said. It' my turn to hopefully not offend you but I have to tell you that I am not religious in any way whatsoever. Your most kind supportive comments have been taken on board and I do hope that my lack of religion won't offend you.

Thank you for putting my mind at rest about my wishing it had happened to me instead of Neil  Of course in retrospect, I have always had it in the back of my mind that Neil probably might not outlive me because he had had lung disease for 8 years. Sadly I was right.

My reply to you has been delayed by the fact that I had have been catering for a function in our apartment complex for the 'Celebration of Neil's life'. I had asked him if he would like me to have this function at the complex and he loved the idea. so today has been the day and it has been emotionally draining but so very heart-lifting that every single person present were all the people Neil loved so much. There were no tears, just lots of laughter and friends looking at photos of us from the night we got together onwards but not after his diagnosis. 

I did ask him if I may video some of our evenings together reminiscing as I  wanted to know I could still spend some time with him after he had passed on. I thankfully got his blessing to do so.

How very interesting that Larry displayed such courage too. Where on earth do they manage to find this quality in them? 

I do hope you will tell me more about your life and times with your beloved Larry and that I have not offended you in any way.

Love and hugs, 

Pete

Comment by Charles E. Nelson on June 1, 2018 at 10:48am

Dear Pete,

Your story brought tears to my eyes, as I could understand and identify very well with your sad experience. Again, my most sincere condolences on your tragic loss of Neil, and in such a way. Your condensed story was none the less quite concise and spoke volumes. Isn't it difficult to begin describing a lifetime of love in a few paragraphs? But here we are, with nothing but time now to reflect and share, so I am grateful for your openness and will reciprocate.

Larry was 15 years my senior, and was divorced with 5 children when we met. Terribly long story there for another time. We had 31 years without disaster striking in the diagnosis of his terminal melanoma. Larry and Neil share a courage neither you nor I suspected it seems - when offered only treatments that would possibly buy us 6 months to 5 years more, he didn't hesitate to agree to joining a trial for a new immunotherapy drug. The side effects were actually what eventually brought on his stroke that ended his life. As you say, not all of us were there with our loved ones when they passed - unfortunately I was unable to be with Larry. Again, very long story for another time.

It is not selfish for you to wish  it had been you instead of Neil - I, and I know many others, share that wish. We have the difficult part in this - the pain and struggles of our spouses are over now, and in my heart I believe they watch and guide us from somewhere beyond our comprehension with the certain knowledge that we will be reunited again one day. Where and in what form I leave to those who hold to their faith and religion in this crushing grief that confronts us all. I don't ever pretend to know the mind and will of God, but I do believe that our being here still is part of His plan and that for whatever reason we have more to do in this world before our own exit. Forgive me if anything I say offends, because it is not intentional I assure you.

I do want to leave you now with this - although 3 years have passed, not a day arrives without my missing Larry with all my heart, and I talk to him silently or even out loud often. I no longer pay attention to startled looks from people, nor do I take to heart their sometimes clueless comments asking if I have "moved on" , or "gotten over it" yet. You may (probably) will hear some similar things from well-meaning friends and relatives who, not having known our loss, don't realise how insensitive they sound. Don't berate yourself if inside you find yourself thinking unkindly toward them - we all do that in this family at times believe me.

Wishing you peace today, and sending hugs, and praying that you will believe that you will survive this. Truly, there is no timeline or pattern for everyone, for our losses are as individual as the beloved people we now grieve for. Your path will be your own, but you will not be traveling it alone - I, and others here will be with you. But most importantly, Neil and God will walk on each side of you holding you up and preventing you from stumbling and falling until you are strong enough to walk unsupported. Then they will watch with love and guide you to those things you need and away from harm. Please believe this, because it is how I have survived, and I am by no means unique.

Much love,

Chuck

Comment by Peter Buchanan on May 31, 2018 at 10:12am

Dear Chuck, 

What can I say about your lovely message? Thank you doesn't seem to suffice but it's heartfelt as are my condolences of the loss of your beloved husband Larry. I'm relieved to know that my feelings and the things that I am doing are not dissimilar to everyone here on this site. I take comfort in the knowledge that I am not taking leave of my senses. 

Just a quick precis of what happened to lead me here. My husband Neil was diagnosed with terminal stage 4 lung cancer after it had been misdiagnosed for months as laryngitis. My world exploded into fine fragments and I instantly started to mourn. Neil, on the other hand, displayed something I'd never known he had such an abundance of, courage. He told me he didn't want any life lengthening treatment as he refused to suffer longer than necessary. I had to agree even though I wanted to scream out "grab everything they have to offer" He died in the most outstanding Hospice with a nurse hugging me while I held his hand and another nurse holding his other hand. Fortunately, it was completely peaceful for him.

When I was first introduced to Neil 47 years I just knew I had met someone extraordinary and I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. He didn't share the same feeling because of our 14 year age gap. six weeks later he asked me to move in with him the day before his 36th birthday.

Nothing could have prepared me for this dreadful thing that has happened to him and my only albeit outrageously selfish wish is,  that it had been me who died.

That, Dearest Chuck, is a minuscule bit of our history together. We did have the advantage of being able to tell each other how much we deeply loved one another, thanked one another for all those unforgettable years together and I was able to tell Neil he had my 'permission' to die and not to hold on for my sake, to just relax and go when he felt he'd run his race. Not everyone has that advantage sadly.

Thank you for letting me try to give you the 'Reader's Digest' version of what has happened and please know your message is most appreciated.

Love and a hug,

Pete

Comment by Charles E. Nelson on May 31, 2018 at 5:58am

Dear Peter,

I am so sorry for your loss that has brought you here to us. I lost my husband Larry 3 years ago, and the way you describe your feelings of despair and sadness is sadly familiar to us all in this family. I too wandered our home for months unable to escape the constant horrible fact When I found Legacy, and joined the Bereaved Spouses group, all that changed for me, and I found caring sousd who understood everything I was going through because they shared my journey in their own lives. that Larry was gone from my life and wasn't coming back. I experienced many moments of fear, anxiety, and hopelessness, and it seemed no one around me could understand the enormity of what I was experiencing.

I hope we can somewhat share and perhaps lighten your burden for you, and send my prayers and wishes for you that today may afford you some small measure of peace in your own journey through your grieving. Here, none of us walk that path alone. Your king size price you describe demonstrates how deeply you loved you dear spouse, and my heart goes out to you, because that is how I feel about Larry. Yes indeed the price is great, but as you say, I would pay it many times over for the 32 beautiful years we had together.

Love, Chuck

Comment by Peter Buchanan on May 31, 2018 at 12:44am

Hello Sara, My condolences to you on the loss of your husband and I do know exactly what you are going through. Thank you very much for the pointer on how to use this site too, most appreciated.

I can identify with your feeling of living in an upside-down world very well at the moment, I seem to be on autopilot at the moment, padding bout our apartment, cleaning out cupboards, repacking cupboards, starting one job, moving on to another and constantly coming across reminders of our irreplaceable, wonderful, loving and joyous years together. These 'reminders' reduce me to tears and despair and such deep sadness. If unmitigated grief is the price we pay for having loved someone so deeply then it looks like I have one king size price coming my way. A big virtual hug back to you and thanks for your very kind response.

 

Comment by Sara Murphy on May 30, 2018 at 3:50pm

Peter........I'm sorry for the loss of your spouse.  It really is a foreign land.  For me, I never realized I felt normal until I lost my husband and my world flipped upside down.

I see you joined the Bereaved Spouses group which I'm glad you did.  We have conversations of support and guidance on the Bereaved Spouses wall.  If you haven't already scrolled through, please do so and jump in at any time.  I can say, my Legacy family has been my lifeline since I lost my husband 2 years ago. 

Sending you a virtual hug,

Sara

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