My friend, Karen, on the right, lost her husband to pancreatic cancer earlier this summer. Although I know where my husband is, he is no longer mine.
In October 2016, we both received “diagnoses” that would alter our marriages in ways we never planned for. Karen’s husband Tracy, the type of man that you meet for 5 minutes and immediately want to hang out with every day, was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. Anyone who has experience with that type of cancer knows that it is one of the biggest bitches you can come across and has no sympathy for anyone involved, not the patient or caregiver or friends and family. Tracy and Karen approached their diagnosis with the most poise and strength and love that I can’t even describe. To them, they had already won the battle with cancer, even if it would eventually take Tracy from us. He knew he was selected to carry the burden of cancer for a reason and he took that job very seriously, right until his dying day.
Most of you know that I lost my father to kidney cancer in 2011, after his own 6-year battle, and I just assumed that I found Karen because I was supposed to support her through her cancer journey with Tracy. Little did I know how much we would hold each other up over the last year. Karen had also experienced divorce in her life and even while taking care of her beloved, she always wanted to know how I was doing, how I was coping. I know how much she was hurting inside and that most days were not easy for her, but I also think that checking in on me was also a way for her to step away from the hell that she was in, even if just for a quick 5 word text – ‘how are you doing today?’
Last night, we finally had the chance to have a dinner that was very much long overdue. We talked about Tracy. We talked about Pat. We talked about our sons, Tyson and Matthew. For those 2 hours, I remembered that as much as we both are hurting, neither of us are alone. As much as I sometimes to try to hide in my house, hide behind my computer and my upcoming book, I can’t do this alone.
Karen would do anything to see Tracy again, and while I get the opportunity to interact with Pat almost everyday, as we co-parent Tyson, I would do anything to see “my husband” again. We are both grieving, but we don’t have to do it alone. We can’t do it alone and we won’t do it alone. Thank you, Karen, for being a new light in my life, you mean more to me than you will ever know.