Widowhood – guest post

Some weeks it is difficult to choose a guest post, not just to select from the high quality of writing out there. Sometimes the posts I want to print are emotionally difficult to read.  As the blog’s title Our Oral Cancer Fight proclaims, this is the story of two people not a single blogger, fighting together through three bouts of cancer.  Ron died recently but, as Lori so simply and eloquently writes, their relationship continues on, entering a new and painful phase.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to Lori and her family.

Widowhood

Ron & Lori

Ron & Lori

I have now been a widow for almost six weeks, and I don’t know if I can adequately describe it to anyone. You know how you feel right before you’re going to cry? I feel that lump in my throat all the time, and I am constantly on the verge of tears. All it takes is a comment from someone, a memory, looking at a photo of Ron, hearing a song… I am just an emotional mess, and I guess that’s normal. I have debated whether or not to continue with this blog. It was supposed to be all about Ron’s struggle, not mine. I may write occasionally from now on. I just hope that it will help some other families who are going through this horrible cancer.

I can’t describe the emptiness that is always with me now. Truly half of me is gone. I have been slowly getting some memories back of the morning that he died. I was really in shock after it happened according to our kids, so I didn’t remember a lot at that time. Now I remember that I was holding his head up so I could flip his pillow because he was sweating so much. He opened his eyes and I said “I love you, honey” and he just smiled and mouthed back “Love you too”, as he always did. It was not much after that that I realized he was truly dying, and I remember yelling at him, telling him no, please don’t leave me. How selfish is that? He had fought through more pain in the last four years than I can fathom, but I still did not want him to go.

My emotions are all over the place. I get upset very easily now, from things that wouldn’t have bothered me before. I have tried to be there for our kids, but I don’t know how well I have done. I said something I shouldn’t have to our oldest daughter and her husband. They were saying that they just want me to be happy again, and I told them I would never really be happy again. I shouldn’t have said it that way. Of course, I will have happy moments in my life, like the birth of my future grandchildren, our youngest daughter’s wedding, etc. It’s just that Ron should be here to share in those things too. Our youngest daughter just turned 21, and it was both a happy and sad day for all of us. It was one of those milestones that both of your parents should be there for.

After Ron’s death, I wasn’t really alone until about two weeks later. Everyone went back to their lives, as they should have, but the house got very quiet. Everywhere I look is a memory. No one told me about the actual physical ache that you feel. I miss just seeing him, and hugging him, and going in to the living room to check on him and kissing his head. I do not mean this to be a pity party for me, I just want to say how it really is. I wasn’t always alone. Our son would come by almost every day, and our youngest daughter and her boyfriend still came over, and our niece stopped in a few times to see how I was doing, as did Ron’s brother. I feel so sorry for all of them too. Almost more than I feel sorry for myself. Especially his mom. No parent should outlive a child. I can’t begin to imagine how painful that is. At the funeral I wish something would have been said about all of Ron’s friends. He had so many–I don’t think he ever met anyone he didn’t like, and I don’t know of anyone that didn’t like him. I feel so sorry for all of them, too. I know they are missing him like crazy. He used to make the rounds, visiting on his Harley. He would come home with all kinds of stories about all the friends he had seen, and all the bad jokes he had made.

By June 30, I had had enough. I had just finished up the remaining thank you cards, and I knew I had to leave. I drove down the Great River Road through Iowa to my sister’s house in Missouri. I drove the River Road because Ron and I had talked about making that one of our little trips in between chemo days. It was absolutely gorgeous. Especially from Galena, IL. to Davenport, IA. I kept looking over these beautiful valleys and I would think “Are you seeing this Ron? Isn’t it beautiful?” I stayed over night in Davenport and drove the rest of the way the following day. The scenery wasn’t as pretty on the second leg, but the drive was very relaxing. Usually going to my sister’s we would just take the four lane all the way down, but you don’t see the country that way. I am still here in Missouri. I just don’t feel up to leaving quite yet, but I know I should. … I just know that once I’m home again I will miss him even more. After he died, the coroner actually took the bottom sheet along with him, so my sister helped me make the bed again. She went to change his pillowcases and I said “No, leave those on”. They still smell like Ron, so when I go to bed I can hug them and smell him again.

I do want to thank everyone for their support. Especially our kids, all of Ron’s family and friends, my wonderful co-workers, my friends from OCF, my family, especially my sister, who has always been my rock, and my brother-in-law, who is willing to put up with me invading his home for weeks on end. He is the one who did Ron’s service, and he did such a wonderful job. I know Ron would have been very pleased at all the laughter and memories. I know it must have been hard for Dale to do the service, and I thank him so much.

I have been asked if I will now change the name of this blog. My answer is no. I was Ron’s wife for almost 25 years, and as far as I am concerned, I will still be his wife when I see him again.

from Our Oral Cancer Fight

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About Dennis Pyritz

Dennis W. Pyritz, RN, BA, BSN, has been a cancer nurse since 1987 and a cancer and bone marrow transplant survivor since 2004. In December 2001 he was diagnosed with t-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL), a rare aggressive form of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Dennis was treated with the then new monoclonal antibody, alemtuzumab (Campath) as this disease has a median survival of 7.5 months. He achieved a 26 month remission but relapsed in February 2004. He was retreated with Campath and went into a second remission. In August 2004 he underwent an allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplant with his brother, Mark, as donor. Dennis has remained in remission since - a near miracle. Throughout his career as cancer nurse and patient, Dennis has had the opportunity to speal to both lay and professional groups. Dennis has spoken on cancer topics and survival issues across the country as well as in the United Kingdom, Norway, Austria, Portugal, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Trinidad, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Cyrpus, Israel, and India.

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