Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Hard Words

It's been a while since I've felt comfortable enough, or had the precise words to explain what is going on in my life past the physical details. [Foot not fully broken/fractured, still fraked up for a few weeks.]

Births, marriages, engagements, deaths- too many, pregnancies, jobs, new locations.
This is the excitement and progress of my friends and family.

I am happy for them. I have far more hope for any of them than I hold for myself.

Roger Ebert in one of the short notes he sent to me said that it was alright to write about the horrid parts of life. The nasty parts of cancer not shown in those films with a happy ending. It is ok to share the utter desperation, the desires, the lowering of one's self on the chance for mercy from a world that holds no "fairness".
"Truth is not always a happy ending." R.E.

How very true.

This post might hurt. It hurts to write, and I'm sure for some it will hurt to read. Cancer and dying hurts too. Living and knowing the one person you loved, who loved you back, is gone and will never ever come back- hurts.

"Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something." - W. Goldman [The Princess Bride]

When we got married slightly to this theme, that quote meant something so different to me. Wash inscribed my wedding band with "As You Wish" on it.
It's quite amazing how much foreshadowing our relationship has without either of us really picking up on it. I had him nicknamed "Wash" within weeks of us dating. We both knew what happened to Hoban in "Serenity".

I am not "stuck". I am however, mad lately. I'm mad that people around me who have not felt this pain feel it is appropriate to tell me how to deal with my pain. I'm mad that they think there is some magic number of weeks, months, or time that can pass before I should be where they want.
I'm mad that people want the Tashi "back" that does not exist anymore.
She's gone just as surely as her Wash. Never coming back.
I think that acceptance is slowly happening.

I'm mad at myself for hurting at someone else's happiness. I am utterly confused at how it is possible for me to feel so happy to see friends get married, or have a child, or get hired at their dream career, or become pregnant- and so mad at my own life for being deprived of that.
I had 4-6 weeks of marriage before the cancer began to grow in his brain.
Twice we almost stayed pregnant. Twice we both held onto Hope that in some way (biologically at the very least) Wash could continue on. Twice it ended in blood, pain, and tears.
Leto the cat is now the only living part of Wash I still have, or can hold.

I find less and less to talk about, socially. I have little I can relate to with my peers.
The Widow's support group is also made up of people in pain like me, but all so much older. All who had time or a chance at a life with the one they loved. They had children, reasons to wake in the morning and function. They had homes they built up together that they could get comfort from. Years, sometimes decades of memories to hold on to. To recall. To soothe.

I am mad at the people who suggest that because I was "only" married for a short time that I can/could/should "move on" now. That 6 months is enough time to "heal".
I am mad at those who imply I will have or find love again. I had it once. I found him once. I gave my heart and soul once. Who are they to know my intentions? Who besides my own self should say if I even desire to love again?

I am at the age where so many of my peers are married, engaged, pregnant, or having children. Over and over I see milestones I wanted to have myself, and cannot.
I will never have a new birthday card from my husband again. I'll never hear him sing to me that I'm his "Queen of Argyle".

I have pain. I have sorrow. I have tears. I have little Hope to share.
I have a large space to carry pain, to support others. Some days I wake as Atlas, carrying the weight of the world upon myself, and not questioning why I do this. Why I carry this burden.

I am hurt that Cancer keeps stealing people we love. I am tired of this. I am 26 and so tired.
I carry Hope, but it is not a weightless burden.

Hope is painful. Hope does not protect the heart. Or the brain. Hope is irrational, one of the confusing parts of being human I am still trying to comprehend.

When I began this written record I chose "Learning to Hope" in the sense of Hope for my Wash. For his future, for his fight, for us. Now, I think the Hope is for me. How to keep wanting to Hope, when I know so well how much it can hurt. How the nights are spent either awake, afraid of the silence and dark, or sleeping restlessly in a dream of chasing someone I can never catch.
Hope that someday life will become desirable, not just passive, waiting for the moment I breathe out but not in.
How do I continue on, when I still hear him in my head? When I can still read his stories and words? See the world from his eye in his photographs.

He is gone but save a digital footprint of his existence.

And, yet.

He is the Gaius to my Six.
Whispering in my ears. Touching my hair. Standing in his kilt. Kissing my neck. He lives in me, in my brain, in the memories he shared and gave to me to hold. I cannot begin to imagine how one can "get over" that.

This is my pain. My grief. My anger. My sadness. My soulmate. My timeline.
My life and future to mourn.

Yes, I still hurt. I can smile, but I ache.
I feel a need to hide away from the happy world. From the lives others are living. I am not living. I exist right now.

Is this the trade-off? Is this the start of my re-payment? A karmic debt I owe?
Is this the price of love? Of the short, but fully complete happiness I once had?

I think I am still too young to say that for certainty. I think I am not omnipotent enough to say that for certainty.

If this pain is the start of the price I now pay, I owe.
I owe this pain, and I own it.

I gave my self and my heart up to him. I willingly gave it. I gave him everything I could.
From 2008-2012 I had his love in return. I had him. I had unconditional love for all of me. I had more than a friend. I had more than a lover. I truly knew Hope, in a painless sense, then.
I had his love.

If this pain is my price, it is mine.
I would do it all over again, in a hummingbird's heartbeat. Knowing the pain, the tears, the sadness, the blood, the loss. I would do it again.
He was worth it. 4 years, or 40 seconds. His love was worth it.
It does not ease the pain, does not put a balm on my wounds, but it is the truth.
I would put myself through every bit of this pain again, for him.

I can wish my story had a happy ending. I can wish it was a different type of cancer, a different disease, a life of health. I can write that we struggled, but overcame and lived happy forever until we both died on the same day, decades after our marriage. I can write we had children, and grandchildren. I can write we both had perfect dream lives.
But I write truth here, not fiction.

There is no "happy ending" in my life. My love story is a tragedy, not a happily ended romance.

Photo is from approx 2004-06 from Wash's Speech Black Book. [Speech and Debators will know this.]
This is his opening selection from "Will the Circle be Unbroken" by Studs Terkel that he used in an Oratory or Dramatic piece.


  1. Thinking of you...Tough stuff all

    (Hope the book got to you ok!)

  2. I haven't visited this space in a while.. sorry.. I would just say, be true to yourself and do what feels right. You comfort yourself however you can, if you can. If it was me, I might sleep for a year. Or 5. But who am I to recommend that to you. I have not actually been through what you have been through. Makes me sad, or,mad, though, the thought of people telling you their 'shoulds'. When I was becoming me, and still, 'should' is one of my dirty words. We hates it.

    Wrap yourself in memories and dreams (literally, as in, REM sleep) and let the world go by as it will. Rejoin when the desire is yours, and yours alone. That's what I say.


  3. Roger Ebert was right. Not only is it OKAY to write about the horrid parts of life, it is extremely important to do so.

    Humans, in this mostly-civilized world, live in a largely insular world that prevents them from seeing things that are bad, dark, scary. In my experience as a senior citizen, I know this is not healthy. If we were more aware of the "dark" side, we would not be blind-sided by it.

    That said, I still think that people who have not endured difficult circumstances can never truly understand, empathize, have patience for those of us who have. Writing about the horrid things serves mostly as retrospective for the newly wounded, helping them to understand they are not alone.

    And that is necessary.

    So, continue to write! It is comforting to see the work of your soul, thank you for making it all so public. Most people do it in silence, alone. What you are doing is valuable whether it might seem so or not!

    I am, though, still so sorry you have had to endure such heavy loss. And sorry that there seem to be so many who think they can dictate the terms of your healing.

    While the "standard" for grief recovery has been typically mentioned as "a year or less", I made a great discovery in excerpts from a recently discovered book. In "Grief As A Family Process" by Ester Shapiro the author states that the "one-year" standard is completely unrealistic. Re-creating a life that has been decimated by the death of a loved one takes YEARS.

    Though written for clinicians, I have found it sensitively written and a great help, if for no other reason that it validates the need for acceptance of the idea the healing from bereavement is a long, slow, arduous process.

    Soldier on, you are doing great.

    1. Thank you very much for your kind words. I will certainly look into that book. I am very up for learning more about this process from people with more clinical education.