Almost Dying Doesn’t Make a Difference
When my husband was first diagnosed with cancer, I thought I was going to die. I wanted to die. I wanted to run away from home. I wanted to quit my job. I took a week off from work. I cried every day. And then, slowly, I realized it wasn’t about me.
Almost dying doesn’t make a difference. Because until you actually die there is always hope. Hope for a cure, hope for a reprieve, hope for a miracle.
I began to get creative. I searched the Internet for any and every herbal remedy even remotely related to curing cancer. In a few weeks, I had my husband taking approximately 50+ capsules, tablets, herbal formulas, anything I could get my hands on to save his life. And, almost dying didn’t make a difference.
Hank underwent chemo and radiation for over two years. I watched as they marked his chest with indelible ink for the radiation. I waited while they installed the shunt to make his chemo easier to take since his veins were starting to blow.
Each time he was rushed to the hospital, I felt like I was dying a little bit inside. But it was always him, not really me, not physically anyway.
And instead of the six months the all the doctors gave him, I stretched his life out for another two and a half years.
* * * * * * *
The first thing we did when he was diagnosed was to go to Arizona for two weeks. I was so crazy, I insisted on getting teaching applications for schools there, and wanted to buy a house and sell everything where we were. I think I believed we could escape from the cancer. But my husband, who was oh so wise, said, “When I’m gone, you’ll have no one for support, no friends, no family, and who will take care of you?” I still got the job applications.
We went on to take a couple of other trips after that, suddenly trying to buy back time that we didn’t know we had. They were all memorable because almost dying didn’t make a difference in what a great time we had.
And then, there was the day Hank came home from the hospital after numerous and repeated visits. I hadn’t even gotten him out of the car yet and he started to complain that he couldn’t breath. I chided him and then panicked as his lips started to turn blue. 911 had become our mantra.
Back to the hospital he went. He had a DNR. But the nurse came out and told me he his heart had stopped and did I want to honor it. I had to make a split second decision and I did. I knew in my heart that this was not the way Hank would have wanted to go. And I told them to revive him. Even if I only had another five minutes, it would be enough to say goodbye. But we got lucky.
And then the visits began. Close friends. Family. My daughter was already with us. His daughter came in from Rhode Island. My son flew in from Italy. His long lost friends came down from New Jersey. And now, almost dying was out of the question.
The hardest thing I ever had to do in my life was to turn off the cardiac monitor when Hank flatlined for the last time. No, almost dying never made a difference, but dying did.