As I try to keep moving, I look onward to the new year. I cannot believe it will be 2011 in a little less than 24 hours. The plan: to reflect on 2010 and move into 2011 with an open heart. Will it be difficult? Absolutely. Is this open heart of mine wounded? Even more so…but at least I am moving…moving in the right direction…toward healing.
There was little to no movement during the few days in which the family tried to recognize the Christmas holiday. Big John’s memorial was the day before Christmas Eve and making it through the service without alligator sized tears streaming down everyone’s face seemed impossible. There were photos blown up just like at his son’s service. There were beautiful flowers….just like those of his son. There were miserable hearts…all just like his son’s service the month before. The comparison comes naturally because we had just cremated John the previous month. None of it seemed real, fair, or possible. Much of the same people showed their love as they did the month before and with disbelief in their eyes, everyone paid their respects to a phenomenal husband, father and man.
In the days following, there was as much time spent with family and friends as possible. It is all a blur to be honest. It was a surreal feeling knowing the tiniest of baby steps I made toward “getting better” the month before had been wiped clean. I felt as if I was back to square one…all without John. I miss him so much and this Christmas was a day I did not want to face. All I wanted to do was close my eyes to have them reopen with him standing before me…smiling. His sweet face smiling…that is all I really wanted. I had left some of his clothes at my parent’s house since his passing and took them home with me this trip. As I gathered my things the last night I was there, I scooped up his garments and smelled them right away…they still carried his sweet scent.
Since being back, I have buried myself in my work. I hit the ground running and realized today, I have not taken a second to relax or breathe. I am saving that deep breath for the new year. I plan on taking my first, new, deep, clean, sip of air in 2011 because I want to run as far away as I can from 2010. I was telling a friend of mine today that I have never been one to make new year’s resolutions or look at a different year with purpose…it used to be just another day. Now, more than ever, I look at this day as a new beginning and one of healing. My love and desire to be with John will never diminish, but rather strengthen in a healthy way. Right now, I am okay with my mess of emotions. I still wear my wedding and engagement ring and his wedding band on my right thumb…all this to honor him and I am just not ready to take it off. Again, this is a part of my mess and my healing. His clothes…all still in the closet and bedroom drawers. I do not know what to do with it just yet and I am okay with not knowing. I am welcoming this new year…I am closing the door to the year before because I think we all need to have that right.
So…dearest 2011…I stand before you…begging you to show mercy on our family, friends and myself. The break we are all longing for is needed. The two men we lost, the journey it took us on to get there, and the life we are supposed to live from here on out are all factors and will be a part of our daily struggle. I know there will still be tears and longing for my husband to be here physically but I know he is in my heart. To John…you know how much I miss you because I cry out to you every night…but I know, above all else, you are with your dad and that brings me great comfort. My sweet angel….I wish I knew more ways to tell you how much I love you. Your incredible spirit is still very much here and there are so many missing you right now….including your wife. I know you are always with me and I know you will be with me when the ball drops…just like we planned my angel. I love you.
There are no words. At this point, what can I say? Emptiness, hurt, tears, fear, doubts…life. This is where I stand right now…as an onlooker to those who hurt just as much if not more than myself. Big John passed away exactly one month and one week after his son, my husband John passed away. Cancer…I hate you…I do not want to give you more than those three words because you do not even deserve a second thought much less the vibrations coming from my mouth. You hurt a sister and daughter in Megan, a wife in Vicki and myself, a mother in Susie, and a slew of other people who would smother you the second they had the chance. How dare you?
With Christmas right around the corner, we are all on eggshells. How are we going to make it through this day? Dear God, how are we going to do this as a family and try to remember without feeling so much pain? This is all a process, we all know that…but it all feels too soon. We were not done mourning John and his father soon followed after. It is almost as if they knew…and they needed to be together again in heaven among angels where there would not be an ounce of pain. There is no doubt in my mind that John came to get his father that day….and even days prior to let him know. As if he were saying, “I have everything ready for you dad…it is time.” We all miss the two of them more than anything and there is not a second that goes by that they are not thought of, talked about, or mourned for. There are no more words to describe what things are like right now…there just are none. I have said this a million times and I will continue to do so…send your sweet love…send it with all your might and without regret to my amazing sister in law. She has lost two incredible men in her life in such a short time. Send it to sweet Vicki, Big John’s wife also…it is as if I am looking in a mirror when I talk to her about everything.
Realize right now, in this moment, to be grateful in this holiday season. Yes, sure…you might have your own inner battles and outer turmoil, but know tomorrow might be harder than the day before and if you love without boundaries…the struggle will all be worth it in the end.
We all love and miss you both…more than anyone can ever express into words.
Today is the one month mark. Exactly one month ago at 6:17 in the morning, John took his final breath. I close my eyes every day and picture that final moment. There is not an instant that drifts by that I do not think of my sweet husband and how thankful I am that I was right next to him for those final moments…holding his hand and him holding my heart. He still has my heart and I miss him more today than I did yesterday. Today may mark the one month anniversary of his passing, but I can say within this month, I stand stronger with every passing minute. There is nothing easy about what is happening…going from having someone telling you they adore you and think the world of you several times a day to absolute silence can be jolting. It makes you question your self-worth and more than anything, I miss telling him those same things. Silence is something I will have to get used to for a while and it is something I will take in stride.
Every 12th of each month will be difficult for awhile and I am thankful for the patience of my family and friends. John continuously comes up in conversation because there are always little things reminding me of him…so naturally, I want to talk about him and little memories we shared. Again, everyone is showing great tolerance. Also, in this month, adjustments have been made to my routine. I have spent the last 8 months taking care of someone else and now, it all seems empty. I am no longer a caregiver and I am lost. Soon, I will find myself again and regain control of my life…everything is a process and a journey I am prepared to take with expectant and natural bumps along the way.
I miss you John.
I ran away from this blog. I have not had the urge to write much less tell anyone what I am doing or how I am feeling. Realizing and accepting what has happened are two different things because I realize my life is different now, I am not at the point where I want to accept it. I need to keep reminding myself to take small, steady, targeted steps each day. I need to allow myself to feel each emotion and really sit in it for a while.
Since my last post, I had the chance to meet with old friends in Dallas. It was a surreal moment to see everyone and not have John with me. They all knew of John, never met him, but all knew what happened and I could not have asked for more love to be surrounding me that night and week. It was so wonderful to hear their sweet words and to hug each one of them. I then tried to enjoy an amazing Thanksgiving holiday with my family. My caring brother and selfless sister in law have been nothing but supportive and there for me from the beginning. Being with them, along with her sister and husband, and my innocent niece and nephew was beyond what I thought I needed…but, I still felt very alone. It was obvious…John was missing that day. He was missing from the entire trip. The Thanksgiving Day started off uneasy but I kept telling myself to try. I needed to try to have a fine day and a decent visit. The anticipation of going back to Orlando, to our room and all of our things, weighed heavy on my heart. I knew seeing everyone back home would be just as difficult. How was I to face this alone? I could not fathom it…it did not make sense, and in a way…it still does not. I was welcomed with open arms by my friends and am so thankful to have them here to hold me up. I am continually thankful for everyone holding me up…both near and far.
So…I came home….to the home we shared here in Florida. Michelle picked me up from the airport and I could already feel my blood running thin and my head feeling light. We rounded the corner to our street and the wind was knocked out of me. I could hear my breath…each one, in and out. The car stopped…I crawled out…grabbed my bags and set them down in the entry way. The climb up the stairs was horrifying. John’s ashes were awaiting me in the room, all of his clothes, our bed, and most of all, his smell. I opened the door and almost fell to my knees. I immediately went to his closet and buried myself in his clothes. His smell wrapped around me like a warm hug and all I could do was sob and hold on tight. I did not want to let go because in that moment, it was him holding me…and if I opened my eyes I felt like I would lose that. I did not want to let go, but I could not hold myself up anymore so I collapsed onto our bed….again, met with his smell. My hands tightened around the sheets and I still could not believe where I was, how I got there, and what I was supposed to do next...so Michelle helped me by pealing me off the bed to leave the house for a breather. The weekend was spent in the company of friends, a quick beachside trip, and back home to prepare for another difficult day…cancelling John’s bills.
Monday came and it was a day full of phone calls and errands. I must have listened to him speak the words “John Goddard” on his voicemail at least 10 times before I got up the courage to call the cell phone company for cancellation. It was as if none of it was actually happening…but then, before I knew it, everything was all over….it was either changed to my name, gone for eternity, or pending in some limbo that the insurance company now had to take care of. The following days flew by at work and it seemed to be a better distraction than the constant thoughts running through my head. There are also several other reminders of how much I miss him every day. Songs, quotes, television shows, our puppy, photos…just about everything I feel is placed before me by him…anything to say hi and to tell me how much he loves me. His little way of talking to my heart to remind me he is not gone forever…he is just in a better place…and he is waiting for me there.
It has not even been a month of John’s absence and our family has to face another obstacle. His father, as we so lovingly call him Big John, has been battling his own form of cancer for the past 6 years and everything has caught up with him. He is not doing well and the entire family has not even finished mourning the loss of John, but now are preparing for another difficult journey of his father. I feel terrible for his wife Vikki and my sister-in-law Megan. It was difficult losing the love of my life, but I cannot imagine losing my brother and father within this time frame. Hold our family close to your heart…please…we all still need continued support.
So now what? Where am I supposed to go from here? When is time going to be ample enough for things to start feeling okay? What does “okay” feel like?
I cannot get a set of lyrics out of my head…
“Say it’s over, say I’m dreaming
Say I’m better than you left me…”
Say I’m better than you left me…”
Just those few lyrics strike a chord in my heart because it is exactly how I feel. I wish I could close my eyes and pretend none of this ever happened, as if it were a dream…wish away my pain and that of our family and friends…have him walk through the door and kiss me. I want to be better but at the same time, I know this is a process…the most agonizing and excruciating process I have ever been through. I am tired…so unbelievably tired and though my soul hurts, I continue to carry John in my heart. I want so badly to feel his warmth next to me…to wake up and see his smiling face in the morning…to hear his voice and to smell his sweet skin. I will never be the same person and I want so badly to feel normal again…please…no more pain…no more.
I cannot seem to find my footing. Where am I? What has happened these past few days? How can I go on? What is my life supposed to look like? …What was our life supposed to look like? When can the healing begin and the hurting stop? How do I live without the one I adore so much?
There is no question John was not supposed to leave this earth…leave his family…leave our future…leave me as early as he did. Ask anyone…it is not fair. Cancer does not have a fair button. You cannot call some sort of “cancer council” and ask them to revoke the chosen few they have put their fury upon. You just can’t. I could only wish this existed…because I would have contacted them a long time ago…because this ending was not what we expected.
Wednesday, November 10 is when John started showing signs of fatigue more than the norm. His normal, like I have said before in previous posts is nothing like ours. His constant pain and feeling of helplessness came to a head this day….and he knew it. We kept him on the oxygen tank most of the night and he turned to me between his bouts of consciousness and said. “Baby…it is happening.” My heart fell to my feet…I replied, “Oh my angel…I love you.” These words, in this moment, were the only ones I could find. We both broke down…held each other and cried for what seemed like the remainder of the night. All of the doctors had always said John was like no other they had ever treated. His pain threshold was beyond anyone else’s and he always was two or three steps ahead of the rest of us. He knew his body, he knew where the cancer was spreading/had spread and he knew how much time he had on this earth. Even weeks before, his mom asked how much longer we had with him and he forecasted it to the exact day…unbelievable. Wednesday turned into Thursday…November 11. We decided to start gathering the family and letting them know it was going to happen any day. He had not eaten anything all week and his bowel movements were not as frequent as they used to be…even with the amount of water he was drinking. As friends and family started to gather at his sister’s house, John continued to get weaker. I would kneel down and whisper in his ear every time he would have a new visitor. He would open his eyes…say “hi” and drift back to sleep.
I will never forget the last thing he said before slipping into the coma-like state for the 12 hour final fight….his dad came into the room and sat in the bed next to him. I leaned into John’s ear and said, “I love you my sweet angel.” He opened his baby blues, turned to me and said, “I love you more princess.” I proceeded to tell him his dad was in the bed with him and he looked over, said “Hi dad,” and closed his eyes for them never to open again. It was from there….I laid right next to John for the remainder of his life….I did not get up. He was on his back and I was on his right side. His right hand in my left and my right hand rubbing his chest and touching his face….for his final 12 hours. My voice was in his right ear the rest of the night and into Friday morning. His breathing continued to worsen and his pain began to elevate. The nurses were on top of everything that night and morning. They made sure he was completely comfortable and when we could tell he was getting a little agitated, they continued his comfort. I did not want to leave his side. I did not want to miss his passing. I did not want to miss his possible awakening. I did not want to miss a hand squeeze. I did not want to miss anything…I just wanted to smell him, whisper in his ear, love him, be near him, continue to tell him how proud I was of him…touch him. All of it. Finally, his body had enough. I know he did not want to go…but his body was so tired. We talked many long nights and he said he was not scared…he was never angry…he never had an ounce of hate within him because of this disease…but it does not mean my devoted husband, a loving son, a sweet brother, an admirable friend, and this authentic man was ever really ready. At 6:17 Friday morning, John William Goddard took his final breath. My God…I will never forget that final moment….and I cried out. I could not help it…every emotion came pouring out of me at once. Everyone in that room could not do anything but cry with their own incredible grief. What felt like moments later, I left the room and went outside in the freezing air…I sat down on the driveway, shivering and cried. My bellowing voice that Friday morning I am sure was loud…but I could not hear anything…it was like I was deaf. I knew I was crying uncontrollably…but every sense I had was dedicated to that cry. I kept picturing John’s face and how hard he fought in those final moments. Up until his last breath…John fought his heart out. I somehow picked myself up off the ground and ran to the family…to have their arms draped around me and mine around them.
As the color drifted from his body, he slowly became colder. Everyone got their alone time with John…and between visitors, I could not seem to stay away from him. I could not keep my eyes off him…my hands…and I continued to talk to my angel and let the tears fall. The funeral home came about an hour later…took him away…and it was like saying goodbye all over again…it would not be the last time.
My incredible father, John’s amazing sister, her resilient husband and I continued the planning…just as John wished, he wanted everyone to get the chance to say goodbye. He requested a viewing and service followed by his cremation. We did it…for him…for my angel…gave everyone a chance to tell him they love him and to show support to our family as we so desperately needed it. There were several blown up photos, melodies he loved, words from his sister, a poem to his parents, words from a friend…and even his own beautiful expressions displayed in the service…it was perfect. Over 500 people came through that room on Monday, November 15 and it was completely overwhelming. The love and support from family, friends (both near and far), those I have never met, those who had never met John…all came…to fill the room with his memory and with their admiration for the man who fought for more than just his own life…but to show how important it is to love with all your might, to live life to the fullest, and to never forget who you are…no matter what.
The Wednesday following the funeral was my birthday…my 27th birthday. It was hard to smile that day…but I tried….because I know he would have wanted me to have fun…and I know he was there with me. I could not believe it was just two days after the funeral. I wanted so badly to ask for a rain check or even skip that day. To have celebrated this day with the love of my life so many years before that and then this one immediately following his service felt impossible. The rest of the week flew by with family and friends…it all seems so surreal. I sit here now in Dallas at my brother and sister-in-law’s house for a change of scenery. I will return to Florida after Thanksgiving to try and continue the life we started together there. The hardest part of my return will be setting foot into our bedroom…the room where we shared so much together.
I will continue…we all will...I will carry on with John’s love in my heart…though I long for him so much and I feel as though my world is in shambles…I will continue…because I know he wanted me to. I will….I miss him more than anything in this world…I miss him so much it hurts. To John: I love you my sweet angel…I love you more than any words, any blog, any tear, any vow can really express my devotion and immense sorrow. I cannot believe you are gone but I am so thankful you are no longer in pain…I love you baby.
John William Goddard went to be with angels yesterday morning at 6:17. With family and friends in the room, John took his final breaths with complete love surrounding him. The viewing and funeral will take place on Monday evening, at Conkle Funeral Home in Avon, Indiana. The viewing is scheduled for the public from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and the funeral service immediately following. John asked in lieu of flowers, donations be deposited to the “Team Goddard Memorial Fund” at any Fifth Third Bank. Thank you for your continued support and love. Our families are broken and miss him terribly…I cannot find words right now…so for now, I will take a break. Thank you for understanding.