12.31.2010

movement...

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.

12.22.2010

father and son...

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.

12.12.2010

one month...

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.


12.07.2010

baby steps...

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…”

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.

11.23.2010

i will...we will....

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.


11.13.2010

November 12th, 6:17 a.m.

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.

11.08.2010

breathe...

Take a moment…right now…take a deep breath. Inhale…you can feel your chest bellow and your tiny hairs tickle your nostrils…now exhale. Every ounce of your breath leaves and you notice a slight shift of your inner body. If you never really breathe deeply like this, you would rarely notice you were even breathing. It is so second nature and a part of our every moment that breathing is completely normal…just a part of being alive. Now…imagine one of your lungs being collapsed…all the time…and instead of your chest bellowing out with a huge sip of air, your stomach has to over compensate for your lack of lung expansion. Imagine it hurting to take a deep breath. Imagine not being able to take full breaths but only quick, short, thin ones. What would go through your mind in that moment? Would you panic? There is no way you could not notice such a change in your breathing pattern because this would be out of the norm for you. What would you do?

Last night, John and I did not sleep. John a lot less than myself. Poor thing…he is exhausted. His coughing during the night was unmanageable and he sat up periodically to clear his lungs of all the mucus build up or to adjust his back. Every position, every breath, just about everything is uncomfortable. We slept some of the morning and early afternoon and were completely fatigued. We drained later that afternoon and that is when his breath was seemingly knocked out of him. He was panting with short, shallow and quick breaths. It was all mid-drain and he turned to me and said, “I feel like I just got done running a marathon.” I quickly grabbed the oxygen mask that sits bedside and hooked it around his ears. I finished the drain, cleaned his wounds and called our hospice nurse, Robyn. She advised me to give him a few meds that would get everything under control as she came quickly to the house. All the while, John was completely calm. By the time she arrived, everything was back to normal. Remember, normal to John is not the normal we know. She even said it looks as though his breathing resembles that of an asthma patient. Even when he is in complete rest, he cannot seem to take deep sips of air. His voice is slowly going as well. I noticed today he was whispering a lot more rather than the cracked speech he has had this past week. On top of all this, his sister was not feeling well and ended up in the ER. She is fine now…thank goodness…but this day all in all felt terrible.

My heart is sad right now…it has been for quite a while now. It is not controlling this journey but rather a part of it. We must continue to try despite the looming sadness…we must continue to laugh…we must maintain our strength for him…we must keep fighting. Moreover, we must continue to take a minute and recognize our own breath...appreciate every inhale and every exhale…I know he does.

11.07.2010

take my hand...

It is an interesting feeling knowing I have extended my hand to take you along on this journey and the support is showing no signs of slowing down. Though we do not reveal everything on this blog…we do tell you a lot. There are still certain aspects of this life that deserve to stay sacred between a husband and wife but it does not mean we have/will not be honest. We do not hide much…there is no need to. What we are feeling and what happens in our day to day is something that should be talked about…maybe it will help someone out there realize something…anything in their life that could be altered or improved upon because of this electronic diary. That is fine…why not? We have always been an open book and now with this battle, it is even more magnified and less controlled. Our pain is felt, our tears are seen, and our love is read…here…every emotion is put here…in our own words.

We still cannot get over the fact this is happening. We cry every single day. One of us will start and the other will follow closely behind. It is hard to watch my sweet angel fall apart. I try to stay strong and smile as often as I can in front of him…to try and cry by myself…but the moment I see his tears, I feel mine roll down my already damp cheeks. This is not getting any easier and emotionally, we get pummeled to the ground with every passing day. It does not mean we do not try to press on and keep moving. John did get out of the house this weekend…we went to the mall because he wanted to. His mom, sister, John and I went for a walk around an incredibly busy mall…all in his wheelchair. I could see him in the front seat of the car on the way to the mall and back home...soaking it all in . Every so often, he would close his eyes as if he was really feeling the heat of the sun shining through the passenger window on his skin and taking in that moment to its fullest extent. It was a beautiful thing to watch. All in all, it was a good weekend…as good as it can be for what he is going through.

For those of you still reading and still following…thank you for continually taking my hand.

11.05.2010

his day...

Yesterday was John’s day…and it was wonderfully relaxing. Like I said in the previous post, there was no agenda. We had a few visitors who all came to show their love to him. Lots of hugs, kisses, stories and birthday wishes floated around the house. John was able to get out of bed for a while and enjoy everyone who stopped by. He read several cards with their sweet messages and enjoyed a special cake, made just for him...thank you Steph's mom.


There was another beautiful, little gift waiting outside for John that afternoon too...


We usually sleep, eat, and talk about cancer day to day, but John’s birthday had nothing to do with that disgusting disease. It is unbelievable how something can dictate your every waking thought and movement…but yesterday it all went away. Today was just as pleasant and we are trying to keep that trend into the weekend. The plan is to go to the mall tomorrow…only if he is feeling at his best. We will have the wheelchair in tow and will try to brace ourselves for the cold weather. The Floridian blood still runs through us and it already feels a lot like winter here. :) Thank you again for sending your sweet words to John these past few days...it means the world to us. John also received this amazing video from my beautiful coworkers/family back in Florida...please click, watch and enjoy...we did. :)


11.03.2010

tomorrow...

Tomorrow is John’s 28th birthday. We will be celebrating as much as we can with family and friends by our side. There are no set plans, no set menu, and no set itinerary…we will figure that out soon enough…it is just time to celebrate the birth of an amazing, beautiful, loving, incredible man. He has held on and fought so hard…continuing to amaze me every day. He is still very sore from the fall two days ago, but has kept pushing on. Yesterday, we walked up and down the street two times…all his idea. With my help, arm in arm, we took a walk. We said nothing at all…just walked…it was absolute perfection.

So we raise our glasses…to you John…happy birthday my sweet angel. I love you more than you will ever know and could ever imagine. Thank you for being my husband, my best friend, and in my heart forever. I adore every ounce of you...and I am not the only one.

11.01.2010

the weekend...

There is no separation in our days anymore. They all run together and to differentiate between weekdays and weekends are nonexistent. The title should be “the past few days” but since the rest of the world is on a schedule…I will try to be as well. Weekends mean family and friends are around more often and we do not have to think about appointments for a little while. Draining his chest fluid and keeping the leaking under control were what consumed the other parts of our days…just like any other day. John’s breathing is starting to get erratic. When he would get up and get a drink of water, I noticed his breathing was heavier in the past…now even in rest, it has gotten worse. I constantly offer the oxygen sitting in the next room to bring him some sort of comfort and he always refused…until today. “It is uncomfortable…I don’t want it,” he would reply. The tubes sat awkwardly in his nose at the hospital but we still tried here. He finally gave in today and we hooked it up next to his bedside. Right now, it is whatever John wants or wishes to do. I feel bad offering as much as I do because I know he wants to keep his sense of independence and know he can still do things for himself. It is becoming less and less of him putting up a fight and saying he can do it on his own…because he cannot anymore. He still tries…and I am still learning to have those boundaries of letting him try. Yesterday was a good, relaxing day for the two of us. I went and ran some errands with the girls in the area and John stayed up the entire day watching football here at home. I missed him every second. Just being away from him those few hours was difficult but at the same time, he pushed me to get out of the house. We reconvened in our bedroom last night and talked about how much we missed each other for those few short hours we were apart. It is hard not to when we spend every second of the day together.

Today was an extremely difficult day. I cannot even begin to describe the emotions. John and I went to his regularly scheduled Monday morning appointment to check how his hemoglobin was faring since the blood transfusion the week before. We got the good news that afternoon letting us know he was holding strong at 11.1. We had discussed over the weekend to go look at funeral homes together because he wanted to be a part of that journey…understandably so. Wouldn’t you want to be? As we started our walk up to the door of the first home, we held hands for strength…both emotionally and physically. He has been having a hard time walking without holding on to something/someone for balance lately, so I was mindful of that. We got to the front door…I had one hand and his other had the railing…and I let go….for one second…I let go to open the door. I hear him desperately say my name and I turn around to find him falling backwards. I quickly reached out for him but was not fast enough…my heart began to race as I knelt down next to him on the ground…cringing in pain. He fell. I let go of him and he in turn released the railing and fell. I kept asking him if he needed an ambulance as he fell incredibly hard on his tail bone and hit his head the rest of the way down. I felt and still feel responsible/terrible. I got him into the car to start making our way to the ER and John refused to go. He said he was fine and did not need to go…he just wanted to go back home. I got him in bed, sitting up against a few pillows, and made sure not to let him sleep…or if he did, wake him up every few minutes. My mind was a mess…I could not believe what happened today and thank goodness, John is okay. We are both emotionally beat down after today…anticipating the funeral arrangements and then the fall…it took a lot out of us…a lot out of him…he has the strength of a million men…to go what he is going through and still have his tenacity is unreal to be a part of. I think we both cried more today than we have since arriving here in Indiana. It has been gut wrenching. Though we cried a lot today…we kissed and hugged even more. In the midst of our tears, John would grab my cheeks and kiss me…or our foreheads would meet and we would lean in for a kiss…or our hands would touch and we would embrace one another. Today was painful, but those things and embraces from Megan and Susie made it hurt less.

Today is the first day of November and that means John’s 28th birthday is Thursday. What to get for the perfect man? I have no idea…every time anyone asks, he replies, “Nothing.” I just want to give him the world…give him anything to keep him with me, his hurting family and damaged friends….hold him to make all hurt go away…my angel. 28 on November 4…November 4, 1982 is the day of his birth and the best day in the history of the world…that was the day John was born…from there, he took the trail that led him to me…and for that, I am forever grateful.

10.28.2010

touching...

John and I have never been shy about how much we love each other. Since we knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, it has never been a secret…especially not to each other. We are not the over  the top couple who cannot keep their hands off each other in public, but we do steal kisses, hold hands, and constantly take a moment to touch no matter where we were. I would have my arm under his or run my hand on his back and rub his bald head…he would always have his hand on my leg driving around town or brush his hand on my arm…all this to say “I love you” without saying anything at all. The touch I will miss the most is his hand on my face. He would grab my cheeks to kiss me or when I cry he put one hand on the side of my face to comfort me. His rough, large, shaky hands on my face would always make the world go away and make everything well again…if only for that minute. Now, as we sit here and cry several times a day, I grab his hand and put it on the side of my cheek for him. Weaker and sobbing himself, his still shaking hands on my face are now thinner but still full of so much love. To help him with my touch, there are constant foot rubs, back rubs, embraces, head rubs…anything and everything to keep my energy on him. Just saying I love you is not enough…showing him and comforting him with my love is just as significant. We usually fall asleep holding hands…again, all trying to fill him full of my energy. The power of a person’s touch is an amazing thing…many do not realize how much sweet energy they can give someone just from a simple touch.

Something else very touching to our family is the outpouring of love from this blog. Getting random messages from those we have never met is extraordinary. Those who take the time to write encouraging words, love, prayers, mention us on their own blogs, become followers of our blog, and who just plain read about our story are all incredibly thoughtful. Thank you too. I always thank our family and friends and I must thank you as well. You know who you are…I do not know you either, but thank you for taking the time to read and follow. It means more than you know. Here is the beautiful man we are all fighting for…family, friends, and strangers alike.


10.26.2010

week three...

Yesterday marked our third week in Indiana. It has flown by and the change in John’s appearance is so much more evident since our arrival. Through these three weeks it has become harder and harder to build his appetite and to keep things from seemingly “going wrong.” John said those two words yesterday after an incredibly hard weekend. “Why is everything going wrong on top of what we are dealing with?” he sobbed. I wish I had some sort of answer for him and it hurts to know he is feeling this with this avalanche of disparity wanting to devour him in these final moments. 

The weekend was not what we expected. We were hoping for a relaxing, problem free few days and instead, his side started giving him issues. We noticed the slow ooze coming out of an old incision on Friday night in the form of a dark, yellow pus. Sorry…a little graphic…I know. Later that night, John shakes me awake and turns on the lamp next to our bed. He had bled through the bandage we put on hours before…through his shirt…through the sheets to the down comforter underneath. He looked shocked…and so was I. There was blood everywhere. I kept asking him if he was in any pain and he kept assuring me he was not, but the area to the touch was a completely different story…it was painful. We quickly took the bandages off to see what was happening to the incision site that originally started as a pin hole. It had expanded further through the slit that was originally scabbed over and was now like a leaky faucet. It did not stop flowing no matter how many gauze pads I stacked and taped on top of it. Every hour on the hour, he would bleed through and we would be awake to strip another set of sheets and try to somehow slow down the continuous flow. It was such a long, agonizing night…finally morning came and we called Robyn, our hospice nurse, to come quickly to the house. She taught me how to bandage it tightly and brought different supplies (thicker, more durable pads) to keep it from leaking every hour. I asked her where the fluid was from and she said it could be any number of things, but we have to continue to let the “bad stuff” come out. It is completely understandable…there would be no reason to stitch him up because his body just wants to push it out… stitching it could cause it to want to come from somewhere else, in turn, causing him more pain.

With all this…John still wanted to make the effort to get out of the house. Getting out of the house is his favorite thing in the world. He pushes himself to get on his feet, get dressed, and move. He wants to move. I cry every time he tells me he wants to do things on his own because I know he does not want to lose that part of himself. This is becoming less and less….and I cannot tell you how difficult it is to realize. One giant step John took this weekend was going out to dinner with friends. He wanted so badly to have a night with friends to eat, laugh, and again, get out of the house. He was there…but I know he was not completely comfortable. The ringing in his ears was louder than ever, the weight loss has caused sitting for any amount of time to be excruciating, and he is slowly losing his voice which made the conversations in the loud restaurant harder than normal. Here we are...with his sister Megan and her husband Chad.


Sunday came and both of us were completely exhausted and we had to keep a close eye on his dressing. On top of this, we continued to drain…and on top of that, John’s feet were swollen and needed to be elevated. Monday at the doctor proved that his counts were at 8.8 and the doctor ordered a transfusion for later that afternoon. We were there over 6 hours and were craving to leave the hospital quickly…it just felt longer than expected. 

Can he have a break now? I am pretty sure he has enough to deal with and has enough on his plate than having to now deal with this. He realizes all these things are happening because his mind is still very much here….and he cannot seem to control the downward spiral his body is taking him on. He loathes what is happening…as do I. His sweet spirit is taking a beating yet he continues to press on. If anything, he is not going to stop fighting until the very last second…and with that, we all continue to rally around him to do the same.

10.22.2010

patches of love....

A little gift from Florida came in the mail today....


It was perfectly stitched together with photos of our life together, Dallas Cowboys patches, and little comments of encouragement and love all over the back. What a great way to go into the weekend. I also heard from a good friend of mine today stating there was another gift headed our way from our Chicago, Tampa/Brandon, and Minnesota friends. I am beyond speechless and thankful. How can I put into words how appreciative I am in this moment to every single one of you. All of this to support our journey and all without batting an eye. Thank you friends....thank you for being so amazing.

10.20.2010

make it easier...

It is unbelievable…how can this ever be easy? What hand did we get dealt in life that makes this okay? We said forever….and that is what I want. I want him forever. I want us to last forever…or until I would go first at a very old age. I am sitting by…helpless…watching this happen. I want time to come to a slow crawl. I want each hour to seem like an eternity and I want his smell to linger in my nose every second of the day. I am being self-seeking…I know. I hate that I feel this way but selfishly, I want him to be here. I know there will come a time when he has to go…but the last thing I want to think about is that time. It is hard not to…but I try. I am trying to compose myself…to stay strong…to laugh…to allow myself to break down and feel…to listen to music…to realize this is happening without it consuming me…to feel my heart breaking. My heart is breaking. Make it stop…make it all easier. My sweet love. My angel. My life. He is my life.

10.18.2010

continue...

It has been a few days…and the blog has taken a back seat. I want to always update, write, vent, let go…but there are other things that have occupied my time and my mind this weekend…understandably so. We have had constant visitors from family and friends here in Indiana and a few from out of town. It was good to have everyone gathered in support of what John is going through right now.

John has changed a lot since arriving in Indiana two weeks ago. He is continuing to lose weight even though we try to stay on top of his eating habits. He is not as hungry as he used to be. The oncologist here prescribed steroids last week and slowly we are seeing his appetite rise…slightly. I am constantly asking him if he wants toast, jello, ice cream…anything to balance the array of medicines he has to put in his body to keep him comfortable. Though he does not always feel nauseous, he throws up often. It has been a chore for him to keep nutrition down no matter how many times we take nausea medicine. John has always had shaky hands and now it is more evident. Anything he picks up is hard to handle and usually falls from his grasp. The evident frustration with himself is hard to watch. He finds himself dazing in and out of consciousness/daydreaming thinking it is real life and starts to talk about them like it just happened. Bringing him back to reality is difficult because he then realizes what he just discussed is not really happening…and he becomes disheartened. It is hard on him. It is hard on us to watch. He feels like he is losing his memory and short term occurrences and to him, some never happened. His moans and twitches in his slumber are becoming more frequent and he speaks often of his family and friends in his discussions as he sleeps. He points, runs, talks, laughs, sighs, cries out, sweats and shakes all in his sleep. This process is exhausting for him because he usually wakes himself up when he jerks too hard and hurts his left side. I feel every movement he makes and hear every sound he cries every night and am right there with him…to comfort him when he wakes feeling hurt or sick to his stomach after an awakening jolt. We are both tired.

He has always said “thank you” throughout this journey…and lately, it is more often. I continually thank him in return. He has fought so hard and his body seems to want to give out on him but his heart and mind do not. Today was difficult…John spit out blood. This is the first time this has ever happened. I realized it when I looked in his spit cup that sits next to him on the night stand. I turned to him and asked, “Baby…is this blood?” He looked at me and said, “I think so…it has been red like that all day.” It sent chills down my spine. Since the start of chemo, John has always had a large mucus build up in his lungs and it increasingly became worse with the fluid drainage followed by the expansion of his lungs. Never has it been deep red like this and never was it blood. Even with this…all the draining…all the blood loss…his hemoglobin is still holding at 10.1. This morning we went to see if he needed a transfusion and found out he did not. It is dipping slowly, but definitely not as fast (every other day was a transfusion) as it was in the hospital just two short weeks ago.

The dark cloud is looming. My thoughts are all over the place. Some days I feel as though I can conquer the world and be a strong wife to my ailing husband and others, I feel like crawling in a hole and screaming my head off. What dream am I in? More like…what nightmare? There is the never ending thoughts of what things will look like when he is gone…what the following weeks will look like as we continue to fight…or how can I just save him from all this and celebrate some sort of miracle. I am praying I do not lose him before he is gone…I keep telling him not to forget me or my voice when his mind starts to slip further away from me whether if it is from the cocktail of medicines or the cancer taking over. My heart breaks as I look into his eyes and see his hurt and knowledge of leaving. His love is as big as his beautiful spirit and I know he is trying…I know there are so many with us still trying. All of us have our hands on John and we are lifting him up. It makes me sick to actually feel my heart breaking a little each day as I miss him so much already. We are weary and battered my friends…thank you for your continued support and prayers. We continue to fight even though there are no more medical options for John…we just continue.

10.15.2010

an unexpected surprise...

Emily Anderson...the beautiful soul who took our "after wedding/engagement" photos one month before John was diagnosed sent me something even more wonderful last night...it brought us to tears. I wanted to share it with all of you today...enjoy.




Also...please feel free to join/help/read about her and her wonderfully giving family in their journey of adopting a little girl on their blog. Much love wonderful family and friends.

10.14.2010

good morning...

I am feeling so much this morning…so much. I am almost overwhelmed. I am thinking about our family and friends this morning. How did we get so lucky? We are the two most fortunate people in the world right now. Everyone we know and love has been so selfless throughout this entire journey and I could not be more grateful. I am feeling emotional right now. Thank you all for loving us and helping in our fight…emotionally, spiritually, monetarily, I could go on and on…all without batting an eye. Because of ALL of you, I have been able to focus all my energy on the person who needs it most in this season…John. So as I sit here, cup of steaming coffee on one side of me, John and our puppy sleeping on the other…I am beyond thankful.

10.12.2010

diary...

I realized this is my diary. I never really kept a diary when I was young…not even a journal. I would always start one, keep it for a few weeks and put it down to never write in it again. Anything that I did write would be forgotten or would remain a distant memory. I wish I would have started a blog about my life…from the beginning…to look back on every day with fond and loving recollections….especially the life I shared with John. What this man has brought to me is nothing short of amazing seconds, minutes, hours and days. Since meeting one Thanksgiving almost seven years ago, he has been in my heart every day since then. No matter when the thoughts started coming through my fingers into words, the years prior I filed in my mind. I am glad I started this blog….I am glad we have amazing people to read along with us….I am even more humbled by those who have been touched in some way…but more than anything, I am beyond happy that John is a part of my life. I will never say “was” no matter when I speak my profound happiness with him or of him. To me, it will always be “is” because I know he will never leave…any of us really. When you have a spirit like his, those “-isms”, smiles, jokes, thoughtful sayings and sweet baby blues…they are all carried on…just like many others we have all loved in the past, but to me…this will be different. He is my one true love…my soul mate…my sweet angel.

He lies here next to me…having a hard time sleeping too. His noises, movements, night sweats, dreams and coughing all keep him from really delivering his body the sleep it needs at night. He finds himself sleeping most of the day and barely keeping his eyes open. Sleep is a large part and a majority of his life now. When he is awake for brief moments, he says hi to visitors or plays a quick game but then drifts back out. Many times, we continue to stand or sit around him…talking about the amazing man lying before us, as he drifts in and out of his own consciousness. It is amazing how his mind keeps fighting and his loving voice staggers into conversations midstream. His body is weaker and his breath is wheezy…it is hard to listen to because he never smoked a day in his life and was an active twenty seven year old man. I know this will never be easy…ever. There is nothing easy about what he has gone through these past eight months either. I will see him again…I know I will, but for now…I keep these thoughts flowing and keep loving this perfect creature.

My thoughts are all over the place…can you feel it? I am just writing…anything that comes to mind, I just wanted to let out. Thank you everyone…it feels good to know we have so much love, prayers and support flooding our way….keep them coming my dear friends…we continue to fight with that, no matter what the suggested outcome.

10.10.2010

fatigue...

I am not sleeping…period. I cannot seem to find my mind, control it long enough, and go to sleep without having to think about all the things happening in this moment. I am constantly making sure John is okay and every little movement he makes…I am awake. His convulsions and active dreams are becoming more and more frequent and longer throughout the night. It is hard to say at this point whether it is the mix of medications he is taking or cancer continuing to conquer his beaten body. This is something we are going to discuss with his nurses and doctors here first thing tomorrow morning. There is no reason he should have to feel anything but euphoric these final steps of his journey and I know his care takers will make sure of this….as it is a trial and error process with any medications one takes.

So, the short of it is…I am worn down. BUT…so is he and he rages on in his fight…and so will I. We are very fortunate to have so many who love our bubble we have formed around us and who will protect us whole heartedly. There are those same people who love us individually as well. They know what each one of us need in a given moment and who hold our hands through times when we need to talk and cry. I have many of these people in my corner…and I know many others in John’s.  We have had many visitors every day in this home and we are so thankful for every one of them. My brother and sister in law were here this weekend and even more love was stuffed into this house if you can imagine that. It feels good to have my family around with John’s…my mom and my dad included…it feels good to know all of these people adore John just as much as I do and who are also here for me too. Love, prayers, laughter and why not, a little more love. We feel it all.

This week we will continue to check his hemoglobin which has held strong since we left Florida and make sure his comfort is at the forefront of our daily concerns. Cancer is taking a toll on John just as it would anyone with the amount he has to endure. His appetite is not as high and his nausea is a continuous battle…have I mentioned the draining? He has several more swollen lymph nodes popping up on his body and each one is the reminder of what he is experiencing. We know what is happening but it does not make it any easier to see it take a charge on the love of your life. It is hard to stand by and watch with helpless eyes….I love him…more than anything in this world, I love him.

10.08.2010

my heart...

There is not a countdown here…we have to enjoy the time we have left with him. If there was an expiration date, it would take away from the fact that he is still here. There is always going to be the natural wonder of when, how, and what it will look like…but why is no longer a part of the questions I ask. I know where I will be too…that is definitely a given. If the consumption of the previous when, how and what were entertained in the least bit, John’s spirit would be robbed of its giving energy and he deserves more than that from me…from his wife. How much longer do we have with John? I do not know…nor do I care. I will make every minute of every day seem like an eternity in my thoughts and he will never leave me….he will never be a brief thought in the daily grind when I get back to what will seem to be a life after him…he will forever be etched in my heart and on my mind. He deserves this from me. There will always be a familiarity of his smell, of his touch, of his voice, of his face, of his love…running rampant inside of my soul. He still, to this day, thanks me for taking care of him…I have always replied back in greater thanks. “Thank you for taking care of my heart,” I say every time. Just because he cannot do the physical things he would do in the past that he considered taking care of his little family, he has always and has continued to take care of my heart….and he has done an incredible job of doing so.

10.07.2010

our second home...

It has taken me a while to write this post. I started it on the plane ride to Indianapolis and have been working on it every night since then. As you can see….we have made it home. Indiana will always have a sense of home to the two of us. This is where he grew up, where his entire family resides, where my parents moved to when I went off to college and where we met. We agreed since the day he was diagnosed that we would end up here if there were no other options in his treatment…and here we are, resting in the Kennemore household. We were welcomed with open arms by his sister, Megan, and her husband, Chad, to stay as long as we needed and to make their home our home. For this, we will forever be grateful. There is a tremendous sense of comfort being here…in this home…with our family.

Leaving Florida was impossible to say the least. Since John’s release from the hospital late Friday night, we said our goodbyes to our friends in Florida the entire weekend. It was a revolving door of friends, food, love, family, strength, tears and laughter. Laughter is something we needed most that weekend because the realization that many might not see him again was too hard to bare. Hour after hour was met with a trip up the stairs to go see John in bed, say their few words and moments later, the descent back down the stairs to meet others also in shambles. One by one, every person got their moment with John. We never could have imagined how difficult this weekend could have been….and we are about to do it again in Indiana. With each visit, we realized the trip was getting closer and the moments with friends in Florida were drawing to a close. It was like a ripple effect. I have never heard so many, “I am so sorry” avowals whispered in my ear as I did this weekend. The harsh reality of his weakening was becoming more and more evident. The fleeting thoughts of flight and transport in the moment were consumed with what was to happen in the coming days.

Monday morning came in a hurry…we stepped onto the plane and John was incredibly strong throughout the ride. We thankfully arrived to family and friends with the same open arms we left in our home in Florida. Since our arrival, we have been draining the bloody fluid from his chest every day and without fail, there is more and its consistency is even thicker. We had a scheduled blood transfusion Tuesday morning and found out his hemoglobin was holding strong. All of this despite the amount of fluid we are getting from his body. It fared well. Hospice was also waiting for us to arrive and pain management is an important part of this leg of the journey.

He has been under the stress of knowing what is happening and faithfully, he does not waiver. His head is held as high as he can in a moment like this and his love still permeates the room. I do not know how he does it. I really do not know how he can know how the chips are falling and yet, he tries so hard to be the best companion he can be. I have thanked him for fighting and for being the bravest person I have ever met every chance I get….and I will do the same unto you. I have always said it and I will say it again…thank you. Thank you to those who have supported us throughout this journey. The selflessness and love shown by all of you has been amazing and we honestly could not have done it without all of you. Even just reading this shows a great deal of care even though many have no idea who we are…that is a gift. It takes a village….and with his caring sister and loving mother in tow….we arrived in Indianapolis with the utmost power and fight we can unearth within ourselves. It is not over. He is still here. He is still who we all want to save right now. Though we can try and pretend it does not hurt. We can pretend it is not happening. We can say how much we all just want this to stop and go away. We can yell and scream with tears flooding our eyes. We can do all of these things, but the reality of it is….this is what we are going through. Though rough and completely overwhelming, we still have each other for these moments along with the power of our family and friends backing us every step of the way.

10.02.2010

our song...

Sail away with me honey
I put my heart in your hands
Sail away with me honey now, now, now
Sail away with me
What will be will be
I wanna hold you now

Crazy skies all wild above me now
Winter howling at my face
And everything I held so dear
Disappeared without a trace
Oh all the times I've tasted love
Never knew quite what I had
Little Darling if you hear me now
Never needed you so bad
Spinning round inside my head

Sail away with me honey
I put my heart in your hands
Sail away with me honey now, now, now
Sail away with me
What will be will be
I wanna hold you now

I've been talking drunken gibberish
Falling in and out of bars
Trying to get some explanation here
For the way some people are
How did it ever come so far

Sail away with me honey
I put my heart in your hands
Sail away with me honey now, now, now
Sail away with me
What will be will be
I wanna hold you now
Sail away with me honey
I put my heart in your hands
Sail away with me honey now, now, now
Sail away with me
What will be will be
I wanna hold you now