Five weeks ago, my dear wife of 46 years passed away suddenly and quite unexpectedly in her sleep. All signs point to a peaceful passing, most likely due to undiagnosed heart/circulatory problems. I found her unresponsive and cold the next morning when her alarm was going off and she wasn't turning it off and getting up.
She had retired from government service in 2018, and we were just getting into our retired lives together when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer of the head and neck in July of 2019. She underwent extensive surgery to remove tumors and lymph nodes and do reconstructive plastic surgery that August. Once she was sufficiently recovered from that, in September, she started 6 weeks of radiation therapy, with 2 doses of chemotherapy. After that, she had several months of hydration sessions, sometimes 3 times a week, and had to rely exclusively on a feeding tube for her hydration and nutrition needs. The pain, discomfort, and suffering that she endured was truly epic, and it broke my heart that I could do no more than be with her and hold her hand.
By February of this year her recovery from the effects of the radiation and chemo treatments was progressing, and a whole-body PET scan showed no signs of any cancer anywhere, so we were hopeful that her e=recovery would be complete. The soreness and dryness of her mouth was slowly improving, and she was able to have the feeding tube removed and could eat some foods and drink liquids again. She was regaining some of her strength and starting to resume some of her favorite activities like making jewelry and working in the yard or gardening or swimming in the pool. Day by day, she was getting a little better, even amid the constraints posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the year wore on, and Autumn arrived, we were planning a day trip to go view the leaves changing along the Skyline Dive in Shenandoah National Park.
On her last day, we spent the day working in the yard, with me mowing the lawn while she trimmed up a garden plot at the back of our house. As we finished our respective tasks, we took time to sit for awhile in our swing in front of our house and enjoy the mild weather and each other's company. She showed me pictures on her phone that she had taken of several monarch butterflies around our butterfly bushes, a pass-time that she never tired of. Then she went inside to get cleaned up while I put away our tools and things.
That night, after watching a few shows on TV, we prepared for bed. I was having back problems, so I would sleep in my recliner in our living room while my wife slept in our bedroom. When she was ready, we said our good nights and went to our respective rests. Oh, how I wish I had been with her that night. I don't know if it would have made any difference, but I wouldn't feel so much like I had abandoned her to go through her final battle alone.
Now, with the passage of 5 weeks, it doesn't hurt so much any more; I just feel numb, lonely and sad. I put on a brave face and try to show the world that I am making it, but it feels more like I'm faking it.
After reading what you wrote, I would never think you were faking anything. You only, 5 short weeks ago, suffered a loss of a relationship, a wonderful sounding relationship, that lasted in marriage for 46 memory filled years. I'm sure that it began even before the marriage. That you're able to put into words, your thoughts about such a loss is remarkable and very genuine as well, I'd say. Your words truly ring of truth.
It's a shame that you're left to carry on alone now. Those "Golden Years" sound as if they were just being realized for the both of you but now, the gold has tarnished some it seems. I hope that, in time, you'll come to realize that you did all that you could have done and I'm sure that she likely realized it too.
I found a quote I'd like to share with you. Not that I know you but I know something of the feeling that grief and loss bring to us all. Wishes for comfort I send thee. The quote follows. Shalom
“There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief.” - Aeschylus
It's nice to be important but it's more important to be nice.