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Love can hurt

I got divorced in the middle 90's and never looked to or expected to fall in love. Several months after my divorce my dad committed suicide which made things much more difficult. I never had time to deal with the emotion of the event, working a job, working my farm, taking over the family business, and taking care of my mom consumed every moment of every day. Then 1 day I was blindsided with sadness and tears, they would not stop. I had to take some time to be alone with my feelings and let them flow through. The anger, the happy memories, the many holidays together, and the feelings of being alone. There were several friends who helped me through this time, including my x wife and I am grateful for them all.


Then one day I got a random email from a woman who was looking for someone to pen pal with. I had a couple of bad experiences with meeting folks on the internet and was not real excited to meet anyone else. Well we just emailed for over a year. I found myself so looking forward to getting home to read and reply to this person, she seemed to be real and we had much in common. One day she asked if we could have coffee at a bookstore she knew I frequented and I agreed. It was a magic night. We knew each other well and now the sparks of physical attraction were kicking in. 


After my divorce someone asked my what my definition of love was and I had never put it into words. My first experience was when my oldest son was born, he loved me not because of how much money I made or what kind of car I drove or where I lived, he loved me unconditionally, just because I showed up. My first marriage was built on infatuation and not love because I did not know what it was. I knew I was falling in love very quickly. She was  childhood diabetic which meant she had health issues going in. She took very good care of herself and was working hard to be healthy. I have some issues that needed to be constantly taken care of myself so the health issues were not a consideration to move forward for me. 


After several years of dating I asked her to marry me. We were at Universal studios and had just gotten off a water ride. Soaking wet I got on 1 knee, in front of many many people and asked her to marry me, she said yes. I was overwhelmed by the applause from the folks watching!


For 10 years we never had an argument and everything was fluid and easy. Then I got sick, cancer. She got scared and we had our first argument, It was easy to get past. After almost 3 years of chemo I was in remission. 1 month later she was in kidney failure. She was on dialysis for a year and received a kidney and pancreas transplant a year later. A new kidney and no longer a diabetic things were looking bright. She was only having to take anti rejection immunosuppressants.


We lived full lives, never wasting a moment. I was close to reaching all my retirement goals and thats when the news of cancer for her came up. The immunosuppressants increased the chances for her getting cancer. It was breast cancer, a kind there is no cure for only lifelong treatments which did not work for everyone. We tackled that like every other health issue from the past. Positive attitudes and hard work and prayer were our game plan. Things did not go well for her in treatment, the cancer continued to spread. Surgery was devastating for her, and the chemo was killing her liver. I can't count the number of surgeries and hospitalizations she had during her last 3 years. She was faced with the decision of being sick on chemo or quitting and having some good days till the end. She opted for some good days which we spent doing the things we love and spending as much time as she could with our grandchildren. A year ago I retired so I could be with her every day. After a year and a half she was failing. At the end I asked her if she wanted to go to the hospital, she said no. I then told her I loved her and she weakly replied she loved me to, her last words to me. She passed away less than 8 hours later, at home. She was only in a hospital bed for 6 hours, she hated the hospital, and I don't think she knew she was in one. I held her hand as she took her last labored breath and I cried quietly. I swiftly took care of the business of her passing without much emotion.


It was not too many days later I was emotionally overwhelmed. All the feelings of the last few years were coming rapid fire. I knew I was going to make it through but it is not easy. Real love exposes the heart to real pain. 2 weeks before she passed she bought me a German Shepard puppy, she must have known I would need the dog, Sophia, and am so grateful to have her. I spend a lot of time alone with the dog. It is hard for me to talk with anyone and not mention Debbie. I am working really hard to process this. I still cry suddenly. I still wake up looking for her. She was my perfect mate. I am trying to make new memories, but her memory still dominates my thoughts. She will always be with me no mater what. 


My time with the grandchildren is different now, it's almost like they are avoiding making me sad and they don't say much. I love to be with them, hug them, kiss them and be a part of their life. i know they will heal too, but children deal with loss much differently than adults. I will keep going. I will be of service to others. And I will always love Debbie.

Regular Contributor

Many people don't like them, but there are always hotlines you can call for free to talk about your feelings. And you can remain anonymous.


Hi, Steve, I wanted to send you my heartfelt condolences and wish you peace as you remember your good and not so good times.  I was a primary caregiver myself and relived the pain as I read your experiences.  You have gone through a lot and as a stranger reminded me, if you had not been there as the caregiver, your husband (wife in your case) lived longer and hopefully with some quality of life.  At least she told you she loved you in the end.  Treasure and remember the love you shared and seek additional support.  I have reached out to cancer support groups that provide a forum for those of us who went through the horrors of cancer.  Stay strong and know you are in transition to a new you as you grieve your wife. Sue

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