Thursday, April 13, 2006

A difficult anniversary

It was three years ago the 28th of this month that my previous wife lost her battle with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML). This coming Monday (Apr. 17) would have been her 54th birthday.

This time three years ago my wife and I were picking out the hymns to be sung at her memorial service. I wrote in my journal then that, "...this level of anxiety and constantly recirculating sorrow wears me down." It was almost exactly a year since her diagnosis, and after three rounds of chemotherapy she finally achieved remission. But her remission lasted only six months, following which she relapsed. At her age and now with resistant leukemia, she was a goner. I knew it. She knew it. The oncologist knew it.

And so instead of undergoing further chemotherapy that would almost certainly prove fruitless and ultimately fatal, she decided to leave the hospital and come home to die with me by her side.

I was her lone caregiver through 102 days that we lived together in her room on the oncology ward at St. Thomas Hospital during the spring and summer of 2002 and her final six weeks at home in the spring of 2003. I don't know how I did it.

On April 15, 2003 I picked out a birthday card for my dying wife. Try to think of something tougher than that. Luckily it was the middle of the day on a Tuesday, so no one noticed the poor old man standing in the birthday card aisle with tears streaming down his face, cascading to the floor where he stood.

Now things are much better. After my wife died, I found a new wife who had also suffered the loss of her spouse, and so she can understand this difficult anniversary in a way that one one else could.

I am indeed blessed. But you know, what goes around comes around. I am now reaping my reward for all that caregiving.

1 comment:

Genevieve said...

She was so young. That's very sad.

My mother died of leukemia. She lived about a year after she was diagnosed. Despite all the advances that have been made in the treatment of the disease, it is still deadly in many cases.