Sometimes you need a reminder of the reasons you make the choices that you do in your life. I received a reminder of how i got here from a facebook friend through a private message after my last blog post. I asked her if i could share it with you, and she graciously agreed, so here it is.
Hi hon, I just read your latest blog post and I’m so sorry your journey through grief seems so never-ending. I want you to know a little story I’ve never shared with anyone about a relationship I had in my 20’s.
A mutual friend introduced me to a guy he knew who was too shy to ask me out. He was in his 30’s and bald. He was a naval architect and designed paddle wheel river boats.
We began dating, and not too far into it, maybe around the 3rd date, he told me he had cancer in his spine and was on chemo. He said that’s why sometimes he felt off, and might be a little sick for a few days.
At the time I didn’t understand anything about cancer, had never seen a dead person, never been around illness much at all. It freaked me out and after a couple months I started to avoid him.
I made excuses why I couldn’t go out. I was busy, I’d be out of town. I had already made other plans..
He was the sweetest man, and he’d already told me he loved me and wanted me to move in with him. I thought it was too fast..
Now that I am older I have regretted time and again the way that i treated him. That I didn’t show more compassion and empathy, that i wasn’t there for him when he needed me.
In truth, I think i did love him, I just wouldn’t give him a chance because of the cancer that scared the hell out of me.
We had one last phone call where he just wanted to know what I was up to and i told him I was heading out the door to go fishing with friends. He seemed wistful, but at peace and said “maybe someday soon we can grab a coffee and catch up? I know i put some pressure on you and came on too strong, too soon, and I’m sorry about that. So we’ll get together sometime?”
I said yes.
A couple weeks later I found out he had died.
I think of him often. During your whole entire journey with Mike I was right there with you in spirit, reliving my relationship, and wishing I’d had the courage to be the person you are. To have given my friend the kind of love he deserved. To not be the coward that deserted a good person in their time of need.
So no matter what you wish you would have done now, the truth is, you did any amazing thing for Mike and you were the kind of caregiver we all hope we might have in the end. Thank you for being an inspiration. I hope the pain of it all leaves you soon and you can be filled with fond memories instead.