Goodbye My Love

“What do you want to do?”

We had been walking in the woods. In the woods the reception is bad so they can’t reach you with bad news. The phone rang anyway. It was the doctor. In tears, almost whispering, “I’m so sorry Richard. She’s gone.” I don’t really remember the rest of the conversation. It was short. I was crying.

James, our 5 year old son, was watching me from the path up ahead. I hung up the call and knelt down in front of him. “Mommy’s dead.” We hugged.

“I want to go home now.”

They say you only receive the challenges you’re able to endure.

Kristy, my beautiful and playful wife, passed away on January 4th. Peacefully.

She endured almost five years of hell. Cycles of toxic treatments followed by weeks of agonizing recovery. On top of the weight of chemo was the load of multiple surgeries, transfusions, and a dozen procedures to stem the malignant tide. She endured for as long as she was able.

I’ve learned that almost everyone is impacted by cancer. Every family has a story. Everyone has endured its pain.

Cancer is a thief. It’s steals your strength, your patience, your money, your intimacy, but mostly it steals your time. James never knew his mother without cancer. It stole his mother. It stole the memories that were yet to be created.

But, as fate would have it, James is here. He is pure joy. He falls asleep singing to himself, and wakes up giggling. He’s the first person to laugh at a silly joke and squeals with delight at the smallest amusement. This is Kristy’s legacy. This is what she left for us. Cancer did not steal that.

Nor did cancer steal the lessons that remain. Lessons I hope I won’t soon forget. My expectations of what we deserve was replaced with what we are grateful for. In the darkest hours I started painting again. I sketched with James and we walked in the woods again. I turned off the TV and we read more. I called friends. I cried. I felt all of my buried emotions well up. It split me open. It was horrible but it made me want to live a better life.

In honor of Kristy’s life, and the lives of all the people who loved her, I’ll be riding the PanMass Challenge this year. Please donate if you can, and help us find an answer to the questions cancer asks of us.

Hug your people. Life is short. ❤

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