Tomorrow it will be a month since she passed away, those nine days in hospice house blurred days, filled with tough choices, heartbreak, an outpouring of love and desperate moments of trying to grasp every minute with her. I can’t tell you how many times we made the drive to the hospital for treatment or other necessary appointments, the hours we sat waiting for treatment, during treatment (she called me a professional waiter). In all that time talking with nurses and Dr’s and other patients I never heard about the toxins from chemo and cancer damaging the mind. But that’s what happened to her, her mind left us before her body did, it was….horrifying, heartbreaking, never could I have prepared for that. And yes, as others feel, I am grateful that she had the buffer from the reality of what was happening to her body.
There are times when I can’t grasp my new reality, my mind shies away from the ugly truth that she died. I feel….stupid at times, even though I knew what was happening when she was in hospice house, even though her mother and I had tough conversations with the Dr, difficult choices to make about her care, when I stood over her body touching her soft skin after her last breath, I hit denial. Even as the pain of losing her brought me to my knees. There is no way I will ever be ok that this happened, that she had cancer in the first place, that she suffered as much as she did, that her greatest wish to live, was denied. My rage is a monster, something I can’t even look at for fear of what would happen.
Yes there are many blessings that came from this journey and I am grateful for every single one. The friendships that developed, the ones that grew stronger, the bonds that are now unbreakable because of her. Learning to really live in moments, to be present, engaged and grateful. I cherish every minute I spent with her, feeling so blessed and thankful that I had them.
She had wanted me to speak at her service and I thought about it, I wanted to do this for her but there was no way I could, so I will share what I wrote here:
One of the greatest blessings in my life was knowing LeiAnn. I always watched her and marveled at her heart, the way her mind worked, the kindness she effortlessly was. Over the last 17 years I have been learning the lessons of her living. Changing and growing in ways that made me more real, kinder and able to love on a deeper level. I never could find a way to show the depth of my love for her, my gratitude to her. Over the last 21 months I was able to show some of that to her. Being on this journey with her taught me a new level of respect for her, my admiration of her boundless. The determination she had to fight for her life, to live despite the cancer and chemo sickness she dealt with day in and day out was inspiring, humbling, life changing for me. During this time I think we all lived more with her, realizing how precious moments are, how fragile life is. I hope that is something we all carry with us going forward. The bond she and I had, there really is no words to describe it, she never doubted my love or dedication to her. She knew the joy I felt just being near her, the endless love I have for her. I thought I had said everything I needed or wanted to, to her but I realized I didn’t so I will now. Thank you LeiAnn, for trusting me with your care. Thank you for loving me in a way that gave me strength and courage, an understanding of who I could be, the type of person I want to be. Your support and unconditional love saved me, healed me and taught me a depth of life and love that has changed my perception of the world.
Grief is an awful thing, unrelenting, timeless. I am struggling and even saying that I am just skimming the surface of how I feel. But I learned some important lessons during her journey and I will not forget them. I know what she wants for my life, the hope she had for me and that I will use to help me along. To all our friends and family, thank you for your support and help, your love. To the people who read this, hug your loved ones, live in moments and even on the fucked up miserable days, find something to laugh about.