In the four and a half months since my beloved Doug died, I have begun to heal, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Unwillingly at first, I've begun to weave myself together as a new person, knowing very well that my experience as "Annie" will never be exactly as it was before.
This selfie shows me that light is returning to my eyes, and although I would drop everything and run into Doug's arms if he suddenly appeared, I now, once again, recognize my light, the light that exists as Annie, despite everything.
Every day I allow myself plenty of room to feel and express my honest emotions, and I also repeatedly focus my attention on the best of what was, to help me move forward. Today I want to publicly give attention to the best of Doug's medical team, the wonderful caregivers at Benefis Health System in Great Falls, Montana, USA, people who cared for Doug - and me - not only clinically but also emotionally and communally.
Just before moving into in-patient hospice care Doug surprised me one morning with a love letter he'd written for me. A couple of days later he read the letter aloud so I could record this video. I am so glad we did that! Hearing my beloved's voice and seeing the love in his eyes reminds me of how truly adored I felt, every single day of our life together.
Each time I share a post about my grief process, I receive well-meaning comments encouraging me to trust that Doug is with me, is proud of me or is okay. The thing is, I already “know” that. Very often I can sense Doug’s nearness and I’ve received messages from him, which I cherish.
What feels the most painful to me in this moment is not my mind’s understanding of where or how Doug is, but rather something that I don’t think most people talk about, or maybe even think about – it is my body’s experience of loss, the profound absence of my body’s favorite companion.
“Stop it!”… “Stop it!” Those are the last words I heard my beloved say.
Even though he was receiving a steady and very high dose of Dilauded through his pain pump, the day before he died Doug awoke in a panic about every 90 minutes, grabbing wildly for the pump so he could get an extra dose. And even though the extra dose was immediately dispensed, it was too slow to protect Doug from the intense pain that the ever-growing cancer inflicted throughout his body, from his thighs all the way up to his chin.
"You two really love each other!" ~ says someone nearly every day, whether Doug and I are shopping at an outlet mall, walking hand-in-hand to our car, smooching in the corridor at work, or visiting with his hospice nurse. And it's true; we really, really love each other. And now he's really, really dying.
How can those last two sentences be in the same paragraph, in the same life, in my life?