Archive for the 'Moving Forward But Not Forgetting' Category



Change. Only 6 letters and it carries such a huge weight, doesn’t it? Whether positive or negative, it can make such a difference in your life.

Though there have been many changes for me over the last 20+ months, they’re not all negative or sad. Though sometimes I have to remind myself of that. I’m on the Dean’s Honor List for Spring semester (3.75 GPA), and I’m eligible to apply to a student group called Phi Theta Kappa solely because of my cumulative GPA. I’ve never belonged to a student group ever, much less be more than a C average student. How cool is this?

My mock interview (a requirement for school) with Park Nicollet went supremely well, I have a very high chance of getting a job there quickly, once I’m ready to look for work.

I’ve been able to figure out financially how to not work this summer with little to no dipping into my investments (25 years at one company was a good thing in that respect).

I changed my hair color to red with blond highlights and not one negative comment to date – in fact, actual strangers have commented on it. Seriously. The other day the UPS driver came up to the door, I tried to say hi but had a hard time as I have a cold and was losing my voice, she looked up, handed me the package and said, “You have pretty hair.” I don’t get it. How can hair color make that much of a difference? People actually talk to me differently in stores. Neighbors have made note of it when we chat. What’s the deal?

Most importantly, I had an amazing trip up north in May. The cabin was everything I wanted it to be. The beach, though mostly rocks, was exactly what I needed. I hung out on big slabs of rocks every single day and just soaked up life and whatever presented itself. I found beautiful agates and other rocks too, brought a lot home with me.

A couple of friends come and visited too. During a campfire and thunderstorm one night with one of Frank’s friends, Sean, we experienced what I’ll call a profound moment -the cloud streaks in the sky from the storm were – we think – Frank’s hand. For those who knew Frank, the first joint on each of his first two fingers on his right hand were lost in a snow blower accident. We could tell at first the cloud streaks resembled a hand, but during one of the next lightning strikes I noticed the first two fingers and said “Look, it’s Frank’s right hand!” Sean seemed just as surprised but agreed, I mean, what else would it be? There was no way to catch it on camera but trust me, I don’t think either of us will forget it.

The storm itself was quite moving, it just kept working its way around us the whole time. We could hear the thunder but there wasn’t any rain. We could see lightening but still no rain. Once in a while the moon would pop out of the clouds, then go back. Same with the island on the lake, until we couldn’t see it anymore. I think we stayed out there until midnight, maybe later. I didn’t want to go to bed, I wanted to keep watching the sky and enjoying the campfire as the wood smelled crazy good.

The next morning I really hated the thought of leaving. I was so completely content. I had gotten used to going to beach twice a day to hang out on the rocks, riding my bike, walking up and down the hilly roads, and staring at the island while listening to the seagulls. I could have stayed another 10 days, or 20 or heck, the rest of the summer. It was so peaceful being there and it calmed me. I think Sean and Lock thought the same thing. In fact, when Lock walked into the cabin the first thing he said was “I could live here!”, and he was in no hurry to leave that day. Bought himself a load of chocolate at the candy shop too. Said he MIGHT share with his wife. 🙂

So life is changing for me and though I’m not always liking it, there is more positive change happening than negative. It’s good for me and I think I deserve it, I just have to remember that. And remember the hand in the sky, because I think Frank was letting us know he was okay, too.


8 Weeks

Sunday, April 25th, will be 8 weeks since Frank passed away. Sometimes it feels like it’s been longer than that and other times, much shorter. Maybe it’s because I’ve kept busy with school, a surgery (I’m fine), an internship and hanging with friends and family since then.

Last Saturday I had a party with a special group of people to honor Frank. We had picnic food, a campfire, a quiz with prizes and just all around grand fun. I bought some shot glasses with an up north scene on them and had Frank’s name and the date he passed away imprinted on them. So we all toasted him at the campfire with them – I had scotch because it seemed the right thing to do as that was what two of Frank’s best friends and I had the day he passed away, in the living room while saying good bye.

I never did share here much of that day and some parts of it will always remain private. It’s interesting because I had put out a post on the blog at 10:06 am that day, Feb 28th, explaining that I was going to be restricting visitors because he seemed so agitated, and then he passed away not much later the same day.

From the time I put out that post until just moments before he died, I knew something was happening. I honestly didn’t know what it was but I knew something had changed. The energy, for lack of a better term, was different in the house. I had to be in the same room with him, I needed to be, I physically couldn’t bring myself to leave his side. Even though he wasn’t responsive at the time I talked to him about the fact I loved all the trips we took together and how much fun they were, and how he was the love of my life, how it was a good thing we never went to bed angry at each other because it was so much more fun being happy, how I knew I was going to be okay and that he didn’t need to worry about me. Sweet stuff. Silly stuff. Our stuff. I told him I loved him and I kissed him, and hugged him the best I could without hurting him.

Later I was sitting next to the bed, just being quiet, touching his arm lightly. I knew then it was close. I felt it in my gut. He moved a bit and then took two calm breaths with a pause in between, just in and out, very slowly. And he was gone. After that and before I called anyone, I spent time with him, just me. No one else. It was my turn, my time. I wanted more time than nearly 15 years but you have to appreciate what you get, right? I held his hands, I patted the arm that was nearest to me. I kissed him, I hugged him and tidied the blankets around him. Then I started the calls.

Later that day two of his friends were here with me and we stood around the bed and toasted him with shots of scotch, because that’s what Frank would have wanted. Yes, it was sad. Yes, it sucked in the worst way imaginable to even do that because it signified the end of his life here as we know it, but we had to honor what we thought would be his wishes. Frank was a big presence, a free spirit who spoke his mind and loved those who were true, and he will be remembered that way always. If anyone remembers him as anything else, you didn’t know the same person. I know he is somewhere enjoying the next part of his journey, pain-free, strong and happy. I wish he were here doing that but I have come to accept that isn’t possible so I need to more forward with my life. To my next journey.

I wasn’t going to share even this much on the blog but I just spent the past week doing my 40 hour internship at the same clinic Frank received his cancer treatments at. I wasn’t sure if it was a smart idea going there for the internship but it turns out it was definitely the right thing to do. There wasn’t one single person I met or worked with who didn’t truly care about the patients – the level of compassion and caring is simply admirable. I applaud the entire staff sincerely for what they do – from the front desk to the switchboard, the schedulers, financial counseling, the nurses, the doctors…everyone really, truly has empathy for those coming to the clinic.

They welcomed me with open arms and those who knew Frank, I offered a memorial bookmark to them that I had made for his service. He is now all over that clinic with those bookmarks, he’s grinning from ear to ear in the picture on it – and likely grinning from wherever he is now because even when he was at his crabbiest, someone always got him to smile when he was there. Believe me, I heard the stories and they were lovely. For that, I thank the staff from the bottom of my heart for not only helping make his day, but sharing those stories with me last week. To the staff – I will be visiting sometime this summer and I’ll bring the salsa I promised all of you. 🙂

I know now doing my internship there was the right thing to do because it confirmed for me that I’m moving into the right field for the next part of my life’s journey. I may not be able to work at that clinic but I know what aspect of the Medical Office Assistant role I want to do now, it’s probably really not a true aspect of it but it’s definitely related. And it’s important.

I don’t know when it happened but the majority of the anger I had about losing Frank has dissipated, it’s been replaced with a quiet resolution to move forward and begin my new life, and with the knowledge that it’s okay to do so. But I will do it without forgetting Frank – he is permanently in my heart.


I Will Love Him Forever

The love of my life passed away peacefully on February 28, 2010. The fight he put up through this tough journey is truly commendable.

Though I am sad at his passing, I am so grateful for the time I had with him, our families and our friends. The memories of our times together will sustain me forever.

I think this quote, shared with me by a loving cousin, sums up how I feel.

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." - Dr. Seuss

My Cancer Hat

I'm a person who hates wearing hats, both literally and figuratively. Now I will be wearing a caregivers cancer hat because my husband has cancer and I need to be strong for him. But I also need a place to vent, look for support and find strength.

Hopefully, this blog will enable me to deal with the process and meet others who are going through a similar challenge.

TB’s Cancer

TB, my husband (TB is his nickname), has kidney cancer, stage 4. He had a kidney and the tumor that was in it removed in 2005. We discovered in September 2008 that it had returned and has now metastasized to his bones, specifically his right femur plus spots on his skull, his spine and his ribs, the inside and outside of his lungs, his brain. He is not curable.

TB was originally participating in a clinical study that would provide him with a treatment that would halt, for an unknown length of time, the proteins from getting to the cancer cells. So in essence, slowing but not curing, the progression of the cancer. There is no question he will die from this, the unknown factor is the 'when' it will happen.

Unfortunately, TB had to be removed from the study as the metastases have grown. He was placed on a new regimen of Aerida and Sutent but that didn't work out. It made him too ill. Now he's on a daily regimen of Afinitor - "Plan C" as we call it. Basically, we're working to extend his life but in a manner that will allow him to still enjoy it and maintain his dignity.

1/27/2010 - At the suggestion of our oncologist, TB will no longer take any cancer medications as the benefits do not outweigh the possible negative side effects a new medication would have. He will be transferred soon to a facility where he can receive rehab, as he is extremely weak due to the pneumonia and inactivity. Our goal is to improve his quality of life as best we can.

2/21/2010 - Frank is now home, we've begun hospice care.

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