“His part is easy. He’s only dying. The hard part is on you. You have to keep living.”
On November 23, 2015, Steve and I went together to his doctor to talk about strange things that Steve had been doing. An hour later, he was taken off work. In 24 hours he had an MRI. And the next day, we were told he had a very large tumor in the middle of his brain, pressing right up against his thalamus and blocking the flow of spinal fluid in his brain. In two weeks, there’d be back to back brain surgeries, followed by a pathology report on his tumor that would invade every part of the next five months. Glioblastoma multiforme. Stage IV. Terminal.
We upended our lives and retooled our plans to ensure he could live and die at home. I was his only caretaker, the only one he would allow to do the most intimate and painful things to him. I learned how to be a nurse. I studied up on death. I tried to understand what felt impossible, all while still being his best friend and wife.
And then Steve died. That’s when the really hard work began.
I’m continuing the writing that kept me afloat while I was taking care of Steve. Most of it is going into “the book.” Some of it is going here. This space is for widows and widowers, for parents who’ve lost their children and for children who’ve lost their parents. It’s for anyone on the road to loss and those who are on the grieving road. It’s for the person who wants to better understand what it’s like for someone who has watched the person they love die. It’s for anyone who is looking for the right path for their own death.
It’s for anyone. Because we will all die. Because we will all watch someone we love die. And there is no reason you should fumble in the darkness alone. This is hard work, but like all work, it goes better when you have help.
It is my most sincere hope that our experience, mine and Steve’s, shines a light on possibilities, that the words we share give meaning and purpose to our loss. Thank you for reading.
Everything on feliciafriesema.com is Copyright 2016, Felicia Friesema. All Rights Reserved. In the words of Ani DiFranco, “copying is the best form of flattery, but it’s never as good as the real thing.”