Sunday, May 25, 2008

"I Know You'll Be Happy"

It is early in the morning on the 25th of May. Yesterday, was Jeff's and my 10 year wedding anniversary. I remember we had talked 10 years ago, as we soaked in the ocean views of Kauai, Hawaii, that we would come back on our 10 year anniversary. We knew it would be different--we'd hoped we would have children by then. We never dreamed what a difference 10 years would make. Read this entry and then please continue to the next which is what this website is all about. This morning I write this because, as Jeff said, writing is my therapy. Good or bad, it helps me get the thoughts and memories out that swirl in my head and keep me from sleep. Please read on about the clinic, just humor me every now and then when I need to talk, but there is no one there to hear.

The day we sat in the doctor's office at MD Anderson--right after we knew in our heads, but not in our hearts, that Jeff would not live much longer--Jeff told me he could see that one day the girls and I would be happy again. I cannot imagine when that will be. For Lauren and Ashtyn's sake, I want that to be true. That is why I get up every day, make breakfast, wake them gently and cuddle and love them as much as I possibly can manage. Some days I see a glimpse of the sun or Son, as my friend Betty put it. Some days I see a big fat brick wall in my way that blocks my path and I just don't know how to move. I don't know yet what kind of day today will be. I will really try to make it good. Maybe writing this will help. These words have been swimming in my head for weeks--it is time they get out.

"You need to tell him it's OK to go--he needs to hear that." It is what the hospice nurses told me the last day of Jeff's life here. Having lived through my father's death, I know that there is a place with God that allows my Dad to watch over us. But to tell Jeff it was "OK to go" was counter intuitive. It wasn't ok to go--I told him that I knew I had to let him go but I didn't want to. He is my history, my future, my moment. It wasn't ok that he had to go without being able to recognize his daughters and wife long enough to know our names and to kiss us goodbye. It wasn't ok that he was so confused he didn't know he was even at home. It wasn't ok that his life was cut short because of human error. I said it, though, because to try to keep him here was hugely selfish. I would have taken care of him for the rest of my life, but I knew that he needed to be free from the pain, the tumors, the fear, the deep sadness of knowing that he wouldn't be there to catch his daughters when they fell or hold them in the storm. He knew that I would be there for them, but being the Daddy he was, he really wanted to have more time with his "babies" as he called them.

Presently, I am faced with how to handle our business. I have to pack up his office--how do I do this? It is like severing one more tie to him--adding one more degree of separation. All of his baseball memorabilia, pictures of the girls over the years that he'd show all of his clients, his files about our past--taxes, seminars we gave together, business plans we created, credit card statements and files that have pages and pages of what it means to be diagnosed with stage IV metastatic melanoma.

I just watched P.S. I Love You. It's about a young woman, ironically named Holly, whose husband dies suddenly from a brain tumor. He leaves her notes and tape recordings that crop up over the first year of his death. His goal is to help her get on with her life by helping her to live each day. Small things like buying a lamp to big things like a trip to his homeland of Ireland. Each helping to confront something that holds her back, until she can fly on her own again.

I wish Jeff had left me something--I read every journal I could find. He started about five. Each one at a different phase in our marriage. Each journal has about 10 to 20 pages, then they end. One is from our wedding in Hawaii, one is about the impending birth of our first child Lauren and her first few hours on earth, one is filled with quotes from people he admired, one is about a time in our marriage when we were struggling with each other, one is about his diagnosis. In this journal he only makes entries through mid-December 2007, when he finished biochemo and we were preparing to come home. After this, he just was too tired and hurt so much that he couldn't even listen to his favorite music or read his cherished books because the pain kept him from focusing. At this point he couldn't hold me or his children because the tumors and the pain made it unbearable for him to be touched.

So--yes, he had to go. But it wasn't OK. I hate that I can't seem to remember him as healthy or with hair or smiling. Jeff would not want my thoughts to be filled with images of him and how he looked those last few moments after he passed. Sometimes I get a glimpse of him in the yard working on a landscaping idea or at the office sitting at his computer preparing for a client. I don't know if it will ever be" OK for him to go." I do know that I have to go on each day. I have to make sure that our little girls go on each day. I have to make sure that they grow-up secure in the knowledge that Daddy loves them, that I love them and that they make every day of my life a blessing. They are what Jeff left me--not tape recordings or letters or videos. He left me the best of who he is. He left me belly laughs, sweet kisses, soccer games, scooter rides, stinky feet and sticky fingers and the dearest angels God ever gave anyone. Thank you Jeff for all you did and continue to do for us. I love you with all of my heart and soul--Happy Anniversary Babe.


Hillengrandma said...

You don't know me, but I read your story in the News-Leader today and was so moved by it that I looked up your website and have read everything you have on it. My heart goes out to you and I want you to know that your husband sounds like he was a wonderful man, and you sound like you have certainly been a loving wife to him. My husband, too, has had cancer twice and so I know a little of the struggles a wife goes through. I do thank the Lord that my husband is still with me, but none of us know how long we will be here. But, we, too know the Lord as our personal Savior and know that we have a home in Heaven when our time is over here. I am sending you a copy of a reading that I keep in plain site and read almost every day while my husband was going through radiation. HOpe it brings comfort to you as it did to me.
Be at Peace. Do not look forward in fear to the changes of life; rather look to them with full hope as they arise. God, whose very own you are, will deliver you from out of them. He has kept you hitherto, and He will lead you safely through all things; and when you cannot stand it, God will bury you in His arms. Do not fear what may happen tommorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you then and every day. He will either shield you from suffering or will give unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.
I am praying for you and your children as you go through this time of grief. Just hang on close to the Lord and He will lead you through. One day, the sun will shine again.

Chrissy said...

Bless you sweet girl! We love you!

Anonymous said...

Holly, you don't know me, but Jeff's brother, Randy, was a good friend of mine and my husband's. We haven't seen Randy in a few years, but we still think of him fondly. I read Jeff's obit when you lost him and the article in the paper last Sunday. My heart goes out to you and Jeff's girls. Still, you seem so strong and so "together", even though I know most of it must be a front for your precious girls. Please, keep on keepin' your faith. Susan

Anonymous said...

I know Jeff has left this earth, but his presence remains in you & your girls. Only through faith will we truly understand & heal.
In short time will we all be united. Know that life begins when we depart this earth.

May our Lord & Savior grant you Peace.

Bill Krueger

Holly Copeland said...

Hey aunt Holly, I heard you were thinking of starting an online business or something like that so you could work at home. I know this great blog called that has some good advice on successful online blogging. You should check it out. Here's a great article to start with:

Anonymous said...

Dear Sweet Holly,
I knew you before you even met Jeff. I watched you at 9 months pregnant with your first child so miserable you couldn't even sit in a chair very long but extremely happy when she finally arrived in this world..I thought to myself, being single at that time,I wanted to meet a man and fall in love with him just as you found your love,Jeff...and I have...
God doesn't promise us all good times in our life but does promise that he will be there to love and help you through the hardships that life has for us. One of the verses in the bible I recited over and over to myself when my little son Kevin was alive,is.
"I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Jesus Christ gives me". I even typed it and put it on my dresser drawers. When I felt weak I just recited this out loud to myself and it seemed to help the pain...You are a wonderful woman and I pray that God blesses you and holds you and your girls in his arms through this difficult time...
I love you...Your friend,
Bev McCowan