I’m struggling with today more than I expected to. Throughout our whole relationship, Luke and I were very anti-Valentine’s Day. We saw the holiday as a day for companies to make money and instead we spent every day telling each other how much we loved each other and never needed just one day to spoil or surprise one another. That being said, when we finally closed the distance it was so nice to be able to do normal couple things such as celebrate Valentine’s Day in our own way (including discount candy day they day after).
I woke up today feeling robbed of the normal things in life. I miss surprising Luke with his favorite doughnuts, having impromptu date nights, experimenting in the kitchen, and caring for our girls. Most of all I miss giving and getting hugs. I haven’t felt “safe” in months because his arms were the only place I truly felt safe and at home. I feel very heartbroken and alone today.
I don’t talk openly about my grief very often, not because it isn’t there, but because I need to grieve in my own way at my own pace. Often, I feel as if I have been in denial these last 5 months. Truth is, I am in fight or flight mode. I have been fighting for my life and in order to do that I can’t let myself fall too deeply into grief. My fur babies give me a reason to keep on fighting. They get me up on those days when I want to spend all day in bed, and they take care of me just as much as I take care of them.
I know that it isn’t always going to be this hard, that someday things may get easier. Right now though, it feels as if those months of suppressing my grief are catching up with me. I’d love to be able to push pause and just wallow in it for a while, but that isn’t an option for me. Instead I put on a brave face and keep fighting day after day for myself, for my girls, for my family, but mostly for Luke. I have to keep going for him.
Early on in Luke’s diagnosis we talked a lot about the future, both the good future where we were both healthy and thriving and living normal lives, and the bad future where Luke didn’t make it and I was left alone. While these were morbid conversations, we had to have them. Luke was never scared of dying for his own sake. It made him sad, of course, that he wouldn’t be able to do everything he had set out to accomplish, but it didn’t scare him. What did scare him was leaving me, his family, and all those he cared about alone and in grief. He hated the idea of hurting us.
Luke was the most selfless person I have ever met. When faced with his mortality his concern was not for him, but rather for those he loved. He was truly the most incredible human to walk this earth and I feel so fortunate to have spent the last 7 years of my life with him, two of which as his wife. I am trying not to make this post too sad and morbid, but I had to write with my heart today. Seeing all the love on social media lately, while it makes me happy to see others so happy, also has been making me feel my grief a lot more deeply lately. My future right now is so unknown, and the anxiety that causes can be overwhelming at times. I’ll be 29 next month and in the course of a year my future has completely blown up. I don’t know who I am, what I am doing, or where I am going anymore.
I am writing this post in hopes that getting these thoughts out of my head and into the world will help in my healing. I don’t want people to look at me with pity and sadness, but at the same time this doesn’t make me strong or brave. I have no choice. I have to fight, I have to keep going, and I have to face my circumstances every day. I have been talking with a lot of other cancer patients lately and one theme we see is that we often get labelled as brave, strong, warriors, etc. While this can sometimes be true, so many of us feel mislabeled. What other option is there? If I don’t fight, I risk my life. Being strong has nothing to do with it. Either we fight for our lives or we don’t.
So here I am on my first Valentine’s Day without Luke, feeling vulnerable and alone. All I want is to snuggle with Luke, eat doughnuts, and dream about the future. Instead I will love on my fur babies, watch TV, and wrap myself in warm fuzzy blankets while looking at some pictures of Luke and I over the years. My heart hurts for myself and for our girls. Luke loved them so much and they loved him in return and my heart breaks that they don’t have him anymore, but we will be okay.