October 4, 2003

// April 27th, 2010 // From the forthcoming book "Losing Steve: One Mother's Journey Through Grief"

A few days ago (or was it just yesterday? ~ time doesn’t seem the same anymore) I remembered something that has since been haunting me.

In his last six months Steve cried several times. I think he would get overwhelmed by fears of the unknown. Though he never said so, I think he intuitively knew he was dying, but the doctors led him to hope that he would soon overcome this “brief period of illness”. “Watch your diet, quit smoking, and exercise and you’ll get through this”. They told him this for six months. He didn’t quit smoking but he did watch his diet and he exercised as much as he could, considering his rapidly diminishing energy levels. He even joined a gym.
Every week or two he would go in to see one of his doctors and they would say the same thing.
“You just need to watch your diet and get some exercise.”
“I am watching my diet and I’m getting as much exercise as I can, but I keep feeling worse.”
“Well, you must not be watching your diet as closely as you could. Do better. Keep at it and you’ll see results soon.”
It was a no win situation. Because of his smoking they considered him a “non-compliant” patient, no matter how hard he tried to stick to all of the other rules.

Sometimes as his intuition would take over he would become utterly hopeless. Of course, hindsight is 20/20. I couldn’t understand any of this at the time.

What’s been haunting me is this ~ I remember one beautiful morning last spring he was sitting on the edge of the sofa across from me in the living room. I don’t remember what we were talking about but there came a lull in our conversation. He looked toward the floor and he slumped from his shoulders, head hanging low. He began to weep. I just sat there looking at him. I had the urge to run to him, embrace him. But I didn’t. I just sat there looking at the top of his head. I was in the room with him but he was so completely alone. I didn’t go to him to comfort him. I didn’t ask what the matter was. I remember feeling at a loss. I didn’t understand the depth of his angst. This was well before we knew he didn’t have much time left.

This memory seems to be eating me alive, filling me with the same feeling I had before Steve died…that monster gnawing at my insides again.

Oh, dear God, how I want to hold him again, tell him how much I love him, to stroke his cheek, gently fluff his hair with my fingers, and tell him “Mommy’s here. Everything will be alright.”
It has been ten weeks since I kissed his cold forehead and the waves continue to crash on me, on all of us.

From 2010 ~
It was hard writing this. I still feel deep remorse for my inaction that day, though it no longer threatens to consume me. I have had to forgive myself for this and other regrets. If I hadn’t, I couldn’t have gotten to this place of peace.
And I take great comfort in knowing that I will one day be able to grab Steve in a joyfull bear hug and never be sad again! WOW!

Leave a Reply