• sarah@healingeyes.org

42 Days

42 Days

Thats 6 weeks…

Since My Best friend died…

I’ve realized that I have failed to share the most life altering stage of Andy’s and mine story. The day Andy found peace and comfort with God and his battle with cancer. Let me rewind time back to October. In October the unwanted thief came back inside Andy’s frail body. It invaded his intestines by blocking nutrients and inflicting its pain on his body once again. The surgeon removed the unwanted obstruction in his body and days later he was told it was cancer again…Gastric Cancer..the same exact type as before.

Strike Two

November came and a series of events brought Andy back into the hospital where shockingly they found another mass in his intestines. This time it was a very greedy tumor that wanted to take all of Andy away. Andy fought with what little was left of his frail body. I returned from Germany and saw him in the hospital bed .. he got up and we hugged. He was wearing his brown striped kalamazoo college sweatshirt. It hung on his body frame loosely, I feared if I hugged him too tight he might snap in my tiny arms.

6 months to live was what the doctor told him. I didn’t know how to respond…our last bit of hope was shattered. I could see the realization of the news in his eyes. We talked, we talked like best friends facing hell together. What did this all mean and how painful would it be for him and me to watch. Caregivers everywhere know the immense pain inflicted by watching someone suffer. Day after day Andy would slip away, the Andy I knew from our 13 years of marriage was slipping away with each diagnosis and chance of hope.

Now with hope fading how do we face the inevitable when we have no faith or hope for a loving God. How can a man who is in so much pain believe that maybe God does care. That God loved him so much to choose him for such suffering. How can anyone comprehend that as being a gift? A gift to see how precious life is and how short it can be. How Andy’s life touched so many lives when he was strong and even when he was weak. God used Andy’s suffering in a fallen world to touch other lives…give hope to others that even in our final hours there is love.

The next day Andy was to have a colonoscopy to see what was going on inside him. He came out in severe pain. He looked weak. Soon after he went into septic shock from his colon blowing and bile leaking into his abdomen. I can only say as someone looking in that it looked extremely painful. Andy still sat up and was so patient with the nurses and doctors, never once did he lose his temper. He was screaming out in pain from the inside I know but he didn’t take it out on anyone.
Just like on TV the doctors and nurses came in with there machines and xrays to see what was the issue…that was when they saw the blow out and he had to have an emergency operation.
His surgeon talked to us both and explained the situation… most of it is a blur but I remember looking into that room from the hallway and thinking, this is it…Andy is fading away and I am helpless to stop it. I can’t make his pain go away.

The trip down the hallway with Andy laying in the hospital bed, sweating and writhing in pain. We reached the elevator and I leaned over and kissed him on his lips and whispered, “God loves you and I love you Andy… It will be ok” “I will be waiting”.  The elevator doors closed and my best friend was gone.

Hours later the surgeon came out to the waiting room and shook his head, pulled me and Andy’s mothers into a room. The words I feared since cancer began were spoken, “I couldn’t get the tumor out”… “It was larger than expected…he would have died on the table”.
Andy’s surgeon was the best, most caring, skilled, and amazing guy…I hugged him and said “it’s ok, you did everything you could and its no one’s fault. Andy always liked you and respected you.”

Strike Three…Terminal diagnosis…

I paced in front of the glass window of the hospital room, Andy was in there. Andy was unconscious. Andy was dying. Andy was on a respirator. Andy couldn’t talk. Andy was swollen. Andy’s body was losing the battle.

That day before he died Andy was writing on anything we could get, his hands were shaky and most of the time it was frustrating for him and me to communicate. “Pain” “Untie me” “Want to talk” “Pain”. My love was in pain and trapped in a body that was failing…a body that turned against him.

Next morning 5 a.m. The Phone Call. “Andy pulled the respirator out on his own and is talking”.
Oh Andy you stubborn man, you amazing man, you courageous man. On a snowy morning I dashed back to the hospital in a panic. Once there he was alive, breathing, talking. “I love you Sarah”. “I love you Andy”. “I am here”.

The day was a blur of doctors..nurses..tests..pain control..and finally acceptance. Each doctor heard Andy talk and answered his questions. Andy was amazing. He faced death with such certainty and courage. He was in so much pain but he still wanted to understand how he would die and if it would hurt. He said goodbye to family and friends. He said goodbye to the puppies. He never said goodbye to me…he didn’t need to because he will never leave me. That’s the problem with soul mates, you can never really say goodbye.

Eventually hospice came in and made Andy comfortable. I held his beautiful hand over the hospital bed railing. I squeezed it in our secret way to say I love you over and over, Andy replied back with the same squeeze. He couldn’t talk but he was talking to me.

10:03 pm Sunday, December 15, 2013 he breathed his last breathe in my arms and his eyes closed. His body hurt no more. His soul was free. Cancer lost that day because Andy lives. He lives in everyone he touched thru his journey thru life. He lives thru me and my journey ahead.

Andy was a goofy guy..he wouldn’t want us to all suffer after his death. He wouldn’t want us to not smile anymore. He would want us to be happy. These are all logical thoughts but hard to put in practice when someone so amazing is ripped from our lives. Those left behind must pick up the pieces and learn to live again. Every once and awhile I feel Andy’s love again..I see him in dreams and he says he’s not sick..he’s ok. Andy you keep on being Ok wherever you are and watch over Hope. I’ll keep surviving down here and maybe use all this suffering for some purpose that God has in mind.

Healing Eyes
Healing Eyes

8 Comments so far

booboochopplesPosted on  3:30 pm - Jan 27, 2014

I can’t explain in words the way you write it’s so pure and true and I know I don’t know you but I think your an inspiration for people out there with cancer and with those with cancer. Reading your blog has helped me really understand and accept my cancer and I want to say thankyou x

    SarahAndyLivePosted on  4:44 pm - Jan 27, 2014

    It’s nice to hear that my ramblings can help out in anyway for others going thru similar journeys. Cancer sucks no matter what form it takes, how long it lasts, reoccurrence, treatments, it all just sucks. I hope you are staying as positive as one can during this difficult time of your life. Hope is hard to hold on to but it is important… It’s just one day at a time and one breathe at a time. Hold your loved ones close and hang in there. So easy to say but hard to live I know…each day I wake up and question everything all over again.. and yet I keep living… human spirit is so strange that way 🙂

kdmo83Posted on  11:15 pm - Jan 29, 2014

We lost our loved one on the same day and almost the same way. My Jerry’s cancer came back after 10 years and attacked him so fast. We were diagnosed in Mo on Nov 8th and we flew to MD Anderson and was in treatment by November 15th. He was told maybe 6 months and as a caretaker and his wife of over 30 years it killed me daily to watch my love wither away and at the same time fight to live for us and the kids. On the same day you lost Andy I lost my Jerry. He never said goodbye to me. I prayed and sat beside him as he struggled to keep fluids down and he would not let me turn the light on to see him. I had no idea he was in so much trouble that evening and I could only kiss his hand and pray beside him. I woke up to his gasping at 6:30 am and turned the light on and he looked at me one last time and was gone. They tried to save him but I knew he was gone. My heart breaks for you. I live in a fog and struggle to do daily chores and help my 15 year old son with his activities. I pray for you and that you find healing in what cancer did to you and Andy. One day no one will die of cancer.

    SarahAndyLivePosted on  1:17 am - Jan 30, 2014

    Thank you for sharing….tears came to my eyes as I was reading this…words can’t express the pain felt from losing your partner to cancer. It’s amazing how small the world is and how many others are going thru similar loss each minute of the day. I hope you are finding ways to breathe…I know for me it’s extremely hard every day. Today I had a few melt downs and anxiety attacks:(.
    Tomorrow is another day I guess

    SarahAndyLivePosted on  1:19 am - Jan 30, 2014

    I just read this again… You mentioned your jerry never said good bye to you.
    My andy never said good bye either…all day I sat next to him in the hospital as he said good bye to others, but me he just held my hand and said I love you…until he finally closed his eyes and left me.

NotDownOrOutPosted on  10:25 am - Feb 10, 2014

I am so very sad at this news of your loss. I took some time off from blogging and reading so just learned of your loss and Andy’s death. Andy sounds like he was what one hopes for in a soulmate. So it is very sad indeed to think of you two being parted. As always on your blog, it appears from later posts that you are working on facing life with strength and compassion for others. I will pray for you to continue to find strength . . . and hope. Because those are gifts that you give so sweetly to others.

    SarahAndyLivePosted on  2:44 pm - Feb 10, 2014

    Thank you. Yea as always life has it’s ups and downs..usually unexplainable how everything happens suddenly. But with cancer the waiting for the unknown always hurt the most so now andy is at least at peace finally.

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