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Author Archives: Healing Eyes

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

Picture perfect Love

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am so glad a couple years ago we Tried to Adopt and got these photos made for our Adoption Profile. They were meant to show how cute and loving we were to a prospective Birth Mother and now they are a gift to me.

My friend was the photographer and these have to be the best photos of me and Andy together..they capture andy’s goofy personality and his passionate love for me. None of these smiles are fake  ‘cheeze’ poses:)
I miss you my Best Friend!

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Healing Eyes

What remains

Only a broken heart remains. Shattered into pieces on the cold snow…ever falling silently to the ground. Casting shadows on what once was a life of two hearts joined together. A sickness burrowed its way uninvited and slowly killed the most precious part. What remains shines dimly compared to what did shine before cancer took hold.
Without you Andy this world is cold and lonely. My other self…the better half of two hearts is now gone forever.

The other day I walked with you thru the woods in the bitter cold. Found our spot by the river and said goodbye to a part of you. The small bit of Your ashes scattered in the cold water…forever a part of the soil and water flowing thru the woods. Miko got close to the rivers edge and the ice cracked a bit, she always was fearless. But now in the dark of night I am scared. The reality of you being gone is like knives on my heart. Can you even hear this rant? Are you ok?
Are you finally rid of cancer? Free of pain?

Everyone says that you would want those left behind that loved you to smile and be happy … Your coworkers miss you and gave me the most amazing gift of kindness … I cried when I read the beautiful card they gave me. I have no idea what I can do to smile again, without you smiling hurts…

What should become of this blog? Even the name “sarah and Andy”…does that die with your loss? Can your story truly end when all I think of is you and our years together… Till death do us part but really you are still alive in my thoughts !

Healing Eyes

Indescribable feelings of loss

What does one do when everything is gone and replaced by new memories.

I am trapped looking at past memories and remembering the love and adventure Andy and I shared. We spent 13 amazing years together…shared tears and laughter. How can I go on without Andy? How can life be so cruel? I’m looking at these photos and it just seems so unreal that Andy is now a memory, a snapshot, a photo on my heart. He was never supposed to be a photo in a shoebox that years from now will be dusted off and remembered. He can’t be gone…not now….it’s too soon!
How can he ever know who I become…how I change…how I long for his hug and smile again. Watching someone die before your eyes is indescribable pain…Being a widow sucks!

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Healing Eyes

What is love when love dies?

 Does love live on even after death? Can a parted soul reach back and touch a life?

Again Andy came to me in my dreams saying he was ALIVE and OK. Again I saw his face before cancer ravished it…his skin was full of color and life. I said, “NO Andy, I cremated you!”…”You are not alive”… “No Sarah I am alive and OK”…
Then I woke up and shook the memory free from my head and realized I was alone. In a flash he was gone again. The night before I was woken by a small faint voice, “Sarah Please Get up”.. followed by a slight touch of the nose. An Eskimo kiss like we always used to do on a cold winter night. Can love transcend death? Can two souls be entwined even when one has passed into heaven while I am left behind on this cold world.

Each day is a test…and a gift.

Today Tmobile confirmed Andy’s cell phone was shut off and his number is now gone. Poof! Gone! A test of my patience for loss. So I countered it finally by sucking in my pride and called a Grief counselor. Here goes nothing, poor my life out again to a stranger to get her perspective on how to cope. I know how to cope but a second opinion couldn’t hurt ha!

Before my husband passed away I was in contact with a Mission group in St. Croix. Exploring the idea of helping out in some way.
After Andy’s death the pieces have come together to take a trip to St. Croix and Walk with the individuals at Lighthouse Mission. This will be my first try at mission work and going on my first vacation without Andy.
A friend suggested some fundraising and so here I go. Putting myself out there.

The plane ticket is already booked and I have a host house to stay at so God worked out the details on that.

While there I also am mainly going to ‘Walk with them’.. find out where God wants me in life and to get some peace and healing in the process. I don’t know what to expect, I am scared and nervous, but it feels right to get away and learn about what this Organization is all about. They are a small group and help Homeless people. Since Andy and I were in Jamaica in June for our Anniversary it seems fitting that I am going to a tropical place to heal.

If anyone has a desire to Donate to help with food and traveling expenses that’s great..
but if not that’s ok too. Just some prayers for a safe trip and that I can come back refreshed and find some peace in Andy’s passing is enough.

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Healing Eyes

Why Me

Time to process

Time to think

Time to heal

and time to Grieve.

Everyone goes at a different pace and process.. I have always jumped ahead and rushed going thru life. I have learned its not so bad to step back and breathe for a moment…let God show the way and magically this whole new path opens up.

I have realized that Andy and I had a lot of ‘material things’. Some of them were toys, electronics, games, cars, car parts, clothes, furniture, printers, so much STUFF! Now some stuff is nice to have, and some toys are fun to play for sure. Andy loved collecting video games and systems, maybe just because he knew how much i LOVED playing them. Either way, the basement is full of STUFF and today I purged.

Andy loved Goodwill. I mean LOVED Goodwill. He would rummage around for rare video games, rollerblades, anything that looked cool. So it seemed fitting that a lot of the things he collected over the years should go back to there home, Goodwill. So far i’ve done 3 loads today and it was hard but felt kinda good to unload that burden of ‘things’. I still have several more loads of stuff that could go but I am stopping to breathe and digest what I just let go. Pieces of Andy gone. Forever. It makes me smile though to think that another ‘Andy’ type person will be going to Goodwill in a week and find that super awesome Nintendo Game, or another Dreamcast for his/her collection. That makes it worth it to Let Go of ‘things’.

The other day I read this daily inspirational quote..soon after I got a phone call. Saint Mary’s Lacks Cancer center was finally calling me back about volunteering. Cool. I stopped and then something happened. So today I go there to try out for playing the piano in the lobby.

The other other day I read a daily inspirational quote…soon after I picked up the phone and called a lady in St. Croix Virgin Islands (I had been procrastinating on making the call). After sharing my life story and Andy’s pain and suffering over the year I now have a new path. My tickets are bought and I’m going to do my first mission trip. Ok that sounds very odd coming from me. A person who for the last 13 years stopped going to church, stopped reading, stopped praying, stopped LISTENING. Now I am not a completely different person, I still have my doubts about what I am about to do..It scares me to think I could become some ‘mission’ girl. ME? Screwed up Sarah who now is a widow, has two needy dogs, a house, and so much pain pushing down on a tiny little heart. Completely broken into pieces, world turned upside down, no soulmate, and defeated Sarah…

Today I slowly begin to breathe again.. tomorrow I might stop again.. but Andy is NOT in pain anymore, so that has to be enough for now.

Healing Eyes

Saved from freezing

Sometimes when your eyes are closed you’ll be surprised at what can come when you least expect it. A huge winter storm blew in last night and buried the city, the temperature keeps dropping and the wind cuts thru you like ice (literally:).

Today I had to get one of my cars repaired so that was a jab at me today. I returned to work today, another jab at my heart. I am still feeling sick from the emotional strain I’ve been under. Then I get a call saying we want to show your house today and that means I have to Shovel the darn driveway. Great! My drive is completely covered in snow, the garbage can has tipped over and the snow is at least up to my knees in spots. No problem, I can do this, why not throw a bit more at me today. I get the sidewalk shoveled and my fingers are falling off from the shear cold. I stop for a moment to just cry in my driveway for anyone to see, this sucks! I mean I used to shovel when Andy was sick and even when he wasn’t but this just sucks more because I know this is my new life. Surviving each day.

Then I hear a voice.. “Ma’am, Ma’am!…I can help you after I do my driveway”…   I look over my shoulder and my neighbor who I’ve maybe talked to a couple times since living on this street is talking to me. Now for anyone that knows Andy’s and mine neighbors they know that we never liked the one side but the other side we always got along with. It was the neighbor we liked calling out to help me. I smiled and said “Thank you sooo much, that would be awesome! Oh and my husband died a few weeks ago so you have know idea how much I appreciate your help”.

God sent me an angel today in the form of a neighbor with a snow blower. I was tired, beaten, cold, and crying and I’m saved. It’s still snowing out and the driveway is quickly being covered back up but it never looked so good than it does now. He even did the back driveway and the back step.

So anyone out there that thinks God doesn’t care.. or that God has abandoned you.. maybe someday you can have a moment I had. It’s small but sometimes the little things make the biggest difference in someone’s day.

Healing Eyes

Silence in the end

My soul cries out. My sorrow closes in around my heart. All I see is darkness even though the snow falls thick outside. Inside the fire burns and thirsts for the oxygen it consumes.
My body breathes out of reflex but not from desire. With Andy I had laughter and tears mingled together. No life is prefect and after a traumatic death I am left to question everything, all the smiles.. Tears… Love… Fights… Breathes.. Fears.. Disappointments.. Hugs… Embraces.

Nobody knows me at all now.. This earth is lonely… Andy and I were together for 14 years…
I left my childhood life behind for college and met Andy, the years where you find yourself and I found him instead. Did I find myself by finding him? What is left now that all that time is gone.

Breathing hurts… I find some comfort in a dreamless sleep when it comes. Often the dreams come and haunt me, mocking me of my past and holding me back from breathing new air.

Time now lingers…. And yet moves quickly by… Three weeks ago Andy breathed his last breathe in my arms… Closed his eyes for the last time.. And felt pain fade away.

Healing Eyes

Revisit

I am sitting in the atrium at saint Mary’s lacks cancer center. Trying to see what Emotions it evokes. This very bench where me and Andy sat while hooked up to an iv… little more than a year ago.
He smiled thru the pain.. We hugged thru the pain…
Now all I hear is faint classical music and the air vent. I can’t cry.. No tears will come.. How disappointing.

Just numb.

It’s not real that it’s over and he is gone. Nothing makes sense anymore. A world without him breathing and fighting in it. What a life lessen this is, what sweet sorrow this is, the silence after a death.

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Healing Eyes

Wake me

Day One of 2014 without Andy.

I see his iPod and my iPod touching sides on the computer desk … and I cry.
I eat sticky buns for the first time and I remember how he would run out to the store in the morning to buy them for me.. and I cry.
I put the remaining sticky buns in the refrigerator and realize I am alone and he won’t be here to eat the rest.. and I cry.
I list the Nintendo Wii U on Craigs list and remember how hard he tried to convince me to by Assassins Creed 3 for it because he knew I loved that game.. and I cry.

I see Miko curled up on Andy’s and Mine blanket from our wedding.. and I cry.

It’s hard watching the puppies suffer thru this with me.. they miss Andy so much. Sometimes they stare at the door hoping he comes thru it. Is it comforting to know they miss him too? or is it added pain?

Either way I hate that he is gone and I am left alone. Alone in this empty house, at night the pain creeps in worse. My angel, my soul, my love, please come back to me… but I have to wake up and realize he’s gone. I’m 33 and widowed. No this is not the beginning of a ‘new’ life but the end of a beautiful life mixed with so much pain and suffering. How can that be turned around into something worth living for.

Goodnight Andy…visit me in my dreams PLEASE.

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Healing Eyes