• sarah@healingeyes.org

Tag Archives: gastric_cancer

Walking with Andy

Today I walked with Andy reliving our moments of love and pain together. It was and is our 14th Wedding Anniversary today. We got married at 20 years old and never looked back.

Coming back ‘home’ to michigan to take care of Andy’s ashes and also the symbolism of it being our wedding anniversary has weighed heavy on me for days now. Finally the day of our wedding vows arrived but the ashes need to wait until this weekend when his best friend can drive me the 8 hours to where Andy and I fell in love.

It’s hard to know where to begin with my day but I know that today was planned out for me and I didn’t even realize it. I had 4 things that were predetermined today. Everything else that happened was unimaginable when I first started off on my journey today

1. Doctor Appointment
2. Hair appointment
3. Lunch appointment
4. Meeting with Andy’s past doctor and close friend

After I finished by doctor’s appointment I made my way to Starbucks to get some tea for a friend back on the island. Little did I know that when I walked in this coffee shop the first words I would hear were ‘Cancer’. Ok a bunch of woman were sitting by the door discussing something cancer related. I decided to just walk by and get my tea and go. But there was this little voice in my head that said, “Pay Attention Sarah, I have a blessing lined up for you”. So what should I do? Well I walked right back out of the coffee shop with my tea and stopped at my truck, paused, struggled, and then turned right around and swallowed my fear of people and said hello to this group of ladies. “Hi, I may sound crazy but I heard you mention cancer”. I found out they were brainstorming ways to improve the cancer center that Andy and I went to…they all worked there. LOL! So I then told them a very brief version of my life and Andy’s death and just soaked in the blessing of connecting with people who UNDERSTOOD cancer.

Then I walked out feeling choked up and also a bit glad I took the courage to speak out to a bunch of stranger.

Now I looked over and there was the hospital Andy died in almost 6 months ago. Alright…the little voice started again and this time took control of my steering wheel. Minutes later I was standing in the ICU on the 4th floor just outside the room Andy died in. What was I doing here????!!! What crazy widow revisits the place where their husband dies on there 14th wedding anniversary?! I stared blankly at the door and the glass window which months ago held the image of Andy connected to wires and tubes. Room 403. I asked the nurse if I could sit in the room. Seriously! Yes, I broke down and cried and just soaked in the memories of that fateful night.

Andy had led me to this room.

Andy’s body was gone but my mind wouldn’t let go.

Now what? Well, guess what?! I kept on walking the path laid out before me….

Walking

The cancer center is just next door, sooo what did I do? Yup, I went there next. I followed the bread crumbs to the place of diagnosis and treatments. Once inside the doors I stared at the receptionist and said, “this is going to sound crazy…but…. can I speak to Katie, my deceased husband’s nurse”?  Short answer I was allowed back but not after a few back and forths and crying and then a stranger holding me and yea…I kinda broke down.

Nurse Katie…She was there when Andy first got dosed with chemo. She was there to watch me and Andy sit for hours and hours in those chemo chairs. She saw the dramatic change in Andy after the surgery. She saw our pain and she was helpless to fix it. The nurses at the cancer center see so much pain come thru there doors. I told her she meant a lot to Andy and I and that we appreciated her kindness. In return she told me that me and Andy were undeniably soulmates. That when she saw us together those long chemo days that she was amazed at how much love we had for each other and how we tried to find any kind of joy in the situation. We even tried to get her to say funny words like, poop in the pool. She remembered our dogs too. The one things she told me that I needed to hear on this day was that she saw our love for each other and she saw the change in Andy’s health. He died months before he died! She saw it too! I am not alone in that memory! It’s not my fault! Let go of the guilt!

My morning didn’t end here. After my hair appointment (where my favorite stylist ever did an amazing job, as always, to my hair) and therapy session with my hair stylist:). I have to say Amanda is great at cutting hair but even better at listening to a crazy lady ramble on and on about God this and God that. LOL. Who am I these days? You would think God has taken over my body and really has complete control over everything now.

Then I drove past my old house…I then turned back around and marched up the stairs and rang the door bell. Seriously, I did! Well I was led to do it. The guy that opened the door was a blessing. He let me in my old house and showed me how much they loved this house. How much joy and laughter was in this house now. There are 5 kids living in this house! Amazing! A lot of it looked the same and yet different. They kept some of the paintings up and the kitchen was still gorgeous. The old computer room was now a kids room for 3 (pink walls). And Andy you were wrong! There was hardwood floors under that carpet in Perfect condition! I told you so:). The mother in law also lived there and she spoke Spanish. He translated to her who I was and why I was crying in there living room. Oh my word…how did I get the courage to do that? Well this closure was just what I needed. He talked to me about his experiences with people in hospitals he has helped and told me how much they loved the house. He even said the one neighbors mentioned I was a nice lady and that my husband had passed away. Upstairs he had taken some shelves andy made and was using them…I burst into tears of joy. Andy lives on!!!!

Then after that…

I went to lunch with Andy’s old classmate from high school. She shared stories of how Andy was in Chemistry class. I guess he was super smart even though he looked like a punk. Oh Andy.

Free Cookies

Free Cookies

Then after that…

I went to the other cancer center downtown and saw Dr. Abby my friend. I hate to cut short on this part but I do detest long blogs:). She as always had some great therapy for me in our talk. The sarcasm and joking about some new business ideas was very enlightening. When you go thru cancer and see so much pain you can’t seem to avoid hospitals. The nurses and doctors can become family to you and a level of support no other family member can give you. They are with you from the start and you may get frustrated at each other but it still is a journey thru hell together.

Finally I went to Hope lodge. A place where during Andy’s surgery I was given a bed and comfort. There was a journal that I needed to find on one of the 3 floors. The guy at the front desk was very nice and we went to each floor looking for this public journal where visitors can tell there story. When I had stayed there I wrote an entry in it and I wanted to re-read it. Then I wrote another entry for today in memory of Andy. By this point I actually didn’t cry that much. The guy that helped me did the one thing that not many people think to do…. he asked me what my husbands name was and in that moment made Andy real again. All a grieving person wants to do is bring that person back to life in some way, even if for just a moment. Having someone ask his name is the most precious gift you can give.

 

I faced each terror at each building I was led back to and finally gained some peace.
God or Andy or both wanted to give me an anniversary gift today…a gift of peace and love.

I LOVE YOU ANDREW STACILAUSKAS… Andy’s song for me today.. Click Here

Healing Eyes

I don’t know what’s worse..

Waiting for good news or bad.

A year ago we didn’t have to wait, the bad news just blind sighted us out of no where.  A blessing in a way because we couldn’t get worked up about what the bad was that came. This time we have had ample time to imagine the worse, dream up the best, and hypothesize over ‘what ifs’.

I prefer surprises over planned surprises. Shortly we will be back at the hospital getting a CT scan that may or may not tell us anything. Either way, whatever results come back this week will drag.

Healing Eyes

Fire swamp

We are trapped in the fire swamp, trying to find our way thru the trees and dangerous fire bursts. There is a phenomenon called snow sand, you can’t see it very well while walking but the instant your foot touches it your are engulfed. It is a slow suffocation as you fall for what seems an eternity to the bottomless pit. The grains of Sand are so fine that it feels like snow, so you don’t notice it’s silently suffocating you by filling in your ears and nostrils and the instant you open your mouth for air it will consume you.

Our feet have slipped and the snow sand has taken us, it was a quick fall and as hard as we spread our arms out to slow the fall we still plummet. As I scream out for help my lungs fill quickly.
But then a vine is tossed in and it’s just within my grasp, I reach and reach because I know I must live on…we both must live on. Slowly I pull and pull, fighting back the sand. Once on the surface, air doesn’t come easily, it’s a feeling of death and dreaming.

It’s a suffocation of grief and fear consuming us. The fear of traveling thru this fire swamp is immense, the sands are always there and strike fast. Each time we rise and clasp tightly to each other until the spasms of fear subside.

Fear and time are now our enemy. Too much fear and not enough time.

But today we have each other to fight the journey ..tomorrow we have friends and family to throw a vine…and the next day is just the next day, it holds the unknown…

Fighting the fear is the hardest battle
Next is the cancer
And finally the future that we can never predict is always looming.

Healing Eyes

Beads

20121218-204524.jpg

We went to Gilda’s club and did the gemstone bead class. It was….interesting…awkward…and small.
The class fills up fast but there were only 4 older ladies there. Lots of beads, so I can’t complain, it was kinda fun.
We walk in the door, me and andy, one guy in a room with beads… It wasn’t a structured class, just grab and string the beads.
I’m not thinkin ill do it again, it always feels odd going to Gilda’s..it’s like we don’t belong.. Even though andy has cancer it still feels forced to be there.

Ah sigh…stress level 9.4…

Healing Eyes

Cozy

Thank you Doug and Rick.
The chair fits awesome and the room is entirely new and homey.
Even though I almost lost the chair out the back of the truck on the highway it made it safe and sound.
It’s relieves Andy’s pain and will help with his recovery over the next months of treatments.

20121207-131217.jpg

Healing Eyes

Odd world

How odd can one life get…hmmm let’s see.
How about having a hospital bed delivered to your house at 6 in the evening. Now that’s service!
Our living room is a bedroom, our dining room has a tree in it and our toilet is slightly broken.
Yoshi won’t eat and I have to pick up a recliner tomorrow. And bring yoshi to the vet.
Yup ok our life is odd right now.

20121206-184735.jpg

Healing Eyes

Home

We r home.
Sry for late blog but we got released Tuesday afternoon.
It was a ruff night but we survived and the first nurse visit happened today.
Still working on keeping the pain under control and learning how to do the tube feedings at night.

Tiring day…so short and sweet

Healing Eyes

Flowers

image

A moment of quiet at home.. Andy should come home tonight or Wednesday. I am betting Wednesday. He has a feeding tube to bring home with us and the insurance pays for it! I guess that’s rare. Thank you Kalamazoo college for your awesome health care! What else… Hmm… Well done and his elves have a nice surprise for Andy when he comes home but I can’t say what cuz Andy might read this 🙂 but thanks Donnie and joni and mysterious elves. Me and Andy walked alot yesterday and today so far. He is more himself. I’ll keep this as upbeat and non bitter as possible so I end by saying.. Thank you for flowers and food and everything. Now we enter the unknown of no stomach and more chemo. But hey no cancer is good.

Healing Eyes

Homesick

Oh woe is us..
Andy is feeling better and now spending nights apart is agonizing. Why oh why can’t we Go home Tuesday…I miss our house and being in same room at night.
The pups are sad and want to come home.

Andy is eating liquids (smoothies too)..he’s walking and talking. If the pain is under control they have to let us go.

Wednesday at the latest!!

Healing Eyes

Poetic rambling

Learning to cope ..
Learning to be on your own when your loved one is ill..
Not everyone has to endure these learning opportunities.
Those that do either break or bend … I think me and andy are bending like those dandelion wisps in the wind. A gust comes along and bends the stem and pieces of you fly away, taken away to some far off land. But Perhaps those pieces can touch others in some way.

A passing word with someone in the elevator that is going thru there own cancer story.
Someone listening to me play music on the grand piano.
A receptionist who asks how you are knowing full well that you are struggling with a loved one who has cancer…but it’s ok because she understands and another piece of me flies away.
Seeing pain in others takes a piece away…

There is no answer for what is happening..there is no road map..we are just willows in the wind

We r alive. We r still in limbo. We will be ok

Healing Eyes
12