Monday, January 18, 2021

Gratitude

We tried to practice gratitude in our life together. Gratitude is the glue that holds a loving relationship together. We often feel grateful, but it is important to speak and act on that important feeling. Think how powerful this statement is: “I am so grateful; thankful for you in my life. I delight in you!” During tough times, Sabine would often say, “David, what can I do to make your day easier?” Gratitude can be practiced in so many ways.

In my recovery, I stumbled upon many of our joint birthday and Valentine’s cards we exchanged over the years. They are filled with appreciation and name the things she loved about me. I never felt unloved in this four-decade relationship.

As some of you know, with the fun-filled and active help of her family, I kidnapped her and took her from Minnesota to South Dakota which permitted same day marriages! 

And we lasted 40 years!

The abduction off the streets of Northfield. MN (with me in costume — cape and beret) on a cold winter day, December 29 1980

I found the following handwritten note from Sabine in my dresser drawer yesterday morning. It was written after the pandemic began. 

______________________________________



I am grateful for…

1. YOU — because you are handsome, smart, strong, a good provider, witty, fun, amazing supporter, share most of my values, are loved by many people — and too many other things to write!

  1. 2. HAVING KIDS (and an extended family) — they live away from us and we raised them to be independent of us and they are all different from us.


  2. PARENTS — that they all are dead during what would have been a stressful time (during this time of pandemic).


  3. THE FARM — it has never looked better and it is everything I ever wanted that I didn’t know I wanted.


  4. THE PANDEMIC — it has opened my eyes.


  5. CANCER — keeps me humble and has changed my priorities.


  6. ST. PETER’S — because I think of other people and I give some to others.


  7. ALL THE MEMORIES — like trips around our country, international trave, all the things we did at the church in Portage (St. John the Baptist); parties, parades, and friendships.


  8. TO BE HERE — STILL ALIVE!


  9. PEOPLE — having others who are walking this walk with me (Tony and Darlene, the Schaafs, Jeff and Bonnie, our dog Mocha, Kathy and Andy, Ted and Barb, my siblings, Rainer and Barbara, and many others).


    _______________________________


    I am blessed beyond my highest expectations in this life to have had her as my best friend, partner, lover, mentor and muse!


Sunday, January 17, 2021

An Invitation to New Growth


The Irish poet, John O’Donohue has encouraging words for me as I negotiate this strange, rocky path ahead of me called “Life Without My Beloved.” I hope you, too, will find encouragement:


“When the mind is festering with trouble or the heart torn, we can find healing among the silence of mountains or fields, or listen to the simple, steadying rhythm of waves. The slowness and stillness gradually takes us over. Our breathing deepens and our hearts calm and our hungers relent. When serenity is restored, new perspectives open to us and difficulty can begin to seem like an invitation to new growth... Indeed, the beauty of nature is often the wisest balm for it gently relieves and releases the caged mind” — John O’Donohue.


In 2010, our family suffered the loss of a loved one with the suicide death of my son, Matthew. 
Two years before, my eldest granddaughter, Allison, died in a traffic accident. As a family, we grieved, we cried, and we came together. There is a path forward — restoration. And, yes, “when serenity is restored, new perspectives open to us and difficulty can begin to seem like an invitation to new growth.”

Matthew’s memorial gathering in 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Being Lifted Up

I don’t usually like to use bible verses as cudgels to make a point. What I like to do is reflect on how my experience might be in keeping with the the wisdom within sacred literature. 

In dcoing that, I have been trying to process some unfamiliar feelings I have experienced since Sabine’s death. It is the feeling of being lifted up, of being buoyant (just writing this brings tears).

I think it is because of your cards and letters,


Facebook postings, offers of support and (of course) your prayers and gifts of food. They have literally, lifted me up. It is a comforting, even heady buoyancy; I am not alone. It is “wind beneath my wings” which brings the 41st chapter of Isaiah into mind: “Those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles. They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.”

It is a feeling of soaring and finding fresh strength. For 40 years, almost 1/2 of my life, Sabine was the “wind beneath my wings;” she lifted me up in so many ways — passionate love, best friend, muse, mentor, teammate. And that’s what I am missing — yet, at the same time, feeling you lifting me up and me (an independent, “take control” guy, who won’t ask for help) loving it!

Yet grief makes us human. Over the years, I preached and taught that our deep love for a partner will find one of us in the position of having to “close the eyes of the beloved.” How we prepare and do that matters. And, in the meantime, we treasure each day, seek to improve ourselves by being a more loving, committed partner. 

As I sit here with my dear dog, Mocha, nearby I am immersed in the essence of Sabine; a presence I still sense. I never really thought love was eternal... but I am sensing it is.

From what I have learned, the faith of both Christian author C.S. Lewis and Thomas Merton was raised when long-time bachelor Lewis found and loved Joy Davidson and Thomas Merton, a cloistered monk, fell in love with an unnamed woman who nursed him during a stay at a city hospital.    

In my grief, I get it. I get it more strongly, more intense, than ever; to truly be able to give and receive love from another human being requires us to be vulnerable to the beloved, to be open, to trust that our openness will never disregarded or used against us in disagreement — and that has a lot to do with the Divine. 

Sabine taught me so much. She was a private person, introverted in many ways, but her love and commitment to me was fierce, not even our children could upset it! 

Sabine never lost her self, this “specialness.” We did many activities together, camping, biking, running, kayaking and skiing. But other things she left to me, like skydiving, and continuing to comment on police. When she retired from a 20 year police career, that was it. She did that — and now she found other things to do. She had this sense of self.

And that’s why I still weep — not out of anger, or “poor me,” but out of joy for what I had and still cherish — her physical presence. She is moving from sitting next to me where I can put my arm around and comfort her — to my heart. It will take some time. It’s a transition. But it will happen.

In the meantime, thank you so much for lifting me up with your love, prayers and concern.











 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Ambling Forward

 


I rose again this morning in the early hour of 3 s.m. Rather than toss and turn in bed, my trusty canine, Mocha, and I rise and get going. I can’t tell you how complicated a things are when your partner dies. I mean, Sabine and I have in so many ways prepared for her death — that’s what a terminal cancer diagnosis can do.

Sabine was concerned for these 13 years about what would happen to me when she died. She was organized and her love for me showed through illness, setbacks, fallls, and tumors.

Today is the 21st day without her. I am regaining same balance. I cry less — you know, those spontaneous tears that come after a beautiful memory of an event we shared and took joy in. I am not angry. I am just sad. But having said that, we both were fully blessed that we had 40 years together and the last 13 of them was an extra gift of managed blood cancer and kidney failure.

Hey, when we were given lemons (kidney failure, broken bones from falls on ice, a barn loft, and our boat) we squeezed those lemons: chose home hemodialysis and took that dialysis machine traveling — camper, boat, mountain lodge, and train. We made sweet lemonade!

So where am I now? I live here in our old farmhouse in the unglaciated hills of south central Wisconsin, I truly sense her presence here — I won’t be moving away. As a wrote earlier, Sabine has died, she has not “passed.” She remains deeply embedded in my heart and psyche, so embedded that I know I will never be without her presence. (Not quite in keeping with my seminary training, right? But I have to tell you that I better understand the resurrection stories of Jesus today because of what I have experienced; that is, how some relationships can never die, can never pass.)


My goal in the few remaining years I have on this earth is to live more simply; to simplify my life.. Each year on New Year’s Eve we wrote personal and family goals. One was to “live more simply so that lathers may simply live.” I guess it’s not unlike the last stage of life that Hindus recognize — renunciation.

This farm has become my hermitage as I try to live a more integrated life without Sabine’s physical presence, It is one more effort to make

beauty out of grief. As St. Paul told the new Christians in Corinth, “O death, where is thy sting, O grave, where is thy victory?” I now tell you. 



Wednesday, January 13, 2021

About Grief and Passing

 

I am deeply relating to John O’Donohue’s poem on grief (see below). 

The poem reminds me that going through grief is work, hard work`. I am working it and it is difficult. Yet we all know grief in one way or another. We also should know that grief delayed, not dealt with, will come back at a later date with vengeance! 

Grief should not a stranger to us, should it?  Grief comes with the territory of being human. It may be what makes us human.

Since Sabine died, I find myself rising early, somewhere between the hours of three and four. I get up because I have work to do. I don’t want to toss and turn trying to get back to sleep. So, I get out of bed and begin my day early.

In am sure my trusty companion, Mocha, wonders what is going on. But faithful dogs are good at adjusting. She is happy just to have me around. I watch what she does. I follow her lead. When I get tired, I nap.

This morning I reading some of the poems I wrote to Sabine during our courtship and when she was diagnosed with cancer. I was absolutely smitten by this young woman — I was 43, she was 28. 

`I was in a  personal and professional crisis when I met her and she helped, inspired, and showed me what love really was — self-giving, devoted togetherness. And having had the opportunity to love and cherish her for these 40 years seemed to make me a better person. Our attraction was a powerful chemistry. We literally were “joined at the hip” — as I said, smitten!

At the same time I struggle with her loss, I realize my own mortality. Who is David without Sabine? Yes, I have good health and am relatively frisky, but I am going to be 83 years old in a few months.

While she rests in my heart, I wonder where she would like me to go, what would she wants me to do? I know she wanted me to go on, but what does that mean? What is “going on”?

How shall I live without the beauty of her presence, companionship and earthly (and earthy) love? O’Donohue’s poem touches on this: he tells us “when the work of grief is done the wound of loss will heal.” I believe it is true, at least I hope it is. But I’m still working through this; the wound is still fresh.

Sabine loved this old farmhouse. She asked me to let her die here and in my arms, not in a sterile hospital setting. I promised I would do this. And as I sit here in this early winter morning, in the warmth of our wood stove, I feel her presence and warmth. I feel good about keeping my promises to her.

While I grieve, I am not experiencing the loss of what I would call her spirit. She has never left the “hearth” in my soul. I hope that feeling never passes. 

You may talk about a loved one “passing.” Not me. Sabine died. She has not passed. I won’t let her. I keep my promises.

____________________________

Grief

By John O’Donohue

Gradually, you will learn acquaintance 

With the invisible form of your departed;

And when the work of grief is done,

The wound of loss will heal

And you will have learn

To wean your eyes

From that gap in the air

And we able to enter the hearth

In your soul where your loved one

Has awaited your return

All the time. 

_____________________________________________________


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Walking with Lazarus

 

Jesus calls Lazarus out of the tomb, but it is his friends who "unbind" him (Jn 11:1-53).

I am slowly, yet hesitatingly, emerging out of this dark tomb called grief. 

It's not that I don't want to, it is rather that I don't want to leave her behind -- if I am to come out of this, I want her to be with me. I will and can carry her with me -- surely God can understand this!

I also know have a better understanding today about death and resurrection than I ever had in seminary or 25 years of parish ministry. I am walking forward on shaky legs as a newly-resurrected person; emerging from a tomb like Lazarus did, and being "unbound" through the love of his friends who gathered around him that day. 

But what is this new life of resurrection going to be like? Certainly not like before, but how will it be? What lies ahead?

Such strange and perplexing feelings. Such a strange experience going from death to life...

This morning I was comforted by the words of Desmond Tutu. He reminded me:

“Dear Child of God, I write these words because we all experience sadness, we all come at times to despair, and we all lose hope that the suffering in our lives and in the world will ever end. I want to share with you my faith and my understanding that this suffering can be transformed and redeemed. There is no such thing as a totally hopeless case. Our God is an expert at dealing with chaos, with brokenness, with all the worst that we can imagine. God created order out of disorder, cosmos out of chaos, and God can do so always, can do so now—in our personal lives and in our lives as nations, globally… Indeed, God is transforming the world now—through us—because God loves us”― from God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time.


O God, be gentle; comfort me in my transformation and ultimate redemption. Amen.

Monday, January 11, 2021

We Need Each Other!

One of the many Couper family reunions.This one was houseboating on the Mississippi River

One of the Couper family reunions — connecting! This time it was houseboating on the Mississippi River strongly influenced by Sabine!

______________________________________

I received a thoughtful, caring note this morning from a total stranger. He wrote:

“I just read with sadness the news about your wife's passing. I wanted to send my wishes for peace and comfort in this difficult time.  We have not met, but I have been following your videos throughout the pandemic, and they have meant a great deal to me.  Thank you for your wisdom and moral courage.  Be well.”


I replied: “Thanks, John, you are kind. I think again and again, we are only here for a short while. We know that, yet we do not. One morning we wake up and realize this is over. Now the choice is before is. Do we live or not? And if we chose to live, how shall we act? Amidst this crushing loss, now 18 days into this strange territory, I am sensing her presence and my first steps toward healing. While we are separated during this pandemic, we are still connected in many powerful and emotional ways. That it what moves me slowly forward,” 


What I wrote back to him is true. It is because I am thinking about doing those short videos on life and living again. They sustained my from March until the presidential election. I will most likely sob through the first of them, but I am feeling a need to “walk and talk” again. (I hope you have been able to read the first of these blogs where I have told the story of Sabine’s death after 13 years in the cancer-struggle. I believe I have found some deep learning that will be of help to others who will, as most of us will one day, “close the eyes of their beloved”).


It got me thinking about Parker Palmer’s suggestion that we “let our lives speak.” When we speak, we teach. He writes in “Let Your Life Speak:”


“Self-care is never a selfish act - it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.”


I have always thought that my blogging, whether about police, living during a pandemic, or thinking about death was my self-care. But alsoi sensed that it might help someone else as well.


I have now made a connection with each one of my eight children who, in their own ways, are also suffering. We are connecting with what we have available today— the internet and its video capabilities.


And I am finding that while we are physically separated by distance, there is still this important, life-giving and healing connection of family. (I had preached that to my congregation early in this pandemic that, though separated, we could through God’s spirt, still be connected. I think I was right in this understanding.)


The same time I feel this family connection of love, emotional support and shared grief, I feel the same buoyancy, a palatable “lifting up” from my church family and friends. Yes, we need each other — people do need people. Yes, I am in the process of healing.


If we are to thrive as human beings, we need connection. (Let me pause here to say “thank you” to all of you who have reached out to me in prayer, loving thoughts, and compassionate notes. You are helping me slowly put together a shattered heart.


But I admit that I blog (which is really electronic, open journaling) primarily for myself, for survival, for processing my life, and seeking to let it speak and be brought to full health. The last year, 2020, was a rough one; a tough and tumble year for all of us. I was often hearing Barbara Streisand sing “People” from the Broadway musical, “Funny Girl.” People really do need people!


I chose life! I chose to let my life speak; to let you know about my road forward — it may also be your path. For you, too, may have to do what I did — to close the eyes of your beloved.


I hope to be able to show a way; not the only way, but a way that seems to be work for me. It’s what I have learned so far in this mortal world.


The questions are: How now shall we proceed? How shall we act? 


Amidst my crushing loss and grief, l now 18 days into it, I sense Sabine’s presence here in this old farmstead; the home she loved for all our 40 years together. Through it and the power of place, I take my first steps forward. 


While we all experience separation, even loneliness, and even depression, during this pandemic, we can still connect. That feeling of connection is what moves me down the road.


I believe this is true, because I am thinking about doing those short videos on life and living again. I will most likely sob through the first of them, but I am feeling a need to “walk and talk” once more. (I hope you have been able to read the first of my blogs beginning December 25 (the day after Sabine died). In it I told the story of her dying after 13 years in the cancer-struggle. I believe I have found some deep learnings which will be of help to others who will, one day, be left behind to “close the eyes of their beloved”).


I pray that the coming year will be a better, kinder, healthier, and peaceful year for all of us.


Thanks for being here.



A large wall hanging given to us by our kids after one summer reunion. Sabine had another reunion scheduled this summer with a Bluegrass band, tend, and barbecue, but the event had to be cancelled because of the pandemic. Our last gala event was five years ago here at the farm.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Where’s Your Learning?

Has it been over two weeks? It cannot be. Maybe two or three days since she died — not fifteen!

Twenty-five years ago and after seminary, I enrolled in a year’s residency called Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Meriter Hospital in Madison. It was a life-changing event for me. Before, Sabine got sick, she would tell me that she, too, wanted that experience and put it on her “bucket list.” Unfortunately, she did not get that opportunity, but she did actively walk with me through this intensive, learning process about life, death, and dying. 

One of the primary questions that always arose from our group meetings was “Where’s the learning?” Or, now that you have experienced this situation, this event, what have you learned? This became a welcomed mantra in my ministry and life with Sabine. 

We can ask ourselves, now that this relationship is broken, where is the learning? Now that we are retired, where is the learning? Now that we lost our job, where is the learning? Now that your loved one has died, where is the learning?

This, of course is not new in human evolution. It is long-standing, ageless wisdom, a wisdom that asks us to reflect on our actions and where we find ourselves; an effort to learn and grow, to improve.

So what have I learned since Sabine died?

1. Fear is dangerous. Grief and loss are like fear (CS Lewis) and in the face of it, I wanted to run away. But I am learning to resists running away. I am practicing being more courageous.

2. People matter. In the face of not wanting to live life without her, I though about going with her. If I did, I would be rejecting all I had said I believed, taught and preached. I could not do this. I sensed my friends and family members praying for me. It would not “let my life speak” (Parker Palmer) the truth I professed.

3. Touch matters (hugs!). LIving in a pandemic creates necessary isolation. This can lead to loneliness and depression. Being able to form a nearby “pod” with best friends Jeff and Bonnie are (hugs, a meal, and Netflix) was a major step toward healing my shattered heart. I don’t think this could be done with strangers. Jeff and Bonnie knew me and Sabine intimately and had been on our long cancer journey with us from day one. They came to the hospital when Sabine and I learned about the presence of cancer. Friends with history matter especially.

4. Faith matters. Without hope, faith in a loving and present God, I would not have made it. I had no anger towards God. We all know the situation == everyone of us will die — there are no exceptions (sorry). The challenge is in the question: “How now we will we choose to live?” Faith in a loving God enabled me to say to God and Sabine, “Thank you, thank you for 40 years of life with this amazing woman. Thank you for the years beyond the medical prognosis of a 2-year “date of expiration!” (As another dear family friend would say when we all camped together in the mountains. “Look out there, David, the only response can be “gratitude!”).

5. Love matters. My love for her is bigger, more spiritual, more eternal, than I ever thought. While I was afraid being in our farmhouse would be lonely and unbearable, I found the opposite. I deeply sense her presence (reminding me of John’s Denver’s song to Annie, “You fill up my senses...”). I deeply sense her presence even in the bed on which she died. And it is not only a presence of location but also of physicality. I sense her (with God’s help) healing the heart of the broken man she left behind and who still, always, will deeply love her. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Love can be eternal.

Whew! So that’s my learning so far. I am sure more awaits me in this fantastic life and the good earth we have been given.

May your day be blessed.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Come, Walk with Me!


Will you walk with me? As I try to cope with the death of Sabine, wife, companion, lover, best friend, muse, you may want to come and walk with me through this blog site. I say this, because we may be able to learn some difficult things together.

Let us remember that there is nothing more certain in our life than death. Everyone of us will die. And some of us, will be, as I say, left behind to “close the eyes” of a beloved spouse, friend or child.

Are you prepared for this? In my life’s experience I would have to sat, we prepared, we did the “right” things along this 13-year journey. But when it happened, I was not prepared for the glut-wrenching, flooding, lonely pain Sabine’s death caused in me. I, too, wanted to die, wanted to just run away.

I simply cannot imagine what her death would have done to me without out conversations about it, writing obituaries, our faith, and teaching others about “final choices.”

So, how did we prepare? When we received Sabine’s terminal cancer diagnosis in 2007 we were faced with a choice. We could either avoid it or embrace it. And I was lucky enough to have a woman in my life who believed the same that I did — we embrace this just as we did every other challenging event in our lives — when we encounter lemons, we make lemonade; we “seize the day!” We prepare. We decided to embrace the journey ahead of us — each day we were given, we seized it; we grabbed hold of it.. The short videos on YouTube we made last year are good examples.

We seized through the suicide death of one of my sons, we seized through kidney failure, a stem cell transplant, a failed effort for a kidney transplant, falls resulting in broken bones, a growth on her spinal cord, and just about every chemical and method known by science to arrest those cancer cells in her blood

And we went about this daily “seizing” for 13 years. When we met and fell in love we decided to be a team — team efforts are always better than individual efforts — especially a team of lovers!. Sabine always said, “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful!” It’s true. It wasn’t perfect, but all in all, it was wonderful!

Now about retirement:

During my working years, I thought of retirement as something to go TO; an opportunity continue to grow; to even soar; not an end, a new beginning. I think I did that. I followed the advice that I gave to many of my officers who were thinking about retiring: “The question is not about leaving from, but going to. Where you are going? What are you going to do during those 20 to 30 years of your life in which you will be retired?

I often spiced up the advice by telling a story about a senior officer who had retired a number of years ago. After only a few years of retirement, he died. “You remember him don’t you?,” I would say, “He loved two things in life, bowling and drinking beer, but after he retired, you may remember, he gave up bowling.”


The story illustrates one of the challenges in our culture — the use of alcohol (and other drugs) to deal with life’s pains, depressions and disappointments.

I wanted to make sure I had something go to when I retired. And God Almiighty was more than gracious to provide me with a suggestion. (Another interesting story!) A week after I retired, and with the blessing of my dear Sabine, who had her concerns, I went off to seminary with her blessing.

I am now approaching another retirement brought about by Sabine’s death: retiring from being her loving partner and focused on her care. I am still blessed to be still serving a small Episcopal congregation near Milwaukee as we try and negotiate being a community “separate, yet connected.”

Just this week, a friend forwarded me a copy of Arthur Brooks’ article in “The Atlantic” magazine from last May. It was about “the hero’s journey” and why so many people (especially men), find themselves unhappy in retirement. 

In the article, Brooks wisely observes this about retiring:

Plan to spend the last part of your life serving others, loving your family and friends, and being a good example to those still in the first three stages of their own hero’s journey. Happiness in retirement depends on your choice of narrative.”

This advice parallels the Hindu tradition of a man’s life (I write “man” because it seems to me that this is something men, more than women, struggle with. But I may be wrong).

In the Hindu tradition, a man goes through four stages in life: Student, Householder, Retired, and Renunciator. The last stage is the act of stripping oneself of all attachments; giving away all possessions and, literally, going about in loincloth and begging bowl! (You can read more about these stages HERE).

I am not yet at the fourth stage, but this does call me to think about its great potential to foster a person’s spiritual growth!

As for now, I am content in trying to do what Brooks suggests: to serve, love, and be a good example. Yet, within that, I hear the “Householder” in me saying, “Yes, David, but what are you going to DO — what’s your chosen narrative going to be?

What about you? What stage are you in life? And, yes, what’s your chosen narrative? What are you going to DO once you are retired and not hero-struggle? 

I can tell you that retirement will not be like your work days, but the choices you make could find you living in a very satisfying time of your life. Even with cancer, Sabine and I found a life of satisfaction and worth.

I will leave you with this piece of wisdom, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”

We press on — we dance! 


I invite you to follow this blog as we embrace this journey and share what’s going on in our lives.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

“She Was a Wonderful Light...”

 A Note From One of Sabine’s Physicians


“Dear David, I was so sorry to hear about Sabine. Dawn (Sabine’s dialysis nurse for 12 years) told me she wrote her own obituary which was so endearing and just like her. I read it after another friend saw it posted. 


“As you probably know, she was absolutely my favorite patient during my entire medical career. I loved hearing her stories


of how she got into accidents and the adventures you two took. 


“She was a wonderful light in this often dark world. Life is so short, yet she lived it to the fullest. There are countless people she has touched on her journey. I am lucky to be just one of them. 


“Please take care of yourself. May God’s blessing and love be with your family.”

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

You Are My Sunshine

Sabine is, and always will be, my sunshine...

In my grief, I don’t want to lose a most poignant and touching night the day before she died. 

It was the day she asked me if she stopped treatment what would think. I immediately burst into tears, Yet I assured her I would be with her and keep my promise not to take her to the hospital.

That night, I suddenly awoke with the melody and lyrics of that old country tune, “You Are My Sunshine.” I hummed it to myself. But in the morning, and through the day, I kept singing it.

The next night, approaching Christmas Eve and her death, I kept singing it off and on. After coffe-time, I asked her if she heard me sing during the night. She gave me “the look” and said, “I did, David, but I just wanted quiet...” Which prompted me to say, “Yes, but you will always be my sunshine!” Yes!


“You Are My Sunshine” by Kina Grannis

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

When We Met Mr.Cancer: December 30, 2007!

 On December 30, thirteen years ago, our life changed —Sabine, my 54-year-old wife of 27 years, was in the hospital and all was looking very grim. 

I vividly remember those crazy, fear-filled days when I thought I was losing her. When I searched online, it revealed a short life-span was in store for those diagnosed with the fatal blood cancer disease called “multiple myeloma.” And on top of all this, the cancer caused her kidneys to fail and we were looking a routine dialysis as well as a stem cell transplant and various chemotherapies.    

How did we proceed and not give up? How did Sabine, with a team of great physicians and nurses, and a loving, passionate husband, fully live and additional 14 years until December of 2020?

Along the way, how did they discuss death and dying and those “final decisions” with a sense of love and integrity? It’s all on these two blog sites.

For those of you who, perhaps, may just be entering life with cancer, and those who love and care for you, our story, told on this blog, beginning with the first post on December 30, 2007, may be helpful and just what you need.

For our story is about hope, love, teamwork, and carpe deim (seizing each day which we are given by our Creator).

Sabine often said to me, her children, friends and caregivers, “Remember, life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful!” And though not perfect, with many bumps and tears, it was, nevertheless, WONDERFUL!



Grieving


Grief

Poetry is a path forward for me as a smothering grief slowly and painfully, but slowly, opens and I begin, haltingly, to breathe again.. 

I find that in John O’Donohue’s poem, “For Grief.”



Gradually, you will learn acquaintance

With the invisible form of your departed;

And when the work of grief is done,

The wound of loss will heal

And you will have learned

To wean your eyes

From that gap in the air

And be able to enter the hearth

In your soul where your loved one

Has awaited your return all the time.

___________________

It is my faith that finds peace among my sorrow, tells me what I believe is true, gives me the courage to go on, and helps me to find the welcoming “hearth in my soul.” Amen.