Feeling how I’ve felt since Kim’s diagnosis: how did she feel? This is a thought that nags at me. Knowing the ultimate outcome, how did she keep her spirits up as she appeared to do? I know there were a lot of “last times” she rushed for – cream of celery soup (there’s an interesting story there), her deceased mom’s macaroni and cheese with tomatoes, lots of walks with me – something we loved to do, but something that, prior, things always seemed to interfere with. Walks with Jillian through the nature trails. Visiting her horses. Finishing the quilts she had planned for the kids’ Christmas presents. And finishing her own lap quilt for those winter chemo appointments that never came to be. So many things to do.
During our remaining time, I would generally be up and about between 6 and 6:30 to prepare for my work-at-home day. She would usually not be up before 8:00. Sometimes earlier, sometimes later – it depended on when she went to bed, and that depended a lot on her medications and chemo cycles.
Our means of communication when she woke up and needed help was text messaging. Usually things along the lines of helping her dress after a shower, helping put her shoes and socks on – stuff like that, because bending down wasn’t easy with the ascites, and putting socks and shoes on wasn’t easy with the swelling in her legs. Sometimes there were other issues I’d have to help her with, but the majority was pretty mundane. Through all of that time, I can only remember a handful of days where she said she felt depressed, or she wanted to cry. Me? My emotions were raw, and I would break down often, especially when discussing hospice, funerals, gravestones, and the like. (We prayed and prayed for that miracle, but we prepared for the event it was not received. I guess that’s how it’s done.)
Did Kim internalize her grief? I hate the thought of that; of her torturing herself over it in silence. Once you go through a bout of clinical depression, you build incredible empathy towards those doing similar. Kim had depression issues for much of our marriage, intensified, if not brought on by, my globe-trotting career.
Depression makes you feel trapped and hopeless. Knowing someone you love is depressed, and not knowing how to help pull them out of it leaves you feeling helpless and useless.
Oh – that cream of celery soup. That was about a week after Kim’s diagnosis, during all of the COVID grocery store frenzy. Kim wanted cream of celery soup. Ever since I’ve known her, one of her favorite comfort foods was cream of celery soup with wide egg noodles.
So, I went out to get her some. Store after wiped out store and nobody had it. I stopped, finally, at the local Busch’s Market. No soup. I was beaten. I walked into another aisle, praying “God, please! Kim wants this. Please let’s not disappoint her!” On an impulse, I went just one more time down the soup aisle, and, lo and behold: the rack now had two full rows of soup. I picked a can up, and sure enough: Campbells’ cream of celery! I grabbed all of them, and a couple of bags of wide egg noodles, and checked out…
Do you believe there’s a God in heaven that hears our prayers? I do. I don’t claim to know His mind – for instance: why would He help me find Kim’s soup, but not answer our prayers for a cure? – but I know He’s there, and He’s listening. He shows up in little ways sometimes.