There is a point to all of this that often gets lost since, when I am specific, I target others who have lost their spouses in my posts. But there’s something here for those who HAVEN’T – and that thing is for people who love ANYONE; not just their spouse.
Like the ghost of Jacob Marley warning Scrooge to mend his ways, I offer the following point:
With this in mind, I implore that you become and remain aware of your relationships. Give your wife, husband, mother, father, child, grandparent… no matter who: give them a hug and a kiss whenever you can. Be patient with the irritations that come with any relationship. Never forget that neither you nor they are permanent. Remember the finite nature of this life, and you will have no regrets if one of your cherished ones should pass out of your life.
I know this is very general. And I am keenly aware of how hard it can be to follow that advice – even now after having experienced the loss of my life partner. But I try and I will continue to try to remember that, at any moment, they could be gone.
I cannot tell you how much pain comes with such a loss – if you haven’t experienced similar, my words cannot possibly convey the width, depth and breadth of the hole that is left behind – not just a figurative hole in your heart, but a gaping maw in EVERYTHING that your life was, is, and will continue to be. Regrets are like razor wire around the periphery of that hole, tearing you further as you try to rise above the edge of that abyss. Don’t let the neglect of your relationship be one of those regrets. If you manage this alone, all of what I put to digital paper here is worth the effort to me.
When Kim was first diagnosed, our PCP, Dr. Elias, referred her to Dr. Jacobs at Providence. When we spoke to him, Dr. Jacobs explained that he was a surgeon, and, based on the pathology report, the nature of Kim’s pancreatic tumors made her case inoperable. We took notes, nodded our heads, and expected that we wouldn’t be hearing from him again. In preparation for this meeting, we had asked St. Joe’s to forward him a copy of her CT scan, but it didn’t arrive in time for it.
A few days later, as we were driving to drop Kim’s sewing machine off for repair, the phone rang. It was Dr. Jacob’s. He had reviewed her scans and talked to us about what he saw. For instance, he estimated that the tumors had likely been developing for about a year and some other things we had not heard from any of the other doctors we’d spoken with. He also pointed out a few things, like very expensive pancreatic enzyme replacements that would help make her more comfortable – including tips on how to get them either free or highly discounted. He then told us to stop by his office so Kim could get some samples of pancreatic enzyme replacements to carry her until we could get a prescription for them (our prescription insurance did, thankfully, cover them). Of note: he wasn’t getting paid for any of this.
We listed him in the “genuinely good human being” column but didn’t have any further contact with him after picking up the samples.
A week or so ago, a very good friend of mine had a (thankfully!) benign growth and his spleen removed. As we were chatting about his adventure, he mentioned “Dr. Jacobs.” “Dr. Jacobs at Providence? Dr. Michael Jacobs?” I asked. Sure enough. One and the same. He was in exceptionally good hands…
St. Patrick’s day. My feast day. A day that the family has traditionally gathered for a corned beef and cabbage dinner. The first one without Kim.
Kim loved these dinners, and she would have particularly loved this one. I had purchased a packer CAB (brisket) – the biggest I’ve ever seen – from Sam’s club about two weeks ago. I cut it into points and flats and had them brining in the basement refrigerator all week. Yesterday afternoon, I pulled the largest of these and sealed it up for a 36-hour sous vide. I kept the brine to add to the vegetable boil so that they would have that nice corned beef flavor we crave on this day as if they boiled with the meat in the traditional fashion, and the strategy worked perfectly. To all of this, I added my signature beef sauce and a loaf of soda bread.
Unfortunately, Jeanette had to work, and Jessica wasn’t feeling well, so it wasn’t a full house as I had planned, but Kim’s dad made it over and enjoyed both the meal and the company. The meal was great – the flavor of the meat was a little cardamom-heavy, but the color was perfect. Surprisingly a little tough for sous vide corned beef (likely a facet of the quality of the meat). But otherwise, perfect!