Tag Archives: cancer

Lots written already … more to come

Sometimes I am motivated by forces I cannot understand, let alone explain … such as the force this afternoon that pushed me into looking into the volume of blog posts I have published about the loss of my bride to cancer.

I looked at the archive and noticed that, well, holy crap, I have written a lot about this journey I am on.

Here’s the link that would give you an idea of what I’ve written already about Kathy Anne:

Search Results for “Kathy Anne” – High Plains Blogger (wordpress.com)

Now comes a question I have asked myself: When am I going to give it a rest? My answer is simple. Not any time soon.

I am motivated partly by selfish concerns. One of them is that writing about my bride is cathartic, therapeutic and even a bit comforting. We all need comfort, therapy and catharsis when circumstances compel them, right?

The worst day of my life is fading farther into the past. I get that I shouldn’t wallow in the intense pain that overwhelmed my family and me in the moment. I truly am not wallowing in it. As a matter of fact, I am actually getting past much of the pain as time goes by.

I also know that I am not alone in this grief. What we are feeling in this moment is very much like what billions of other families have endured since the beginning of time. They got through it. So will we.

However, my attempt by using the blog to comment on our loss is just to give some affirmation to others who have gone through what we are enduring. Therefore, the quest for support is not a one-way endeavor. I hope to give as much affirmation as whatever I receive.

So, I am going to stay on this topic, writing about my family’s journey as time and events compel me.

What’s more … writing this blog keeps me alert.

Flaw appears in emotional armor

Readers of this blog have been informed of the progress I am making as I walk through the darkness of grief and intense pain over the loss of my dear bride, Kathy Anne.

The progress is real and for that I am glad to report I am doing better each day. However …

I have discovered a flaw in the emotional armor I have developed. It presented itself to me while Toby the Puppy and I were taking a quick stroll around our Princeton, Texas, block. It came in the form of having to tell someone who didn’t know about the loss my family and I have suffered.

A couple lives about six houses west of us. Puppy and I approached them as they worked in their driveway. Husband asked, “Where’s your better half? All I have seen is you lately.” I gulped, caught my breath and collected myself before telling him and his wife and daughter, “I lost her in February to cancer.”

I have been able to keep my emotions more or less in check for the past week or so. It’s getting easier … until I have to tell someone who doesn’t know the story. 

I walked through the quick version of the events that started this past autumn, then through the brain cancer diagnosis Kathy Anne received the day after Christmas, her post-surgery rehab stint and then the seizure that ultimately took her from us.

Telling that story — even in its abbreviated form — proved to be a difficult task this evening.

You know what? I got through even that struggle with relative ease compared to what I likely would have experienced, say, a month or two ago.

The journey continues.

Getting relief from grief

Oh, how I enjoy writing this blog, particularly in recent months as I have sought to deal with my intense grief and heartache over the loss of my beloved bride.

Kathy Anne passed away from cancer in February. I have sought to tell my story without getting overly sappy. Sappiness might be part of my DNA, but I recognize that it isn’t for everyone. So I have sought to keep my blog posts about Kathy Anne relatively free of it.

I hope you’ll bear with me for the time being as I continue on this journey. Truth be told I am doing better today than I was a week ago. I thought I was regressing a bit, but it didn’t happen.

What do I credit for my continued recovery? I am going to give credit to this blog, which is my venue to tell you what is on my mind and in my heart.

Doing so has released much of the pain. Along the way I hope to have offered a lesson or two to those who are enduring similar tragedies.

I said at the outset that I am bolstered by the knowledge that I am far from the only human being ever to experience such a loss. Others have gone through it and come out OK on the other side.

I will too. Of that I am certain. Before I arrive, though, I will need to continue to express my thoughts on this blog.

Spoiler alert: There is more to come.


Up, down … then up

My emotions are playing tricks on my heart, as they keep spiraling high before they head in the other direction.

This latest journey to mend my heart has taken me nearly to the Atlantic Coast. I have shed a few tears talking about my bride, Kathy Anne … whose story you know by now.

At this very moment, though, I am feeling far better than I was the other day. Indeed, I seem to be turning some sort of emotional corner. The heart-mending will be a forever project, of that I am certain. I am understanding better the need to give myself more time.

It’s only been not quite six months since I experienced the worst day of my life. It seems like about, oh, an hour ago when I got the call from the hospital that I had lost my bride to cancer. The emotions still run raw on occasion.

But the upward swings are lasting longer than the downward spirals.

Thus, I am looking forward to more of the same.


Grief: individualized, indeed

All of my friends and family have told me this repeatedly since I ran smack into the worst day of my life.

Do not put a timetable on anything as it regards how you will mend your shattered heart, they have said. Grief is as individualized an emotion as any human being ever will experience.

I have learned that lesson as time marches on since the passing of my bride, Kathy Anne, to the ravages of cancer.

It’s coming up on my five months since she passed. It remains a struggle, to be sure. Friends who lost spouses a lot longer ago than I have tell me they still break out in tears without warning. They still struggle to hold their emotions together when certain dates come and go.

They all assure me that time will make it easier to cope with it, but that I should not expect it to disappear. It will stay with me for as long as I walk this Earth. I get it!

You see, this is the first such experience that I have felt. The loss of my parents was in one instance shocking and in the other was expected. The shocking loss of Dad in that boat wreck in September 1980 caused my blood seemingly to drain from my body the moment I got the news. Mom’s passing from Alzheimer’s complications four years later saddened me, but in a different way.

Time eventually mended my heart after their deaths.

This one feels unique. Kathy Anne and I were together for 51 years as husband and wife. Her diagnosis came the day after Christmas 2022. She was gone six weeks later. How am I supposed to cope with that, given the optimism to which we clung after hearing about her potential prospects once she began her treatment.

We didn’t anticipate the aggressive nature of the cancer that had struck her and the savagery it exhibited as it grew back.

All of this has contributed to my continued pain as I trudge along on this journey.

I know my family and friends are right. I know what to expect and I know what not to expect as I move ahead. I’ll just ask everyone to bear with me … and I know they will.


She had astonishing intuition

I have struggled with whether I want to share this blog post with you, but I have concluded that I need to offer a tribute to my late wife’s astonishing intuitive power.

With that, I’ll start at the end and work my way through it. I believe my darling Kathy Anne felt in her gut that she was sick a good bit before we received the cancer diagnosis on Dec. 26, 2022.

Kathy Anne did not reveal what she might have known. She was not wired to do that. It was her stoic nature that compelled her to keep it quiet.

I lost my bride to glioblastoma cancer of the brain on Feb. 3. She fought a brief — but very fierce — battle against the disease before it claimed her.

Now for a brief flashback.

We returned in October 2022 from a lengthy trip in our travel trailer. We hauled our trailer to the West Coast, visited family and friends. Then we returned home. On our way back to North Texas, Kathy Anne broached a subject I wasn’t expecting from her: She wanted to sell the RV. It was time, she said.

Kathy Anne laid out plenty of reasons for selling the vehicle: We had traveled far and wide in our three RVs; we were weary of battling the little problems that kept cropping up with them; we could sell the RV and then decide how we wanted to spend the rest of our life.

I signed on. Sure thing, I told her. I am ready to do something else.

So … we sold it. We pocketed the money and then, barely a month later, she began exhibiting some curious symptoms. She began losing her balance. She was stumbling — a lot.

Kathy Anne also had undergone a significant loss of weight over the course of several months. Our friends would comment on it and she would blow it off, saying she had spent a lot of time power walking through the neighborhood; that’s how the weight came off.

It sounds plausible to me even now. But … then came the decision to go to the hospital in McKinney the day after this past Christmas. The doc told her of the mass they found in her brain. Her reaction? Typical stoicism. “Let’s just get it out of there,” she said.

I look back on all this now and wonder: Did she know something she couldn’t share this past fall? 

I have told members of my family that Kathy Anne was the most intuitive individual I have ever known. As I recall the sequence I have just described, I am convincing myself that her marvelous intuition was at work. Quite obviously, I cannot prove any of this.

Thus, I have just explained why I have struggled to tell this story.


‘Better,’ but not yet ‘good’

I believe I have made a reasonably profound conclusion upon returning from my westward journey to clear my head in the wake of my beloved bride’s passing from cancer.

It rests in an answer I give to those who know me and who are acutely aware of what happened to Kathy Anne on Feb. 3.

They ask: How are you doing? How are you feeling?

My answer: I am better. I am not yet good.

The conclusion I have reached? It is that I might never be “good” the way I used to define the word. Does that mean I am going to wallow in my grief? No. It means — as I perceive it — that I will have to accept that the pain that shattered my heart will remain with me for as long as I live.

My task, therefore, will be to carry on even as I continue to hurt. The two elements are not mutually exclusive, as those who have been through it have told me.

One dear friend — a fellow I have known since we were in high school — counseled me on my trip out west to “not be afraid to move forward, but never forget where you’ve been.” He speaks from his own experience of having lost his wife to cancer just a few years ago. My friend is a wise man and I take his advice seriously.

My trip was a good tonic for me. I returned home to North Texas feeling more peaceful than I did when I departed with Toby the Puppy. I am feeling better today than I did a month ago.

And you know what? I am not going to look for the “good” feeling. I will know if and when it shows up … kinda like the moment I first laid eyes on the girl of my dreams.


A ‘fulfilling’ journey

Rarely — if ever — in all my years walking this good Earth have I enjoyed a “fulfilling” time away from home.

I had one of those experiences during the past month on the road.

My wife passed away from brain cancer on Feb. 3. I wanted to get out of the house for a while to clear my head. Toby the Puppy and I put a lot of miles on my truck … 6,629 of them to be precise. We saw many family members and friends on our trek to the Pacific Coast.

I have received a number of gratifying responses from those who read this blog. I have written of my pain and the journey I took to help alleviate it. Kathy Anne and I were together for 52 years and her illness came on quickly and it advanced in a savage fashion.

Some of you have expressed thanks for sharing my journey with you and those expressions mean more to me than I can possibly articulate in this brief post.

I have proclaimed that I have accomplished my mission by clearing my head of the confusion that overwhelmed me along with the rest of my family. I am thinking more clearly now about how to proceed with my future plans, which I acknowledge remain a work in progress.

My heart still hurts. I won’t try to repair it overnight. Or even in the next few months or even longer than that. I have sought to develop coping mechanisms to deal with the pain that I expect will flare without warning.

I also have learned that I need not apologize for those moments when I weep. So … to those who read these words and with whom I will have personal contact, you are hereby advised to expect these episodes.

All of this my way of declaring that my journey was fulfilling and was the type of adventure that my beloved bride would agree is necessary to cleanse one’s soul.

I am glad to be home.


Live it to the fullest

PORTLAND, Ore. — One of the lessons I have gleaned from my journey out west in the wake of my bride’s passing from cancer has been something I’ve known all along.

However, it is being driven home to me as a stark reality. It is to live one’s life fully and to never, ever take for granted that you’ve got a lot of time left on this Earth.

Kathy Anne likely didn’t see the diagnosis coming when she received it on Dec. 26. We had hoped to buy her some time, that the treatment she was scheduled to receive could “control” the lesion sufficiently to give her a good quality of life.

It didn’t work out.

She was gone in six weeks. It was a stunning outcome to an event I didn’t believe was probable. Yes, it was possible and I suppose I knew it could end the way it did. I just didn’t expect it.

The journey through the Great American West will continue in due course after I finish visiting friends and family in and near the city of my birth. I believe, though, that I have reached one undeniable conclusion at the midway point of this journey.

It is that I am going to relish the sunrise every single morning I am able to do so. Every day will be an adventure. I might not verbalize it when I awake, but I will certainly realize it as each day unfolds.

That’s not a bad way to go as I keep taking these baby steps toward the light.


What happens next?

This retirement journey on which I embarked has taken an unexpected turn, as I am now traveling alone.

OK. Many of you know that already as I have written about my bride’s passing from brain cancer. Kathy Anne was my life partner for the past 51-plus years.

So … what’s next? Obviously, it is far too early to predict anything about where I am heading. I have the strongest support possible from my sons, my daughter-in-law, my granddaughter, my sisters and my bride’s brothers and their families. I also have many friends around the nation … and, yes, the world.

Some of my friends have endured the pain I am suffering at this moment. I will lean heavily on them and their “expertise” in losing a spouse.

I want to stipulate, though, something many of you might already have surmised. Kathy Anne was far more than just my spouse. She was the woman I longed to meet when she appeared before me all those years ago. The Presbyterian preacher who married us took us through a personality test and determined, based on the results he received, that we were “incompatible.”

Kathy Anne and I laughed out loud for decades at that preposterous notion. Indeed, our “incompatibility” outlasted his time as a clergyman; he quit the ministry not many years after declaring us to be “husband and wife.” But … I digress.

Now comes the retirement journey that will continue in some fashion. It won’t be the same — quite obviously — but it will go on.

Where it leads me remains the greatest unknown answer I ever have sought, or ever will seek. I intend to find it … wherever it is.