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Tuesday, 13 December 2011

His Sweet and Cherished Life

By Mollie Hazen

How does one really define all the pivotal moments shared in another's life? So precious, so unique for each one of us. Yes?

I was thinking back to the memorial of my husband, Don, in late September of this year. What an incredible tribute in witnessing over 250 friends and colleagues from around the country coming together to honor my husband who died only the month before. Bitter-"sweet.”

Such sweetness comes from knowing that I was blessed to share decades of years and that many more moments with someone as remarkable as Don. The sweetness is mingled now with hot tears of memories reminding me of his tenderness, his unexpected ways of showing his love and respect for me and for us together. Such a gift - a priceless gift.

What a roller-coaster journey these last three years have been in my playing ever-changing roles of fierce advocate, case manager, care provider and, of course, very best confidant to him.

And in witnessing Don's aliveness, such unimaginable courage and strength that he continually demonstrated in waking up every day and facing what was always in front of him. His clear knowledge that his life - his cherished life - was being ripped away in bits and pieces by ravaging, out-of-control cancer cells that were simply unconcerned with Don's greatness of being was humbling to me and not well understood.

He never complained through what he endured and what he chose to confront. Even during the never-ending first two years of chemo and radiation treatments, his ground of stoic "acceptance" remained. My husband demanded to feel everything rather than be numbed by heavy drugs and medications. His almost inhumane courage - was stunning to witness by me - and by many others.

He did it in his most tenacious way, of course. He was a maverick - a man onto his own island. A brilliant mind. A respected force in our worlds. He was always going to be here - to protect, to teach, to photograph his stunning landscape pictures, to heal others. Wasn't he?

And then, also remembering that moment when I knew for sure that he was not there to answer my calls on his "emergency line" during his clients' sessions, felt like a startling wash of chilled water. That I was no longer going to hear his voice, his deep chocolate velvety voice, meant that our final good-bye could no longer be postponed.

Was it just a short while ago that I could not speak the stunning words "died" or "death"? I would remind friends, in an authoritative manner buried underneath the grief and raw pain, that those words were simply not acceptable to hear. Yes, I would respond in that characteristically known quiet reserved voice, "He is in our hearts", or "His memory lives within all of us now, or "He has moved on.”

I didn't realize how many euphemisms there really are for unimaginably unpleasant words. I was equally adamant about not using the word, "widow.” The very mention of that word conjured up a rather unflattering image of a large black widow spider, which I am certainly not!

Today, the ever-present grieving and depth of an all-now-too-familiar loss is still there. Yet there is also a feeling of deep gratitude for what "was" in wisps of memories not too soon to be taken for granted.

Looking out my kitchen window and glimpsing the wings of a hummingbird in its flight of grace, I am reminded of Don's passion, his spirit and his reassuring presence. I feel him here, again, with me - now as my angel.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. PLEASE read instructions for submitting..]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Dear Molly,

As sad as the passing of your husband was, it must have brought you great joy to greet over 250 people who came together to celebrate his life.

That is quite an honor and I know it made you proud to have been his wife and partner through the years.

I am certain that there were many people who took your hand and told you that he couldn't have done all that he did without you.

What a beautiful expression of your relationship with each other. Thank you for sharing it.

Beautifully done and very generous of you to share it..I am one who believes that if you really love someone, they become part of your very being and even when they die, that awful word, they are always there with you and for you..It takes work to get over the reality of their not being there, but time does pass. He sounds like a wonderful person & you were lucky to be with him all those years..you really didn't lose him, he sounds too loyal to ever have gone..i am sad for you and a tad jealous of what you had..


You have lost such a deep relationship that the transition amounts to reinventing yourself precisely at a time of profound pain, when one would think nobody could be up to such a challenge. It is good to see that you aren't shrinking back but opening up to gain the solace of other people's understanding, support and love. The task is daunting, but you are equipped with strong support, much insight and talent of your own, and wonderful warm memories. My prayers are with you.

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