Friday, December 24, 2010


One thing I have learned on this journey, this steep and rocky path is to never give up hope. I did. Many times over the past few years of David's illness, I totally and completely gave up hope. He would never get better. There is no cure for lung disease. He would die.

And he did.

However, I watched him give up hope, only to find it somewhere else. A kiss,  a cuddle, a smile, a shared memory, the voice of a grandchild over the phone. Life goes on until the candle flame goes out.

They advise you in palliative care to never give up hope. I used to get angry at that, for how can one hope when you know that death is certain? What good is hope?

Ah, but it's the focus of hope that shifts. You know there is no cure for the disease, that the end of life is near, so your "hope" shifts. You hope that the end will be peaceful. You hope your loved one will die in comfort and with dignity. You hope you will be there with him, and not at home or hastily picking up a sandwich in the coffee shop.

Until then, you go on living because that is what you know. David was in palliative care for just over two months. About a month into his stay, he mentioned to his doctor that his cataract was giving him more trouble than usual. An opthalmologist would be making rounds next week, how does that sound?

Inwardly I cringed. What on earth does he need an opthalmologist's consultation for? How much longer will he be alive? Does he really want to undergo a "procedure" at this stage of life?

It didn't matter for the opthalmologist did not come as scheduled, and would only be available next month. Too late in any case for David. I asked a friend of mine whose husband had passed away the year before. She said "well I guess they only know how to live, not die. My husband wanted to have all kinds of dental work done his last year of life; work he had been putting off for years. I went along with him - whatever floats your boat, honey. Maybe he wanted to die "whole". I don't know."

Two weeks before David died, his medical licence renewal came in the mail. As was our habit, I brought the mail to him every day. He looked up at me with a question in his eyes. I nodded my agreement, so he quietly wrote out a cheque, filled out the form, and handed the envelope for me to put into the mailbox.

He died a licenced physician - just as he had lived.

Wishing you and your loved ones a peaceful Holiday Season, filled with joy, hope and blessings.


mxtodis123 said...

Oh, dear Wendy, what a heartwarming post. I've been through the hope versus denial with hubby's family, and fortunately, 16 years ago hope won...and each day I continue to live with hope. Blessings to you.

Grayquill said...

This is maybe the most amazing post I have ever read. Only one who has walked this road could write such a piece. Very profound! Thanks for sharing! We all need hope. Merry Christmas

Anne said...

Thank you, Wendy, thank you so very much.

Hilary said...

Thank you for the reminder that there is always hope. Wendy, you are such an inspiration. Wishing you and yours a peaceful holiday.

Maggie May said...

This was a beautiful post, written from the heart and I hung on to every word.
May you have a blessed and peaceful Christmas.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

amelia said...

Beautiful, peaceful post. I haven't walked your road and if life follows it's natural course, I may never walk that road but I feel, as hard as it is that you are slowly coming through...

Have a wonderful holiday Wendy..enjoy your kids.

Q said...

Dear Wendy,
Many hugs to you this Christmas Eve.
Thank you for your honesty and sharing this most difficult time with us.
May you also know joy and peace.
Merry Christmas,

Celia said...

Peace and love to you Wendy, on this Christmas Eve. What a heartfelt post. You and David, such brave people.

Morning Glories in Round Rock said...

I always think of that Alexander Pope quote: "Hope springs eternal in the human breast". Hope is like a spring, bubbling up when you least expect it--taking you by surprise. The strength of the human spirit never ceases to amaze me. I have often thought it seems to burn brightest at the end of life and you catch a glimpse of the true beauty and spirit of a person. I wonder if that is what heaven is like, where the true essence shines pure and bright.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

What a fabulous post, Wendy... HOPE is always so important---especially at times when life seems hopeless.

I know that life has been hard for you without David, but I also know that you have HOPE and a desire to live, which is what David would want from you...

God Bless You--and I'll pray that 2011 is a GOOD and HOPEFUL year for you.

Ruth said...

A beautiful and wise post. I will remember your words as I work with those in palliative care. Wishing you a blessed and peaceful season.

Mary said...

Honesty, rationality, love. Wendy, you hit this one out of the ballpark. Lovely.

Merry Christmas, and I hope your year is filled with laughter and love.


Rose said...

Such a beautiful message, Wendy. I think Jenny/Morning Glories said it so eloquently; without hope there really isn't life. May you continue to find hope and peace in the coming year, Wendy.

Anonymous said...

This is so moving... a message of love and hope. Thank you.

christopher said...

Wishing you peace and hope as well.

Excellent post.

Jane said...

thank you.

slommler said...

Such a beautiful post of love, life and hope!! Thank you dear one for sharing your heart!
Congrats on your POTW award...well deserved.
A post of honest and poignant!

kcinnova said...

Beautifully written. Congratulations on your well-deserved POTW.

Moannie said...

This is a heart warming post, beautifully written and most worthy winner of Post of the Week over at Hilary's Smitten Image.

I'll be back.

Kat said...

What a beautiful post. You just keep living, until you die.
My father died from Alzheimer's last year. We knew there was no hope, and yet we hoped. We hoped he would remember us one last time. We hoped he could hear us inside his mind's prison. We hoped he was not in pain. We hoped he would have a peaceful death. And he did.

Thank you for this post.

A very well deserved POTW.

Naturegirl said...

Wendy this was a heartfelt touching post and one written with such grace and dignity for your dear husband who has now passed on.
His light burns bright in your heart for always.I wish for you this coming New Year that it is happier than the last. May each new day bring you closer to peace ..
I send comforting hugs Anna xoxo

Abba's Girl said...

Love to you Wendy. I pray 2011 brings peace, healing and joy.


white_lilly said...

Your words are always inspiring and alive, thank you for sharing so much with us. I hope this year is full of love and laughter


Lori said...

I am here by way of Hilary..congratuatlations on POTW..very well deserved...I read this earlier today and I sobbed. I read it again and I sobbed. Now I read it again, still tears...there is something about your message of hope that grabs my heart and twists it. I've never been here before and still I wish to send you hugs and to thank you for being so courageous in sharing your story of hope. Thank you. XX

ds said...

Oh, my. I came from Hilary's. Congratulations on being Post of the Week, but more importantly, thank you so much for this post.

I had a friend who passed away 3 years ago after a lengthy struggle against cancer, and like your husband, she was determined that it would not change her life in any way. It did of course, but it never changed her. That is the lesson that she and your husband have given the rest of us, and it is valuable and hope-full in the extreme.

Again, many thanks. You filled my heart with this.

E said...

With the new year I am starting a new blog. The old one will no longer be used. Here is the add

Wishing you a wonderful new year.
Grammy E

Anonymous said...

What a poignant, insightful post. I haven't been through this loss, but when I read something like this, I file it away in the back of my mind, for whenever it might be needed.

You have my sincere sympathy for your loss. May God bless you with good memories of your life together that make him continue to feel close.

Maggie May said...

Happy New Year.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Shammickite said...

It's a New Year and a Fresh Start.... enjoy your memories, and enjoy your future too!

deb said...

here via Hilary,

and I'm not sure what to say.
Hope is something I consider very vital , but can't imagine the grace and dignity to carry and hold it in such circumstances. I am deeply sorry for your loss, but thankful that you shared in such an eloquent and inspiring way.

hummer said...

Enjoyed every minute of my visit Wendy. Well said.
Hugs from one who has some understanding of the journey, different cases, but oh my the journey.
I love your granddaughter's picture. Now that is hope for us all.

Anonymous said...

Dear Wendy..what a lovely post! I didn't even want the post to end!! Thank you for your wishes...I hope 2011 will not be a stressful year for you.