Yes, Story

Friday, June 17, 2011

When I accepted Dave’s proposal to marry, and later said “I do,” I accepted the calculated risk that I would outlive him because of our age difference (women tend to outlive men anyway). Regardless, I had a deep sense soon after we met that I would know, love and “feed him pudding” in our old age together. Since then, pudding has been an ongoing reference for us. We’re not yet “both old” but pudding is one of the few foods he still likes right now!

I surmised at the time that marriage itself is risky, divorce rates are high, and if we had five great years that might be more that some couples. Who knows what any future holds? An auto accident could take either of us away. There are no guarantees in life.

It was just about five years after we married that the Hodgkin’s Disease was diagnosed. A year of chemo. Threats to his life. Meningitis, kidney cancer, pneumonia, spinal stoke, and on. So, I’ve lived most of our 27 years of marriage thinking from time to time about “if Dave dies.” (This certainly makes a difference to how we have lived, too. Never sweat the small stuff!)

During these threats it is not money, loneliness, ability to carry on that worries me; it has been the vision of going to a funeral service and having hordes of people tell me how wonderful Dave was, what a difference he made in their lives, to see how much he is loved, and hear the stories about him. I could never stand the vision that he really wouldn’t know the impact of his life, of him being himself, on others. I’m sure it’s why I don’t want a memorial service, not for my sake, at least. I know what I know about Dave and hold that sacred to our relationship.

Now I finally can feel assured that I have ridded myself of this demon vision! The legacy building – while Dave is alive to see it pass before him – of scholarship and stories is far more soothing that I anticipated. It provides me personal security. The memories are safe. His life has meaning and purpose beyond us. But most importantly, the one-by-one stories told are accumulating to create a theme of his life. To tell – no, show – him and the world through real life anecdotes that he is loved and his life matters. The stories speak.

“Read me some more,” he said on Friday. He was talking about the Guestbook on the David L. Hitchens website established for this purpose of preserving legacy and future development of the scholarship fund in his name. I think this is one of the first direct requests he has asked of me since the diagnosis.

It’s not ego, it is story: the powerful, personal, human activity for sharing and carrying on the morals and lessons of life. No riches can buy this, no poverty can prevent it. This may seem trite, but even with all the stories I’ve helped tell through my business endeavors, to feel the results myself on this level is indescribable. Dave is learning how his little drop of water ripples out far beyond. I am validated in my belief in him. Story is the vehicle. The words are captured and permanent. They will remain when all the world gets “back to normal” down the road.

The opportunity of having time to confront Dave’s inevitable death, and more importantly the tales and impact of his life, is a family and even a community luxury which cannot be underestimated. The opportunity comes through hospice, where we have expert support, care and advice about the means of death, but also through the conscious choices of his loved ones to make this journey together. We are fortunate, indeed.

2 replies
  1. Linda Shrauger
    Linda Shrauger says:

    I losted my husband Gary three years ago.I miss him so much.Since his dead my life has change but not for the good.I have two daughters and they have kids .My one daughter Amber has a little girl .And my other daughter has two kids little boys.Amber doesn’t live with me.And Hilary wasn’t living with me untell her low life boyfriend got in trouble again.He was working and paying for the rent.She can’t afford the rent.So she has to move home.I wan’t to sell my house but now i can.t.I feel like i have to put my life on hold .for my daughter mistake in life again.She dosn’t have a car .Because he reck it So i have to take her to daycare so she can drop her kids off and go to work.I raise my kids .Why did God take Gary away ? We need him so bad.I can’t do this anymore .Please let me know what you think?Linda

    • joan
      joan says:

      Linda, I am so sorry for the death of your husband and the difficult times you and your family face right now. The loss of our loved one can certainly put a strain on finances, relationships and our personal hopes and plans.

      There is help available through local organizations so you don’t feel all alone. Rather than thinking of your life as “on hold” try taking small steps toward the change you want. It begins with a phone call. For bereavement support, call your local hospice (find the number in your business phone book), they can either help directly or know where you can find personal help.

      This might also be a good time to check in with your spiritual guide or clergy. Religious organizations can often help both spiritually and with assistance for your home or family. Most also know of resources that can help you and/or your daughter through this difficult time.

      Best wishes to you. Please call to meet with someone in your town now. I care. ~Joan


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