Jeannie slept 13 hours after taking her chemo pills on Friday night, October 12, 2018. And then played with grandson John on Saturday morning. Then after a nap she went out singing for three hours and got home late. Sunday morning we attended church and her beautiful singing of the Lord’s Prayer once again amazed me.
This is our life.
For the next six months Jeannie will take chemo for 5 days, followed by 23 days of treatment holiday. Here’s hoping she “tolerates” the chemo this well right through into March of 2019. An MRI every two months will check on the growth of the GBM tumour and as long as symptoms remain minor she will enjoy her retirement to the fullest.
We know Jeannie is dying. That is her task. Dying well – as she is living well.
What is my role? I am her husband of 40 years, her primary caregiver, her best friend and sometimes the person who understands her best.
Last week a friend suggested that my role is to be an usher. Ushers don’t really do much, as you notice when you go to a formal event. We attend to the visitor. Where would you like to sit? We offer assistance or a brochure. We help.
This is a hard role for me. I want to take charge – be the quarterback.
But a good usher guides, waits. Be calm. Be peace. Be a faithful witness. All that will happen to Jeannie is natural and normal – it’s just never happened to us before. We can live this part of life well.
Another friend said she knows this must be scary for me. But it’s not. I’m very sad that my sweetie, my best friend and my lover is dying. I cry a lot. And I rejoice in her living presence with me. I’m not depressed, but grief fills my days. Joy too – living with Jeannie is easy and a delight.
For example on Saturday, September 22, 2018 we went canoeing on the Ghost Arm in a big 34-foot voyageur canoe. Jeannie and her sister Joni, Annie and John, and 9 others paddled the big craft from the dock around to the northwest, up to where the tiny flow of the Ghost River comes into the reservoir.
There we sang a lovely song together, River by Bill Staines. Jeannie sang the verses, we all joined in on the chorus. Jeannie and I have sung this ballad many times in this canoe, but the words of the last verse had special meaning this time.
Someday when the flowers are blooming still
Someday when the grass is still green
My rolling waters will round the bend
And flow into the open sea
I choked as I tried to lead the group in the chorus, Jeannie poked me in the ribs with her elbow, and our grandson scowled at us even as we all sang the refrain through our tears.
River, take me along in your sunshine, sing me a song
Ever moving and winding and free
You rolling old river, you changing old river
Let's you and me, river, run down to the sea
It takes a village to raise a child, we’ve been told. And a village to support each of us when we die. Thanks for your support.