With the full help, support, and guidance of our family and friends, I spent this past week preparing and setting everything up so that we can all pay our last respects to Jerome this weekend. I feel extremely blessed and fortunate for every ounce of outreach that I've received from literally everywhere. I will be sharing my specific thank you's soon.
Currently, Jerome's passing is still slowly sinking in for me, but I know that once everything settles down, the reality will become more and more apparent. I've already noticed that the few quiet alone times I've had this past week have been some of the most difficult and painful because this is when I am more aware of his physical absence. I've also noticed that Jerome has become my inner voice. I hear his voice in my mind and imagine how he would respond or what he would say when I'm trying to make a decision or think about something, and I can't help but smile. My spirits lift when I spend time with our family and friends and we talk about the memorable and funny things Jerome might say or do.
Many have asked me about Caleb, but in his true from, Jerome prepped him well when he started hospice. After doing research and utilizing resources from the hospice care team, he shared a very clear and concrete script with Caleb (because as a toddler, he is a clear and concrete thinker): "Dad has cancer. The cancer is getting stronger. Dad's body won't work anymore because the cancer will get too strong and dad will die. After dad dies, he won't be around anymore, but he will always love you, mom will be there for you always, and you will be a happy boy with mom." Jerome shared that this was the hardest thing for him to do out of all that he had to go through while on hospice. It was also extremely difficult for me to watch and hear Jerome tell this to Caleb everyday, but after he passed, I have been able to repeat this script when Caleb asks about his dad. I really believe that this consistency and clarity has helped prevent confusion for Caleb so far. Caleb continues to be the happy, curious, funny, rambunctious, and talkative little boy that we know him to be. This was Jerome's goal. I also added to the script that we will always remember dad. We will watch videos, look at pictures, and talk about him everyday. Each time Caleb goes to bed, we hug and kiss a bear that Jerome got for him that we have named Daddy Bear, and we say, "Good night Daddy Bear, I love you." We also do the same with a framed picture of him and Jerome.
Before this weekend's services and reality sets in, I wanted to share some thoughts about my amazing husband:
When I think of you, the word "Balance" sticks out in my mind.
- Your heart was full of passion, but you didn't let your emotions get in the way of making sound decisions.
- You were pragmatic and grounded, but that didn't stop you from going after your hopes and dreams.
- You were diligent and ambitious, but that didn't stop you from relaxing and having fun.
- You were cautious and private, but that didn't stop you from helping others and sharing parts of yourself.
- You were confident, but that didn’t stop you from constantly striving for self-improvement.
- You were self-assured, but that didn’t stop you from acknowledging your mistakes.
- You had a high self-monitor, but that didn't stop you from making everyone around you laugh with your jabs and one-liners.
- You geeked out hard with your video games, tech knowledge, and love for the cosmos; but that didn't stop you from keeping up with the latest men's fashion.
- Alone time was important to you, but so was having weekly gatherings with our friends to eat and watch football.
- You appreciated quiet days at home with Caleb and me, but you cherished going to or having big family gatherings.
- You were sensitive to peoples’ feelings, but you were honest and did not bend the truth.
- You were organized, prepared, and practical; but that didn't stop you from being open-minded and spontaneous.
- You constantly had EDM (electronic dance music) playing in your office and car, but you had your classic slow jams playlist on hand and ready to go when you felt like slowing down.
- You challenged and encouraged me to work up to my full potential, but supported and reassured me when I felt discouraged.
- You saw everyone's full potential, but respected peoples' decisions even when you knew what might be better for them.
- You disciplined and set Caleb straight when he would act up, but you gave him the biggest kisses and hugs whenever you were with him.
- You valued your individuality and independence, but that didn't stop you from connecting with others.
- Your conversations were light, easy, and funny; but that didn't stop you from having deep talks.
- The list goes on...
Of course I'm going to miss the big and obvious things that everyone knows about you, but I think I'm going to miss the little things the most:
- Your facial expressions, especially the one you make right after your first bite into a delicious meal.
- Your eyebrow raises.
- When we randomly get the same song stuck in our heads and start singing or whistling it at the same time out of nowhere.
- Watching our favorite shows together after Caleb goes to sleep.
- Cutting your hair every 2 weeks.
- Your crude but funny remarks that you only share with me whenever someone does something questionable.
- When someone seeks your wisdom about something and then you clap your hands and say, "I love it!", right before you go in on your advice or spiel.
- Watching you soften up and melt like butter when Caleb is around you.
- How when Caleb is talking too loudly, instead of telling him to be quiet, you copy him at the same volume to make him aware that he is too loud.
- Hearing you crack up in your office because one of the guys says something funny while you're playing video games with them online.
- When I can't figure something out after spending a ton of time on it, and you of course get it in an instant.
- Riding with you in your car.
- Praying together every night.
- Watching you strategically and successfully negotiate good deals.
- How you bluntly and directly tease our friends in a way that you only get away with because it's usually followed by your infectious laugh.
- The list goes on...
When we got married, we had grand plans and visions of growing in our careers together, traveling and seeing the world together, starting a family, creating a home out of our house, and growing old together. When you started hospice care, we talked about how the silver lining is that we actually accomplished all of these things, but we cried together about how we wished we could've done even more until we both were old and geriatric.
We also talked about how although you knew the end was near, you had the time to plan and take care of how you wanted everything to go. You made sure Caleb and I would be taken care of (excel spreadsheets and typed out instructions and all); you took the time to meet with people from all walks of your life and have good genuine conversations with them; you took care of your plot at the cemetery; picked out your casket; spoke directly to our priest to officiate your funeral; personally asked your closest men to be your pallbearers; and you prepared all of the videos, pictures, messages, and advice to leave your legacy for Caleb and to let him always remember how much you loved him as he continues to grow. In your last days, though they were difficult and you were in pain, we were still able to somehow make light of the circumstances and laugh together with jokes that we shared only between the two of us. Until you were no longer able to speak before your last breaths, you told me over and over how much you loved me, how grateful you were for me, and you held me with all the physical strength you could despite the little that you had. You worried about losing your mental function, but your mind stayed sharp and you articulated everything so clearly and genuinely before you couldn't talk anymore. Even after that, you remained responsive with your head-nods and hand-holding. You were able to do everything on your own terms, and this is how you lived life until the very end.
Today, my stomach turns in knots, my eyes well up, and my heart sinks every time I think about the reality that you are no longer physically here with me, but then I remember how you lived and how you loved and I am uplifted.
I love you always and forever, hunny. You are my heart and my life. I am so blessed and proud to be your wife. I miss you so so much.