True Love True Self
True Love True Self
"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference."
- Reinhold Niebuhr
T ragedy hit home in 2003 when I lost my loving husband, Patrick Joseph, to fourth stage lung cancer two months before our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. He was diagnosed on May 5th and gone three weeks later, May 31st, 2003. The shock was devastating. There was no time to say goodbye, no time to plan, and no time to know what was really happening to us. We had been together since we were nineteen years old and at the age of 47, I had never known my adult life without him. Never before had I experienced such deep depression in my life until I witnessed the loss of my first love, my dearest companion, and my soul mate. Collapsing into a very 'Dark Night', I sabotaged both my physical and mental health as my desire grew to connect with Patrick on the other side. I felt abandoned, angry, and discouraged with life.
Not only was I traumatized by the loss of my husband, I experienced four more family deaths shortly after losing Patrick. Each one contributed another layer to a deepening despair beyond my comprehension. First, I found my mother-in-law, Lanny, dead in her apartment a year after I lost Patrick. My relationship with her had been tenuous at best in the past. She had chosen a life of alcoholism and I didn't understand her choice. When I was facing the loss of Patrick, my connection with Lanny strengthened. She, too, had experienced loss at an early age when Patrick's father, Jack, died tragically in a car accident. She was just thirty years old and the mother of two young children: Patrick who was almost three, and Sarah who was just six months. Lanny understood my sorrow, my pain, and my growing loneliness. She listened to my grief and empathized. I now understood why she had chosen alcohol as a pacifier for her pain. Losing her so soon after Patrick passed only deepened my unbearable loneliness.
Just when I thought I was regaining some hope in my life, I was struck again with another devastating tragedy. One of the most important men in my life, my father, Jean-Guy Daoust, was also diagnosed with fourth stage lung cancer. His tumor was in the same place as Patrick's, behind his heart. There was no detection on previous x-ray's; no signs, no warnings - same as Patrick. I was by his side in the hospital when he made his transition on January 2nd, 2005. The holiday season proved to be more than challenging for my entire family. When the doctor removed his oxygen mask to see if he could breathe on his own, he couldn't. As the technician tried to replace it, the mask broke in half and time was the victor. It was a cruel parallel to lose the two men that I loved the most in my life to the same disease. I loved my father dearly, and his suffering was a reminder of all that I had witnessed a year and a half earlier with Patrick. I could only view life as brutal.
In October 2005, I witnessed one of my dearest friends of twenty years, Shirley Hillard, slip into a coma two months after she was diagnosed with liver cancer. She had been very concerned for my wellbeing after I lost Patrick. She delivered soup to my doorstep hoping that I would benefit from her care-taking nourishment. She called me every week and listened to my tears. She apologized when I accused her of saying insensitive things. This was a gift to me that showed her character and her compassion. I called her my 'mom-away-from-home'. The day of her funeral was unbearable for me. Not only was Patrick not there to share in my grief and support me, I couldn't believe that I was losing another loved one.
Finally, after struggling to keep Honey (my cat of twenty-one years) alive, I experienced her last few breaths as she passed away in my ar