The art of living after the death of a loved one is quite challenging, to say the least. I lost my husband, Ian Sharpe at the age of 44. He died after a seven year battle with lymphoma. His struggle included three stem cell transplants, a one month hospital stay at Sloan Kettering Hospital in NYC, and a seven month visit to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Care Alliance in Seattle, Washington. Our family lived in a Marriott Residence Inn for the entire seven months!
Ian did have a four year remission in the middle of his battle, which allowed some time for creating lasting memories as a family. Vacations at Disney World, attending Camp Sacramento – near Lake Tahoe in California, and the opportunity to coach Jenna and Robbie’s soccer teams were all enjoyed. Unfortunately night sweats, fevers and weight loss crept back into our lives while celebrating our ten year wedding anniversary in Bermuda. I knew at that moment that we were going to have a bad ending…
When Ian succumbed to death on February 22, 2004, I realized I was relieved. I was relieved for him – his fight was long, painful and arduous. I was also relieved for myself – I hate to admit it – but I was. The task of caring for the dying is difficult and all consuming.
My mother arrived in Connecticut the day after his death and stayed with me for a couple of weeks. I couldn’t eat, sleep or breath. I was truly happy for him, as the pain and agony were over. I was terrified for myself, I was alone with two kids – 8 and 10 years old. We then all flew to Minnesota and stayed at my mom’s for a week. It was nice to be away from the house. It was comforting to be taken care of. Our final week away, we went on a cruise to the Caribbean. It was a family affair, as my brother’s family and my mom and her husband attended. Being on the ocean, in warm breezes and surrounded by people that both loved and cared for me (my family) and by people that had no clue what had just happened to me was cleansing and refreshing. It was nice to get away.
The scariest part was returning home to an empty house. Opening the door would make it real – Ian not being there would be proof that he died and it was only me and the kids now. It was dreadful. But, I did it. I stepped over that threshold and didn’t look back. I made the decision that life would go on and that I needed to take charge. Of course, I had my sad times and my fits of rage and frustration for being left here on this earth. I kept myself busy with positive activities. I took up Pilates and bought new clothes – I had been living in sweat pants for the two years before Ian died! I met my friends for lunch even had my house Feng Shuied (an ancient Chinese art of arranging your possessions for positive life results). The Feng Shui changed my life – many more blogs about that in the future!!!
It is now many years later, and I’ve never been happier. I’ve remarried and my amazing, fabulous husband, David, adopted my children. Ironically he always wanted children, but never wanted to do the baby thing – and he always wanted a son names Robert – yes my son’s name is Robert! I’m also thrilled, as I am now pursuing my life long dream of helping others to achieve their happiness in life.
Losing a loved one is awful – but if you keep moving forward, while always remembering your loved one in your heart, and allowing their whispers of advice to guide your way, life can be even sweeter and happier – I guarantee it.
Love and Blessings! – Lisa