Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Furthest Point

It's hard to believe that it was been 24 weeks since Dan passed away... technically we've reached the six month point. I have a couple of observations about what I've experienced, so indulge me.

First, I really had no idea what was going to happen after March. The first two months, I wasn't working so it was really about getting through the day. I never once stayed in my bed all day and cried. It just didn't seem like a good thing to do. But I didn't really do much of anything- so I think it was pretty much a blur. Then you think it will start to get better around months 3-4. Those were actually the worst thus far. I wasn't prepared to keep going downhill. I wasn't prepared to go to work and not have any motivation. That was irritating. And it's only been about 4 weeks since I started to feel a little more normal. Really, you have no idea what it's like, and as it's been said many times- everyone's experience is different. I promise you- I will never use the phrase "I know how you feel" because none of us does.

The first 6 months- I think it's like the triathlon I just did. While waiting to enter the water for the swim, they corral you into large groups. I hadn't bothered to really look at the course, so I asked the girl next to me- "So we just swim out to the buoy and off to the left?" She laughed and said, "No, you take a right and swim waaaaaaay down and then all the way back." I was like- uh oh. I had done all my swimming in the pool, and had been swimming up to a mile. However, when you see the distance laid out in a lake... uh, yeah. Not the same. Looking back, if I knew how much distance I would have to cover in the past 6 months, would I have even had the courage to get in the water & begin the recovery?

But, I do get in the water. Convinced I was going to need to conserve all my energy, I went out all the way to the last point where I could stand and not have to tread water. I stayed in the back, not wanting to get kicked in the face (which happened later). And then- you're off. Swimming in murky waters. You can't really see where you are going and it's almost dark, with the exception of the 5 seconds your head turns to breathe. I start off swimming in one direction, and about a minute later I realize I am completely off-course. Crap- I adjust. Head back in the murky water. Just thinking- if I make it to the farthest point, that will be enough. So I kept swimming & readjusting, kinda irritated at my slow progress. I reach marker #1 and make the turn back. Now, if I can just get myself past the starting point.... this involves a huge wide turn, and probably another 2 minutes correcting myself. I went all the right, just to have to come all the way left and up in the same place I started.

Just like the last 6 months... I tried some things and for a few seconds , I was on the right course, and then I put my head back in the murky water. But I just have to keep going, because if I don't, I will literally drown- in the grief, anger, sadness, lonliness. I feel comforted, because I know that if I really need them, there are people there waiting to pull me out of the water. They won't let me drown. I may not need them because I want to finish on my own, but it's a comfort to know they are there.

Eventually I settle down during the swim, just picking out little points to get to, and just grinding it out. Then, I finally realize I might just make it out of the water without drowning. And it's pretty emotional. I try to pass a few people and eventually do. All of a sudden, I am out of the water, running to the transistion. It wasn't pretty, but I made it.

Yep, that was the first 6 months. It wasn't pretty, but I made it. And with a little bit of momentum. I am not silly enough to think the hard part is over. Now it's about truly beginning my own life, and that will be equally hard. I will move much more away from the "Dan's fiance" label to well, just me. I like being known as Dan's fiance, but I can't say that forever.

So what the next 6 months will bring- I have no idea. I am smart enough not to place any expectations on it. But I have the lessons that I will take with me... I will drink 8 glasses of water every day (this was the best advice I got, meaning take care of yourself & the small stuff). I will wear lots of bright colors because life is too short to wear black. I will keep surrounding myself with my friends and family- the number of which has doubled. I will keep doing the things that make me happy. I will keep trying to figure out how to make a difference in the cancer world. I will keep Dan in my heart every day. And I will keep writing... so stay tuned.


Erica said...

You really are an inspiring writer. I lost my husband 2 years ago to colon cancer (he was 32 years old). Everything you write is so very true. I really look forward to your blogs - in some strange way I feel like I know you and I really care to hear (or read) how you are doing or what you are doing. Thanks for sharing! Continue to take care of yourself - you're doing an excellent job working through your grief. You should be proud of where you are!

monster said...

Meg - Congrats on the triatholon -- what a feat!!!! Truly an accomplishment to be proud of! i'm so glad you followed through with it!!!! YAY!!!!
And, yes, it's hard to believe it's been 6 months. But, as you said, you do need to take on your life as you -- and we're all here to support you in doing so, being inspired by Dan, not forgetting him, but using him to make us better people and help guide our future.

Anonymous said...

Meg, I so look forward to your blob entries because you have the knack of espressing what is in many of our hearts. For me, Dan's mom, the grief is getting more and more profound. I cry every day, sometimes multiple times a day now. In the beginning it was easier to be "in denial" because it wasn't like I saw Dan every week. Now it is on my mind constantly. perhaps that is due to the work many of us are doing to support the upcoming golf fundraiser for NCCF. The hole in my heart keeps getting bigger and deeper. Knowing Dan won't be there in person for his own golf tournament, or for Thanksgiving, or for Christmas - it is so PAINFUL. I know his spirit is with us, but I still hurt so much. Cicily

Anonymous said...

What great accomplishments you have made, Meghan: the physical race that you have completed and the emotional one that you continue to work through. Having read your recent blog entry--you are so right about not truly knowing what someone else has gone through, what their very personal experience has been like for them. Your telling of your experience is so valuable--it's informative and builds understanding within others.

Obsessedwithlife said...

That's a neat analogy. SO wonderful to hear your voicemail today :). Talk to you soon!

Anonymous said...

Meg-please don't stop writing, your journey is amazing and I know that it is helping so many people heal-keep up the good work, you are an amazing, strong talented person.

Ken said...

My wife, Sheila, of one year lost her 20 month battle with lung cancer last Tuesday, the 15th. She was a non-smoking athlete who died way too soon.
I was referred to your site by a friend, Christi, whose husband, Allen, is also suffering from lung cancer. We met through my blog (, and they came down to San Diego from LA a few weeks before Sheila passed away.
I've only read this one entry and will be back for more. I liked your analogy about the murky water. Obviously that's exactly where I am. Problem is I don't want to get out of the water. We were/are very close and her absence is very painful, almost intolerable.
So I will read more of your experience to learn how you coped.