Just 3 1/2 years ago, I met a beautiful man who was full of fun, love for his family, love of life, travel, bush walking, dancing, dinners with friends, hot tasty food, music and laughter. And oh how he loved his grandchildren. He had four of them, and missed out on meeting the fifth one, born just after his death.
Not long after Matt and I met, he found out he had Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. It was only the lump on his neck that alerted us to the fact that there might be something sinister going on.
I nursed him through some very difficult times, and for a while we both believed he might be able to beat this awful disease as he was so fit and healthy. Even though the medical profession were telling us otherwise. Then two years into our time together I was diagnosed with stage 4 terminal cancer.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to go on those trips together that we’d planned and dreamed about. We didn’t get to go to those restaurants, drives, do those things to the garden or the house. We didn’t get to do a lot of the things we’d hoped to do together.
Sunday 7/7/19 would have been his 67th birthday.
I wanted to take some time to write and let you all know that Matt died on 7/5/19, (9 weeks ago as I write this). It seems strange for me to see our video replayed, and read my words while knowing that he is no longer with me.
He died peacefully being held by us as he slipped away. I say slipped away, because that’s how it felt to me. He seemed peaceful.
Matt and I had such a short, intense, and very loving time together. 3 1/2 years was not long enough. And if I didn’t know better, I’d say “not fair”. But whenever I think that, I remember that at least we had the good fortune to meet in the first place, and have time to say goodbye. But our home feels so empty, and I miss him patting the seat of the couch next to him for me to come and sit by him. I miss all the things that used to drive me mad. I miss the little looks of love. I miss the big dreams of a future we still dared to dream of.
Caring for someone who is dying is never easy. But caring for the man who used to hold you in his arms and who was so strong, fearless, easy going, and fun, feels really strange. I just keep waiting for him to come back home. I think I like to stay home sometimes in case he will return and I want the house to be warm for him.
I would not have coped with out my support team. With doctors and hospitals a constant for both of us for the last 3 years. They played such a huge part in our time together in the last 6 months of his life. I was on my own in caring for him, with his small family scattered too far away to be able to help. Melbourne City Mission Palliative Care were the ones that helped both of us to understand what would, or might, happen. It always felt to Matt and I that there was a choice to call out to them if we needed them. Or to have the respect they gave us of having our time alone together.
Even if I had not had my illness while trying to care for him, I know it would have been untenable without their support. But I remember feeling so tired, and scared of not being able to care for him properly because I am so weak and tired all the time myself, with low white blood counts, and my illness taking it’s toll on me. I wish we had had more time together to dance to Leonard Cohen, and take that trip to Portugal together.
Good night my Thursday Island Man.
Until we meet again.