These last few weeks with Tim those feelings came flooding back to me. I woke up each morning and as consciousness flooded in my first thoughts were 'please, please let him be talking just a bit more 'normal', let his strength seem just a bit stronger, let the miraculous happen'...I believed, I so profoundly believed. JoAnn never did begin talking 'normal', her brain patterns never shifted. What shifted was within me. I stopped searching for her to be 'normal' and began to appreciate who SHE was, the gifts she brought me, the sister she was. My oldest sister, Cathy, is gone now and JoAnn lives with us. I am so thankful for the person JoAnn is and the miraculous divine of her presence. Tim also never began talking more normal, his strength and speech declining until he could barely swallow. We understood then, it was not the decadron, it was not the seizures, it was the disease...microscopically coating his larnyx and slowly choking his life force.
I knew when we began the immunotherapy treatment that in reality it only worked 40% of the time with brain mets. I knew the chances were perhaps slim. But that was not what I chose to believe. I believed his 'story' would end differently. As truth began to reveal itself and I realized the destination was not to be the one I had imagined, I called our children home. Our daughter, Maddie, arrived from Houston on Wednesday. As we sat by Tim and she held his hand, I said this was not supposed to end this way...I promised your father it would not be a sad story...I promised all of you it would be a great story, a happy ending. It was then that she shared with us an excerpt she had read on the airplane from a book called "Being mortal: medicine and what matters in the end" by Atul Gawande. The premise, he stated, could be distilled down to the story of a great football game (Tim loved football). For the 3 hours of the game, things could be up and down--sometimes your team is winning and there is laughter and hope and triumph, and other times your team is losing and still there is hope and encouragement and belief in the possibility that yet they may overcome. The 3 hours bring us through the myriad of emotions of life and the joy of the promise it holds. In the last 30 seconds, your team loses the game...and suddenly all is lost. The previous 3 hours forgotten and only the end seems to matter. It was a failure of a game. We focus on the end as if the entire game did not exist. But in truth, it was just 30 seconds of sadness, 30 seconds of a long great game, and it is up to us how we choose to view that ending.
I choose to view it not as a sad ending, but a beautiful new beginning. Tim left us on Saturday, June 29th, our 29th wedding anniversary. A romantic to the end, he stayed to celebrate that day with me. His story is not a sad one, but a triumphant glorious one. The destination of the journey we were on was not the one I had envisioned, and it was only in the last week, the last 30 seconds of that game, that I opened myself to the Grace of a different possibility, a different destination. One completely unknown to me and our children, but one the Universe had chosen for us and one I was willing to embrace for the man I loved so much and what his story was to be. The sadness I am left with is deafening, the hole in my soul so large that at times I feel I may sink into it. But I know that sadness is as important as joy, and this hole Tim's bodily loss is carving into my soul will one day just be that much greater a space to encompass joy. He brought me joy our entire life together, and I know in his leaving he wants only to deepen that capacity for joy.
Our 5 children have surrounded me like a blanket, the greatest salve to the wound. In his last days I said to Tim, but how will Nate do it? How will this brave 20 year old son of ours carry on your legacy? And he slowly pointed to the letters on a page that spelled out the words, "He will, with your help." And I knew the truth of that statement. We would carry on Tim's legacy. With each others help, and the help of so many others, the strength of this community of love which Tim had so inspired. A new beginning blossoming in a story with so many new beginnings. We all have our stories, each one so unique and so filled with pain AND so filled with joy. I don't understand why the Universe chose to take Tim now, perhaps i never will, but what I do understand is I can choose how to react to it. "Life is 10% what happens to us, and 90% how we choose to react to it". Tim chose to look for the positive, to believe the best about the people around him and always make life a celebration. We will continue that celebration and hope to inspire others to do the same. There are no sad endings.
As I close this caring bridge chapter, a wren sits on the branch above me. In the hours following Tim's departure, this same wren came and sang its song as we searched for some meaning, some answer...we found this on the Wren...
"The wren will come to you to guide you through the dark time. It has the ability to pick its own route through the brambles. It knows when to be heard and when to be seen, it has old worldly knowledge of destiny and past life. It is heard by people choosing to listen, but it is only seen by people that it allows to see. As day turns to night the wren will ponder, reflect, settle for the night using the sunset to prepare for sleep, meditate and bring the next day to fruition, what has happened is in the past, what will happen is going to happen anyway. Now is the time to enjoy the heat of the sunset and sleep, to dream and manifest reality."
I love you all, thank you all for your unfaltering support and strength and love sent our way. May Tim continue to inspire us all to live life to the fullest, always a celebration, and to see each ending as only the possibility for new beginnings. 🙏