My Blog

I do not start this journey lightly. The idea of writing and sharing my thoughts and experiences is a powerful one. I'm doing this for several reasons, the first has to be for my own therapy. With such an immense loss in my life, I need to give myself every chance to feel a purpose.

Last summer I told Kirsten that, despite her ongoing fight with refractory Hodgkin's lymphoma, I was happy. I was deeply sad, depressed, and struggled with the meaning of it all. But, I was happy. Being with Kirsten made me content. Not having her with me leaves me with a void of true happiness. As I've mentioned to many, I can laugh, have fun, enjoy the moment, even look forward to something, however, that satisfaction of inner happiness is not there.

I am so grateful for the people and dogs in my life. My son, mother, family, Kirsten's family (including the four-legged variety), our friends, and, of course, our Lab Finnegan. Many of you will hear your own voices echoed in my writing. I needed and will continue to need the tremendous support that has been offered to me. Thank you.

I also write for Kirsten. In life, Kirsten, let's say, guided me. She still does and always will. Having said that, I can not guarantee that any future clothing purchases will be entirely fashionable.

As Kirsten was a champion of the healing power of writing, I hope to pay tribute to her. Kirsten has a tremendous legacy because of who she was and how she lived. I wouldn't speak for her, although if I tried, there would be a strong chance of a visitation, but I hope to add to her story.

If my sharing helps anyone who may relate to some of what I'm going through, that would be the best tribute to Kirsten I could give.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Letter To Kirsten

Dear Sweet Pea, Soul Pea, Darling Face, Button, Kirsten Powell, Bun,

I miss you. I'm so glad we were together and always will be.

Oceans carry hopes, dreams, and wonder. Deep, powerful, beautiful, unpredictable. We were drawn to the water. It was who we were together. 

What does it mean that I love you so much and that you are no longer here? I know what you would want. I know what would make you proud, make you happy. I feel your presence in all of my thoughts and actions. The most difficult part is that every new experience I have is without you. Songs you didn't hear, places I visit alone, decisions I make, Miles becoming an adult, Finnegan staying a puppy, your parents’ new house, the possibility of my new apartment, life. Somehow, I need to reconcile that you fought so hard to live this life and I find it so hard to do the same without you.

Can I really, as I say to many, use your strength to go on and embrace life? Or, will I spend the years finding ways to manufacture something like happiness and meaning to slow the undercurrent of sadness and emptiness?

I wonder if you now know the answers to everything. I probably don't even know the questions, let alone the answers. Perhaps you have continued on your path. You may already be back in this world, or another. I can't believe that you are no longer. To misquote CS Lewis, if you don't exist now, then you never did. I feel strongly that you did (wouldn't you be proud that I'm reading books to help me process).

Is finding the point of life simply making a choice to do so?

If we were destiny, was your leaving a part of that destiny?

Sometimes I wonder what you would do if this whole thing was reversed. Firstly, I have the fairly strong idea that you would have been, how do I put this... not necessarily, always the best nurse. Secondly, you would have as much trouble as I do in coming to terms with the sense of loss. You would have had fewer trips to Vegas, but you would have been going down to Washington State and Oregon fairly often.

You would gain strength in looking after the dog. Possibly, you would have another dog by now. One which is less covert in its affections. Her name would be Beatrice.

You would look to the ocean for its timelessness, movement, and tranquility. You would write reams of poetry and prose dedicated to yours truly and other such deep, meaningful subject matter. You would be sad. Your family would be that much more important to you. You would feel that you have perspective in spades, but you would still get pissed-off when some idiot keeps his car running in the ferry line up.

You would spend a lot of time, thought and effort on animal rights, which would help ground you in a sense of purpose.

I know I would be with you.

Perhaps this experience would actually help you to see glimpses of clarity in the murkiness of life. You might find a balance between making life all it can be and removing the guilt associated with not making life all it can be. Not so much carpe diem, as let's see the diem for what it is. An opportunity to carpe without some perceived Universal pressure to carpe. Use the day. It's yours to use. I like to think that I'd often be part of that day.

You love me and always will. If it was reversed, I'd want you to miss me, to have me in your heart, and to take me with you through a meaningful life. There would be reminders of me. Sometimes as a subtle, gentle hint, often as a strong, poignant moment. I would want you to be happy. To live.

Kirsten, sometimes I will place tulips in the ocean and be with you. Though not on any particular day.

How should I feel about every sunset and sunrise that I experience without you? Should I feel sad and nostalgic? Or, should I cherish each one that much more?

I pulled into a small, quaint town on Vancouver Island to get lunch. With dog in the back, I circled the main drag to get an idea of the place. I understood that some of my trepidation going into this new experience came from my nature rather than just your not being there. After I was fairly satisfied that I had seen most of the locations that promised a meal, I decided to park and walk. I sat in the truck for several minutes. Calming myself. I was armed. I had a book, a writing pad, and a pen. I could go through the doors of a chosen establishment and sit down, by myself, with some purpose.

Walking around town, I found that I had to constantly take deep breaths and try not to cry in public, again. I was trying to balance my memories of you with being in the moment.

Your presence was felt. This was our wheelhouse. There was nothing better than our trips to new places. So many places, so many memories. One of the strongest feelings I had on this walkabout was the knowledge that we would have gone into several of the shops. I chose not to go in on my own, but I would have gone in with you almost as if it were a mutual decision. I would have enjoyed going in. Our lives were often a shared experience. Not in that unhealthy co-dependent way ( I know, I was the one who leaned more in that direction).

There was a reason why we did the “two peas in the pod” declaration so often. You were not perfect, I was certainly not perfect, we were not perfect together. What we were, however, was together in a darn-near spiritual sense. Soul peas.

We would have envisioned our lives in this town. Where we would live, our careers, our hang-outs, our way of life. I still imagine that with you.

I grieve for the life we had and could have had. The possibilities, the ups and downs, the spectacular and the mundane. Becoming stronger as individuals through our shared lives. As I walked through the town, I realized my life right now can be both in sharp focus and in a surreal haze. I can see some truths, but they slip away easily.

Getting back to the whole “I'm not perfect" thing, I wish I had been more perfect. You said many times, in your adorable way, that I was a good husband. That sentiment was the best thing I have ever heard (well, tied with being a loved dad). You know/knew my heart and I am content in knowing that I truly, deeply loved you. Having said all of that, I can't help but wish that I hadn't had those selfish thoughts of being tired of the whole cancer gig. I felt self-pity that this disease was a huge part of my life. I also want to have it all to do again and this time be absolutely present, to savour every moment with you. However, that's not the way life works. I know you would say that I did just fine. But, I still have these feelings of regret.

I am very aware that my time with you made me a better person (at least to myself). I realize too that this continues. Who you were will always strengthen me. Perhaps that is a reason for, at some time, being happy again.

I miss you. I love you.