My Joe and I found out in June 2000 that he only had a year to live. He had lung cancer and a few brain tumors. I accompanied him to his treatments and stayed by his side until the end. He didn't last a year, he passed on to be with his Creator on August 10, 2000.
I had gone to see him early August 9th to feed him his breakfast. They wanted him hospitalized while I was in the midst of moving. He had wished me to move out of the big old house we were renting. On this nice summer morning after I fed him his "mush" I noticed him looking out the window. So I asked him, "What's your name?" He answered, "Joseph." He had always called himself Joe. So I was curious where his mind was at the time. I then asked him what my name was and his answer was beautiful. "Your name is Moses. Moses was a good man. He was a big man. I loved Moses."
I knew then and there that my Uncle Moses or Moses from the Bible was coming to get my Poopsie.
He died a peaceful death and the last words he spoke before he went unconscious were, "Where's Mabel?"
Although it was six months ago, there are items of his that I run into and I cry for him. I look at his picture and talk to him, asking him why he left me. We had been together for 25 years. Ten years drunk, and the rest sober. We took up treatment together.
Joe taught me to laugh again. I'd been through so much in my life and when I met him, he made the sun shine again. And he became Pops to my four children.
Joe loved animals and he left behind a little dog named Bear. He told me that Bear would be good for me after he died.
Joe was very prepared for death and that in itself makes it easier for me to think through my loss. Knowing that he knew where he was going. He talked of heaven a lot. How he would see all his dogs that he had lost over the years.
I sang him a song called "In the shelter of His arms." And when I was done Joe said, "I'll be safe there won't I?" I told him yes.
When I was laying beside him a week before he died he looked at me and he asked me what I was thinking of. "I'm trying to imagine this world without you, and it is very difficult. You've been a big part of my life." And he responded, "Keep your job for another five years. Not for the money, but I know you like it, so stay. And move out of this big ugly house. Find a smaller one that won't be hard to keep up. And get closer to your family and your friends. You're going to need them. And let's enjoy today, because today I am still alive."
The hardest part of losing Joe is the fact that the doctors told us he had a year. Then when we went to see our family doctor a couple of months later, she told us he only had a month. Then a week and the next thing Joe was dying. Sometimes I scream at God for being unfair. I feel somewhat better after I yell at Him. I tell Him it is so unfair that I have no Joe, no Poopsie. No one here to make me laugh. Joe was so goofy. His first words in the morning and the last words at night made me laugh.
My heart aches so much when I think of Joe. I went the traditional way in burning his clothes. I was doing so well, I thought, being strong. Until a friend handed me a picture of him when he was so weak. He'd been sitting outside with me as I held a big yard sale and my friend had snapped a picture of him. I looked at the picture and I cried. I screamed at him that he had no right to leave me behind.
I have had suicidal thoughts many times since Joe's death. But I use prayer a lot in those tough times. I think of a memory that brings a smile to my face. And I sing to Joe. His dog, who is now mine cried with me. Then he wants me to play fetch with him.
Although I know all the steps of grieving, I get stuck sometimes and know it's ok.
The times I spent with Joe were very precious and I will never ever experience them again, but in my mind. Still many memories bring tears because I want him back so much.
When the doctor asked Joe what his message would be when he got home Joe replied," I'll tell them to quit smoking."
We scattered his ashes at one his favorite fishing holes by our old village.
Joe was Ukrainian and I am first Nations. He loved our land. This is what the bottom of the ocean probably said
Ah, here comes old Joe
The one we gave so much fun
As he fished for hours
Under the hot sun.
I am flounder whom he lost
I pulled free from his hook and line
But I gave him a good fight
This old friend of mine.
I am cod, who got away
He almost pulled me in
But the long hard fight
Is one I did win.
I am starfish way down here
I feel his ashes fall
And I know his spirit
Our Creator did call.
I am the ocean's bottom
I welcome old Joe
We honor this man's ashes
Wherever it does go.
To Poopsie, from Mabel James