When I first met my husband Michael, I had given up any hope of finding someone with whom spend my life. Michael and I first met at a wet shelter in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1980, where we both began working on the sameday. I had begun working at the Emergency Service Center four hours before Michael. When he walked into the shelter, something told me that I wanted this man for a friend. I then did something I had never been able to do before, I stuck out my hand and introduced myself. Michael shook my hand and gave me a huge toothy grin. At this point I knew we were going to be best friends. What I never imagined, however, was that we were going to be husband and wife and soulmates.
Michael was, according to him, in love with me from the very beginning. He furtherstated that he intended to marry me from the start as well. Michael was persistent, but with a gentleness I was not only not used to, but a gentleness that I never imagined existed. He knew how to scale my protective wall I built to keep others at arm's length; often saying to me that he wasn't going to allow me to push him away. Michael kept gently pushing, letting me know with his soft assurances that he loved me and could be trusted with my love. He finally convinced me, and we were married on April 3, 1982.
Throughout our years of marriage, Michael was always there; whenever times were good, but more importantly, whenever times were not so good. In fact, he had a hard road to travel with me, since I am a trauma survivor. While Michael did not have any formal training, he always knew what to do and what to say to keep me fighting to stay alive. He always promised that he would never leave me. I believed and trusted him when he said this to me. Unfortunately, though, we were not meant to grow old together.
Michael was a five pack-a-day smoker, and although he often attempted to quit this addiction, was never able to do so until less than three weeks before he died. He had discovered a small black dot on the bottom of his foot, but would not go to the doctor. Finally, I told him he had to go, and since it was now quite large and painful, he agreed to go. It turned out that Michael had a 1.7mm mellanoma on the bottom of his foot. It was removed, and it seemed everything would be okay. However, I always had this vague sense that something was wrong. It turned out I was correct.
Almost a year later, my husband had a seizure at work which sent him to the hospital.W hile there, Michael asked me to throw out his remaining pack of cigarettes; he was quitting. Ten minutes later he had a heart attack and was flown via mercy flight to Rochester, NY. An angioplasty was performed and he came through with flying colors. The doctors needed to see if there was any bleeding in his brain as he had broken a recycling bin during his seizure. They did a catscan and discovered five mellanoma leisions in his brain. Further test revealed his lungs were filled with the mellanoma as well. Less than three weeks later, he was dead.
After Roswell Cancer Institute, I insisted that we discuss end of life decisions. Michael was quite adamant about not wanting to be kept alive on machines. I was to come to regret my insisting that we discuss this issue,because it fell upon me to ensure that his wishes were met as he was unable to communicate with anyone after his angioplasty. While I had to do what he wanted, I so wanted to ignore his wishes just to hold on to him if even for a few more hours or days. I miss him so much,and if he hadn't made me promise some time ago that I wouldn't kill myself if anything happened to him, I would have followed soon after. Unfortunately, I bend over backwards to keep my promises. So far so good.
Some days I merely go through the motions of living-feeling like a zombi, wondering why I hang on when my soulmate is gone. I guess I survive to pay tribute to his memory, and to assure that he and his time and efforts onthis earth are not forgotten.