It's been a year since the day I looked at Darrell's legs and he told me he was having bloody stool again. I remember the fear coursing through me as I told him he was going to the Doctor, period. He had fallen a month before, gotten an upper respiratory and just seemed to not be getting any better. Now his legs were grotesquely swollen and my fear that he had fractured a vein and bled out when he fell came to the forefront.
The doctor confirmed my fear. "Mr. Gabel, you need to go to the ER now." An half hour later we were admitted and the long vigil began. As I watched the pinched faces in the ER's bustling halls I knew I had the same look of uncertainty. I didn't even think about cancer. Even though we'd been through hospitalizations before, this felt different. I couldn't put my finger on the nagging feeling.
Finally, late at night, they came back with the result of the MRI. He had a large tumor on one kidney. They doubted it had been working for awhile. I dug in. I knew the rote. I called the prayer chain. I informed family. I started the fight once again.
This was one of those rare hospital times I could not stay with him through the night. The rooms were cramped and for the first time ever he had a room mate. So I decided to go home and grab a couple of hours of sleep. As soon as I stepped into the door of our little trailer the worst panic attack ever hit me. My mind rabbit-holed through all the different scenarios. Suddenly, unbidden, the though came if he didn't make it I could never come back to Yuma, or this trailer.
I laid down, but immediately couldn't get breath in. So I sat up, finding the religious channels, looking f or a calming word or prayer. Soon peace stole over me, and I got a few hours of sleep. I had no idea that Darrell would be gone in a short six months.
This month there are many firsts. The first time I remembered March 3, 2015 and the hospital visit that would change my course. It is the six month mark on March 6, 2016, since he has left me. On March 12, we would have been celebrating our first date, 34 years before. It looms as a hard month.
But so far today, it has been relatively calm. I had moments of flashbacks. Wondering if it couldn't have been different. Wishing it had. There are times of loneliness, but I've learned to reach out and call, visit or do something with someone. A few tears slipped as I remember what I have learned in the last six months.
Funny, I knew it while we lived life together. I knew he loved me. But in the long six months since he passed, I have discovered just how much, as I reviewed all those little moments. Now his memory is just a soft pang, not the jagged edge of lighting to my soul. I came back to Yuma much to my surprise. All of the time we spent here is now a gentle balm to my mind, not the scary pain I thought it would be.
There are still dark moments, but they are beginning to lessen. My only nagging thought is wondering what I should do now. Where is my focus. What is my job? Being Darrell's wife was a full time job. Suddenly I have all that time to myself that I used to whine about wanting. I'm surprised to find it is highly over-rated.
Now, I can relate to the Velveteen Rabbit. I've lost most of my fuzz, my figure is lumpy. My hair flops uncut, but the grandkids don't seem to mind. They continue to seek out hugs. I truly know Darrell loved me dearly, so much he wore off a lot of fuzz. In being loved, I know that I am loved. And that is enough for now.