Tomorrow is the fourth anniversary of my husband’s death. I celebrate Love and loss and grief and gratitude. We had rented a funky house that became an unlikely temple as Richard’s death journey proceeded to his final breath. Our former home had been packed up and sold. The lease on the rental was up just a few months after his memorial, so my daughter and son-in-law quickly and efficiently helped me secure a place to live in Kendal at Oberlin, a wonderful continuing care retirement facility near their own new home. There was a final flurry of marking boxes for storage, auction, and “Bring to Ohio”. I know for sure one box I had meant to keep was lost in the shuffle of that final push, and it surprises me when something I did not know I had saved turns up at random moments in my room. Opening up some documents I needed for bringing my old will up to date in Ohio with a new lawyer, a paper slipped out onto the floor.
It was a lovely handwritten note from a couple who had stayed at the Hope Lodge in Manhattan at the same time as Richard did, accompanied by his childhood friend, Cliff. Hope Lodges are well set up free accommodations for those out-of-town patients undergoing cancer treatments in various cities. Richard was heading into his final stage of preparing to receive stem cells for his small B cell Lymphoma.
He knew it would be the hardest part of his treatment yet. After the fact, his main oncologist said, “Yes, we bring you as close to death as possible before implanting the stem cells.” Although Richard seemed remarkably well after the many months of basic chemo and radiation, this powerful next step was intended to kill all of his bone marrow, hopefully to be replaced by growing his own brand-new cancer free cells. He would be like a newborn infant with no immunity. As I was unable to be with him because of my own weakened state of health, Cliff decided he would fly out from his home in California to escort Richard to and from Manhattan and stay at the Lodge and support him for the time it would take to complete the grueling process.
As Cliff remembers, “It was a very tender time.” This is the note I discovered just two days ago.
Dear Judi and girls,
My name is—. My husband is —-. We met Richard at Hope Lodge this past year. My husband was battling cancer, too.
We both want you to know what an impact Richard had on us. In the kitchen at Hope Lodge we would sit with Richard and Cliff, sometimes talking, sometimes quiet. Richard’s mere presence conveyed compassion, humility, and strength. He shared his love for his family, his beautiful home and his horses.
To observe the friendship that he and Cliff shared was also very moving. What a beautiful gift they shared for all these years.
We pray that you are staying strong. Know that you and your daughters are in our prayers. Also know that we are so grateful to have crossed paths with Richard and therefore you. The fond memories of him will stay in our hearts forever.
I am grateful for the reappearance/synchronicity of that heartful message. Happy Day to honor Love.
My techie friend did indeed show me how to plug in a recording of a song I wrote on this blog. I put the lyrics in a former blog, titled, “Back again” on November 6th My thanks to Robin for this. It is a very rough recording of, Find Your Way, Children, Children. I’ll keep at this to do cleaner versions of some songs as I go. Love, joy, thanks and peace to you.