On April 8, 2021, my husband Daniel lost his battle with esophageal cancer. I lost the love of my life. His death was life shattering, but so had many moments along the way since his first diagnosis in September 2018. In January 2020, he lost his ability to eat by mouth and he was forced to get his nutrition via a feeding tube in his stomach. While I know this would be devastating to most - who doesn't love to eat?? - it was especially devastating to Daniel who also loved to cook. In January 2021, he dropped out of the last option for treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center, a clinical trial that seemed to be working on the tumors in his liver but were definitely not working for the tumor in his esophagus. We got on a plane to Houston to visit MD Anderson and left there with hopes of a new clinical trial. But that was not meant to be (and that story is definitely an entire blog of its own). We returned to Tampa knowing there was no more treatment as the cancer had spread to his brain, which of course also left Daniel confused at times and definitely not his true vibrant self. So he came home to live his last days (another blog post for the future). While his death on April 8th was not unexpected, it was still unbelievable life altering and painful.
There is much I'd like to share about my experiences this past year, and I intend to do so in this blog going forward. I have cried so many tears (this moment as I write included) and wallowed in unbearable loneliness. And yet, I know I want and need joy in my life. I have made big changes and small changes and I'd like to share the lessons I've learned. I have discovered that my superpower is resiliency. Losing Daniel is just the latest in a long series of life challenges, and many have admired me for my strength. Others have told me that they could never have endured all the things I have gone through. (As if I had a choice!) With each challenge, I have said Enough, I am strong enough! but they still keep coming. I hated the word "strong". I needed help after, losing Daniel. I was open to trying everything. I started seeing a therapist, attended group therapy, and began connecting to other widows/widowers both locally and through Facebook. I discovered the word "resilience" which is defined as the "capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, misfortune and change" and simply "toughness". I have resolved to embrace resiliency in my daily life. Through this blog, I seek to share every day examples of how being resilient has helped me find joy and purpose.
I will never stop loving Daniel, and I miss him so much that my whole body hurts. He is a part of me today and always. It was a true gift to have him in my life and even though he no longer walks this earth, I have learned several lessons from him this past year. He saw that I was capable of much more than I saw in myself, and it is with this knowledge that I have moved forward this year, as I do with this blog. I will be completely honest, loving, vulnerable and fierce - there is no other way - this is who I am. It is with this lens of resiliency that I aspire to tell my story.