Seems like a common thing strangers ask when you lose your significant other is, “Do you have any kids?” which I reply, “Yes, but they are hairy and have paws!”. Mandi never wanted to have any children and I was fine with that decision, and honestly I never put much thought in to it until now. I have read a lot about people going through what I am while having to care for their kids in the process, and that has to be tough. Breast cancer does not discriminate against sex or age, so people from all walks of life face this challenge alone. It is heartbreaking to say the least.
Whether you are a widow or widower, loosing your loved one is hard. Studies show that giving yourself a purpose in life can help with the grieving process. Whether that is raising your child, getting a pet, or volunteering for your community. Purpose is what keeps us going as humans, and I am grateful I have the dogs to keep me busy. Even when they are a complete pain in the butt, I love my puppies.
Giving me purpose was something Mandi would talk about a lot, as usual she was always looking out for me. We already had two dogs, but we added a third roughly a year ago as per the keeping Mike busy idea Mandi had. And yes, it is a handful having three of them. Kira, Zack, and Dante. Mandi would call them her “fur babies”, I refer to them as the “fuzz butts”. I do tend to tear up a bit when I think about the day we got Kira, she was a present from Mandi and I got the pick of the litter. Mandi spent months trying to find me this dog, so she has a very special place in my heart.
I have managed to get a lot of Mandi’s final wishes completed and only have a couple things left to do. I haven’t been able to go through her things at home quite yet, it is still too difficult to process. People have asked if I am going to change how the house is decorated, which I doubt I will. I have always been happy with the way our house is, Mandi’s style just feels so welcoming and clean. It also makes me feel like she is still living here and it helps with my depression to be honest.
I have had some friends reach out to help me get the fund raiser going for metastatic breast cancer. I have been leaning towards the art festival idea as it requires no physical activity. Mandi loved art, anywhere we would travel that was the first thing on her mind. You can walk around the house and see things from all of our adventures, all the way back to when we first went on our honeymoon. So to honor one of her favorite things, this is the direction I want to go. Art and food for a good cause, who doesn’t like art and food?
I cry a lot thinking about all the fun we had together, actually I cry a lot period. Bedtime is probably the worst time for me as I stay up thinking about Mandi all night clutching her stuffed animals close to give me comfort. I still cannot believe this has happened and replay the day I lost her over and over in my head. I wake up throughout the night from nightmares and even dream she is still with me and everything is fine. At times I feel like I can barely get myself out of bed, paralyzed in fear of being alone and not having her by my side.
I hope at some point I will be able to get through the emotional walls I have with traveling right now. I have managed to develop a form of PTSD after the traumatic experience I had watching Mandi pass away. The thought of an airport right now can summon a panic attack on an epic scale. It is so bad I almost feel like I am having a heart attack. I am still seeing Lisa at the Huntsman and she recommends I see what she calls an EMDR specialist. I guess they specialize in trauma and can help me work through this new issue I have. Lisa is also going to put me in touch with Dr. Buys in regards to new therapies and options out there for mets which I am extremely grateful for.
I want to shift the blog back to focusing on the things Mandi would write about instead of posts about a grieving husband that cries all the time. I have a lot of support to help me as well, so I will slowly be writing more about cancer when it gets easier for me. Thank you to everyone for all the kind words and support, Mandi was an amazing person and this world is not as bright without her here with us.
Also please don’t forget to donate to a good cause like METAvivor. There are so many men and women out there that could benefit from the funding you provide. These people need hope in their lives, when Mandi was diagnosed with brain mets for example it changed everything. I spent months watching her slowly fade away and it has left a huge scar that will never heal. She and many others needed more time, better medications, and more accessibility to trials. Hearing that we were turned down for new therapies as a result of her mets in her liver, bones, brain, kidneys, or lungs would break both of our hearts and take away pieces of what little hope we had. Stage 4 needs more.