What would Mandi do? That is the first thing that comes to mind when I wake up, trying to hold back a tsunami of tears. I keep telling myself this is going to get easier and in time I will find a way to accept what has happened. Everyone is different and how people grieve is as unique as their fingerprint. There really is no timeframe to reference nor a perfect how-to guide on how to make the process easier. Mandi always seemed to have the answer I was looking for regardless the situation. Not having her guidance in this world is going to be hard and it is already so difficult I can barely breathe. I have so many questions that will forever be unanswered, but I do know she would want me to be strong and try my hardest despite how rough the road is ahead.
It was a difficult week and there are going to be many more like this.
Mandi’s Celebration of Life was the other night and I followed her suggestions on what to do and how to make the night special. She was very specific on details and even joked about haunting me in her final wishes if I didn’t follow her instructions. A few of Mandi’s really good friends helped me pick a good venue as well as decorating it to fit her unique artistic style. Creative design was something Mandi excelled at, so this had to be done right. You don’t want to leave a geek like me with things such as decorating, unless you are in to a lot of blinking lights and technology all over the place.
The event featured a slide show of pictures throughout her adventures. Mandi had the brightest smile in the entire universe and every picture showed how much she enjoyed her life. Mandi’s dad brought a bunch of little Minions for people, which was one of her all time favorite movies in the entire universe I might add. I snuck a Minion stuffed animal with me, but I would say it was trumped by her dad’s contribution. There was literally a small army of Minions there. You can’t go very far in my house without encountering a Minion of some sort.
I also brought some paintings Mandi did over the years, however I was hesitant to bring some of my favorites. I am incredibly attached to the things she made by hand, so to calm my nerves a lot of them stayed home. The room was filled with gorgeous little plants, terrariums, and various little things that represented Mandi’s personality. The tables were draped in purple (her favorite color) and had a delicious assortment of food thanks to another one of Mandi’s thoughtful friends. We setup a table for donations to METAvivor and it featured a cross-stitch Mandi made. It was the F#*! Cancer one which I feel was an accurate representation of everyone’s thoughts that evening.
So many people showed up to share their memories of Mandi with me, there was literally a line to the door at one point in the evening. I wrote a tribute to Mandi and it took a lot of strength to share it with everyone. However, I put my pride aside and poured my heart out for the world to see. It was honestly the hardest thing I had to do the entire night. I can’t help but tear up just thinking about how special she was to me, so talking about her opens the flood gates. As hard as it feels, talking and crying does seem to help. Bottling things up just seems to make the next wave of emotions larger as they come crashing in. There is no telling when the next wave will be, it seems to come when you least expect it.
A friend was nice enough to register Mandi’s old team, “The Elemonators” for the Race for The Cure this weekend. I even managed to find the shirt Mandi made for me and was proudly wearing it while I ran. I should point out I walked and didn’t run, being a full time nerd I don’t exercise like I should. I do have some serious typing fingers, if that ever becomes a sport I am sure to win. It was a cold morning but the sun was shining, perfect for running I have been told. Even if it was hailing golf balls I was going to be there, nothing was going to stop me from doing this for my sweetheart. At the end of the race they did an honorable mention of Mandi and her contributions to the world. Mandi’s life was dedicated to helping others and I am so proud to be her husband.
I am trying to gather the emotional strength to take Fifi out for an adventure so I can cross more items off The Mandi List. I still struggle with the thought of going somewhere without Mandi, we went everywhere together and it has been a long time since I went anywhere without her. I can barely go near the RV without crying my eyes out, so I am not sure when this will be. She wanted her ashes spread all over the world and dammit I am going to do it, regardless how hard it is. Speaking of, I should also have the diamond from her ashes in about six months. I had them inscribe the words, “Love Beyond Infinity” and I am curious to see how it turns out. I will make sure to post pictures of it when that day comes.
I was so lucky to find such an extraordinary person in my life, I don’t know where I would be now if I hadn’t found her. She would still be here if there were more treatment options or better medications. Stage four needs more, even I had no idea about metastatic disease when Mandi was initially diagnosed with cancer. This is a problem, it should be common knowledge. I can’t tell you how many people I have educated about this after they heard about my loss, but it has been far too many. I have been silently following the MBC community and saw more extraordinary people lost to this horrible nightmare of a disease, this needs to end.