Happy 40th Birthday Sweetie.

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Today would have been your 40th Birthday.  You wanted a white cake like I got for your 30th birthday, but this time with cannoli cream like our wedding cake.  I couldn’t bring myself to get one – the pain of getting it and not having you here to share it with would have been too much.

I miss you terribly, but you know that.  Not having you around to just check in on or come to bed and cuddle with leaves me with a large void in my heart.

I have wondered how our life would have worked out had you not had cancer.  We would probably both be working.  We would have bought a nice little Tudor home and be paying god awful amounts of taxes.  We’d have had kids by now.  We probably would have complaints like normal people do.  We wouldn’t appreciate how lucky we would be to be dealing with raising kids and having a mortgage and having each other.  We would be in our own little world of problems, but we would be together.

Our lives would be so different.  I’m sure it would be a struggle, but we would have a family!  We would have children whom we could raise to be better than us, just as our parents tried to do for us before.  It hurts terribly that this was stolen from us.

You would have made an amazing mother.  You were always better at connecting with people then I was.  You so loved family.  You would have taken to it so well.  I would have loved to watch you be a mom.

I don’t know if I can still find our dream.  I’m scared of trying again only to have disease or misfortune take it away from me again.  I know you want me to, but I don’t know if I have the energy.  I need more time to decide if this is what is best for me.  I hope you understand.  I can’t just move on from you.  You were everything to me.  The thought of starting over scares me.  The thought of giving up on this gives me such despair.  Please help me figure this out if you can.

You would have dragged me to Europe and Asia again by now.  You wanted to go wherever the Travel channel was showing.  You had this great wanderlust.  You wanted to experience life where I was always intimidated or bored by it.  I hated crowds and people, but you were always able to get me to do things.  And we had a good time usually.  Mostly I enjoyed seeing you happy.  You had this great big personality behind all of that shy exterior.  You knew how to live where I only know how to survive.

Without you, I feel incomplete.  But I am trying, I promise.  I am doing my best to stay myself.  I hope I have made you proud that I have kept my word.  I have not harmed myself and I am doing a relatively decent job of taking care of myself.  I don’t want this life, I want you back.  But I am making due as best as I can.  I get up and try every day because you can’t.  I will try my best to live a life you would have wanted for us.  As well as I can tolerate it at least.

I hope wherever you are you are happy.  I hope you have a spot for me someday and we can see one another again.  I want this to mean something, to be for something.  You were too good of a person and too important to me to have gone first.  I wish I could have given you more time.

I know it was your decision to take the morphine.  I agreed with your decision.  I still feel guilty though because a part of me wanted to keep you longer.  Even though your body was failing, I wanted to keep you awake.  I fought this with every fiber in my being because I knew the quality of life would have been terrible for you.  But I never wanted to let you go.  As much as I wanted all of this to end when the time came I would have done this for 20-30 more years if it meant I could keep you and you could live ok.

I would give my life for yours if I could.  Watching you die was the hardest thing I ever did.  I didn’t want to, but I had to.  I’m proud that I endured through the whole process.  It was the last thing I could possibly do for you and it was the greatest honor in my life to watch over you.

It’s late, and I’m getting tired.  Please look over me and help me through my dreams.  I am struggling to make sense of them and I could use your help.  Oh, how I wish we could talk once more just so that I could ask you for your opinion on what I should do.  I feel conflicted and lost without you.  I don’t know what I truly want out of the rest of my life, and the only option I would take right now isn’t possible.

I love you so very much honey.  Not a day goes by where you are not in my thoughts.  I love you with all my heart.  I miss you so very much.  Watch over me, and don’t forget me.

Happy Birthday, Felecci.

Your loving husband, now and always.

– John

Paralysis by analysis and the “comfort” of our little bubbles.

its been a while(In less than 2 weeks from now, she would have turned 40.  Fuck.)

So it’s been probably ~3 months since I have last written a post on this blog.  Felecci’s 40th birthday is almost at hand and I am in the mood to reflect on my journey now that I am just over 6 months removed from losing the woman I love.  This mood is in no small part due to my recent trip to Camp Widow and meeting many of the community members I have interacted with since this stage of my life began.  They warned of a “crash” when you get back and I have felt it.

Quick shoutout to Soaring Spirits for hosting a bunch of crazy ass widow/ers this past week in Tampa.

In the 3 months or so since I last wrote I have been in a committed relationship with a fellow widow and have spent much of my off time just enjoying her company.  But what keeps me from posting is not my lack of free time, but rather the fact that I have been struggling with answers these past few months about internal demons bothering me.   To this point, I am still no closer to solving them.  Since I didn’t find any easy answers @ Camp Widow it is time to give my demons voice.

For all my belief that I am tough enough to handle being a widower better than most people; I am having doubts.  The suppression of my emotion over this ~9 year period may have caused deeper issues that I am only now starting to understand.

Since I have started dating I am having recurring dreams in various forms where I am losing Felecci in new and heartbreaking ways.  Sleep for more than 2-3 hours at a time is very hard to come by.  It is like I lose her again 3-5 times a week.  I don’t think it is strictly related to dating though.  I think it is fear of what comes next.

A large part of me feels empty like I am experiencing my own life as a spectator.  I go out and I have fun and for a while, I can even forget about all of the bad memories and focus on the moment.  But this often is fleeting.  I will go home and go back into my normal rut even if I had a good time.

I don’t feel invested in my own life.  I am watching a movie I have grown tired of and am waiting for it to be over.  I think I have lost my purpose in life.  Rather, I am a person who is just surviving, not looking forward to anything.  I am going through the motions until it is my time to die.

I don’t really feel like I have the energy to find purpose.  I continue to do what I did before Felecci died because it is familiar.  But I don’t enjoy it the same way.  I don’t have her to come home to anymore.  She doesn’t need me anymore.

I don’t want the possible futures 2018 is offering me.  I want to go back to 2009 when Felecci first started showing symptoms and rewrite history.  Instead of worrying about Cancer I want her to decide what she wants to do with her career.  I want to buy a house, have Irish-Filipino kids and grow old with her.  I don’t know if it would have been smooth sailing, but damn it she would still be here and we would have the family that was taken from us the day she was diagnosed.

But I can’t go back in time, I am stuck with 2018.  So what about changes?  Frankly, I don’t know what I would want to change right now.  I am sort of lost.

  • Do I want to move?
  • Do I want to make a career change?
  • Do I want kids?
  • Do I ever want to get married again?

I can’t honestly answer these questions – not even a little – seriously, how fucking sad is that?  I haven’t been able to for months.  This worries the shit out of me.  I am pretty sure this is depression just sucking me down.  But honestly, I feel like I lack the courage to make any life-altering decisions.  I feel like a failure.

Move?  To where?  Brooklyn is god awful expensive.  Moving deeper into Jersey means a longer commute.   Moving to a new state means a full life reset.  None of those options are appealing right now.

Career?  I have a good job now, though the work doesn’t excite me anymore.  My job has gotten easy, but it is hard to walk away from familiar surroundings.  Starting over would mean taking on risk.

Kids?  I’m 37 now, not 28.  There is a higher risk of all sorts of shit having them at this age.  If I had kids today I’d be almost 60 when they left the house.  Would I be able to learn to love someone else’s kids, or be content if I never had them?

Marriage?  I fell in love and gave so much of the best years of my life up to care for my wife.  The thought of making myself vulnerable to that again is terrifying.  For the first time in my adult life, I am only responsible for myself.  Well actually that is a lie, I still have parents dragging me into shit.  But I am not a primary caretaker anymore and I am not sure I have the strength to do it again.  I know I don’t want someone to have to do that for me.

For me, I know the next step is to overcome this feeling of being stuck.  I have to start giving a shit about something and stop being a coward.  Make some fucking decisions.  I’ve never had to turn my motivation on before though.  In the past, it has always been there to provide direction.  I don’t know how to get out of this rut.

I am afraid I won’t get out of it.  I am afraid it will hurt others that I care about.  I am afraid I will make the wrong decision and regret it.  I guess my problem is that I am afraid of living.  And I am so tired of being hurt, a large part of me wants to stay in my bubble.


Grief Relapse: When it all comes flooding back.

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Always the hottest person in a wheelchair @ Sloan Kettering.

This will be a short one tonight.  So I have been casually dating for a couple of weeks now.  Nothing serious yet.  Won’t go into details about that at this time, but I do want to discuss the topic of grief relapse tonight and how it can impact you.

I was warned about it, and the warnings are true.  Guilt, grief, fear, and even shame are all emotions you can expect to feel for no damn good reason when you enter this stage of your life as a widow/er.  You feel guilty that you are not sitting in a dark corner drinking yourself to death.  You are fearful that you will meet someone someday, fall in love, only to have to go through this all over again.  You want to quit, to remain in this terrible space because while you are not happy, you are terrified of feeling worse.

I’m not an idiot, I know that isn’t a way to live.   I know I have to push through, but it is amazing just how powerful grief is, and how it can hit you.  It crippled me for 2 days this week.  All over irrelevant bullshit.  But that’s all it takes, one trigger and you are hit with a wave of grief.

One such trigger was Sunday night.  I was going through Felecci’s cellphone and found a bunch of great pictures.  Some of which I didn’t know she took.  This picture here was at one of our very last visits to her Oncologist.  She was very sick, but look how beautiful she still looked.  Then and now as I write this, I was overcome by grief.

I feel guilty for trying to do what we talked about.  What she wanted me to do.  What I didn’t want to have to go through.  Even though she is gone, the thought of having to find the strength to love again is terrifying.  It is also something I want badly.  I am not made for dating, I was much happier being a husband.  This mix of emotions can be crippling.  It takes a good portion of my energy just to push through the day in spite of it.

So when I came across this picture, I realized that I won’t be able to hide from this.  I will have to simply deal with it just like she dealt with the knowledge that there were no more drug trials.  We were going home to wait for her to die, there was nothing else we could do now.  She accepted it but continued to be herself.  More somber, but not beaten.  She did her best to try to have just a little bit of happiness.  I pray to God if I did anything right in this world, I made her happy.

Looking back, I wonder if I did enough.  I felt that I just didn’t have enough time and was too overcome myself with depression.  I think my guilt comes from my wanting to do more.  I have to look myself in the mirror and recognize that a part of me thinks I could have done more.  I don’t know if it is true, but the thought alone hurts worse than anything.

Hindsight is 20/20, and I have to own these feelings in order to process them.  Good thing I have a blog paid up thru 2018 to confess to.  Doesn’t make it easier to carry.  However, with the truth exposed, I can’t deny them.  I can’t hide from it.

What to look for? 21st Century Dating: Volume 2


Relationships don’t just happen.  Or do they?

I didn’t think I would be as far along this road as I am.  When Felecci was still alive and we discussed what happens after, I hated it.  I didn’t want to consider that I would have to find a second person to spend the rest of my life with.  I’m realizing that I may have had an even better relationship with Felecci than even I knew.  It’s the only thing that explains how I am getting along with this now, and how I have such clarity.  She made me promise to live my life.   Honestly, I didn’t believe I would want to.

But here I am, learning how the world works now for singles.  Going out on dates and trying to figure out if I just want to date casually or if I want to jump right into a relationship.

To be honest, dating casually isn’t that appealing to me.  I listen to stories of relationships appearing and disappearing like the Higgs boson (aka God Particle – look it up) and I wonder what the hell is going on.  I don’t want to serial date, but I don’t want to settle for the first thing that comes along either.  It’s a quagmire, and one I have to navigate if I want to find another relationship.

This got me to thinking, what is it that made my relationship with Felecci blossom into a marriage?  It wasn’t simply luck, or was it?  We didn’t just meet and fall in love right away, we had a courtship.  It took time to grow to love one another.

So, what were the initial parts of the relationship like when I was 19-20 and learning to love her?  Why do so many people struggle with something that I found at 19, and why am unsure of how to find it again?

Well for one, online dating is backward in how it approaches the introduction of two people.  Traditionally, you would meet someone before asking them out on the date.  Now you meet a photo, send some text messages, and site unseen agree to meet up with them.  At some point, as you both try to pretend that the initial conversation isn’t going to be awkward, you start to figure out if this is going to work.

We seldom know someone ahead of time. If we did, we would have some idea if we wanted to date them before we even went on one.  It’s likely we would know if the attraction was there prior.  That doesn’t happen in modern dating, we are left to guess at the initial date, and possibly on further dates.

So in this modern dating culture, I wonder if anyone actually knows what they are looking for?  Or are we all blinding running around till we find it?  Do people date and settle, or are they ultra picky as they seek the perfect person who doesn’t exist?  From initial experience, it is all over the map.   Some people have an unrealistically developed sense of what they are looking for and others are simply dating whatever comes along; never committing to any of their relationships.

I may be guilty of the former myself after my initial dating experiences.  I’ve been married, and I know more or less who I am and the kind of person I am looking for.  But I am not 19 anymore, and I am for shit sure not the exact same person.  So I am left to consider what I want as a 36-year-old established adult.

So what is it I am looking for?  Well, there is no perfect formula, but I believe it is based on three general concepts.   These are not specific but concepts we all have to ask ourselves.  And I believe they are somewhat different now than they were when I fell in love with Felecci.


First and foremost, the one thing that all dating apps do is show you a picture of the person you are intending to contact; because attraction starts with looks.  But attraction isn’t simply if the person is hot.

During the initial stages of any courtship by two adults, each side is looking for that spark.  The person may not have the ideal beach body, but does that person have qualities that appeal to you?  This extends beyond just looks and instead must include demeanor, body language, and how they carry themselves.  People get hung up on looks, but there is more to it than that.  You need to look at that person and get funny feelings in your stomach. This attraction can’t be predicted by a picture alone, it must be gauged only when meeting the person.

Attraction should be pretty easy to gauge after a short time, and I believe that if after a second date you don’t have that spark then you may be better off ending things before the relationship moves too far along.  A relationship needs to have mutual attraction, or else it is simply a one-sided friendship.  This can cause seriously damaging harm to the person who thought they had more than they did.  The longer this goes on, the worse it gets.


Separate from if you feel attraction is if you two have anything to talk about?  Can you and this individual carry along a conversation?  Do you feel comfortable around them?  Do they make you laugh, or feel relaxed?

You need to be able to open up to one another.  It shouldn’t take much effort to be in one another’s company.  If you can’t sit and have a long conversation with the person when you first meet them, it is possible that you two don’t have much in common.  Attraction is a raging inferno, but if not kept alive through being able to enjoy each other’s company it will burn out.

It can take longer to figure this out, however.  If neither of your personalities allows for you to be extroverted it can take time to open up.  I myself am typically an introvert and Felecci was practically mute when we first started dating.  Most relationships that last a few months I believe are impacted because while both parties are attracted to one another, they have nothing in common.

Morals and Life Goals

Once you are attracted to a person and you are comfortable spending time with them, you get to the heart of the issue that is required in order to become a married couple.  What are your life goals?  What are your morals?

Dating apps try to identify this WAY too early on in the process and fail miserably at this.  As we grow older our life goals and morals change.  Hopefully for the better but not always.  Yet we are expected to know if we want kids? If we want to travel 2 or 3 times a year? If we want to relocate at the same time as we are deciding if we are attracted to this individual?

I get that this information may be helpful for the ultra-specific crowd, but honestly, anyone who is giving you this information as a certainty is either optimistic or flat out lying.  I thought I knew that I wanted a house and kids by the time I was 27.  By the time I turned 28, I just wanted my wife to beat Hodgkins Lymphoma.  The day my wife died, I didn’t want to go on.  I was done, waiting to die.  Today, I am trying to put together my life again and take care of myself.

Your life changes what you want because it changes your perspective.  Your relationship will change what you want as you grow to love the person.  No one has a clue what tomorrow brings so trying to identify life goals before your first date is just stupid in my opinion.

Morals, on the other hand, are valuable to know.  Problem is, a person lacking morals will lie their ass off to the point where answering these questions is pointless.  A person with morals will likely give WORSE answers than the guy trying to hook up with you.  Yet a lot of people put stock into what is said.

So, what am I looking for?

So after doing this exercise, I have come up with a loose idea of what I am looking for.  It is flexible and meant to guide me in my decisions.

I am looking for someone I feel an attractive spark for.  This doesn’t mean the person is flawless, but the person needs to do something for me.  There has to be some spark.  I can’t quite explain what traits this is, and I am sure it is a combination of things.  However, it must be there or else it is just a friendship.

I want to laugh with the person, I want to enjoy their company and I want to be able to talk about nonsense and still have a good time.  It is about enjoying the person’s company.

And I want someone who wants to ultimately be in a committed relationship.  I want a person who has goals that I can help achieve and in turn also helps me achieve my goals.  I want to decide together if kids are in the plans once we already know if we love one another.  I want to maintain my financial stability and not overspend like almost every other person in America, but I also want to be able to go away sometimes and simply unplug for a couple of weeks.  So long as I have enough money to not feel like a slave to my job, I am ok.

And I want someone who doesn’t smoke and takes care of themselves.  I’ve lived through 8 years of cancer through no fault of Felecci’s.  If I were to go through that again, I don’t want it to be because the person I fell in love with abused their own body.

The rest is negotiable.  Looking at the list, I don’t think it is too demanding.  Maybe Felecci and I learned more than I realize after 12 years of marriage.  We shall see.


Dating apps really only partially help in connecting two people who may possibly be attracted to one another.  It can’t tell you if you will ultimately enjoy the person and want to pursue one another.  Furthermore, the ease in which we can find people leads me to believe that we may be warping our own thoughts as to who we are looking to date.

We can be rejected much easier, and we can also cause harm easier because it is so easy to get into and out of these initial stages of dating.  We need to take care and have a clear understanding of what we want, and we need to consider any setback on this road to simply be in the best interest of our long-term goal.

To maintain perspective, we need to ask ourselves what is really important.  We need to not settle when we are not sure, but we can’t nitpick who we might fall in love with.  Modern dating apps have not made dating easier, it has just sped up how quickly we connect.  All of the traditional work required to find that special someone is still there, the rules governing how we discover that is just different now.

Now what? 21st Century Dating: Volume 1


Not recommended for first dates.  Funny, but you better have serious game.  Awesome once you know the girl though.

So once the crying is over, the anger and sadness have subsided, and you start to feel acceptance, you start to wonder one thing.  Now what?  This is the point where you start picking yourself back up.  Being someone who is obsessed once I have decided to put my mind to something, I have started to wonder: now what do I do?  I know I will have setbacks, but I want to go back to living my life.  I want to find some happiness.

The easy stuff is to repair the damage I did to myself while going through 8 years of Cancer with Felecci.  I want to feel better and have more self-confidence.  So goal one is to work on me.  Eat better, check.  Exercise, check.  I’m down somewhere between 20-30 pounds.  The easy weight is off and the real work is now beginning.  I still have more work to do, but I have some advantages now.   Time, patience, and no distractions.  I am happy with where I am verse where I was for now.

The emotional damage is a work in progress.  I will always love my late wife and I will not compromise on this.  But I know she is dead and she isn’t coming back.  The best of her will live on in my actions.  Her kindness, her quiet determination (as opposed to my bull in a china shop determination), and the way she treated other people.  I know I will have setbacks from unexpected situations.  But I think I will be able to handle them.  If not, there are two very large support groups that will help sort shit out with me.

We had a great marriage, so I have no lingering problems left unresolved.  She died of Cancer through no fault of hers.  In my eyes, we were successful with the time we had.  My marriage to her has made me a better man, and the next woman to get me will be getting a better version of me than she got.

I have no delusions that my marriage was perfect and that I will never find true love again.  I thought that while she was dying, but I have had years to realize the error of my ways.  The right woman will appreciate and understand this part of my life.  The wrong one will judge it and feel threatened by it.  Can’t do anything about that though.  This will be something for the other woman to accept or reject.  My part in accepting this is complete.

I don’t have kids, so there is no concerns to take care of anyone else but myself.  For those with kids, a widower needs to also consider their child’s mental health and what happens if the single parent falls ill.  This greatly complicates life in general, and when to decide to begin dating.

So that leaves going on dates with new people.  The most difficult thing a widower had to do in terms of reconnecting with the outside world (after getting their kids into some sort of stable life situation) is to decide to re-enter the dating pool.  To overcome the guilt and feel hopeful is not easy.

There is no timetable on it, but almost everyone will have some opinion about your decision anyway.  Only you have to live it though, so their opinions are meaningless.  Those that love you will support you, those that judge you will soon need to be removed from your life.  Unless you have kids, no one deserves or needs to have it explained to them.  I believe I am entering that phase of this now.

As I start to explore what that means, I developed a question: what the fuck have all of you non-widowers been doing to the dating scene over the past 18 years?  Seriously, you have literally managed to fuck up everything that was already screwed up and make it worse.  Did I miss a meeting?

It’s worse than I imagined, and it is this way because it plays into everything we say we don’t want but follow anyway.  We are doing what we would normally do, but we are doing it from our couch with rapid speed.  And those of us not used to it; we have a lot of learning to do.

For example, I’m an introvert to people I don’t know.  I didn’t meet my wife till I was in an environment that I was comfortable and excelled in: college.  All of my best qualities were on display daily, my awkwardness a non-factor because I was able to just be myself and kick ass.  I attracted smart/geeky girls who liked my sarcasm and ability to break down overly complex lesson plans into simple concepts.  Smart/geeky girls are abundant in college.

I was in pretty good shape at the time and while I am not Brad Pitt, I think I do ok when it comes to looks.  However, if it wasn’t for my ability to show my intelligence to these girls, not one of them would have taken an interest in me.  It was the combination that encompasses me that made it possible, not any one attribute.

It was her smile and personality that got me too.  Sure she was smart and pretty.  But that smile with those eyes.  I melted when I first made eye contact and smiled back at her.  It took me a while to get the guts to talk to her.  She was so welcoming and sweet though.  Always a weakness of mine.

When we started dating, I don’t know if I heard her say more than 3 sentences at once the first few months.  She was terribly difficult to get to talk and open up.  She was intimidated by me and her command of English.  Even though she knew 3 languages and I only knew 1, and I am far from being considered a linguist.  But our chemistry was through the roof.  And over time it grew.

And as I got comfortable with her and she started talking to me she was every bit as smart as me – maybe smarter in some areas.  She just didn’t have some of the interests I did.  She had zero opinion about politics.  She didn’t like macroeconomics, but who the fuck does besides me and economists?  But she was intelligent and thoughtful.  And our barriers eventually broke down and the rest is history.

Go ahead, try to listen to an economist.  Even though I love this guy and his work, the middle of his book put me to sleep.

So I have started to dip my toe to see what the hell I am getting myself into.  A test-drive if you will.  I am messaging here and there but mostly just trying to see how this works and how to craft a profile that fits my personality.  I have very low expectations, but already there is one glaring problem.  Modern dating online is the exact polar opposite of what I am good at.

Take for example tonight’s focus: the profile pictures.  Truly the only real thing you MUST get right is having good profile pictures with online dating.  There is a science to it; I shit you not people have written volumes of data on strategies – STRATEGIES – to getting your picture noticed.  Google it.

Now if you are Brad Pitt, you can take any glamor shot from Fight Club and you are going to need to hire someone to sort through your inbox.  However, if you are a mere mortal and don’t know how to navigate this then it’s going to be an uphill climb.  Your personality, social status, dreams, whatever are being interpreted from a few pictures.  Can you tell from a picture that instead of visiting the Tower of London, I was caring for my dying wife?  Nope, I just look lame.

And for women I talked to for a comparison, this is even worse.  Oh my god you can’t ask for a more objectified medium for them to have to navigate through unless they were in the Miss America pageant.  Sure, if you are thin or athletic and pretty you can post anything and get attention, but almost any girl is going to get attention with some care to their pictures.

The problem is the type of attention women are getting.  The stories I hear are all basically involved dick pics and guys trying to hook up with the occasional guy worth seeing.  I have no idea how they sort the hookups from those looking for a relationship because there is no way to tell from text messages unless the guy is being obvious.

Also, everyone’s profile picture collage reminds me of the credits to Aqua Teen Hunger Force.  All the crap they do in the credits is a lie.   In the end, everyone is sitting on the couch watching Game of Thrones or going to hang out in the same social scenes they go to every weekend with the occasional switch up.  Maybe 10% of us lead the interesting lives we want to, the rest of us have fucking rent and bills to pay and maybe kids to raise.

Seriously, they never do any of that shit.  Oh btw, you may lose brain cells by watching this.  You have been warned.

Those who make enough to go on vacation once or twice a year to someplace amazing are still not in the locations they are posting for the other 50 weeks out of the year.  But that is the front they are showing potential matches.  That is what they are telling us they are looking for.  In short, we are looking for the romantic ideal.  The moonshot.  And we are basing our very first interaction with someone on it.  We are picky as fuck and we judge anyone who isn’t keeping up without even acknowledging it.

And for those not keeping up with their profile picture game?  You are struggling to get anything more than hookup messages from people you don’t want to fuck in the first place, much less get into a relationship with.  Don’t look at me in that tone of voice, it’s not personal.  Most people decide if you are fuckable within the first 5 seconds of meeting you, and this is nigh impossible to reverse in an online setting unless you can get them to the coffee/bar date and talk with them.

It’s simple attraction and we all do it.  We shouldn’t be shy to admit it but we are.  Feelings are involved and we take what other people think to heart because we tend to think it about ourselves too.  But are we willing to change the things about ourselves that we want to change?  Shouldn’t doing it for ourselves be more important than doing it so others like you?

Instead, we look for acceptance in others and get heartbroken when we don’t find it.  And in this new medium for seeking dates, our tolerance for imperfections is nill because the next choice is a swipe away.  Those of us who never need to settle are overwhelmed by choice, others who would be great dates are left digging through the mud looking for a keeper.

In the end, I know for a fact that there is someone for everyone.  More than one actually. We are really easy to sort into a finite number of buckets if we all break down what we are looking for verse what we must have.  We just aren’t that complicated.  We all have certain quirks, but we all tend to want certain templates that we consider our ideal life.  And we have certain templates that are the ideal match.

No one ever has it all, but our expectations start out there.  If you could honestly lay out what you want in a person based on attractiveness, morals, goals, and personality I bet you would go gaga over any random asshole pulled out of the right bucket if it hit all of the points.  So why are we just looking at the profile picture and expecting that to tell us everything we need to know?  I just am not sure if the existing online dating platforms are doing a good job of sorting us correctly.

Even if you have the looks and the camera loves you, how are you going to tell you are drawing from the right bucket?  How do you guard against disqualifying someone that might be better than you think?  How do you sort through everyone if you look for everything with a fine tooth comb?  Is settling for someone that isn’t perfect really not how every fucking marriage ever got off the ground in the first place?


So what do you think?  I am curious if my initial impression resonates with you or if you had a different experience?  Maybe you are better looking than I am and this is just harder for average people?  Or maybe this is the game we all have to play now in order to find our chapter two?  Tell me your thoughts if you dare in the comments.  FOR SCIENCE!

Ramblings about faith.


Yep.  I was married in a Roman Catholic church and I didn’t even get hit by lightning.  Cool.

I have a funny relationship with God.  I am willing to believe he exists, but the methods presented in order to learn about him are flawed.  The simple fact that I refer to God as a he is engrained by the teachings of the Roman Catholic church.  They teach us that Jesus was a white man with long straight blonde or brown hair.  I won’t get into a debate over this here, but suffice to say I have my doubts.


All religion adapts the story to the person hearing it.  It is religion’s goal to recruit you to their doctrine in order to obtain the donations required to grow the religion.  Any religion that doesn’t do this simply does not grow.  It’s advertising prior to the invention of the Super Bowl.

So figuring this out early on I never could bring myself to sit through a 45 minute mass that was designed to indoctrinate those in attendance.  I always personally felt that RC mourned their religion and thus I was never moved by it.  I seldom went to church.  I seldom felt guilt about not going to church.  Unless my Grandmother knew of course.

I was baptised but never confirmed.  I did make an effort to get my confirmation complete prior to my wedding to Felecci.  I read the bible cover to cover, developed opinions and had questions about the symbolism and stories within.  I was excited until I met the person who would instruct me prior to being confirmed.

See, I didn’t take the book to be literal.  To me, it was allegory.  That was a bit of a problem for the person teaching me what I needed to know in order to be allowed to be confirmed.  Not being able to sit through the indoctrination and because I didn’t want to lie, I left the class.  I got married in the church, but I was never confirmed and thus could not take communion.

Fast forward to the day we held the wake and funeral mass.  At this point I was angry, sad, and bitter.  I was holding it together in order to get through the day.  I didn’t want pity.  This day wasn’t about me, this was about honoring the memory of Felecci.  I acted as the good host and I talked with everyone and I got through the day.

But that day, I took communion.  Damn the rules, I earned one day where I was accepted in the house of God as an equal.  In fact, damn God.  It was His creation that allowed me to be here and have to experience this.

After the weeks went by I started working on putting myself back together.  But I didn’t need God in my life.  I have always lived with what I consider to be a good moral code and tried to be a good human being.  At least when it counted.

I’ve doubled down since the wake.  I’ve helped people through charity and through deeds. God had created a world where great suffering is possible.  Making it just a tad easier for someone made my own pain easier.  It let me bring good to a world in which God seemed aloof.

I also started taking better care of myself.  I didn’t want to someday meet someone and be in such bad health that I would risk an early death and put them through what I went through.  I have been obsessed with self-improvement.  But most importantly, I have been looking for meaning and purpose in my life.  I didn’t want to be angry anymore.  God was not going to help me, I must help myself and go out and live life.

I started coming out of my grief shell and meeting new people.  I didn’t plan on it, but I even met one woman whom I had more than a passing interest in getting to know better.  I worked up the nerve to contact her to try to ask her out for coffee.  After some conversation, she agreed to meet, but at her church instead, because reasons =).

This wasn’t a RC church though.  I have never gone to any other.  I was apprehensive at first.  It was then that I realized I was a hypocrite.  My whole life I made the excuse that I didn’t like church because of the way mass was conducted.  Yet here I was chatting with an attractive and interesting woman whom I was interested in getting to know.   She was inviting me to her church, and I was hesitating.  I was in the midst of a life crisis and trying to figure out who I was.  So with apprehension tossed aside in favor of exploring new things, I agreed to go.  There seemed to be no downside.

Don’t worry, this isn’t the part where I tell you I was moved to tears and found Christ.  And it appears to be likely that the coffee will be amongst two friends despite my interests.  Instead, I found a different kind of church, but it was a church that has updated its message since 1412.

The mass was a celebration of faith, and the sermons were held by people who actually get out and live life.  As far as a mass went, this didn’t suck.  But all the familiar messages were there.  I’ve been twice, and been told as fact that God requires me to subscribe to this doctrine in order to be saved.  Literal, not allegory.

I respected the parishioners genuine expressions of faith, but it didn’t resonate in my heart.  I was and still am an observer.  But, I wasn’t so much angry at God as I was pouting while sitting in the same room with him.  With all of his super happy friends.  Progress is progress.

If you read my first blog article, you know that I felt my wife’s spirit touch my arm shortly before she died.  I had other events happen while in periods of great distress that helped me that I also attribute to my wife’s spirit.  I do believe in something that can’t be explained.  I just don’t yet believe any religion has spoken to my heart.

I don’t know what God is, I don’t think anyone does.  Me trying to understand God is like a bird trying to understand a F-22 Raptor.  Even more so because at least the bird has a shot in hell of meeting a F-22 Raptor while still being alive.  But I had experiences that I know I didn’t imagine.  I know there is something else besides this deep down in my heart.  This is my belief, my faith.

For me, the spiritual symbolism of religion is useful to understand what binds humanity and how we stopped being a series of warring tribes to building nations.  Faith is trickier.  I have faith that my wife has a spirit somewhere that is no longer bound by her disease.  I have faith that I will have happiness in my life again.  I don’t know how, but I will work at it until it does.  And I have faith that I am guaranteed nothing, but will find more happiness in life by being good and helping others than by always looking out for myself.

I don’t know how God feels about my views, or if he even cares.  I suspect God cares more about the hidden message than the doctrine.  How can there be so many religions in the world, yet each one thinks it is right and everyone else is a godless heathen.  What kind of asshole thinks they always have the right answer? (shut up people who know me)

So I will continue to go to this church as I am able.  Not because I believe fully in their doctrine, but because it is nice to see people who have faith in things they can’t explain or prove.  It will also provide chances to do charitable things.  And maybe I will learn something unexpected along the way.  That is what trying new things is supposed to achieve, right?

And maybe I will learn something from the coffee.  At a minimum, I have a new friend out of the deal who brought me back to the doorstep of spirituality.  That doesn’t suck.

My right to pursue happiness.

Felecci ready for heaven

Raise your hand if you were her husband.  Ok, then don’t tell me how to feel or what to do.

I’ve been annoyed about this for a while now, though not specifically annoyed at anyone.  A lot of this is likely my own imagination, but it is there all the same.  Some of it isn’t my imagination, and I am sure some of it hasn’t been said but thought.  So let me clear the air.

I feel like I am entitled to do what I want.  I feel I earned that right. But there is this unspoken feeling that my decisions are being questioned.  No one person has triggered this post.  But simple innocent comments can build up and I don’t want to say something I will regret to someone who doesn’t deserve it.  I know people have my best interest at heart, but a lot of your comments are misguided attempts to prevent me from being hurt.   It’s too late for that.

There is nothing else this world can do to me that will hurt me more emotionally.  It can only put me through more of the same, and I am familiar with that enemy now.  I will not sit and hide and watch my life go by because of fear of standing back up.  That is not who I am.

I am going to let everyone in on the secret to pissing off someone who lost their spouse.  Have an opinion on how we should grieve or how long we should grieve.  Or assume because we still grieve that we are not getting better; like we have a cold or something to be cured.  Or think you know what is going on in our head and making assumptions about my intentions or actions.

So because no one person has triggered this, and no one person deserves this to be said to them, I am going to say it to an imaginary person so that we can all bear witness.  This imaginary person is the sum of all judgment I feel has been passed on me, imagined or not.  This way, I can say what is on my mind without having to have a confrontation with anyone.  Tonight I say my peace to the world, and let the world know where I stand.  So let’s have at it.

This is my loss, not yours.  You didn’t drive to Sloan Kettering for 8 years, I did.  I watched my wife get tortured in a vain attempt to save her life.  I am the one who had to get up multiple times at night when she was in pain and help her.  I am the one who had to go to work and advance my career while combating depression.  I am the one who pushed her in a wheelchair for 2 years.  I am the one who made sure she always had oxygen when we traveled.  And I am the one who is left holding the pieces.

I may be the toughest person you know; except for her.  I knew she was going to die for 6 years.  Do you know what waiting for your wife to die for 6 years feels like?  To watch a disease slowly kill them?  To have a disease make it impossible to be intimate with your wife?  The depression I had to fight through because there was no one around who was going to help if I failed?  I wouldn’t wish what I went through on anyone.

I would trade places with her in a second so that she has this opportunity if I could.  But this isn’t how it happened.  It is my job to find meaning in why this happened.  It is my job to make good come of this, with or without the help of family, friends, or even god.

The fact is, I am the only one who married Felecci.  I am the only one who was with her when we discussed her death and what she wanted for me.  I’m the only know who knows what it felt like to transfer her ashes into that urn in the picture to make sure everything was biodegradable for her burial.  And I’m the one who arranged this mural just before her 40th day simply because her family believed it was the day she would ascend to heaven.

I’m the only one that knows that the day I did this, I felt a sense of calm.  I’m the only know who knows that the day I did this is the day I decided to start doing what she wanted me to do.  She wanted me to get stronger from this, not to listen to judgment.  She wanted me to be the person she married and find happiness, not have people question my intentions.

If I decide to move, it will be to a place I choose.  Or I may stay where I am.

If I decide to change jobs, it will be because I choose to.  Or I will stay where I am because I have a great job and a great position already.

If I decide to start dating, I am not asking your permission if it is ok.  I am doing it because I am ready.  Or I will stay single and become a monk.  Not your call.

Point being, I am doing what I think is right and what my heart and my wife wanted for me.  I am no longer afraid.  The world has taken everything from me that mattered, and I want my happiness back.  I am going to find it, and I will deal with the setbacks as they come.  I am no longer afraid.

I will always love Felecci.  I still have unfinished business with God over her death.  I don’t understand the purpose of what she went through.  I don’t know why this happened.  But I won’t find the answer sitting inside my house feeling sorry for myself.

The answer is out there.  I have begun to heal by giving to charities I want to be involved in.  By helping people who need my professional expertise.  By starting to look for someone to love again so that I can write my next chapter.  By sharing what I have learned from this experience.  By embracing the three sisters I gained when I lost my wife.

I know I am able to stand against the tide when things go bad.  I have proof that I will not shy away from adversity.  I know I can go through the worst possible outcome and maintain my marriage vows and promises.  When I look in the mirror, I know who I am.  Better or worse you are god damn right.  And I never wavered.  Till death do us part.  And I would do it again, no regrets.

But I know she is in a better place now and watching over me.  I hope someday I can find someone who accepts what I went through.  Who appreciates that it has made me into the man I am today.  And understands that I am the way I am because I once had the honor of being married to an amazing woman.  And is confident that I can love them without judgment or comparison. That I have the capacity to love and my love for Felecci does not interfere with my love for them.  Because I still have a life to live, and a promise to keep.  I am no longer afraid.  And I want to live, not just exist.

I don’t know how to drop a mic while writing, so use your imagination.


A work in progress: Living with grief.

In progress

I refuse to fully open my eyes until I get a damn cup of coffee.

Aside from needing to shave, I don’t look all that unusual in this picture.  This is a picture of me from earlier in the week.  I am trying to see if I can smile without it looking weird to myself.  On this day, I couldn’t even manage to fake it.  All I was able to accomplish was smirk a bit.

My eyes look sleepy because I only got about six hours of sleep.  I seem to need less sleep lately but it is starting to take a toll so I will need to work on that.  I didn’t feel like putting a sharp razor to my face this morning, so I skipped it.   Otherwise, I look like anyone else more or less.  This is the face of someone in the process of healing from a devastating loss.

When a person is grieving, they go through ups and downs.  People who haven’t lost someone dear and close to their heart haven’t experienced just how complicated it is.  It also doesn’t affect everyone exactly the same, and we vary in our ability to control it or even find the will to get out of bed in the morning.

I’ve heard a lot of stories in the groups I am in and it all is the same.  Depending on what is going on around the person and what their family or friends want from the widow/er you will typically hear something like this:

“It’s still too early for you to date, you should wait a while.”
“You need to stop grieving and get on with your life.”
“You don’t have to worry, you are young – you have your whole life ahead of you.”
“You need to put yourself out there, move on.  Your kids need a new father/mother.”
“Take your time, don’t rush.  You need to grieve.”
“Why are you still crying?  Get past it and move on.”

These kinds of statements are very hurtful to someone who is grieving.  Doesn’t matter the situation.  Frankly, a widow/er doesn’t want your opinion; they want your love and friendship.

Most people who say these things don’t mean harm; they just don’t know what to say.  They think they are helping when in fact they may be causing more harm and hurt feelings.

Other people shy away from the person after a time because they are uncomfortable.  They are there in the beginning but then they start to distance themselves.  I have heard many stories of friends and family doing this to folks.  Thankfully, neither of the above issues have impacted me to any great extent.

I want to explain what grief is in hopes that people stop trying to treat it like it is something to get over and move on.  Grief is so much more potent and encompassing.  It doesn’t go away, it hides for a while to come back and bite you in the ass when you least expect it.

When it hits, grief is like terror without the ability to run away.  It is being surrounded and enclosed with the worst kind of despair you can imagine.  It isn’t fear for your safety so much as an emotional pain in your soul so great you want to run away and hide.  However, there is no escape.  You can numb it for a while, but that just makes it worse.

Grief comes in waves.  You can recover from a bad day only to be drawn into again by something innocent that reminds you of the past.   We are in a constant state of recovery, and I don’t yet know if it ever really stops.  It feels like it gets easier to manage, but it is never defeated.  When you have lost someone very close to you; you will carry scars from it for a long time.  Possibly, it will be your lifetime.

As we heal, we attempt to escape our little dungeons and start exploring the world.  We start to ask ourselves if we are ready to date again, or if we still need time.  We might decide we need a change of address or possibly a new career path.  We may want to go back to school.  Or we may want to stay exactly as it is because it is familiar.

The person who died could have been terrible, but that doesn’t offer any comfort for the person left behind.   It can cause more damage than if the marriage was solid and reliable.  People who have lost a loved one to substance abuse or some other terrible event feel cheated that they didn’t get the closure they were looking for.  Not only are they grieving for the person that they lost, they are pissed off they never got to resolve a major life conflict on their own terms.  These emotions play into each other.

Kids could be involved and they have grief too that the survivor has to deal with while going through this.  I don’t know this burden but almost all of the folks I talk to do.  Felecci and I decided early on in the Cancer fight to focus on saving her before we would consider kids.  We didn’t bother to save her eggs when the stem cell transplant was scheduled because it would have delayed her treatment.  Not everyone gets to protect their unborn children from this pain and those folks deserve a damn medal for going through this while raising kids.

I would have loved to be the father to a bunch of little Irish-American / Filipino rug rats.  (a nod to my Irish friends who will correct me if I call myself Irish)  If they had my determination and their mother’s heart I believe they would have grown up to be excellent people.  When I die I want to leave something to this world that makes it better than when I came into it, and maybe someday I will get that chance with my own kids.  For now, I have nieces and a nephew to hold me over.  Goals are good though, they give us hope and a reason to escape the dungeon.

I have come to peace with the fact that Felecci is gone and I will be 37 soon, but I still am working on coming to peace with the fact that my sense of self has changed.  I was a husband and a partner, then a husband and a provider, then a husband and a caretaker.

What am I now?  I am still working on that.

While relapses in grief will provide me with excellent material for this blog, I’d prefer if I could just make the emotion more controllable and start working on the rest of my life.  As widow/ers we don’t want to be this way.  But this process can’t be rushed.  We need to deal with it ourselves but we want to know that there is love and support out there for us, not to be told how to do it by people with no fucking clue.

And we don’t need you to keep track of our timeline to tell us if it meets your approval.  Fuck off with that shit.  You can’t just snap us out of it with 2 minutes of advice you heard on Dr. Phil or from advice you heard from some other random asshole.

If you want to support someone you know who is grieving; just be their friend.  Don’t try to fix things or diminish the pain that they feel by distracting them or telling them what they should do.  You can’t walk this journey for them, so instead put your arm around them and just give them a hug.  Or take them out so that they feel normal.  Take their kids to soccer practice.  Mow their lawn.  I don’t know, figure it the fuck out!

Action, not words.  Whatever you can do.  That is what helps people; not your judgement or your opinions about how they could be handling this better.

And by the way; don’t judge them if they take years to move on.  Or just a few months.  Everyone is different.  You have to be happy that they are trying to stand back up as best as they can.  Support them.  If you were in their shoes, you would be hurting too.  Maybe worse.

If a person appears to be in trouble, encourage the person talk to someone.  When it gets destructive or if the person is showing a danger to themself it is time to call for help.  Therapy isn’t a crutch; it’s a guide for those who have lost their way.  It doesn’t have to be permanent but it can be if that is what the person needs.  It all depends on the needs of the individual.  Grief is the most powerful negative emotion most of us will experience in our lives.  Do not underestimate it.

It’s ok to remind them that the last thing the person they lost wants is for them is to cause harm to themselves  We all have a small part to play in this world, and we need to be reminded that without us that part goes unfilled.  If not for ourselves, many of us will work to honor the memory of the partner we lost.  It’s the first thing that gave me purpose as I dragged myself off the floor.

We owe it to those now gone to lead good lives.  To teach those we love why their stupid arguments are not that important.  That no matter how annoyed you might be at someone; you still love them.  And to tell them that we love them as often as possible.  Because we know that tomorrow, they may no longer be there.

I said I love you to my wife every single day, multiple times a day.  It was the last words we said to each other.  We never got tired of the reminders.

It’s because of her memory and her love that I can get out of bed most mornings with hope that I will continue to figure this shit out.

I leave you tonight with something similar to what I wrote to someone who didn’t know how to express their pain.  By expressing our pain, it helps to understand and to heal. That sort of is the whole purpose of this blog.  Maybe it helps you understand what we go through when grief first hits and we are at our lowest.  I felt every single line below at the same time for weeks.  I’ve dealt with the worst of it but I can still feel some of it.  It’s weaker now, but it is always lurking.  Trying to stop me.  We can’t let it.

Sadness so bad it actually hurts. No, not sadness per say.  Despair
Anger, sadness, fear, guilt, despair, relief, agony, shock.  To name a few.  All at once.  Throbbing.
It hits so hard that you struggle to catch your breath.  Tears, sobbing.  When will it end?  It just…hurts.
All of a sudden you are willing to barter for more time.  Never enough time.  I’d give anything to go back and spend more time.  Why did I not do XYZ before now?
For 8 years I wanted this to end so she could be at peace, and I hate myself for it.  Now I am ready to do this for 20 more years.  Don’t go, I need you.  Please, just get better so we can be together.
Utter defeat.  Beaten.  Finish me.  How do I possibly go on from here?
I don’t want to do anything.  I don’t care about anything.  Numb between periods of intense emotion.  Can’t sleep, don’t want to get up.
Walk around the house and remember something I want to tell her; forgetting  just for a second that she is gone. Then I remember and it starts all over again.
If something came and killed me right now I would not care.  I am not ready, I want her back.
I didn’t ask for any of this, how do I go back? Why her, why not me?  I don’t know how to do this without her.


The Face of Perseverance


The face of the toughest person I ever met and her nieces.   Warning: nieces like to climb on and beat up Uncle John

You wouldn’t know it from this picture except for the oxygen tube visible, but Felecci was gravely ill in this picture.  I don’t remember exactly when this picture was taken but it was within the last 2 years of her life.  In this picture, she needed a wheelchair to get more than 15 feet.  We had chairs arranged throughout the house so she could rest between rooms.  She needed 2 liters of oxygen just to keep her oxygen levels at 96%.  Her heart rate sitting down was 120.  If she walked to the kitchen, it would go to 150.  She was on medication for her kidney & liver as well as blood thinners.  She had Oxycodone and Ativan for pain and sleep if she needed it.

All she really wanted was to be able to go to the grocery store and cook dinner and be intimate with her husband like we were before Cancer was in our lives.

While I am dealing with the emotions of this now in a very active manner, at the time I blocked a lot of this out.  I was numb to it and the anger; I felt angry at god for creating an existence for me that included the torture of this wonderful woman.  Eight years of fighting cancer takes a terrible toll on the human body to say nothing of the emotional toll.

To her credit with some support from me, she never  allowed her disease to define who she was.  She went to sleep at night on Sept 12th, 2017 with concern for me and love in her heart; more worried about me than that she would be dead 2 days later.  She knew she would never wake up again, and still she only wanted to tell me how much she loved me.

As I was deciding if I was going to write another post so soon or give it a few days, I came to the realization that I don’t believe anyone has ever known the horrors my wife had to endure.  How each scar made her feel less beautiful; even though I couldn’t care about those trivial things.  How each setback took another piece of her life away from her.

She never allowed herself to give into despair.  Oh, she was mad/sad/upset at times.  But it didn’t define her.  She didn’t sit and think about herself as the poor cancer patient.  She is an example of how to live above adversity.  Here are some of the things just off of the top of my head that she endured in eight years.


Felecci dealt with chronic pain for several periods during her fight with Cancer.  When her bone marrow was especially bad, she would get these terrible pains in her hip.  I would jump out of bed 2-3 times a night to hold her hip in place and get her into a spot that was comfortable during these periods.  Opioids were generally ineffective for her, and NSAID’s weren’t allowed because of bleeding danger plus the risk to her kidney.  Thankfully, while the Cancer spread through her body we were able to control it in the bone marrow more or less so these periods were not as often as some other symptoms.

Needles on the other hand were not her friend.  She had three medical port procedures done during her time fighting Cancer so that she wouldn’t have to be pricked with a needle as often.  She had very small veins and often anytime the port could not be used, she would have to take a needle in an arm that was worn down because of years of Cancer treatment.  The collapsed vein would bruise badly and take weeks to heal.  She especially hated this.

During the initial stages of her treatment, chemo drugs one time leaked into the muscle tissue in her arm, damaging the muscle tissue and veins rendering that arm useless for taking drugs via needle or IV.  This was a very painful chemical burn.  It never healed back the same way, but it would cause the other arm to have to take ALL of the needles for 7 years.  Even with a medical port you still need to get stuck with needles a lot.

During the later stages, Cancer had attacked her spine and neck and hip not through bone marrow, but through tumors pressing against nerves.  She was at risk of paralysis on two separate occasions.  The complications of having these nerves compressed caused both weakness in her legs as well as discomfort.  Narrow, targeted radiation was used to temper these problems.  Radiation was mild by our standards given what she went through.

Bone marrow biopsies were their own special level of hell for her.  It involves a very long needle that applies a Novocaine type of sedative to numb the local area.  They then take a thicker, larger needle and turn and dig into your hip like a manual drill.  The bone cannot be numbed, so you feel this metal object drilling into your bone.  Pressure is what they say it will feel like.  She said it felt like torture.  They dig through the hard part into your bone marrow and they take both what they call a “core sample” and they take actual bone marrow.  The bruising from this takes about a week to heal and it leaves a little scar “dot” above your ass cheek that fades but doesn’t go away.


As she was a Cancer patient progressing thru the later stages of the disease, she had to deal with a number of personal humiliations.

For instance, typically many people will see you naked as doctors and nurses need to examine you.  Being sick and weak meant occasional throwing up, or having to use a commode instead of a toilet, or needing to have a catheter inserted.

As it progressed, she lost some form of control and required assistance for sensitive matters.  She could not take care of herself while in the hospital.   Occasionally you got medical personnel that should have been truck drivers instead for all of the sensitivity they displayed.  I took over when she felt she was not getting the attention she needed.  She didn’t want me to see her like this, but she needed someone she trusted and I was always there.  Bathroom, showering, wiping, or even simply hair brushing all becomes vital parts of comfort care.

During the stem cell transplant procedure, her immune system was intentionally destroyed only to have it rebuilt over 6-8 weeks in isolation in an effort to put in a new immune system that might kill the cancer.  One of her sisters was a donor and had to go through a small procedure as well.  During this 6 weeks she was in isolation with only the internet and a TV and one visitor (me) as a link to the outside world.  A world that if she walked into without taking precautions she would risk certain death.

Her estrogen production was damaged by this stem cell transplant and this greatly complicated intimacy.  She entered early menopause.  Estrogen pills were prescribed.  These pills are not taken orally.  Still, physical complications greatly reduced her ability to feel the way she was prior to the procedure.  In additional to the physical challenges, both her and I developed mental anxiety.  She was afraid she would get injured and thus was unable to relax which in turn fed into my fear of injuring her.

Life-threatening Situations

At some point during cancer treatment, you will get an infection.  This is a generally accepted fact.  You will be hospitalized, and if you are like her you will have a skin rash.  Yet another opportunity for more people to see you naked when you don’t want them to.  This rash will take weeks to heal and leave discoloration on your skin.

She learned just how dangerous being allergic to medicine can be.  She required immediate steroids in order to prevent her wind pipe from closing.  These were heavy dose steroids that caused severe weight gain.

After the stem cell transplant she was on two particularly nasty drugs which are anti-rejection drugs.  They in combination with the steroids caused drug induced diabetes.

Other treatments made her so sick that you she lose just as much weight as the steroids made her gain and caused more body image issues that she had to cope with.

She developed an intestinal blockage that required a month of hospitalization and some very uncomfortable tubes to be shoved down her nose to suck the terrible waste building up in her body and causing her to throw up.

We gave up the ability to have children so that she could start the stem cell transplant ASAP.  Then, for good measure they later took her ovaries out completely because they appeared to be developing tumors of their own.

She was hospitalized I believe between 12 and 16 times in total.  She visited Sloan Kettering once or twice a week just about for 8 years.  I lost count honestly.  God help us when we had to go to the local hospital because it was an emergency.  Many local hospitals are so bad you are amazed they are allowed to operate at all.

Loss of Independence

As the disease progressed, she had to stop driving.  It became too dangerous for her to operate a car.  Later, she couldn’t even walk with me inside the grocery store because of fatigue and breathing issues.

She lost the ability to clean the house, do the dishes, do the laundry, cook, or fold laundry.  These were the tasks she did so she could feel like she was helping, and they too became too much.

She needed oxygen to breath, which reduced her ability to stay out for long periods of time as we had limited oxygen.  We would go to dinner twice a week to get out of the house before even that because too much for her.

Despite all of this, look at her smile!

This is what is so damn amazing.  Any smile I have had on my face in the past 6 years including my current Facebook picture has been faked.  I don’t know how to smile for a picture and feel natural anymore.  I look at my face and only a stoic frown feels natural.  I have resting bitch face at the best of times.  I live in search of happiness, but I haven’t found it.

But look at her smile.  She went through all of the above – only worse than I described.  Eight fucking years of that bullshit.  Can you tell from this picture?

That ability to find joy in spite of all of the misery she had to endure on a weekly, sometimes daily basis.  How can you not admire the toughness to know that tomorrow you are going to have 8 hours of waiting with intermittent periods of torture and look that beautiful and amazing.

She was always beautiful to me in mind and in spirit, this is without question.  Her physical looks were not lost on me, but her soul and her personality in combination with that was such a rare combination.  I was lucky she choose me to be her husband.  I hope she felt lucky to have me to protect and take care of her.

I always thought there would come a time when she would break on me and I would have to worry about leaving her alone.  There were enough drugs in the house that I was concerned.  I made her promise not to make me come home to a terrible sight; and to her credit she never intended for that to be the way her story ended.  But she too wanted what was best for me, and in turn also held me to the same promise after she was gone.

I promised that I would not wallow in self-pity and I would not harm myself.  I promised that I would work to dig myself out of this hole and figure out how to live the life we were denied.

As I cry my fucking eyes out and write this, I go back to that anger and that pain that I no longer bury.  It is a reminder that I have not yet met my promise to her.  And though I am not always perfect, every day I get up and I go deal with my day.  I carry this burden because in comparison to her I have the easy job. I fight to be happy because I promised her I would.

Not every widower gets to say goodbye, and many situations are not wrapped up in a nice and neat bow like mine are.  The only reason I am as far along as I am is because of the support of the groups I am in and thru hearing about their stories.  Those folks know who they are, but hearing and discussing their pain and burdens helps me carry mine.

If you know someone who has not had closure, they are in even worse shape than I am.  On top of their grief, they have to deal with the fact that their relationship was left with things unsaid and possibly very troubling issues left unresolved.

They might be left with children to care for who are going through the loss of a parent.  A widow/er has to attend to their child while dealing with their own breakdowns.  This greatly complicates even getting to where I am, much less to the point where we can open our hearts and find what to do or whom to be with for the remainder of our lives.

Friends and family mean well, but often they say very hurtful or insensitive things.  Telling the person what they should do, when they should do it, how long to wait and mourn before trying to live their life.  This is overbearing ignorance of the highest order, and it is almost always encountered on some level.  This isolates the widower and makes these feelings harder to deal with.

I dealt with many of these emotions as soon as 3 weeks after she died and continue to do so, but I am still learning to cope with them and it is a daily process.  During the early stages of my grief I wrote a small poem that I posted to my support group and wanted to share to close this article.  It didn’t have a title till tonight, in honor of my wife.8


One: the pain is crippling.

Two: Can’t breath; suffocating.

Three: Deep breaths control it

Four: Who the hell am I again?

Five: World is spinning fast.

Six: Hold it together, try again.

Seven: Pick yourself up, fight it.

Eight: Standing now, it hits again.

Fall down, do it all again.

Can’t quit, I promised.

Won’t quit, I’m stronger than this.

One day soon, I’ll rise again.

Been beaten, been bruised

Must make amends.

I am not ready to quit

Let’s get this over with.

Ring the bell, what do I fight next?

Both my wife and best friend.


Yea, I’m a dork.  But I was her dork.

Not everyone has a great marriage.  Some of the folks I have has the immense honor to speak with have had issues that are heartbreaking.  Tales of substance abuse and other forms of abuse break my heart, and I wish I could do more than use my writing and humor to help these poor folks heal.  I wouldn’t presume to talk about things I haven’t experienced and pass it off like I have a fucking clue.  But I wanted to show love for those who have to deal with so much more than the loss of their partner.

By contrast, Me and Felecci had a pretty good marriage.  Sure, we had our ups and downs.  I was an only child and pretty much figured out how to entertain myself for years at a time.  Felecci was the eldest and was used to much more interaction in the house.  I had my hobbies which I had to curb as I matured and got older, but by and large we worked through any issues and always loved each other.

One thing that was always rock solid was our support for one another.  Felecci was sensitive.  If she felt you wronged her in any way she had this remarkable ability to shut you out completely.  I used to call her a turtle because when she was mad she would go into her shell.

Over the years I learned how to coax her out of this shell.  This required the utmost care.  Too forceful and you had 4 days of silent treatment to look forward to.  But if you didn’t show enough concern she was going to pack a bag and drive to her mother’s.  Let’s just say I got good at reading her mind and I give great foot rubs.  She could be mad and not talk to me all she wanted, but if I rubbed her feet she was going to let me stay in the room.  And it is hard to be mad at someone who is making you feel good.  Take notes fellas.

When I was mad, I didn’t get the same treatment.  She had a knack for either making me feel guilty or somehow turning it around to make it my fault.  Pretty sure woman gather into meetings to work out the most effective strategies to beat us in this arena.  But she always cared, even when she was pretending not to.  She was my best friend, and she always wanted what was best for me, even if I wouldn’t stop “being stubborn” and just do what she wanted me to do.

See, there are a few keys to a lifetime marriage that I learned from my grandparents:

  • Humor

You have to learn to laugh with one another.  If you take yourself so damn seriously all the time that you can never look at how stupid you both are acting, then you will eventually get a divorce.  You won’t enjoy life because you are spending all your time complaining about it instead of laughing together when things go wrong.

  • Patience

You have to have patience with one another.  If you can’t learn to be less you, not so much her, but more together in the middle you will fight.  I used to tell her all the time that the hardest thing in the world is for two people to live together, except for probably two people plus kids.

  • Love them more than they love you.

If you are always concerned about yourself and you never think of your partner, then you will always have neglect.  You need to love them more than you love yourself, and they in turn need to love you more than they love themselves.  You help each other, and that is how you build a bond.  This also leads back to compromise and creating middle ground.

  • Friendship

No matter how great the sex is, how hot they are, or how much money they make; you need to like spending time together or else what the fuck are you two doing?  This person is going to see you at your worst, you can’t have secrets from them and you need to enjoy their company.  It just doesn’t work otherwise.  This is why Tinder in general is a fucking dumpster fire of an idea for a dating process.

My wife and I had no problems with intimacy till that was slowly taken from us by Cancer over the years.  Our marriage lasted because we still loved each other and we still were best of friends.  There was nothing I needed from this woman besides her love, and I would have sacrified anything for her.  I greatly missed the way we were, and show did she.  But our diminished intimacy was not of our choosing, and because we understood one another this was not a conflict in our marriage.

Don’t get me wrong, intimacy between a couple is important, but it is not what keeps the marriage alive.  She was my best friend, my lover, and my partner.  In that order.  And I am not sure which one I miss more, but I think it is the best friend.  That is kind of what it feels like to lose a spouse.  You don’t just lose one person, you lose THE person.

To be a widow/er is to lose the one person in the world you could count on to understand you.  They are you support system.  Without them, most of us are lost to figure out how to cope.  Friends and family try to help, but sometimes they cause more harm than good with their words.

If you are a widow/er and you are lost, seek help.  You always can pick and choose what you are and are not willing to accept.  It can be therapy, or it can be a support group, or both!  But if something isn’t working you need to keep trying.  Do not allow grief to consume you; it is your most dangerous enemy if you do not face it and acknowledge it.

I miss my best friend just as much as I miss my wife.  She would help temper my bouts of self-doubt.  She would listen to my complaints, not judge or tell me what to do – just listen.  She would remind me that she still wanted me even though she wasn’t healthy enough to take me.  And I did the same for her.

Lacking her love to help guide my decisions, I try to keep her and what she would do in my place in my heart.  In many ways, I feel a responsibility to succeed at my second chapter (stolen support buzzword alert) because she wanted me to.  If you find yourself unwilling to get help for yourself, remember that your loved one would want you to.  You have a life left to live, and someone who loved you greatly wants you to go live it.