Dear God, what the fuck is your plan here anyway?

Today would have been Felecci’s 41st birthday.  I thought I’d be able to carry that shit today.  Till everything hit me again when getting ready for work.

See, I had to make a choice after about 12 hours of Felecci being sedated.  Wake her up, let her sister speak to her who flew in from Vegas, or let her sleep and be free from the anxiety of slowly suffocating to death because Cancer was attacking her lungs and heart.

The problem was that she was at peace with her decision the night before.  She knew this was the end once she went under.  I made sure to explain her choices to her the way doctors never do.  No one tells you when it is your time, you are supposed to figure that shit out for yourself.  But we had talked about this time before.  She told me she didn’t want to suffer, and she wanted to know when the time came that there were few options.  She wanted to understand them clearly.  And she wanted to make her decision.

Part of me knew she also wanted my input.  She hated making tough decisions, she agonized over them.  But this wasn’t a decision I could bring myself to make.  I mean, I love her.  To decide if she stays awake in major discomfort or sleeps till she dies?  Fuck, how do you make that choice for someone?  It’s impossible.  The arguments you have with yourself when exploring that decision makes the House of Commons look like a well-run institution of decision making.

In the end, I told her truthfully.  I can’t make this decision.  But it is going to be bad no matter what you do.  Reject the morphine being offered, and continue to gasp for air no matter how much oxygen they feed you.  Run a 170 heart rate at rest as your body struggles till it finally gives out.

Or take the morphine.  And go to sleep, never to see me as a mortal ever again.  When this situation came, I fought every instinct in my body to try to make her stay.  There was maybe 15% of me that felt that if she decided to take the morphine that I should try to dissuade her.  But that 15% of me that knew to respect her decision was logic and reason.  God was going to get his angel sooner or later, and there was no stopping it.  So why make her suffer more than she already has?

To wake her, give her sister closure meant making Felecci make that decision twice.  She struggled with it.  She didn’t want to die, but she feared how this deterioration was going.  We were at the point where doctors wanted to cut into her lung and drain fluid while she was awake and on no anesthesia except a local.  But her heart was too fragile to even get her out of bed to move her.  Her heart nearly crashed during the attempt.

To make her have to make that decision again, go thru that fear.  Or to see her sister one last time.  Honestly, I don’t know if I ever know if I made the choice she would have made.  I just wanted her torment to stop.  To wake up and not be face to face with God and to start struggling again.  She was hanging on by a thread when she made this decision.  The weight that lifted off of her when she knew it was her time.  I couldn’t make her do that decision again.  We spoke in the past that she just wanted to go when it was her time.  She believed she would exist as…..something….after it was over.

I made the hardest decision I have ever had to consider. And I knew that I will never know it was the right one.  But it guaranteed her less suffering.

Which brings me to you, God.  I don’t know what you are exactly.  But I don’t believe we are here by accident.  I know we are less important than we think we are, being so small relative to the universe and all.  But why will us into existence only to have to see everyone we love die before us?  I don’t understand what the point is.  And before you strike my being from existence, I expect an explanation.  I want to understand why I had to go thru this.  Why she had to go thru this.  What was the fucking point?

And why, in my second year of living with the aftermath of this does it get harder to deal with her holidays?  I was good till I got in the shower this morning.  Then it hit me again, just like when I was in her hospital room for 40-howeverthefuck many hours it was.

I’d like to think that if this all had some real purpose; that our suffering served to meet some end that I will find worthwhile; that this shit would be easier to carry.  But I am only mortal, and I can’t understand the will of the universe and creation.  I think if I had the clarity to understand, that I would be ok with trading that for my being.

I guess my biggest fear in life is that the struggle is for nothing.  Thanks for reading.  And happy 41st birthday to the person who made the single biggest impact on me in my life.  I hope there is some part of you still out there with a better understanding of why than I possess.

Mahal kita.  Palagi kitang mamahalin.  I looked up the second one.  I wish you were around to help my Brooklynite ass pronounce it.

Cancer didn’t take everything.


Almost one year ago, at 5:50 am on September 14th, I lost my wife to cancer.  The loss was mine, and her sisters, and her mother, and her nieces and nephews, and all of her friends who loved her.  But it wasn’t a loss.  Cancer didn’t actually win.  Let me explain.

Felecci was diagnosed when she was 29.  It was a devastating blow to both of us.  We had discussed buying a house within the next year or so and we would have decided shortly after if she would pursue her career more or if we would decide to have kids.  We felt we still had time.

She was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma which had a high survival rate.  We went thru the standard treatment for her disease.  We expected her to take 6 months to a year off, then recover and we would be ok.  We had hope.

We never finished the standard treatment.  It stopped working, and her cancer was growing.  So we moved along to step two: Stem Cell Transplant.  She was scared.  We made the decision not to freeze her eggs because we didn’t want to wait.  I was certain if we wanted kids we could have adopted in the future and my priority was to keep her alive.  But this was the first thing Cancer took from her.

The stem cell transplant worked for about 7 months.  She had gone back to work and things had started to get back to normal.  She was still immunosuppressed, but her job was very kind and made accommodations to provide her an isolated office for her to return to work to.  She was happy to be back to being productive.

But at some point, her symptoms returned.  Night sweats and pain.  Especially the bone pain in her hip.  I knew the first night she woke me up to help her ease the agony she was in.  It was at this point that I began to realize, Cancer was going to take her.  But I didn’t have the heart to tell her what the logical side of my brain had decided.  She wanted to fight more, so we went back to our doctor to see what drug trials were available.

We had some success with different drugs.  It kept the disease at bay for a while but time after time it would eventually stop working.  It made no sense to work with the fatigue these drugs caused.  She needed to focus on her health, and it was becoming too difficult to work.  She went on long-term disability and as it turned out would never return to work.  Cancer took it’s the second thing; her career.

My wife wasn’t good being stuck in the house and would go out to see friends or just get away while I was out at work.  Eventually, as the disease spread it became difficult for her to walk long distances.  And her motor skills started to become muted somehow.  I had to tell her that it was too dangerous for her to drive; she was a risk to others around her if she had a sudden pain attack or loss of motor control.  Cancer took its third price from her; independence.

The pain eventually subsided for reasons still unknown to me.  However, I wasn’t complaining.  Unfortunately, other problems began to take its place.  She continued to have difficulty walking long distances, her breathing was hampered by Cancer as it spread into her lungs and other organs.  Cancer took its fourth price, her vitality.

Several years of chemotherapy sent her into early menopause, making it very difficult to be intimate when combined with her health conditions.  This weighed on her greatly, making her feel like she was not able to be a wife to me.  Despite my assurances that I held no blame for her in our condition, she was deeply troubled.  We had mixed success with prescribed treatments as she had so many problems it became impossible to stave off what was happening to her body.  Cancer took its fifth price, her ability to be intimate the way she wanted to be.

Further deterioration caused her to suffer from conditions that a woman in her 30’s would find quite embarrassing.  She was eventually unable to be taken outside without the use of a wheelchair.  As her lungs continued to fail, she had to rely on oxygen which only made her confinement to the house even worse for her.  Cancer had taken the last thing it would take from her before it took her life; her dignity and health.

But Cancer was not able to take everything from her.  She still had me.  No matter how hard it got and how painful it was to see her go thru this, I would have died before letting her go thru this process alone.  I do regret not making more time than I did to talk with her, but my own fears and my stubborn pride kept me from showing too much in the way of fatigue or worry.  I had a job to do, and I would deal with my emotions later I thought.  And she knew. She knew that I had to deal with it in my own way.  And she understood.  She always understood why I was the way I was.  I rarely had to explain it to her.  She still got me.

But one thing Cancer never took away was her personality.  I am SO FUCKING proud of her for the way she handled herself.  She faced death with grace.  It never changed her. It was hard, and she was scared, and she had moments of weakness.  But they were temporary, and she would recover from them.

In the end, she laughed and enjoyed what she good as much as she could throughout the process.  She forced me to not be my normal introverted self.  Despite my desire to be miserable, my wish for it to be me and not her.  Even thru her fight with Cancer, she always had time to worry about me and to make sure I was ok.  She never stopped being a wife to me, in spite of the challenges she faced.

Her last words to anyone on this planet were to me, and they were “I love you SO much.”  I know she was scared, but she even faced her final moments awake bravely.  I was so scared she would have collapsed in the end under the pressure, pleading for anyone to save her when everyone would be powerless.  But she understood, and she knew we did the best we could.  And she faced the unknown knowing that while her time on this earth was far too short, she was loved.  And those of us who are left behind are better people for having her grace our lives.

Mahal Kita babe.





What’s more important, happiness or meaning?

The poor bastards in this picture have no idea how their life will actually turn out.

As an American, we are taught that we have the right to pursue happiness.  On this 4th of July, most of us will be out with friends enjoying some of the freedoms afforded us from those who came before and sacrificed for it.  I appreciate many things about my life, and in a great many ways I am lucky to be who I am, live where I live, and enjoy the life I am enjoying.  But even though I have attained all that I have, I will be alone today to reflect, not celebrating.

I have been working on this article for about 2 months now, and it has taken many forms.  Its final version (which you are reading) reflects my sometimes chaotic way of thinking, of competing thoughts, interweaved and a tad disorganized.  And it’s all being tied together by a few common themes.  I figured this was the most natural way for me to express myself as I sound in my own head.  Hopefully, I do a good enough job for it to be readable for you guys.

To open, let me be the first to say that I have had happiness in the past.  This picture is one such example.  But sustaining happiness?  Seems impossible to me today after I reflect on the last 18 years.  Cancer took the person responsible for the vast majority of the joy in my life.  Much of what I worked for was so that WE could be happy.  But life doesn’t always turn out as you plan it.

No one said shit about actually having the right to catch happiness.  Chase it?  Sure.  Knock yourself out.  But we can’t promise anything.  And if you do catch it, it is a slippery thing to hold onto.

And if you don’t find happiness, does that mean you failed at life?  A great many people in this world struggle for their entire lives.  That has to account for something.  What keeps them going?  What makes a person going thru hell keep moving?

As the primary caretaker of a cancer patient, no one tells you shit.  You figure stuff out as you walk in a daze, doing your best to keep your loved one alive, and you hope you wind up on the right side of the statistics.  You aren’t happy, but you have shit to do.  That loved one you are taking care of NEEDS you.  There isn’t someone else coming around to pick up the slack if you can’t meet those needs.

As a widower, no one understands shit.  Death is not dealt with in our society, and people are afraid of it.  They want you to get over your loss because you remind them that this could be them.  You struggle thru periods of mood swings; sometimes you are ok and close to yourself and then there are days you just wake up and want to die.  But I get up, I try to find some purpose.  I deal with it as best as any of us could in the same situation.

I gave up on the pursuit of happiness 9 years ago and strived to simply survive.  For my sake and Felecci’s, I needed to keep my shit together so that she would be cared for as best as possible.

Today, I don’t really FEEL like being happy.  Even though many people would trade their situation with mine, I don’t think happiness makes the last 9 years worth it.  Happiness has no meaning for me anymore.  It’s almost a trap to me, to be taken at a whim by a cruel world.  If I make it the centerpiece of my life, I am opening myself up to be devastated.

Life is hard, full of pain, and you never appreciate it until it is almost over.  The thing that makes it worth it isn’t the periods of happiness so much as the knowledge that when I was NEEDED, I was there.  Before cancer, my greatest personal accomplishment was putting myself thru college and grad school.  Those years of taking care of Felecci dwarfed that struggle.  It wasn’t really till after she died that I started to really have days where I would totally fall apart.

I feel it is important for any able-bodied individual (especially someone who feels they are a “true man”) to have a purpose.  But after Felecci died, I just wanted to crawl under a rock.  I was terrified of putting myself into a situation where I might have to suffer the loss of another person I loved.  I wanted to find something that made me happy and just do it.  For a while, I just did.

See, when she died I told myself I was done.  No more attachments, nothing that the world can take from me.  No more pain.  If the world wants to take me out, fuck it I accept that.  I am not afraid of death, only pain and suffering.  When I get sick, I am going to a right to die state and making sure that the only being in this universe who decides when I go to the afterlife is me.

But I quickly started to get a sinking feeling while doing whatever made me happy on a whim.  I just didn’t see anything in my future that would keep me interested under this scenario long term.  I quickly started to realize I had to find something that would be worth getting up for.  Or else.

I was scared that I would wake up at some point in the future and decide that I didn’t want to do this anymore.  Felecci was scared about this too.  Made me promise not to do something stupid.  And I did promise.  And I meant it.

So, to not make myself out to be a liar, I had to figure out what to do.  If I am not working towards something bigger than my petty concerns, what the hell am I really about?  But what does that really fucking mean?  I had no answers.  But I knew that I had to figure this out.  That is when this article started to go into various drafts.

It started as a question written in different ways: Why even exist, if not to serve and advance some purpose that I feel is important?  So that when I am gone, I will have mattered in some small way the way Felecci matters to me and her family.

That’s what she was to me….my family.  I lost my lover, my best friend, my wife, my confidant, and the person who made me laugh on a daily basis.  All at once.


See, in my early and mid 20’s, I didn’t really want to think about having kids.  I saw the amount of work it takes and felt that was for later in life when I had my shit together.  Felecci and I were doing well and enjoying life and we had some stuff to accomplish before we were ready to settle down.

I lived in a household that went paycheck to paycheck and it was frightening sometimes as a child to be worried that things might not turn out ok.  Money also was the source of most of the fights with my parents.  I didn’t want that for my kids.  I didn’t want to have to raise my kids with that kind of pressure.

I had a plan.  It involved so many variables my friends would laugh at me if I told them.  But I had spent my 20’s making my plans happen, so I was confident I would be able to make this happen too.

We would buy a house in the Clifton, Montclair, Bloomfield area.  Something either with a good school system or taxes that made sense so we could figure out some private schooling into the budget.  Something not too big, I didn’t mind if my kids had to share growing up.  We would have 1-3 kids depending on how my career panned out.  It might be delayed by 2 years if she wanted to go back to school, but we would work out all of the logistics and details.  In the meantime, I would save money like mad until we found a situation that made sense.  I would only reach a bit financially if we found a Tudor that was perfect.  She loved that style of home.

It was all planned in my head.  And then when Felecci was 29; a cancer diagnosis blew it up in the span of 15 minutes.  Our next 10 years were suddenly taken from us.  The life she always wanted was taken from her.  Survival mode kicked in, and the rest you more or less know from my blog.

I had given up on my family growing beyond just us.  I thought I had come to peace with that, feeling that after what I went thru I would be too terrified to sign up for more human beings that I would lose sleep over.  I didn’t want to worry about anyone but myself.

I figured if I find a good woman, I’d be ok with just being an adult without the added trouble of kids.  And for a while I was.  I dated a great woman.  Pretty, easygoing, fun to be around.  But as time went on, a part of me felt empty.  I had the feeling that if I died, I no longer mattered.  I had a lot of dark feelings about this, and I wasn’t happy.  The opposite was starting to happen, I was starting to feel that the direction I was trying to take my life was wrong.  But I didn’t know why.  Nothing ACTUALLY was wrong.  What the fuck?

I’m 37 now and I feel older than ever from a near decade of emotional distress.  I have the financial security, but my life is empty without my wife.  She was my family.  I figured I tried and failed, I might as well enjoy myself.  But honestly, even with a good woman, a good job, and no worries about where my next meal was coming from; it didn’t feel like it was enough.  I wasn’t making a REAL difference, I was coasting.  I didn’t feel like I was giving enough.

But it took a while to put my finger on it.  It was about family, and what I lost the opportunity to have.

As I remember Felecci, and as I see friends with small kids, I can’t help but think about how great of a mother she would have been.  She had such patience and kindness and she was tireless at looking after those she loved.  She would have been the perfect balance to my personality when it came to raising kids.  And it tears me apart that SHE never got that chance.  I was not able to protect my family from the random dangers of the world, to protect her from the plague that is cancer.  Knowing this wasn’t my fault doesn’t make the pain any less potent.

I can’t imagine what some of the folks in my widow/er group go through being both a widow/er and a single parent.  The amount of energy required is insane, the amount of patience it takes to be both the loving parent and the disciplinarian is daunting.  But everyone I talk to above all else loves their children, and in spite of that strain, those kids keep them grounded.  And it is what gets them up in the morning.

I don’t know if I could have done what they do if Felecci and I had kids.  I suppose I would have, but fuck if I don’t imagine it would have sucked as bad or worse than what I already went thru.

I was always thankful we didn’t have kids simply because I wouldn’t want them to go thru life without their mother.  But now that she is gone, I REALLY FUCKING HATE that I never got to see her BE a mother.  It may be the single thing I am mad at God for the most.  I can’t describe with words how much this bothers me.  It is a regret I will take with me to the grave.

And I’m mad that I didn’t get to raise her children.  To tell them how kind and sweet their mother was.  How she kept the worst of my tendencies at bay and made me into a better person.  That life wasn’t fair, but that I would do everything in my power to make them into BETTER versions of us.

And that was what was bothering me.  That we never got to teach our kids the best of what we were and make them into better “us’s”.  That, in a nutshell, is the whole fucking point of the species, isn’t it?.  Its how we live on when we die.  It’s how everyone can contribute to a better world without a 200 IQ or a billion dollars.  Just make someone who is incrementally better than yourself, train them, unleash on the world, and watch them kick ass.  It’s the fucking dream of every parent I got to think, no?

Then sit and watch them surpass you, and fill yourself with the pride that you did well.  Then these kids are going to make even better kids and start the process over again, and so on.  They won’t have to change the world, they will just have to be good people.

And grow old, sit at the head of the table at the family reunion and marvel at the ass-kicking family you started.  A man could die happy if he was leaving behind a legacy like that.

I wish I knew then in my 20’s what I know now.  About how fleeting life is.  I don’t know if I would have brought kids into this world to suffer the loss of their mother to cancer, but god I wish for just one fucking day where I could see what it would have been like to see my beautiful loving wife tend to her own children.  It would make life worth living.  All of the annoyances, struggle, and pain.

Felecci did her part.  While she didn’t get to have kids, her impact on me is immeasurable.  She has tempered my worst impulses and made me a more well-rounded person.  I feel that I also helped her to feel more self-confident and to define her own goals.  She made her own decisions, and even though she was scared, she was still smiling and enjoying the company of her family for as long as she could bear.

I feel like I haven’t yet finished my part. I saw Felecci to the afterlife, but I am still here.  When I die, I need to know that I did the best I could, that I took the opportunity while I could.  I don’t know if I will be able to succeed, as cancer has taught me that my plans can be shot to shit.  But the thought of not having the option to pursue this was turning into a fear of losing the opportunity to.

In the end, I feel that without meaning, I have no purpose.  Without purpose, I don’t need to exist.  This feels so clear and right to me.  I need to have a purpose, or else I might as well have not existed.  I keep tossing that around in my head in various ways like a Rubix Cube, and I can’t find fault with it.  It is a truth, no matter how I spin it.

The thought terrifies me of actually having children.  All I need after losing Felecci is to experience some tragedy with a future child I have yet to meet.  It would be the cherry pit on top of a shit Sunday.  But the thought of giving up the chance also terrifies me.  That I will wake up at 50 with so much regret that I fail to keep the promise I made to Felecci.  If I try and fail, I think I can live with it.   But to not try?  I don’t think I can live with myself if I just quit.

I can’t give up the chance to have everything I fought for when I was in my 20’s.  I really thought I could, and because I was wrong I have caused someone pain.  And I will regret that for a long time.  But I can’t ignore this feeling.  Because if I don’t and I just quit on the idea, I feel the lifetime lack of meaning will be too difficult to carry.

I dread the amount of work involved and the cost of it, and I am terrified I am one more tragedy away from totally falling apart.  But life does not guarantee you happiness.  You have to go out and work for it.  You have to be content with meaning and hope that some happiness is mixed in with the struggle.

I assume this is what you are supposed to figure out in the first year – what is your purpose and what are your goals going forward.  I don’t know if I am doing the right things for my life.  I am stumbling in the dark, feeling my way thru.  I pray and hope that I didn’t cause too much pain to others in my wake in the process.

Life; it is about finding meaning.  So that the pain and suffering we endure was for something.  Enjoy happiness when it comes, but rest your hopes and dreams on finding peace that when it was all done, your life mattered to people.  As I head toward the end of my first year without Felecci, this is the only truth I have found that makes sense of everything.

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.