Saturday, July 02, 2005

Not Three Months Out...

Well, here I am, after years of avoiding the whole blogging thing on the premise that no one wanted to read about my boring life. After all, what was there to tell? I was a thirtysomething writer & artist publishing adventure game books with my wife Samantha. We had a home in a quiet corner of Seattle, two beautiful and superintelligent kids, and a good marriage born of 20 years together (since high school). Still have the house, kids and business (what's left of it), but in 2002, my wife was diagnosed with metastatic Adenocarcinoma of unknown primary. It's a big name for a rare and aggressive caner that usually appears in males age 60+. What it was doing in a 35 year-old woman, we may never know - she didn't smoke, drink to excess or eat poorly, and it's not a typically hereditary cancer. Nonetheless, the end result was that after almost 3 years of fighting with everything she and the medical profession could throw at it, the cancer won.

She breathed her last breath on April 12, 2005... at home, in my arms.

Our relationship started with a clumsy teenage kiss in my dad's driveway in Palo Alto, CA, in November 1984. It saw its share of drama, trauma and a hell of a lot of love and happiness. It saw a major relocation from the San Francisco Bay Area to Seattle, school, careers, children. It continually evolved, changed and blossomed. Life had its challenges, but it was good. And we shared it together.

Samantha was very close to my family. She was like an older sister to my siblings - especially since my brother had just turned 8 when we started going out. So she was shocked to find out my dad had been diagnosed with Leiomyosarcoma (LMS), an even more rare but equally aggressive cancer. My dad was diagnosed about 3 months after Sam was. Over the next 2 years, we lost our two 16 year-old cats (one to cancer, one to kidney disease). I think in some small way, they were the advance guard. They demonstrated the circle of life to our children, helped prepare them for the hard times to come. Sam engaged in 2 years of hardcore chemotherapy and radiation, acupuncture and herbal supplements. My dad had surgeries to remove tumors in his leg, in his lungs, on his skin. After two and a half years of fighting, Sam was finally told that nothing had worked. The cancer had spread to her pelvic bones and lower spine. She was given a year to live. But her body was so trashed by the constant chemo and radiation that she slid fast - she was dead six weeks later.

Shortly after Samantha passed away, my father found that his cancer had spread to the brain. He underwent two surgeries to remove the tumors, then he developed a bacterial infection and blood clot in the brain, and had to undergo a third emergency surgery to correct it. He fought hard for a week in the ICU, trying to regain speech and motor function, and he seemed to be recovering. The doctors had just given him a year to live. He was moved to the regular ward and had an embolism late Memorial Day, about 7 weeks after Samantha.

So where does this leave my family? Where does it leave me? It's an odd place, to be sure. Never thought I'd be raising my kids alone at 36 (now 37). Never thought I'd lose my vibrant, adventurous father just into his 60s. I miss them both terribly.

I have an army of friends and relatives who have come to our aid, emotionally, financially and logistically. I have Gilda's Club (, the national cancer support group founded by Gilda Radner & Gene Wilder, which Sam & I both joined 2 years ago. I have a community at WidowNet (, which has provided me with moment-by-moment support from folks all over the world in similar (and not-so-similar) circumstances. I have my kids - the best gift Samantha & I ever gave each other. She and my father both live on in them.

This blog will serve as a depository for my thoughts and experiences as I go through the grief process. The process is not linear, nor is this blog. It's a tangental, circular beast. Coupled with the phenomenon known as "widderbrain", I'd say you're in for a ride.

No comments: