Monday, February 21, 2011

He Is Not Coming Home, Winston

I am home from the Comox Valley. I chose to come home and face the inevitable - being home alone. Last night was my first night alone since Ron's passing. As mentioned in a previous blog, I have been busy; I have been distracted.

This morning, Winston and I got up and went for a long and much needed walk. I then attacked the mail, email and task list. Just now, I decided to sit down and have a break. A wave of emotion invaded my mind, my body and my spirit. I cried and said out loud to our dog Winston - "he's not coming home, he's not coming home, he is not coming home."

My heart aches. My soul longs for my mate. As my life now lacks my physical Ron, I will have learn to accept and settle for my spiritual Ron. Today I am struggling. Tomorrow will be a new day. Tomorrow will be a better day.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Let Us Celebrate Ron - February 28

Time for me, at this moment has no meaning. It is a mere one hundred and fifty-four hours since Ron passed. That equates to just under 5 days. So much has had to be done. Sometimes it just does not seem to be fair at what must be done - funeral home, death certificates, sign here, sign there. Other tasks are a delight to do - these tasks bring a smile to my face and warm my heart for it is these tasks that cause me to truly remember Ron. I have had the pleasure of working with the kids to plan Ron's Celebration of Life. We have chosen Laurel Point Inn as the venue on February 28 at 1300. Please come celebrate with us.

Many of you have been asking how I am doing. Being honest and frank, I have to tell you that there is no joy in my life; there is no spring to my step; there is no laughter in my heart and no smile on my face. Yes, I may smile momentarily but that smile is soon replaced by sadness and emptiness. Do I cry? Absolutely. I weep when I go to bed at night. I sleep, then I cry when I awake. I find comfort and distraction from Meghan, Stewart, Kirsten and Ryan but it is short lived. During the day, waves of emotion engulf my spirit and I periodically find my self sobbing. Sometimes I wonder what brought it on and other times I know exactly what I was thinking. It might have been thoughts of Ron and Winston, Ron researching our next vacation, Ron cooking, or seeing the elation on his face when all sails are flying. For me, his presence was bigger than life. For me, the heartache is greater than I ever could have prepared for.

Thank you to our children, thank you to Bill and Leanne for putting up with me for the next few days. I know that I will have to be alone and I will face that challenge very soon. The reality is that I will have Ron in my heart gently guiding me, nudging me onwards, encouraging me and believing in me. It is what he has always done in all our days together. I will feel his love.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Celebration Is In The Works

Good things take time. Ron's Celebration of Life will be no different. The kids and I have decided that we want to plan it right. Ron deserves no less. I will keep you posted as to the date, time and venue for the celebration. For now we are aiming for Feb 25 or 28 in Victoria.

Some of you have been asking each other about what to do; flowers, donations etc. Well, let me tell you what Ron's opinion on all this is. He said to me a couple months ago and this is no lie! His wishes were for no flowers but a fine bottle of red wine instead. He figures I will need the wine! Some of you may find this less than traditional. If so, because of the exceptional care Ron received at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital, Palliative Care Unit please feel free to make a donation in his name. The link to make an online donation is

Many of you have asked how the kids and I are doing. We are doing OK. I cannot speak for each of the kids but for myself it is very tough one minute and completely surreal the next. I miss Ron so much it hurts like I never could have imagined. The kids help me laugh and are a big part of making Ron's celebration become a reality.

When I am out and about, doing business that must be done, the bank teller or the barista or the lady at the stationary store will say to me, "Have a great day." I stop and think, how great can my day be. How great will my day be for just losing my husband just over twenty-four hours ago. I pause again. Silently I am glad they said those words for they remind me that I can have a great day... it is great because I have so much to be thankful for.

Stay tuned for celebration details to come soon.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Fly High Ron Harris

We have had two very different days between Friday and Saturday. Friday, to me, was a transition day for Ron. His mind was ready to move on but his body close but not close enough... medications were increased again. The nurses said he has a very strong heart. I already knew that he was all heart. Yesterday, Saturday, Ron had a very peaceful day just being. He was well aware who was with him but found it extremely difficult to communicate.

At 0200 this morning, Sunday, Ron peacefully passed to the place he has wanted to go since Tuesday. I held his hand and Meghan held me. We reassured him that all the kids love him very, very much and that they will be OK.

Our anguish at seeing his health deteriorate rapidly has shifted to a deep, deep sadness for the enormous void in our lives. For each of us, Stewart, Meghan, Kirsten, Ryan and myself, our new journey begins... our life without the physical Ron yet a life that will be profoundly influenced by Ron. His grace and dignity are immeasurable.

Ronald Harris I am proud and honoured to be your wife. Fly high, my love.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

What Would I Do Without Friends and Family

I owe many, many of you a huge heartfelt thank you for your emails of encouragement and support, for you stories about Ron and what he means to you. As important is your acceptance of his decision to pass to a more peaceful place. Thank you, too, for your understanding of unreturned calls and unanswered emails.

Bill and Leanne, thank you for being by my side, Len and Dawna for your visits and as important keeping Ron's laundry fresh and clean. Fresh clothes are so important to him as he fights the sweats brought on by the cancer.

This week, I could not have done it without our kids - Stewart, Meghan, Kirsten and Ryan. They too are on this journey and it is a bumpy road. At one time or another they have all had some quality time at Ron's bedside. If you know Ron, this includes reminiscing, laughing together, appreciating one another and the kids reassuring Ron that they will be just fine.

As each of our children have different experiences in dealing with loved ones passing, they were there for each other. The youngest one gave the biggest hugs - he is also the tallest kid. The smallest one gave big advice. The boys (OK men) being reflectively quiet, the girls bringing up stories that put smiles on all our faces. And then there is Ron... giving each of us a lesson in life that we will never forget. We can take our learning and apply them to the next time we lose a loved one, however close to us. We will be able to share Ron's journey with others to make their process of loss feel less painful. He will truly like that we we are better people and will help others.

February 10 - Valentines Day in Room # 1466

A few posts ago, at or just after Christmas, I wrote that I could not open my Christmas card from Ron. It remains unopened. I just could not bear to open the last Christmas card I would ever receive from him.

Ron's daughter Kirsten, a few days ago, asked Ron if he wanted her to pick up a Valentines card for me. It was established what type of message it should read. Kirsten purchased three for Ron to choose from. So, today is Valentine's Day from Ron to me.

Kirsten and Meghan (our daughters) asked Ron if he wanted to give me the card. He said yes but know that this was a sedated yes. I was summoned to his room. Alone I went. Ron asked me what day it was and I said February 10 so then he made a mistake. I noticed three cards in his lap and I asked if he was going to give me a card today and he said no, I changed my mind. Eventually this was mentioned to Kirsten so she explained.

When Kirsten purchased the three cards for Ron to choose from, he decided that he would give me all three. All three so that I could open one now - knowing that it would not be the last - and two more to open whenever I wanted. I am happy to write that I did open the card but I did so with endless tears. The other two, I have tucked away and well... you know the rest.

Ron had an outing today. He said he wanted to go for a drive and that he wanted his friend Bill to take him. OK, I said. So we bundled Ron up, sunglasses and all. Bill and Ron drove off in the Volvo. Bill said they went parking on Lochside Drive. Ron got bored and ordered coffee. Starbucks was the next stop. Then, Bill made the mistake of following Ron's instructions to a marina and they got lost. Eventually they made it back to the hospital with Ron having a good time and Bill now has some stories to tell.

As Ron's medications have been increased significantly, he was soon down for the count and sleeping. I am thinking that perhaps the medications had not been increased enough and we mistook anxiety for anxiety but should have translated it to pain. Often in the room Ron did not know what he needed to be comfortable - in bed, in the recliner, in the wheelchair, in the sun room etc.

While Ron had a busy day, the reality is that he is changing physically and drastically. I will not describe the changes but we see the change with each day and almost with each breath.

The Conflict

February 9th, Ron and I had a meeting with the doctor. He said that this voyage is taking too long, that he is going in circles, that it is not fair and that they euthanize animals. Dr. Lewis explained that while Ron is mentally and emotionally ready, there are parts of his body are and parts that are not. Hence the conflict between body, mind and soul. She explained that he would have to trust us and be patient. The medications for pain and anxiety will cause him to sleep more. More sleep equates to less food and fluids which in turn will accelerate the process.

Andrea and I met with the four kids in the lounge. Andrea very eloquently explained to the kids Ron's decision and the process for Ron to reach his place of peace. This was good for the kids to hear this from someone other than myself.

The kids and I then proceeded back to the room to be with Ron. Ron got the kids to have a seat. He then proceeded to tell the kids that the bend in the road is not the end of the road, that you get back up when you fall off your bike. He said, "I have a lot more quotes but cannot remember them." We all laughed. He told the kids they have done well but can do better and that he sees them at what they are going to do. Ron then stated, "It is time to party." He picked up his cranberry juice and announced he would have a 'double nothing'. After all that it was nap time. He laid down and promptly went to sleep.

I have heard that passing can be a beautiful thing. Conflict between mind, body and soul has turned this into torment for Ron. Trust us, my husband, be patient, rest easy. We are doing every thing we can to help you complete your voyage.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Ultimate Gift Between Soul Mates

When I typed the last post I truly did not know when I would write again. So much has happened emotionally and mentally for me and the kids. For Ron the same but add the physical challenges. Last night we all went home, completely drained and perhaps a little spaced out given the decline in Ron's condition. I feared the nurses would be calling me in the middle of the night. They did not.

They did call me at seven and the doctor called at 0745. Ron has requested me and Winston to be at the hospital as soon as possible. Meg, my daughter, came along for the early start to see Ron. I was sincerely surprised to see him sitting up at the computer patiently (or impatiently) awaiting our arrival. He immediately said, "We are going to Starbucks for coffee." I said OK, are you going in your jammies or jeans. Jeans it was. We got the necessary medications to take with us and promptly headed to Starbucks in Sidney. Skinny lattes and low fat fruit bars to go. Ron said he needed to talk to me so off to Cy Hanson Park we went... Meg could walk Winston while Ron and I talked.

What Ron offered, at first, I did not recognize as a gift. In the Volvo, Ron turned to me and said, "I am ready to go, I don't want to do this anymore. Are you OK with that?" I said, "Yes, I will always respect your decisions on this journey."

I went on to say that there were a few things that I now needed to tell him. First, his kids are OK. Kirsten has spoken to the Social Worker at the hospital. Ryan will be alright. Stewart and Meghan who have been through this before are also communicating with Ryan and Kirsten. Stewart and Meghan will be alright. The four of them are strong kids and this will be a life experience for them. Ron then asked about me. I assured him that I would be fine. I have Leanne and Bill and so many others that have unselfishly offered their support. He then said what about the boat. I also reassured Ron that I will be fine aboard Ta Daa and that I have Winston. I also disclosed to Ron that Ryan gave me the biggest hug and thanked me for looking after his dad. All of this meant so much to Ron and greatly reduced his level of anxiety.

We then talked about who would be waiting for him when he passes: his mom, his dad, my mom (whom he calls the Queen Mom) - they would be waiting to take his hand. Lou, I told him that you are like a brother and when it is your time, he will be coming for that Crown Royal he owes you. I also warned him that he has not seen the last of me. When it is my time, we will be together again, doing what we do best - loving and being with each other. This all brought a tear or two to his eyes. He leaned over and gently kissed me and said "I love you so much. I am glad you are my wife, I am glad we agree on this." He then said, "Now that we agree on this decision, what do I do next, do I pick up the phone, who do I call?"

Well, this threw me for a loop and we had a little laugh. I suggested that perhaps it goes a little different than that. Perhaps it is now time for your body, mind and soul to come together. I also suggested that now he is at peace with his decision and there is nothing to worry about, his primary job is to relax and recognize when it is time to pass.

When Meg returned from walking Winston I told her about my and Ron's conversation and decision. She went to his side of the car and gave him the biggest hug, told Ron how much she loved him and that he was just not a step-dad, he was another dad. With the relationship that my kids had with Ron, no words could be truer.

Once back at the hospital, after a scenic tour around Saanich Peninsula, Kirsten arrived. I shared the morning conversation with her. I know that she was comfortable with her dad's decision.

While sitting with Ron, I realized all too often, we are giving our loved ones permission to leave. How often do we know they are ready to pass. I also got to ask Ron about visitors - he said no thanks, just the you and the kids. He also said that he wants to pass very soon; in the next day or two. We shall see.

Ron has gifted us the knowledge that he is ready to go. We have shared the ultimate gift between soul mates; the gift of conversing freely about a topic that is so sensitive for all parties that it is not often broached.

Ron has also gifted me, by being the remarkable man that he is, a new sense of strength to get me through the next few days. This new found strength will allow me to encourage him to go when the time is right. Husband, you are still a pillar of strength for me, you are still supporting me and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart. As promised, hand in hand, I will be with you as you complete your journey.

Now we wait, relive adventures and stories, laugh and support each other. It may be tough but we know it is right for Ron.

Thank you all for your support, encouragement and best wishes. Revenue Solutions Branch -you are remarkable with your thoughtfulness and care packages that routinely come our way.

Monday, February 7, 2011

This Is Such An Ugly Unrelenting Disease

No visitors, please.

I am at a loss of what to write. This is so difficult and I sit here wondering how I can write something and sound positive. It is just not coming to me so this posting will be very short. Where I am today I have been here before with my mother. I somehow mustered the strength to tell Ron it was alright if he wants to give up. I understand because I love him so much.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Reality Check

Darn it, this morning has been a reality check for me. Ron grows weaker by the day. I am sure it is a combination of the cancer and the drugs. He no longer initiates conversation and for those of you who know Ron, that is just not normal. He will respond if you get his attention to focus however his response may not have anything to do with the conversation. He does not drink a cup of coffee and in fact has trouble having a sip or two. To top it all off, Ron was reaching for something on the floor and fell. This scared us both. New rules, Ron shall not pick up anything from the floor.

While he did have a good night, the reality is that we are dealing with changes daily. I am not sure if I am prepared or will ever feel prepared for what lies ahead. I have said it before and I will say it again... so many changes and no time to adjust.

I want to thank everyone for their support. No kind gesture has gone unnoticed. Each kind gesture is powerful enough to give us more strength to deal with each passing minute.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Never Underestimate...

The power of holding hands, a kiss, or a hug. Heck, a supportive arm around your shoulder or a tender touch of a hand on your knee is just as powerful. These acts of love pack impact - it is the touch that says: I love you, I cherish you, you are my friend, I understand, be strong for I am here for you, friends forever, I respect you and much more - you get the hint. Words are not required.

Where I am going with this is to not just think about Ron or me but think about your husband, wife or partner. Think about your children and your friends. Make your touch meaningful and cherish the tenderness and power of the reciprocal.

A previous entry in the blog noted that I do not know when I would receive my last kiss or last embrace. I still do not know but I can tell you that I cherish each kiss as if it were the first; I cherish the gesture of Ron reaching for my hand like the first time. I cherish our love... and yes, Ron still tells me every day that he loves me.

Never under estimate the power of the touch.

No Two Days The Same

It is crazy - no two days are the same for Ron and therefore no two days are the same for me. Last night when I left Ron, he was working on his computer. His favourite pass time has been to take photos and insert them into a photo book. The photo book is then ordered and delivered to him. This has been great for Ron to occupy his mind and to review his photos. Some of you have had the privilege of reviewing his latest photo book. Perhaps one day I will take time to put one together but I know that he has been an inspiration to a few of you already.

I digressed... Ron seemed OK last night. This morning I arrived just before eight and he was totally wiped out from a lack of sleep. He was weak, had little focus and could barely make sense. I talked him into going back to bed and have a nap. At eight-thirty I trundled off to the airport to pick up Bill. By the time we got back Ron was just finishing breakfast -doing a little better but still tired. Again, we convinced him to lie down for a while and he did get some more sleep. All in all it was a tough day for him but as usual he was a trooper.

Ron was delighted when an RCMP acquaintance surprised him - Rosie, thank you for dropping by and sorry I missed you. Kirsten, Ryan, Johnny, Len and Marie-Germaine thank you to for visiting and thank you for your understanding of Ron's zoning in and out of our conversations.

Bill and Leanne, what can I say. Thank you never seems to be enough for the unending support and the opportunity for me to sneak away to do Ron's laundry. For those of you who do not know, we do not have laundry facilities aboard the boat so need to trek to the laundromat at least once a week.

Tonight I am having a sleepover with Ron. He had a good supper and I asked him if he wanted me to say anything to all of you. He says that he is extremely touched by the show of emotion and the expression of emotion towards him and his journey. He loves it when you, our friends and family, realize from the blog that we are deeply in love and will be forever.

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Week In Palliative Care

It has been a full week at Saanich Peninsula. Progress has been made, thank goodness. Ron has had two good days in a row. What does this mean... it means that the medications are more balanced for the pain. Ron looks much more relaxed than he has looked in the past month and a half. I am of the mind that Ron did not realize how much pain he was in until he started to feel relief.

Anxiety and sleep is not as big an issue but it is still there. The sweats has been a new development in the past couple of days. This is bothering Ron. He has read somewhere on the internet that it is a symptom of the cancer.

I have had one sleepover and will have another on Saturday night. Thank you to Tim and Tara for taking Winston for me. We have a great schedule happening with Winston. I bring him to the hospital in the morning and Tim picks him up on his way home after work, approximately 1630. Then I fetch Winston from Tim and Tara when I get home about 2130 each evening. I am so relieved that Winston is taken care of. Doug and Karen have also offered and in the future I am sure we will need their help too. If you know Winston, you will understand that he is getting a lot of attention at the hospital. Nurse Nancy takes him to the nurses station and feeds him biscuits... Winston ever so gently lifts his paw and receives his little treat. Winston also falls asleep in the chair with Ron... they look so comfortable together.

Ron has been enjoying his afternoon outings. Yesterday we met Stew, Clare and the kids at Mayfair Mall. We shopped for birthday presents, had lunch and just enjoyed being together.
Thank you kids for coming down and sharing time with us. Thank you for your love, support and encouragement.

We had an amazing dinner last night... Glen and Jill you went over the top and it was very much appreciated. The rest of you, please keep in mind, we do not expect anyone to turn this into a competition. What happened last night was typical Jill and Glen.

They showed up with a laundry basket full of goodies. Dinner was set up in the lounge. By the time the basket was emptied the table was draped in linen, four wine glasses adorned the table along with china, cutlery, flowers and candles. Dinner consisted of red wine, fresh green salad and stuffed pork chops baked with apples and cinnamon. Yes, there was dessert - fresh fruit salad and ice cream. Yes we lit the candles and got away with it for a short time before we got told. It was an awesome dinner and super company. Ron ate well. We realized last night that by seven o'clock he is tired and needs some quiet time to unwind. Ron rested in his room while Glen, Jill and I visited in the lounge.

Ron hand a great day and today was another good day. He wanted me to reassure all of you that we are not about tears and sadness. We are about happy stories and much laughter. It is keeping with our style of living. No reason for it to change now.

That said, we are coping well. We do have our moments. Sometimes they are private; Ron has his moments and I have mine. Sometimes we are together and we have a little cry and a hug. Neither one of us wants to let go of the other.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Visitors Make Ron's Day!

Since Ron has been in palliative care there has been no day the same as the next. There are medications for pain, medications for anxiety, medications for sleep, medications for swelling and medications for break through pain. Believe me, all is good. The challenge is regulating the meds and this has been a process. Each day that the meds have changed, Ron has been in his zoned out state the next day. One day is good, then next day Ron has a catatonic look about him. Having said that, he would zone in and zone out, joining in conversation here and there.

Visitors have been very understanding. He is loving your visits, your conversation, your stories and of course the laughter. Just this morning we had made arrangements for 'the ladies' from his work to visit. Lo and behold, the fellas decided to visit too. There must have been fourteen of us in the room! Ron, in true form, had everyone laughing with stories of Disney World, days with the RCMP, and stories of those in the room. A good time was had by all. Most importantly, we do believe that a level of comfort was experienced by those visiting and a realization that there is nothing to fear.

Ron and I both realize that some people are challenged by the thought of visiting someone who is travelling the journey that Ron is on. What do you say; is it OK to laugh, will I be intruding; is now the right time to visit etc. All we can say is keep visiting, keep the laughter coming. We love your company!

Also yesterday and today, my son Stewart, along with wife Clare and kids Juliet and Amelia visited. Ron so enjoyed the big hug from Juliet and the kisses from them both. It was also joy for the nurses to hear little voices coming from room # 1466.

Ron's daughter Kirsten is finally feeling better from the flu. It has been a tough haul for her to say away for the past few days. Finally with the flu gone, visits can be more frequent.

Did I mention today, as well as fourteen visitors, Ron and I went into Sidney and took Winston to Cy Hamson park for a run. It was a couple hours enjoyed by all.

Glen and Jill, thank you for your visit and we are looking forward to dinner tomorrow night.

Lynn, let us know how you made out with your computer and whether we need to make a trip to Costo!

Love to you all. We sincerely appreciate your support. You have the knack of knowing what to do when. Believe me, it is working.

Finally, Momma D, thank you for your time on the phone last night. Since my Mom passed away you have been there for me - to talk, to bounce ideas and of course to laugh. I will forever be grateful for your wisdom and your take on life. Love to both you and Bud xoxoxox.