It is just over 3 weeks since my husband Pete lost his 5 year battle with his cancer of an unknown primary.  This grief journey is not new to me as 18 years ago my first husband took his own life.  I never thought I would ever find love again, but I did.   I was so lucky to find Pete and we had 10 special years together.  However, half way through that he was diagnosed with cancer.   I feel so cheated, but at the same time I feel blessed I was given another chance.   I know that many people do not get that, so I shouldn't feel sorry for myself.  AT the moment I do, but I know that will pass.  Every day the tears come and I try so hard to find comfort in the good times.  But at the moment the thoughts of the good times are what bring on the tears.    As someone once said to me, "you will never get over this, but you will get through this."  Thank you for listening.

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Hello Ros, hope you're doing well.
When I read about your supermarket visit, I wanted to cry because this always happens to me, too. I've had to change supermarket and I tend to buy different items I've never bought before, but when I do buy the things we always bought togetherv(because they are also my kids' favorites), I have to try hard not to cry, luckily we now all go around with these face masks on, and together with my reading glasses I can hide my face expressions, also because at times I start murmuring to myself: "what am I doing here on my own, you should be here now with me, where are you?"

Sorry to hear about your friend Ros, I hope everything goes well for her, that story really moved me, I'm sure you will cherish that forever.
Yesterday, while watching the lunchtime news on TV (I hardly ever do that anymore..), I broke down in a desperate cry, you wmay ask me why? I mentioned to you that me and Claudio both have a passion for music/piano playing? Well, yesterday was the 85th birthday of his favorite musician/songwriter: the great Paolo Conte, here he is known as the "maestro" because he is a real genius. I don't know if he's well-known in Australia, perhaps more in the States, because of his jazz/blues type music. Anyway, my husband said to me often that many of his songs made him think of me, they are very poetic and full of beautiful language. We were just in the middle of learning to play one of his famous hits on the piano, when I unexpectedly lost him.
I've never gone back to that song, oh no, how can I? The same reason why I haven't put foot into his car, I have to keep asking my daughter to keep the engine running every now and then, to stop the battery from getting exhausted, and just the thought of selling it makes me go crazy, it would be like letting him go even more... It's "our car", how can l separate myself from it? It's so precious to me!
Take care, and a big hug.
Enza

Dear Enza

I know that you totally understand how I am feeling.  I also wear glasses and I am so thankful for these covid masks to hide my face when I'm trying to tell myself I'll be ok and to just basically hide altogether.  Who would have thought a virus could give us some privacy in this regard?

Yes I have heard of Paolo Conte.   But that is about as far as my knowledge goes I'm afraid.  I can just imagine how devastated you must feel knowing the connection that you and Claudio had with this mans music.  No wonder you felt upset.  Such a beautiful thing for your husband to say that this music made him think of you.  I can tell he loved you so much.   Just like "our" songs by the Righteous Brothers:   Unchained Melody and Ebb Tide, I hope and pray that one day I will be able to listen to them and smile instead of cry.   I believe one day that will happen to you too with Paolo Conte's music.  Well, that is a big hope I know, but beautiful music is meant to be heard and I believe both Pete and Claudio would want us to down the track, be able to enjoy that music again.  I just hope they both understand this is going to take a long, long while to happen.

In 2017 Pete was diagnosed with a brain tumour.  It was successfully removed, but it was only the secondary cancer.  They always believed it had spread from his lungs.  At the time we had a car each and a small caravan.  Pete was unable to drive for over a year after the tumour was removed so we had to sell his beloved Toyota FJ Cruiser and our caravan.   Once he was able to drive again we decided to keep just the one vehicle, which we traded in and purchased another 2 years ago.  Whenever we went anywhere together, Pete did most of the driving and I didn't mind as we both knew his time was probably limited and I wanted him to enjoy the driving as I know he did.  How I wish now he would be able to let me be the passenger once more.   I can understand your heartache at having to part with something so special that you shared together like the car. 

I do understand as I have 3 ride on mowers here.  Pete had his beloved John Deere for the rough terrain and slopes and a Kybota for the smoother areas as it wasn't any good on the rough/slope spots.   A year ago he bought me my own mower which I didn't learn to drive until after his death, as his illness just took over.  A friend told me to sell one of Pete's mowers just 2 weeks after he died.  I totally broke down and told him no way could I part with that as it would be like losing Pete all over again, he loved his mowers and cared for them both mechanically and making sure they were kept reasonably clean.  The message got through to someone well meaning and I know he felt bad, but selling Claudio's car would be so hard for you and if that is the case:  don't!

This morning I worked for nearly 3 hours outside until I thought I would drop.  But at least I achieved something before the next lot of rain came.  I'm hoping for sun tomorrow so I can use the ride on.   Marty and Joel are coming out to help me mow tomorrow too as things are getting out of hand with a weeks worth of rain.

I think of you every day Enza, wondering how you are coping.  Sorry this reply is so long winded.  I've now reached the 9 week mark.  I can't believe we have been corresponding for 6 weeks.  Thank you so much for your support, care and understanding.  You have helped me get this far.  Big Hugs to you

Ros

Hi, Ros, how are you?
You sound like such a hard worker, using your mower for so long and only stopping because of the rain. I totally understand your dedication and determination to keep your property in perfect condition like you've always been used to seeing it, when your dear loved one was with you. Unfortunately, there are so many chores I can't possibly do on my own, when spring arrives.Our property is very hilly, the soil is very tough and only a tractor can do all the work there will be to do.My Claudio's tractor is safely closed up in a garage. I won't sell it (just like you and your mowers), and I certainly won't let anyone else use it, when I call our friend to come and do the work for me, he naturally comes with his own tractor.
Ros, I too feel happy and lucky to have you to correspond with. We really have so much in common, a bit like having a 'pen-friend'. I don't know about you but during my school years - 70s/80s,in England, it was very common to have penfriends, but I never had one.
Ros, I also find it almost impossible to listen to 'Unchained melody' - I would sing this song while my love played the notes on the piano.
When I come across it while I'm playing the piano, I just have to skip it and do something else.
A big hug to you.
Enza

Hi Enza

You really do understand don't you?   I desperately want to keep our property the way it was.  But as each week slowly passes I know that may not be totally possible.  I'm realising I can only do the best I can with what I've got and with who helps me.   It was worked so well by us both, but doing the job of 2 takes time and effort.   Generally if a tree died Pete would replace it with another.  I'm not.

Two days ago I called in a tree specialist to get a quote on removing 7 trees.  Five of which are a certain type of pine tree and they constantly drop pine cones which I have to rake up as it is too hard with the mower.   Pete planted them way before he met me.   You see, I'm allergic to them.  Plus two other trees suffered storm damage recently and have to go as they are now dangerous.  I think making this decision without Pete I'm finding the hardest.  In my mind it's going behind his back:  stupid I know.

I remember when I was in high school during the 60's - early 70's I had a Japanese penpal.  We wrote for a long time and then all of a sudden she stopped.  I was devastated at the time as I never did find out what happened to her.

Do you think you will be able to learn how to use the tractor?   I came across this quote on the internet the other day by Coco Chanel.  It read "Either I die as well ...... or I finish what we started."  She wrote it after the death of her boyfriend I think it was and  I instantly thought of you and I.  

We have a sunny day here today and it will no doubt get hotter.   Are you snowed in at all?  I can't imagine that, as I've only ever seen snow once and that was at the end of the season.

Take care Enza keep playing that piano.  I wish I could hear you play.

Hugs

Ros

Hello, Ros, fortunately, so far we have escaped snow, but January isn't over yet and there's the whole of February which is the worst of all.
We've been having sunny days but extremely cold, ice in the mornings, but I prefer this rather than rainy/windy weather, when every morning we wake up to see more storm damage, as you have said in the past, you know how terrible it is and all the work there is to do, to put everything back in place. We have lost so many trees, this way, in these past years, and yes, Ros, I know how bad you must feel on deciding to have your damaged trees cut down. Like you say, they're dangerous, and I'm sure your Pete would agree they must go. Don't feel sad if you aren't able to replace every tree that goes away. It sounds to me, that you're already doing "work of2". Your Pete must be really proud of what you've achieved and what you're continuing to do.
It's not just learning to drive a tractor, it's having to work with it, that's the problem. I just haven't got that physical strength, my son has offered to try and learn, but to tell you the truth, it's such a tricky job to do, my husband was a real expert but had taken years to learn. The land is hilly and the earth is very hard, and mounting the mechanical plough/grasscutter to the rear of the tractor requires technique, strength and knowhow, it really is something I don't think I'll ever do. My son is not used to this type of work, and he doesn't really understand how dangerous it can be, if you don't attach the mechanical bits together in the right place!
He does however use the hand grasscutter, and that is really a great help. I feel sorry, though, to take up his time, because he should be studying. Anyway, these jobs need to be done only from March until October.
I'll leave you now, Ros, I'll probably go up to my comfort room, and play a little on the piano. Luckily, it's winter, so the windows are a closed, as sometimes I sing out loud because this is the way I cry out my sorrow and all the pain I have inside me.
Un abbraccio
Enza

Hi Enza

It has been so hot and humid here.   We get the occasional storm and the other morning at 2am we had lightning, thunder and heavy rain and I spent over an hour trying to calm my little dog.  She is 14 and is terrified of loud noises, especially storms.  

Thank you for your encouraging words:  it helps a lot to have someone elses view point.   I do realise I'm doing the work of 2 at the moment and I have to admit I'm looking forward to the cooler months when growth slows down and then perhaps I can concentrate on improving some garden beds and other things that need doing.  I so want to keep things looking as good as I possibly can.   My life seems to involve nothing but hard labour at the moment, but in reality, if I didn't have that I'm not sure how I would have survived Pete's passing.  I was only thinking this morning that this property has been my saviour, along with good friends and I'm so very pleased our paths have crossed too.

That is so good your son is prepared to help you with the grass cutter.  You know what, he probably loves being able to help you as best as he can on the property and it is probably also part of his healing as well.

Having read all that is involved with driving the tractor and attaching the equipment needed to maintain your property, I do understand why it is so hard for you to do and even your son for that matter.   I'm so pleased you have a kind neighbour who is helping you with that type of work when needed.

I think I may have told you that I have a small portion of Pete's ashes plus his wedding ring inserted into the trunk of his favourite tree (as per his request).  Every day I place a flower from our garden behind the plaque on that tree and tell him how I'm feeling each day.  It gives me some sort of solace by being able to do that, as if we are still together outside working our property.   I guess anything that helps with the pain is worthwhile isn't it?

Keep on singing my friend, I do believe Claudio is close by listening to you.

Hugs

Ros

Dear Ros,
It must be a great comfort for you having your Pete's favorite tree as your special private place where you can talk to him. I, too, had my hubby cremated (he had expressed this desire a couple of times). Neither of us thought it would happen so prematurely...The second time he said this, he mentioned also that he'd Iike his ashes to be scattered in our other land we have about half a mile away, his favorite place. But when it all happened, I was so much in shock, I couldn't think straight. Then my FIL suggested placing his ashes in the family tomb, where his grandparents' remains also rest. I said yes, but now I wonder if what my hubby had said, was a real true desire, or perhaps just something that had suddenly sprung to his mind casually thinking, not really stating that it was what he really wanted! We were just talking, jokingly at the time! I can't get out of my head two things he had said to me not long before that dreadful day. We had been having family problems especially with my mother-in-law, her memory/sanity deteriorating every day due to senile dementia. She had become aggressive, intolerant, uncooperative, impossible to handle. My husband wa so so stressed, he said to me one day: "I can't handle my mum anymore, she's killing me!". Another time when so many other things were going wrong, he exclaimed: 'first my mother, then, this, that, what else can go wrong, that I may die? ".
It's very cold now here, icy roads in the morning, and going to get colder still, as long as we don't get snow, I can bear it.
Take care, a big hug
Enza

Hi Enza

I can understand your many thoughts regarding Claudio's ashes.   All these "what if's" go through our minds don't they?  I often wonder about many things I do in the here and now and things I wish I had of done or said when Pete was here.  We can often question things either you or I or our husbands had said and wonder what the true meaning was behind it:  did by some remote chance, on a subconscious level, they knew they were going to die?

Do you recall me saying I bumped my head 2 weeks ago on a metal bird bath while on the ride on mower?   Well 2 days ago I started to see little flashes of light in my left peripheral vision so I saw my eye doctor yesterday and thankfully my retina is intact; which is what scared me.   But I've been getting headaches as well the past two days, so if by Monday I still have them, I think I will make an appointment to see the doctor.  I'm hoping it will go away, but it has scared me and makes me feel even more vulnerable at the moment.  I really don't need any health issues right now.  Of course you can imagine what is going through my mind right now just when I need Pete to support me, he is no longer here.

You are getting the cold weather.  In another 6 weeks it will be Autumn here, thank goodness for that.  It has been so hot and humid and with the constant rain, everything grows so fast.  But looking back at 2019 we had a drought and were surrounded by smoke on a daily basis from bush fires.  So I know what I would rather, but at least back then Pete was by my side.

Take care my friend you are often in my thoughts.

A big hug to you

Ros

Hi Ros, no, I didn't know about your injury. I'm so very sorry to hear about it, but don't worry, I'm sure this has nothing to do with your headaches, since it happened two weeks ago. Of course, you feel more vulnerable now without your Pete, so why not visit your doctor, like you say, it's a good idea, at least you will be reassured that everything is ok.

Now, like you, I feel more vulnerable. Last Summer I went for the first time to a cardiologyst for an ECG, as I suffer from hypertension. Until then, I didn't feel the need, if I felt fine, why go around doing tests, taking up so much time, ending up taking pills which do more harm than good? I felt reassured with my husband, especially because of  his profession. He would tell me not to worry and that he would instantly notice if something was wrong and advise me to take action if needed.  

Here, again, my memory goes back to that dreadful day. Then why didn't you, didn't we, realise what was happening to you? 

Ros, be careful while you are working. 

All the best. 

Lots of hugs. 

Enza

Hi Enza

Yesterday my headaches were bad so I managed to get an appointment with a doctor who was on call at my local surgery, since it was a Saturday morning.

As soon as I was in her room I just started to cry.  I felt so silly, but being there and knowing Pete couldn't support me was all too much.   We talked a lot about grief and coping etc and she thought I was doing well considering it has only been 11 weeks.

I could feel my headache disappearing as we talked and I'm hoping it is just stress, but she examined my eye and she felt like you that since the injury was 2 weeks ago it wasn't associated with the eye.  The floaters and flashes are still in my eye, but they seem to have eased off a bit which I'm relieved about.  But I will monitor it and if need be will go back to the doctor.

I know it must be very difficult for you looking back to the day when Claudio passed and neither he or you realised what was going to happen to him.  I look back to 2003 when my first husband was suicidal, I had no idea who to call for help, it wasn't until after he died I found out.  So please don't ever feel you let him down, because you didn't.  I know I was plagued by those thoughts for years.

I remember Pete having the same thoughts about his late wife.  He had nursed her for 7 years and no-one could seem to find out what was wrong with her.  Her cancer wasn't even diagnosed until the last year of her life.  For some unbelievable reason the doctors involved never even gave her a CT or MRI scan to check for cancer.  To this day I can't believe it and Pete always blamed himself for not insisting on one, because he was unaware they existed, not being a medical person himself.

We all have those "what if" memories and I don't think they ever go away when we think we have let down someone we love.

We have been having lots of rain and the grass is growing at the rate of knots.  Depending on how I feel and if it dries out I'll do some mowing this afternoon, but I won't be pushing myself and I will be careful.

Take care, I'm thinking of you

Hugs

Ros

Ros, how are you, hope you're not having your headaches anymore, it propably really was just stress.
Yes, I am always tormented by regrets, what if, should have, why didn't I...
If we'd rushed to hospital at the first signs, c ould he have been saved? But the first signs were nausea, vomiting, stomach pains. Who would think of calling an ambulance or rushing to emergency for something which seemed like a very bad case of indigestion or a stomach bug? Well, after, I read about sudden heart attacks in my husband's medical encyclopedia collection, and this is exactly what happens. Then heard about other similar stories, chest pains being mistaken for stomach ache. This still doesn't console me. Sometimes, these pains continue for days, so you have time to realise it's serious and go to a hospital! In fact, in other cases I've heard, this has happened. We didn't have time! It all happened so quickly, in a matter of minutes!
Take care my dear Ros.
Enza

Hi Enza

So lovely to hear from you again.   My headaches seem to have disappeared, but I'm still getting the floaters in my left eye, but they haven't become any worse so that is something.  My vision is still fine.  After seeing the optometrist and doctor, they both said my eye is fine.  I'm hoping it will right itself eventually.

After reading about Claudio's symptoms, I too would have thought it was a simple tummy bug.  Please don't beat yourself up about this, if Claudio also didn't believe it was his heart, how could you possibly know?   It seems this deadly illness crept under the radar and I'm just so sorry that it did.  You could not have known.

Time is something that slips through all our fingers isn't it?  Even though I had the wonderful opportunity of saying goodbye to Pete, our time together was all too brief.  We had known each other for 12 years and married for 10.   Some people don't even get that much time together and for every moment I had and cherished I know I am the better for it.

The same with you Enza:   Claudio made a huge difference in your life, gave you two wonderful children and the inner strength to move forwards from this experience.  I do believe he is watching you.  Keep playing your music, he is there with you and I bet he is just so proud.

Take care and a big hug

Ros

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