I have lost many people over the course of my lifetime. My parents and siblings, a grandchild, and a husband, but none of this prepared me for the greatest loss I have ever experienced.
When I was 14 years old, we moved to Santa Monica California. Within 2 weeks I met an older boy, he was 17, and he began to come around a lot. Because of the abuse and neglect I had encountered growing up, I was desperate for love. A few months after I turned 15, and I found out that I was pregnant. Our parents got together and decided we needed to get married. The year was 1970, and being pregnant out of wedlock was frowned upon. My young age didn’t help either. I was told by the principle that I couldn’t return to Junior High School because I would be a bad influence on the other girls. My entire life changed and I had no say in it.
My Dad and his parents drove us to Tijuana Mexico, and we got married. When we returned home, my new husband went to his home to get a truck to move my things to his parents’ home. While he was gone, my mother told me if I leave I would never see her, my sister nor my beloved Dad again. So, when he arrived I refused to go with him and I once again had no real say in it.
When my son was born, I went to the hospital alone. No one came to see me and when I was released, I took a taxi home. I was treated badly at the hospital because I was so young. It was here that I found out my marriage wasn’t legal because his family never filed the paperwork with the state of California. I named my son John Pleasant after the only grandfather I ever met. We called him “Pleasant” and he lived up to the name,
It was hard to raise a child when I myself was still considered one. We basically grew up together. Somehow, I did it and I believe I did a good job under the circumstances. We moved back to Tucson AZ after my Dad died. Pleasant was almost 4 years old. I started going to church, and we got very involved in it. He loved singing in the kids’ choir, and he appeared in many of the plays they put on. After I got married again he welcomed a brother and a sister and the 3 of them remained close. After my husband died and I got remarried, he and my new husband grew to be great friends. He was a good student getting mostly A’s and B’s. In High School, he wrestled, ran track, and played football. After High School, he joined the army.
When he was 23, he got married to a woman who had 3 kids. They had a daughter, my first grandchild! About 8 years later it was discovered that he had colon cancer. After having a radical surgery, he recovered and 3 years later he was cancer-free. He had always taken good care of himself, exercised, and ate well. The doctor said she believed this is why he recovered so quickly. He began to lift weights and eventually he was able to power lift 405 pounds. He moved from Arizona to Idaho a little over 7 years ago. It was hard not to be able to see him as often as we liked, but he was happy there, and we stayed in touch.
In April of 2018, he began to feel sick. He went to the doctor who ran a series of tests. They thought that he had liver cancer! After more tests, they thought he had cancer of the left kidney. Then it was decided that they didn’t know what was going on with him, so they were going to send him to the Mayo Clinic in Seattle. I reminded him that there was a great Mayo Clinic here in Scottsdale and to see if his insurance would pay for him to come here. They agreed and by the end of May, he arrived. We hadn’t seen him in almost 5 years so you can imagine the scene at the airport! We took him straight to the clinic and the doctor gave us the diagnosis. He had a very rare kind of cancer called Sarcomatoid Carcinoma and there was nothing they could do for him. So he was admitted to the hospital because of the drugs they had to give him to make him comfortable. I went to see him every day and my husband went at least 5 times a week as he worked full time. We had everyone we knew praying for him. Finally, they placed him in hospice, and we were told to prepare for him to die.
As a parent, this is the hardest news you can receive. We spent as much time with him as we were allowed. I remember thinking about his childhood and I cried over all the things I believed I had done wrong in raising him. On July 18, 2018, when we went to see him, he was on so much morphine that he slept through most of our visit. As we got ready to leave, he woke up and was the most coherent we had seen him in a while. We told him we loved him and I cradled his head in my hands and kissed his forehead over and over again. As we left the room he said “I love you guys too” and he went back to sleep. He was having a really bad day the next day, so we were told not to come to visit. At 8:20 am on July 20, 2018, we got the call that he had passed on. He was only 48 years old.
I never knew a person could feel that much pain in their heart and still live. That is how it was for my husband and I. Today marks the second anniversary of his death and it still hurts with the same intensity. We find comfort in talking about him and the things he used to do, but the hole that is left in our lives feels like it will never heal.
So today I say, if you have any children, call them and let them know what they mean to you. Tell them you love them as often as you can while you still can.
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter