The blog I had at journalspace was called Everybody's Got a Story, and for the most part, I'd started it because I was a widow in a new relationship and I wouldn't write about it on the widow's message board, even though I loved the people and the support they gave me.
My husband Dale had died almost two years before, and I'd found the message board (almost identical to Dorrie's Fun Forum) when I was at eleven days. That message board saved my life. I spent between six and eight hours there every day, reading and writing about my experience with Dale's illness and death, and commiserating with hundreds of others that were just as gobsmacked as I was.
Sometimes, in my early days, I would sneak over to the Relationships board and read about others trying to date, but it caused me so much pain and jealousy that I had to stop. It wasn't until I was finished with my self-imposed mourning period of a year that I finally started dating and writing about my experiences.
It was when I fell hard for Bill that I started my journal at JS. I couldn't bear it if someone thought I was flaunting my relationship, or if they ever thought that just because I was in love at that time, maybe something was wrong with them. Anyway, with every new website I post my story for those that might not know it. This is the version I wrote for a group of remarried widows.
I met Dale in September of 1990, and we fell in love quickly! He moved in about five months later, and we married in 1993. A few months before we got married, he'd been having some trouble with a high liver count, and the Doc advised him to quit drinking. They didn't schedule any tests, just told him that he was at a high risk for alcoholic liver disease. At the time he was drinking on weekends, as was I and many of our friends who were about the same age. It was just accepted. Over the next few years he dealt with depression and anxiety, and probably had at least one breakdown that put him off work for six months. His drinking changed from the partying type to chronic abuse.
In 1995 I had a premonition that he would die, and in 1998 we bought life insurance, although he always said I would die first because I was a smoker. I couldn't see him living past 40 and that always haunted me.
From 1998 to 2001, our lives spun out of control with the alcoholism and subsequent emotional abuse, and I lost a lot of friends and he turned his family against me. I think he had to justify his alcoholism somehow, and he used to say that either I or Jamie caused him so much stress, who could blame him? Then he'd come to me for hugs, and tell me how much he loved me. It was so strange, but he didn't know I knew what he was saying. I chalked it up to his illness.
In 2001 he was dx'd with alcoholic liver disease and given a year to live. Still no tests, just warnings. In February 2002 he almost died from peritonitus and pnuemonia, and was able to quit drinking that day he was released from the hospital. He was sober for the last eight months, as a gift to me. I will always be grateful to him for that.
In June of 2002 I got him into a teaching hospital because I couldn't believe a 35 year old man could die from 3 years of chronic alcohol abuse. I asked them to look for cancer or something that would kill him, other than his lifestyle choices. They found the iron overload disorder, and wanted to put him on the transplant list. He declined. He only had a 30% chance of survival and he was too tired and too weak to fight. I think he knew that he'd have had a hard time staying sober and died to find peace and to set us free.
He asked me if I would look after him at home, because he was afraid to die in the hospital. I agreed. On September 14th, he took a cab to my mall and came into the store I was managing. We sat on the bench out in the hall talking for a bit.
I wish I were normal, he said.
I asked, How so?
I wish I could take you out for a drink one last time. Have a caesar.
I started crying at the mention of alcohol. My heart was pounding because I hadn't turned down any requests for weeks, but this was something I could not do.
But the salt...you'd retain more water...
(His ascites, or water in his abdomen, caused extreme pain because he had no muscle left to support his spine)
I know, it's okay. It's time.
We never had another real conversation after that. He slept for days and when he awoke he was delusional. He knew me, but didn't know my sister, his mom, or my nephew. We cared for him for 16 days, and he died on the 17th day.
I sat with his body for three hours before I called the funeral home.
In November 2002, his life insurance was declined for fraudulent misrepresentation. On the application he'd been asked 'has your Dr ever recommended that you lower your intake of alcohol? and he'd answered 'no'.
We went through every last penny of savings and RRSP's over the next few years. In March of 2004, I hit a wall. I'd been dating an idiot and after breaking up with him I wanted to kill myself because I was so stupid and thought Dale would be ashamed of me. I cried out to him, asking him to let me go so that I could have a fresh start. Until then, I had remained in love with him.
I met Bill in May of 2004. He had to go back to Newfoundland in July of that year, but we maintained a LDR for a year. He came back in July of 2005 and moved in with me in November 2005. We got custody of his daughter in January 2006. She's now 11.
The first year was tough - we had a lot of acclimating to do, but we think we've got a handle on it now. Bill & I married on August 9, 2007. My relationship with him brings me so much joy that it makes me afraid sometimes.
God - if you're listening - please give us as much time as you possibly can!
Most of the time I'm thankful for Dale. He taught me to love unconditionally and made me realize I am so much stronger than I ever thought. I still miss him. BUT I thank god for the life I have now, every single day.