Valentine’s Day is a hard day for me. Let’s face it, in reality it is a “Hallmark” holiday invented to sell flowers and cards, and for most, generates high levels of anticipation and usually disappointment, and if you are single…forget it, I’m not even going there.
I lost my first husband, Jim Fieldman, on February 12, 2002 and his funeral was on Feb. 14th –yes, Valentines Day. The day of love is a bittersweet reminder to me of what was and also what might have been. I try to look at the world through a rose-colored lens so the day of love brings back vivid memories of the most special human being I have been blessed to have known. However, on the flip side the day is also filled with a lot of pain.
The angst usually starts about four days before when the body memory starts to kick in of the days leading up to Jim’s death.
My husband was the most beautiful man I have ever known. His jet-black hair, smoky eyes and cleft chin would cause both women and men to stop in their tracks and openly stare. The amazing athletic prowess he possessed in his youth left him with an enviable physique and truly the most gorgeous man legs I have ever seen.
But it was what was inside that truly made him stunning. He possessed an inner calm and conducted his life with empathy, genuine kindness and a demeanor that truly made him beautiful. We rarely fought, not because we did not disagree but because he never escalated an issue. He was like the Dalai Lama. No matter what I threw his way, he always let it slide right off.
Our two little girls were the center of our universe. He was always a far better “mother” than I, and we knew how lucky we were to have our loving family and all that went with it. We talked about how amazing our life was often. We led a charmed life until November of ‘97 when Jim was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer, our youngest little girl had just turned 5 and her sister was only 7.
I knew the moment his surgeon came out and told me the news that life would never be the same again. I also knew at that moment that I was put here to save his life. So, for the next 4 ½ years, seven surgeries, and countless rounds of grueling chemotherapy together we fought. I pushed my kids to the side knowing that after we won this war I would be able to make it up to them. We embraced a pescatarian diet and he abandoned his beloved hamburgers. I awoke each morning at 5AM to prepare a smoothie full of superfoods, greens and magic elixirs long before smoothies or superfoods were in vogue. If it held promise, we embraced it. We took a very East-meets-West approach to health and wellness.
Jim stoically endured the torture of radiation and various types of barbaric chemotherapy all of which left him worse off than the previous round. But did Chi Gong, acupuncture and many other alternative therapies, which I believe helped prolong his life. He would fight each battle valiantly and often win only to be re-diagnosed at the next scan.
When scar tissue had built up internally from all of the surgeries Jim was unable to eat, so I fed him intravenously for a year. Miraculously the last surgery he had allowed him to eat for the last several months of his life and he was able to enjoy food again. I was the one bringing him the burgers at that point!
I realize now that our psyches only allow us to take in as much as we can bear. I never thought he would die, even when I called in hospice, I truly believed it was temporary. I was doing it because it was getting hard for me to care for him on my own and I needed a little help. Hospice never even made it to our home. They came and met with us and gave us medication and we were all set to have someone start the next day. The next day never came…
Two weeks before my eldest daughter turned 12, my husband died with me sitting next to him on the couch and telling him it was okay to go.
Valentine’s Day always brings me back here, where I am right now in a place of sadness and joy. I am sad to my core while also realizing I am the luckiest person in the whole world. I have been remarried a wonderful man for the past 12 years. I have two amazing children that remind me of Jim every day. I have an incredible business. And I know in my heart that my girls and I have the most magical loving guardian angel anyone could ever dream of.
So, on this Valentine’s Day, be grateful for what is and celebrate the love you have.
Be kind, be empathic and remember…life can change instantly so relish every moment.