I was widowed at 33. That’s stupid young.

I met Joe in 2004. We married in 2006. In 2008 he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. In 2010 we said goodby and I watched him slip into the early hours of his favorite holiday. The 4th of July.

I wouldn’t trade my years with him for anything. As incredibly painful and unfair the end to our relationship was, the 6 years we did have together were pretty perfect. I mean, up until the tragic ending. That wasn’t really perfect at all.

The end of our marriage was a long goodbye. We struggled (and partied) for a solid two years. There was one 10 hour surgery, a couple of minor procedures, several trips to emergency. There was many, many rounds of chemo and radiation. We rounded our rodeo out with a transition to home hospice care.

When involved in a long goodbye, there is the opportunity to start mourning for loss before it happens. And it’s really helpful. I visited funeral homes and planned music and flowers before he passed away. I was able to get these chores done with a clear(er) head. Lots of people had the opportunity to say goodbye.

I felt his loss before he was actually gone. I’d sit in our bathroom and cry and bereave the life I’d wanted for us while he was in the bed on the other side of the door.

I faced his actual death all warmed up. I expected it. I walked into life head on.

As conversely as one can imagine, Z was gone in a flash. No lingering sickness, no preparation, no warning. She was just swallowed up by the universe and that was it.

In the nearly 6 months since she’s been gone I’ve weighed (to no end) the differences in their respective denouement.

Which is better? No. Which is easier? No. Which is preferred? Nope. And stop asking these questions.

I’m not sure I could have watched my child struggle for years on end. That would have damaged me in a much different way than I am damaged now. Conversely, if Joe had passed without any warning, I wouldn’t have been able to cope with no job and no home and two small children in my charge.

It is hard for me to articulate what or how I objectively feel about their deaths. Since I’m not an unfeeling troll I can’t come out and say one way was better than the other. Not even as part of my late-night internal monologue. But since I’ve lived through both of these experiences, it’s hard not to compare and contrast the differences and think about what would have happened had it gone any other way.

Clearly, ideally, my life is void of tragedy and everyone is fine, thanks for asking.

I will, for a very long time, have to think about their escapes from this mortal realm and wonder if it’s better to rip-it-off-all-at-once like a bandage or if it’s better to have the long goodbye.

Maybe the speed at which these two lives concluded was the easier way for those left behind. I don’t know. I can’t say because I’m still too pissed off about it. I definitely for sure feel like any untimely end is unjust and unwarranted. I also feel like I should acknowledge the fact that since I had to do this, maybe I got something a little easier for me in that time and place? Did I tragically luck out?

I think these things and then I also feel as though I need to acknowledge everyone that’s lost someone and their emotional places and ends and my circle starts over. It will never end. Because that’s how circles work.

This is sticky. 0 stars. Would not recommend.

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