A collection of personal essays

A Crash Course in Brain Tumors
On the day before Christmas 2000, while my husband was visiting his family in Kansas City, his body did something strange. During a lunch outing, Jim’s right foot suddenly dragged when he tried to walk to the restroom. It was as if he had no control over it.

The One Left Behind
Three years ago, my husband died of a brain tumor. He passed away peacefully in his sleep, at home, surrounded by those who loved him dearly. Jim drew his last breath very early on a Thursday, at around 12:30 a.m. He waited until I kissed him goodnight.

The Day the Brain Tumor Returned
We got the terrible news on a Monday. It was February 4th, one month after our move to North Carolina. We had barely settled into our apartment when it was time for my husband’s MRI. Even though he was in remission, Jim had one every four months.

Essays from the blog

Welcome to this week’s edition of the My Writing Process blog tour! Last week, my creativity coach, Jill Winski, tagged me for this tour. I appreciate the opportunity she’s given me to share my writing process.

Five years ago, I took a small step toward my dream of becoming a writer. One evening, while doing online research, I came across the Long Ridge Writers Group website. Intrigued by what I read, I requested information about their writing program.

A year ago, I wrote a 2,000 word memoir essay about my journey to come to terms with a reality I did not want to accept. Writing the piece was an eye-opening experience. It forced me to get real with myself – that is, if I wanted to write an emotionally honest essay.

For nearly five years, I’ve wanted to write about the journey I shared with my late husband, fighting the Glioblastoma. In the last months of Jim’s life, I imagined writing about the cancer journey. I knew inside of me: it was a story I had to tell.

If you’ve read some of the essays on this blog, you may have noticed that there are two parts to my story: Part 1: the eight-year cancer journey with my late husband, and Part 2: my three-year journey of grieving, loss, and healing after his death.

A year ago, during those messy first months in Germany, I had a hard time writing. I struggled with it so badly that I stepped away from this blog. For months, I debated whether I should remove the essays I had written in Raleigh and start over.

My first eight months in Germany were really tough, and very messy. Not at all the way I had imagined my first months in a new country. While in the middle of the messiness, I questioned whether I had made the right decision to move to abroad.

It happened on a Friday morning in early November. Exactly nine weeks and five days after I moved to Germany. I was rushing down the hall stairs in my apartment building. Half running, half walking with a brown shopping basket in my left hand, and my right hand gliding on the railing.

In 2009, weeks after my late husband died, I visited a dear friend in Germany. At the time, I was physically and emotionally exhausted, after 15 months of helping Jim fight a malignant brain tumor. Then helping him die. I went to Germany to get away from the harsh realities of life.

For the longest time, I've wanted to share my story about my late husband and I, and the journey we took together, fighting the brain tumor. I knew as far back as 2009, in in the last months of his life, that this was a story I had to tell … for me and for him.

He has a cute smile, doesn't he? I always thought so. Allow me to introduce him: this is my late husband, Jim. And that's a young me beside him. We weren't married when the picture was taken in December 2000. He and I were in Kansas, visiting his family for the holidays.

My late husband’s death, three years ago, was the most traumatic experience of my adult life, up to that point. For eight years, Jim and I lived with, and fought against, a malignant brain tumor. That cancer journey shaped our relationship and our life together.

For eight years, I lived with a malignant brain tumor. I shared my life and my marriage with the cancer. The thing is: I didn't have a brain tumor. My late husband, Jim, was the one with the cancer. He was diagnosed with a Grade IV, Glioblastoma, GBM for short.

In early 2008, we got the terrible news: my husband’s malignant brain tumor had returned, after four years of remission. That event marked the beginning of a long, difficult journey. One that has evolved, from a cancer journey to a journey of self-discovery.

Two years ago, I took the leap and changed careers. I left a high-pressured, deadline-driven, yet well-paying, professional job to pursue my dream of becoming a writer. The motivation for the change? A year earlier, I had lost a loved one to a terminal illness.