Owning My Story … Three Years Later

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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.

It’s taken three years to get to the point where I’m finally ready to share my story in all its varied nuances. It’s taken me that long to say: “Yes, this is my story, and I own it.”

To get there, I had to go through my own personal journey of self-discovery. I had to come out of it a changed person in order to tell the story I shared with Jim.

I didn’t realize that when Jim first died

Watching the person you love die changes you on a deeply emotional and spiritual level. It strips away the unimportant things in life. All those things you thought were so important don’t matter anymore.

An experience like that forces you to re-evaluate your life and what you want from it. It brings into sharp focus how important it is to live an authentic life.

In the first year after Jim’s death, I was determined to live more authentically. I knew I could never go back to the person I once was.

The universe, though, had other plans for me

First, I had to work through my pain, and face some hard truths about myself, before I could begin to live a more authentic life. Before I could begin to share our story.

I had no idea what it meant to live a truly authentic life. I had spent eight and a half years putting aside my dreams, and making sacrifices for the person I loved.

The brain tumor defined my life, Jim’s life, and our life together. It was all about the cancer. Jim’s journey. His story … not mine.

I was his spouse, his partner in life. His caregiver. I was a part of the journey, but it was not about me. I was not the cancer fighter or survivor. I loved someone who had cancer.

The journey I went through after Jim died forced me to take a hard look at myself: my life, who I was, and how I had lived, during all my years with him, and in the time immediately after he died.

I had to go through my own personal journey to see how inauthentic my life had become and how I had contributed to that.

I had to be honest with myself in order to “get” the journey he and I went on together. Because it was the journey with Jim that set in motion all that came afterward.

I needed to see the big picture to understand it all. Thanks to my own journey, today, I have a perspective and an awareness that I lacked three years ago.

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So now I’m ready to tell my story. But it’s bigger than I imagined in 2009. Back then, it was a story about Jim’s cancer, it was more about him and what he went through.

The story I thought I needed to tell was from his perspective.

Now, I see that it’s a story about helping Jim fight the brain tumor, from my perspective, as a caregiver.

Over the last three years, as I went through my own personal journey, I learned that I have to tell this story in my voice … what it has meant to me, within the larger context of my life journey.

This in no way takes away from my husband and what he went through. But to write authentically, to be real, I have to own this story, and that means telling it from my point of view.

And the story doesn’t stop when he died; it went on for another 3 years, and it still continues.

My personal journey is unfolding as I write this essay. I live in a limbo world that incorporates parts of my old life and my new life. I live in a transitional period where I’m working hard to take care of unfinished business from my past … in order to move forward. And to start the next chapter of my life.

There’s still a long way to go. And I don’t know where my journey will lead me.

I do know, though, that I’m ready to own my story, to tell it in my voice, and from my perspective.

I’m still figuring out what I want to say and how I want to say it.

But the timing is right.

* Photo credit: Image by Paul Jarvis