Grief Is The Price We Pay For Love

“I do not want to just lye around waiting to die. Please figure out a way to get me back to Lenox”. This was my bride’s expressed wish on an August day after hearing the news that the cancer was so far advanced, treatment could no longer keep pace, and hospice services were recommended. Her life expectancy was guesstimated by her oncologist at four weeks; she lived five.

In April, 2014 we both were told the breast cancer had returned and it was now in many different body locations, consequently Stage IV. At the time, with additional treatment, we were guardedly optimistic…we were both told and hoped for “a year to years”. Four months later however, we were informed that the cancer had spread into the brain and treatment was no longer a viable choice. Unfortunately all of the prescribed treatments were never able to keep pace with the continuously spreading cancer cells. Peg took the news with what I thought was amazing calmness. She determined that the estimated time left was enough for family and many friends to both see her and if needed, say their goodbyes. I was a wreck crying, and even her oncologist had tears in her eyes, but Peg spoke reassuringly and lovingly to both of us What gives me most comfort now is that Peg and I previously reflected-upon and agreed that we were so happy to have found one another and create a life together for 28 years, to have accomplished all of our goals and with the exception of not having more time together, to have no regrets. Pretty amazing I think.

Peg took her last breath during the early evening of September 25, 2014, surrounded by her son and daughter, her three sisters. and me. She passed comfortably in the home she had come to love after buying it just sixteen months previously. It was a Thursday, and less than forty-eight hours earlier, I really was expecting she would be fine to fly back home to Florida on the 30th and if things went really well, be able to return once again for a brief period. The critical health change occurred when she did not wake up from a nap on the previous Tuesday. I called a hospice nurse at 11:00 PM and she came right over. She told me “the transition” had begun and it would not be long. Immediate family arrived on Wednesday. Peg had only a few scattered moments of recognition; the rest of the time she lay motionless in slumber.

Peg lived her life with dignity, grace and assuredness. She knew she had accomplished her last wishes of traveling to her completed Berkshire home, hosting an open house on a Saturday evening filled with laughs and smiling hearts, sitting outside on her porch early in the morning sipping coffee and reveling in the autumn air, and having it all end surrounded by loving immediate family, secure in the knowledge that her children were all currently doing well, her grandchildren were funny, kind, gentle and secure, and her loving friends were steadfast in letting her know how much she meant to them.

Her wishes were for cremation and for her ashes to be spread outside both of her homes in Florida and Massachusetts. This has been done in Florida and will be done in Massachusetts next August prior to her Celebration of Life at the Tanglewood Music Center, her favorite place to be in the Berkshires for over twenty years.

Since late September, each week has been very difficult and dreamlike. Upon arriving back in Florida, I came down with bronchitis and spent nearly a week in bed. Now fully recovered, I constantly am reminded that after twenty-eight years as a couple, I find it extremely difficult to accept the new reality of oneness. A few months ago I heard on the radio someone quoting Queen Elizabeth II: “grief is the price we pay for love”. It stuck me then and now as being so poignantly true.

“Peg Updates” can now come to an end. I want to thank you all for letting us share our joys and sorrows via this blog and numerous emails over the last few years. All the responses since November 2011 have been supportive, comforting and helpful.  Often times in the past I described my life as “pre-Peg” and “post-Peg”. She changed my life in every way positive, and under her influence, I emotionally grew, matured, learned, and loved in so many ways I never dreamed deserving or possible. I will miss her until the end of my days, as I know each of you will also. Love…Alan

PB051449

FLORIDA‘S CELEBRATION OF PEG’S LIFE WILL BE HELD ON SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2014, FROM 3:00-6:PM IN LAKE WORTH FLORIDA, AT THE CMAA SPECIAL OLYMPICS THERAPEUTIC RECREATION CENTER, 2728 LAKE WORTH ROAD, 33461

MASSACHUSETTS CELEBRATION OF PEG’S LIFE WILL BE HELD AT THE TANGLEWOOD MUSIC CENTER IN LENOX, IN LATE AUGUST 2015. PEG’S FAVORITE PIECE OF CLASSICAL MUSIC WAS THE 4TH MOVEMENT, “ODE TO JOY”, FROM BEETHOVEN’S 9TH SYMPHONY WHICH HAPPENS TO BE THE BOSTON SYMPHONY’S TRADITIONAL LAST SUMMER PERFORMANCE EVERY YEAR AT TANGLEWOOD. THE DATE WILL BE ANNOUNCED AS SOON AS THEIR 2015 SCHEDULE IS PRINTED.

PLEASE JOIN FAMILY AND FRIENDS AT ONE OR BOTH CELEBRATIONS IF YOU POSSIBLY CAN SO THAT WE TOGETHER CAN CELEBRATE WHO PEG WAS AND HOW SHE LIVED; FOR THE DREAMS SHE FOLLOWED AND THE GIFTS SHE SHARED; AND FOR THE RELATIONSHIPS SHE NURTURED AND THE PEOPLE SHE LOVED.

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About Alan G Billingsley

My career has been varied, including time as a newspaper deliverer, lifeguard, bubble gum maker, door-to-door detergent promoter, telephone book proofreader, short order cook, private employment agency counselor and owner, office and credit manger, infantryman, pots and pans salesman, Chinese restaurant cook, Chinese restaurant owner, public employment counselor, budget analyst, tax analyst, grant administrator, radio announcer, radio and television show host, disk jockey, automobile valet, child advocate, and now retiree. I've seldom been bored.
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