I was emailing back and forth to Fayton Hollington at about.me/fayton.hollington earlier today and somewhere in the conversation I mentioned an article I had written after my husband passed of lung cancer. She said I should post it so here it is. Maybe it’ll speak to some of you.
I’ll Meet You At ‘The Crossroads’
”Dying is easy; it’s the living that’s hard….”
The Dragon Scroll by I. J. Parker
December 21’1995 – they rushed Ron to the hospital after he collapsed at work – then
spent the next 3 hours trying to get a hold of me as I was at Lothlorian setting up for the Yule
Ritual. When they finally reached me, I rushed back to the hospital to find him in quarantine
having been misdiagnosed with tuberculosis. Yule was forgotten, Christmas dinner was
cancelled and New Year’s passed unnoticed while I barely left his side. By January 6 they had changed their diagnosis and determined he was suffering from inoperable lung cancer.
That afternoon the Doctor gave us the news that he had, maybe, 6 months to live: with
Chemotherapy and Radiation possibly another year or so, and released him after setting up
his first treatment for the next day. We arrived home to find family, friends and
everyone from the Pagan Community holding vigil in our front yard and a belated holiday
dinner waiting inside. The rest of the evening, long into the night, was spent opening gifts, singing carols, performing a Yule Ritual and ringing in The New Year. For that short period of time everything seemed normal.
The next morning dawned grey and misty as we began the 25 mile trek to the hospital
after dropping our foster son and grandchildren off at my sister’s. With every mile the weather
and Ron’s disposition worsened. By the time we reached the Radiation Center it was snowing
and he was barely speaking to me. Little did I know then that this was to become the ‘Norm’
over the next few months.
The bad weather continued for the next 4 days. Ron was so sick he couldn’t eat and barely
made it from the bedroom to the bathroom with my help. Friends had provided a hospital bed
and portable equipment for us the day we arrived home from the hospital. They had also
brought groceries and donated an oxygen machine for his use. Then one evening a caravan of a
dozen or so vehicles led by a snow plow made its way up the ½ mile drive to our house.
Friends from our group took over while the children and I were taken out for a couple of
hours – they thought we needed a break. While we were gone they managed to get Ron up and
bathed and into some clean pajamas, shaved him and got some soup down him. One of them
also gave him a Reiki treatment.
They aired out and cleansed as well as cleaned the house and lit aroma-therapy incense
oils in every room. One of the sisters who was an herbalist and a homeopathic practitioner had
mixed a tea especially for him as a treatment for the nausea and the cancer. She had brewed
enough to last 24 hours and put the rest away along with instructions and dosage for me. When
they left that night a small camper was left parked in the front yard for Sister Pam who stayed
behind. They informed me there would be someone there 24 hours a day for the duration – we
did not have to face this alone.
The combination of Reiki and the tea seemed to help and Ron was soon feeling better. He
even managed to get out of bed and when the weather broke a couple days later we bundled
him up and took him outside to watch the kids build a snowman. I fooled myself into believing
everything would be alright. Then came the second round of Chemo.
The second round was worse than the first. This time he couldn’t even keep liquids
down and when he started begging it didn’t take much convincing for me to call the doctor
and inform him there would be no more treatments. Despite accusations from most of his
family that I was signing his death warrant and being informed by his doctor that I was
hastening his death, I stood my ground for his sake – it was what he wanted. This was my first
episode of being the ‘bad guy’ but believe me, it wouldn’t be the last.
We continued the aroma-therapy as well as the Reiki and Cancer Tea and again Ron
improved for a while. He’d have his good days and his bad days but for the most part he
seemed to accept the fact that his time was short and just retreated into himself. I tried
to keep up a brave front around him and the kids. When everything started closing in around
me I would leave them in the hands of whom ever was staying in the camper at the time and
climb the hillside to my ‘Secret Place’ in the woods to cry and pray.
Sometimes I’d scream to The Goddess that it was unfair to take him from me, sometimes I’d
beg Her to hurry up and take him to ‘The Crossroads’. I’d rant and rave until I had it out of my
system then I’d return home and put my brave front on again. In the 15 months it took him to
die no one ever saw me cry but The Goddess and Her woodland creatures.
Between the time Ron was diagnosed and March 30, ’97 (Easter Sunday) when he ‘Crossed
Over’ we had him in the hospital 7 times. Holidays were the worst. I’m not sure if it was the
stress of the event or his way of slowly withdrawing from the family in an attempt to prepare
us for his passing. It seemed every holiday the ambulance would speed down the country
road to the house to carry him the 20+ miles to the hospital with the kids and I following in the car.
Each time he came home from a stint in the hospital he’d be a little more withdrawn and
I’d be a little more burdened with the guilt his family would try to lay on me. Ron had refused
to let any of them, except his brother Roy, come to the hospital and he wouldn’t take their
phone calls. This of course was my fault. He had me sign a do not resuscitate order and promise
to cremate him after they took whatever organs they wanted. This was also the wrong thing to
do. By this time his family was convinced I was sending him to Hell and might even be
hastening his departure by poisoning him with the heathen concoctions I’d been feeding him.
When Christmas came around and he was again in the hospital he asked me to promise it
would be his last hospital stay. If he was going to die he wanted to do it at home. I promised
and his entire family, except Roy, refused to speak to me. One of them even went as far as to
call the law and try to convince them he was being abused and possibly poisoned but nothing
came of that other than to cause him to become even more withdrawn.
In the weeks that followed he’d slip in and out of a melancholy state, one minute he’d be
telling me how much he loved me and the kids and wanting them in the bedroom so he could
watch them play or hug them. A minute later he’d be telling me to send them outside so he
He’d have me call Roy to come out and then lay staring at the wall not saying a word.
When he did talk he’d ask about Mom Hagan who died in ’85 and swear he’d just seen her a
few days before when she’d come to visit.
He barely ate, was rude to everyone and yelled at the kids, which is something he never did.
Several times he told me he hated me and it should be me that was dying – not him. Then 5
minutes later he’d be crying and begging my forgiveness for hurting me. Through all this all I
could do was grit my teeth and continue to tell him I loved him. I’d run off to my ‘Secret Place’
when it got to be too much and cry. There wasn’t anything I could do except watch as he pulled
farther and farther away from the land of the living.
Easter morning dawned bright and sunny and Ron insisted I hide eggs outside for the kids.
He even made the effort to get in his wheelchair and had me roll him to the door so he could
watch them “One Last Time”. Afterwards I had Pam drive them into town with instructions not
to bring them back until I called and I sat down beside Ron and took his hand. His breathing was
labored, even on oxygen, and I could tell he wasn’t going to make it. “I’m tired.” he said
“Honey, I love you, I always will love you, But I’ll be fine without you. The kids and I can
make it – I know you’ve always been there, but now it’s time for me to take over. It’s time for
you to go home and wait for me there when my job here is done. Goodbye, My Love. I’ll meet
you at ‘The Crossroads’.”
I let go of his hand and went outside to smoke a cigarette; when I came back he was gone.
In Loving Memory of William Ronald Bowman
Martha ‘Gipsiecrone’ Bowman