Author with a furry friend at Hide Seek Toronto. Photo cred: Maggie Knaus
My grief started the day that my husband was diagnosed with a terminal disease. He was given a year and a half to live and surpassed that by another 2 years.
Most of that time I lived feeling like an elephant was sitting on my chest. Every symptom had me reeling and ready to call the cancer centre's nursing line to check if we should come in for analysis.
It especially got bad for the last 7 months when the cancer moved to his brain stem and impacted his walking, speech and vision.
All I could do most days was to take each minute as it came and step out the minute that respite arrived at our door. A friend coming to visit, someone to take him to lunch or when he lay down for a nap.
In many ways, it felt like having a baby again. "Grabbing those moments" as parenting experts would say.
Adam and I were only 47 years old when he was diagnosed with glioblastoma and 51 when he died in February. The prime of our lives when we were beginning to make plans for the next phase in life. This was not part of that plan.
Shortly after the funeral, I found myself starting to make other plans. Visiting out-of-town friends was a big one. A trip to spend a few spring days New York to visit my friend Jackie and see a Broadway show with some more time with Laurence and her family in Brooklyn.
Another good one was going cross-country skiing in the Ottawa area of Gatineau Park with my longtime friend Vicki. There would be good wine consumed at dinner the night before and tonnes of girl talk on the couch.
The kids and I had even started thinking about an end-of-school trip. The kind that we often took as a family. This one might have taken us to LA and then on to Maui. A place that we hold close to our hearts.
After years of being a caregiver and having my time and energy at someone else's disposal, I was ready to move on. And along came COVID-19 to derail it all.
This worldwide pandemic has impacted everything, not the least our healthcare system, the economy, education and people's lives.
To date, millions of people around the world have been affected either by being diagnosed with this virus or in losing their lives. And there's no quick end in sight.
I'm lucky that I have my children living at home with me. One who moved back from university and the other finishing high school. Being together so soon after the funeral and during this global crisis brings me a lot of comfort in having people to self-isolate and socialize with in-person.
But I was ready to start living my life again. My calendar was already marked-up with a few fun events and fabulous outfits at the ready. Yes I was still in mourning, missing the person who was no longer here but who also wanted me to carry on living.
Virtual coffee and wine chats have been a phenomenal way for me to stay connected with family and friends. But when will that time come when we can all bust out of the bubble? Imagine how good it will feel to be together with the ones you love again?
I know I'm not alone in this thinking but missing a partner in this journey puts me at a big disadvantage. It would have been much more fun to be isolated and canoodling together.
So in the meantime, I'll keep wearing my "good" outfits daily, styling my hair and face and virtually keeping up with the outside world with the hope that we'll all be socializing in-person in the not-so-distant future.
Janet Fanaki is the founder and lead creator of RESILIENT PEOPLE where she interviews EXTRAordinary people around the world who are admired for their resilience. She lives in Toronto with her children and mini poodle Ella. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram (@resilientpeopleca), Twitter (@resilientpeopl) and on the RESILIENT PEOPLE Youtube channel.
April 7, 2020