Adam and Janet Fanaki celebrating their 50th birthdays (December 2018)
by Janet Fanaki
Was it all a dream?
It hasn't even been three weeks since Adam passed away and I find myself wondering if it was all a dream? Not a bad dream or a good dream...just wondering if any of it even happened?
There are dozens of reminders of him around me.
The photos of holidays together around the house and on my phone. His favourite mug in the cupboard. A box of cereal that he would religiously pour a bowl of every afternoon for a snack. His cell phone that stays on our kitchen counter with the home screen being a picture of him leaning in to give me a kiss on the cheek.
I remember the moment when our son Sam took that photo. I miss that kiss.
The last few years were graciously absorbed in caring for Adam. I was there for every appointment with the surgeon and oncologist, IV treatments, clinic check-ins, meeting with the funeral home and cemetery, and finally the palliative planning team.
There were a handful of appointments that I couldn't make because of my own medical or work conflicts, asking friends or family to step-in for me.
Those were unsettling times because I wanted to be there for everything.
Adam's brain cancer was an unwelcomed member of our household. With us, our two grown children and dog, his glioblastoma took up the most space and made the most noise without saying a word. It was always present.
Our surgeon told us when Adam was diagnosed in 2016, "There will be a point when this will be on the back burner," but I can honestly say that that never happened.
It was unavoidable to look at Adam and not be reminded that he had cancer. The scar from 47 staples on the left side of his temple to the base of his ear caused sparse hair to grow back. It was staring us and him in the mirror everyday.
Even for the 2 years when he was well, it was there to remind us. Celebrations and trips away were planned when his health was good, and life was put on hold to a large degree when things were bad.
Cancer did try and take the best of us for a period of time.
But he was good for a long time and it almost looked as though HE would be the one to beat it. As quickly as cancer arrived in our lives, though, it feels as though it took Adam away from us even faster.
One morning he was still here at home, waking up and then collapsing to the floor, rushed to the hospital and a few days later he was gone.
Life following Adam's death was busy. Planning the funeral, collecting flowers and food deliveries at the door for days afterwards, visits from family, friends and neighbours and keeping on-top of the government and financial filings that needed to happen.
I was in this weird state of wondering when he's coming back from his work trip. He travelled so much and was away from home for long periods of time sometimes, this just felt like another one of those times.
I told my therapist that now I almost feel as though our life never happened. Was this my grief?
She looked me squarely in the eyes and said, "this place is where you are now. It feels surreal."
Surreal. A word that means hallucinatory, out of the ordinary and unreal. Sounds about right for where I'm at.
This person who I loved, built a family and a life with, is gone forever. With many memories and evidence of his life and love around me.
And now I must move forward with all of these, but without him beside me.
Janet Fanaki is the Founder and Lead Content Creator of RESILIENT PEOPLE, a website that profiles EXTRAordinary people who are admired for their resilience. Her guests have experienced something life-changing, bounced back and now help others to be resilient too.