Lately, I’ve Been Wondering
In the late 70s, in Frankenmuth, Michigan, Pete was giving his momma attitude during an argument and ran outside of their home and hit the car antenna downward. It then popped up, hit the hood, and landed in Pete’s eye. When in the ER, they sent him home and said to ice it and take Tylenol. Over the weekend, Pete lost his eyesight and on Monday, his family eye doctor performed one of several surgeries to try to bring it back. Because he wasn’t able to, the family wasn’t charged one penny for any of those surgeries. Having this experience as a young kid, he was very familiar with pain, hospitals, and doing things others said you couldn’t at an early age.
During his football career, he said that a finger would get broken and he’d go over to the sideline, have them pop it back into place, splinter, then play the rest of the game.
During his adulthood, his eye developed glaucoma and became discolored and misshapen. One eye visit, he was told that if anyone else had his glaucoma level, they would be writhing in pain on the floor.
Early on in our marriage, Pete waited probably three years for dealing with gallbladder pain until the pain was too overwhelming and he had it removed.
He had a high tolerance for pain for sure, which recently got me thinking….
During the last 28 months after his diagnosis on November 6, 2020, (or even before that when hospital visits were starting,) how much pain was he in that I didn’t know about?
We started his cancer journey promising each other that we’d work on being more honest with each other when we were asked, “How are you?” We would be more open and raw about the emotions we were experiencing, his pain, how I could help, etc. If I was overwhelmed, I would tell him and he’d be there for me. And vice versa, if he was having a hard day, he would let me know.
I know that near the end of his life, he was more blunt and curt about his pain and mental anguish. He would say things like, “Nothing’s changed,” or “I don’t want to talk about it.” But I’ve also wondered, if sometimes, he just didn’t tell me everything he was dealing with. When I think about all that we did after his diagnosis and our job loss, I am so thankful for so many wonderful experiences with our family and friends.
Camping with whatever kids could make each trip
Singing in the car
Watching the original Top Gun at Red Rocks
Sleeping by each other, even when he was in his hospital bed
Sitting in the back or front yard laughing at our odd neighbors and talking about life
Watching Ted Lasso
Listening to music
Hosting friends at our house, including out-of-state friends who made great sacrifices to be with us in his last days.
Our trip to Montana
His 50th birthday
Sometimes, when looking back on these experiences, I knew of some that he was dealing with, i.e. pain, neuropathy in his feet and hands, etc. and that is what I would focus on and remember. But, lately, I’m choosing to think that whether he mentioned what he was dealing with at the time or not, I’m so very grateful for those moments with him. Sometimes, especially camping, he would be the one who wanted to stay longer, spend more time together, and make more memories than all of us healthy ones.
As he had such a high pain tolerance, I am sure that I didn’t know all that Pete was dealing with at any given moment. Instead of being angry that he kept those things from me, if he did, I’m just so thankful for what he did share with me, but also how he was taking care of me in keeping me ignorant of some things. In doing that, he was focusing on making memories, in the middle of all he was fighting. That decision and those memories are so precious and valuable to me.
I guess I won’t ever really know the degree to which Pete was fully open about all that he was struggling with, but I know that whatever he kept from me, it was because of his protecting and being thoughtful of me. And for that, I’m just so thankful.