Theme Reveal: Blogging from A-Z April 2018

I’m running a bit late to the Theme Reveal Party this year…but then, it’s been quite a year, so far.

And therein lies my theme for the Blogging From A-Z April Challenge, 2018 edition.

My husband died on January 12, after a brief but intense illness with metastatic pancreatic cancer. We’d been married 20 years and 1 day when he was first seen in an emergency room for what we suspected might be appendicitis, but was diagnosed as a “sludgy” gall bladder – not so uncommon for a man in his 50s who had struggled with his weight and a fondness for rich foods for most of his life. As almost an afterthought, we were told there was a “small spot” on his liver, most likely fatty liver disease – again, not at all uncommon for a man of his age and eating habits. It was suggested that he get it checked out by his primary care physician – “to rule out cancer.”

He was feeling better by the time we left, and we were relieved that it wasn’t anything serious. He went on with his life, and didn’t follow up with his doctor –

Even if he had, it would already have been too late. The tumor had leapt from his pancreas to his liver, and set up shop there, with fatal aggressiveness. Jim would feel “off” more and more over the next few months, with abdominal pain he assumed was either his gall bladder acting up, or a persistent constipation, or maybe an ulcer.

But we were also very busy with a brand-new cottage industry selling his artisanal hot sauces, so he simply kept going…until his doctor suggested a colonoscopy to rule out problems there. We were relieved that there were none, but he’d been having leg pain that intensified in the following days. The next week, he went to the doctor for that, was referred to the emergency room, and was admitted with a deep vein thrombosis – a blood clot stretching from his groin to his shin.

During the course of his treatment, proteins caused by cancerous cells were found in his blood, and that led to the diagnosis, which he received on November 13 – a day less than two months before his death. At the time, he was given six to twelve months to live, and we were hoping to beat that diagnosis.

However, things didn’t go as planned. The day of his first (and, as it turned out, only) chemotherapy session, he reacted poorly to two of the drug infusions, and then had what was later diagnosed as a minor heart attack. That resulted in a ten-day stay, and a release on hospice care.

He was released from the hospital on December 13 – a month after his diagnosis, and less than that until he would die in our bed, in the same spot I’m sitting as I type this.

And that wraps up this history, and leads to the theme reveal.

This year, I will be writing the Alphabet of Grief, as I and our children, ages 16 and 13, learn to live in a new way, and process the loss of the man who was my husband and best friend, as well as an involved and loving father to them.

I haven’t had a lot of time to plot, draft, revise, prep, and schedule my posts as I usually like to do. This year’s posts will be more in the manner of stream of consciousness, as this post is. I can’t promise what you’re going to see here; only that it will be genuine.

I’m not sure I can say that I look forward to sharing what I will share in this space. I hope it will be therapeutic for me, and maybe for others, as well. I hope there will be some value in it for everyone who reads it.

I will see you again on Sunday, April 1, with my A post.

Until then, it’s back to my regular life-in-progress.

Are you participating in the A-Z Challenge?
What’s your theme, if you have one?
If not, what’s your plan for the month?

A candid couple moment at the playground, September 2013.


  1. Hello! I saw that you followed my blog and popped over to check yours out. I’m so glad I did. Just reading your Theme Reveal (albeit almost a month later) brings tears to my eyes. Grief is such a difficult thing and I can’t imagine what you and your family are going through, but I thank you for sharing your experiences with the world. I am sure that you will touch many lives through your openness.


    • Going through the alphabet this way was cathartic, though it really hasn’t reached many people yet. I kind of hid out when I wasn’t writing – often my response to sharing the emotionally laden.

    • I’m actually aiming for a grateful heart filling with joy. That’s what Jim wanted for me, and it’s what the kids need from me. Also, it’s what I need for myself.

      In the darker moments, I remember that I grieve because I have loved, and been loved….

  2. I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. This is an emotionally powerful theme most of us can learn from. Now 30 years later, I think I’m still in an arrested state of grieving for my uncle (esp. owing to how it took 15 years before I was able to start grieving).

    • Maybe this series will help you to move forward in your grief. While it wasn’t as long, I can understand delayed grief. When it had been a year since Elijah’s death, Lise was a five-day-old with a moderate case of jaundice. I hadn’t really had time to grieve during a high-risk pregnancy.

      That began in earnest the year she was one, and her “Other Brother” would have been two.

      I’ve got a bit of the same with Jim: there’s been so much to do, grief has been filtered through tasks. I have a feeling there will come a time when things are balanced, and the grief hits full-force…

  3. Oh Shan. I was so moved by your post and so sorry to hear about your husband. What a terrible time for your family. I have missed visiiting and will continue now. Yu have chosen such an emotional theme – one we will all learn from. Take care. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    • Strangely, it’s not nearly as terrible as it might be…

      Maybe if the kids were stronger, or if I hadn’t known how much Jim didn’t want a long decline, or if he’d been in the hospital, removed from us, rather than the intense intimacy of hospice at home…

      But we had over two decades together, and most of it was joyful, loving, and amazing. Many, many, many moments to treasure. I’m without my Accomplice, but he’s here, still, every second, written in the history of my heart, my soul, my home, my children, and my life.

    • I think they will be helpful, and less than easy. But I kind of think I need to write them, and share. After the immediacy of what NEEDED to happen, it will give me some space to explore my emotions…

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