It was November 12, 2012 when Dr. Alemany shared what we had known to be true, but what we had dreaded to hear – “Your cancer has spread.” A few days before, Dr. Alemany had pulled me aside in the hall and shared that he had serious concerns about Jaime’s recent decline. He told me then that I needed to prepare Felicity and myself for the possibility that the mysterious infection would be what would end Jaime’s journey here on earth. So there had been multiple days of breaking down with friends on the phone and bitter tears in the closet. I wouldn’t cry in front of Jaime. And she held up her side of that mysterious bargain, as well. Somehow, when the doctors had left the room, Jaime and I were able to talk. Her speech had already become labored, but she had a plan that she was determined to see enacted. With the last ounces of strength that she had, Jaime put together our vow renewal and reminded me of prior conversations that related to life after she would be gone. It was that day…that afternoon…that I began to accept there was a different plan being carried out. I personally think Jaime knew this long before anyone. She was the one who asked her doctor to have her return to the hospital on November 2 because she “didn’t feel right”…because “something was wrong.” As I left Jaime that afternoon to spend the evening with Felicity, I said, “I love you Lady and it’s ok if you don’t wait for me to come tomorrow.” Those heartfelt lines were delivered with genuine passion and sincerity but not one tear – not until I reached the elevator and realized everything was over.
There have been many nights, since then, when painful memories and loneliness seek to rob me of the true joy that has come from the realization that life must continue and that the remaining days I have can and should be full of happiness, adventure, and love. Even today, I found myself running through the timeline of our final weeks and hours together. Even in the midst of our painful separation, though, there was hope. Hear me out because I have had a year to think through this. My wife was in such pain. I cannot describe to you how painful it was to watch someone I love suffer and not be able to do anything to alleviate her suffering. Balanced with the hurt I felt for Jaime, though, was the truth that this battle would be over soon and Jaime would be able to fully realize and rest in the victory. I had the privilege and honor of traveling through the valley of the shadow of death with my wife. Almost a year since, I can say that it was both a privilege and an honor because I felt God’s presence and unexplainable strength each step of the way. I also say this because, although I miss Jaime very much, God allowed me to have the “good bye” I needed so that I could let Jaime go and then begin this new journey.
The news that was given on November 12 was both painful and hopeful. As I shared in a message to family and friends a year ago, cancer came to “steal, kill, and destroy.” Almost a year to the final days of Jaime’s life, I write with a heart that both misses Jaime and yet at the same time is so very full of joy…because you see, cancer lost. Of course these days are painful and I am told will become easier as the years go by. Cancer lost the day it set its sight on Jaime. Never did she let it overtake take her joy and her ability to inspire others to greatness. Never did she ask the bitter cup to pass. And when she was told that she would soon die, she set her gaze joyfully on her new home; in a place sunnier than her beloved Florida. I walked with her through the valley, but God Himself took her hands and walked her Home.