Would you still be here?

I wake up every morning with some depressing thought.

Sometimes it’s picturing you the day you died. Sometimes it’s remembering how your mind was starting to go in those last months.

Of course, I never know what it will be. I only know it will cause pain, and then I’ll put it away and go on with my day. Some thoughts I’ve been through dozens of times, and I have my pat answers ready – those are the easy ones. Some thoughts are worse. They seem to cling to my mind no matter how many times I’ve gone over them. How many times I’ve told myself to stop with the guilt. It’s over. He’s gone. I did my best.

I thought I was done thinking about today’s question. I thought I had put this one to rest, but apparently there is no “done” when it comes to grief. My counselor said it’s two steps forward, one step back.

The thought of today: If I had done something different, would you still be here?

If I had insisted on a different doctor, or set of doctors, or hospital? If I had asked more questions? If I had done something that day when you were dying, insisted on more answers?

Is there a way that you could still be here, healthy, in remission, if I had done something to change the outcome?

Was I too passive?

Did I miss something I should’ve seen?

We’ll never know, will we?

About the author

Katherine Billings Palmer is a technical writer, poet, and essayist from Garden City, Michigan. She’s won several academic writing awards, including first place in the University of Michigan Dearborn Critical Essay Contest for her work about poet John Donne: “‘The Sun Rising’: A Lover’s Boast.”

In 2017, Katherine’s husband, Rick, died of complications from small cell lung cancer. She wrote a series of poems and essays about her struggles to cope with her grief. I Wanted to Grow Old With You is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

Her latest book, A Widow’s Words: Grief, Reflection, Prose, and Poetry – The First Year was published in January 2019 and is also available on Amazon.com.

Katherine is a guest blogger for the Hope for Widows Foundation and writes about her grief journey at www.TheWritingWidow.com.

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