A Cancer Journey: Lou Goes Home

This is the final installation of our Head of Accounting’s story as she watched her husband’s life come to an end almost a year ago today. To read all of her story, click here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

 

Part 4: Lou Goes Home

Happy Birthday, Babe!  The day this blog posts will be your first birthday in heaven,  and my first without you.  I think I will go to Dana Point with Bella and April if she is free. Then have the family over for pizza.  You know we lost Molly the first Sunday in March, so it’s just Bella and me now.”   

Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/KevinStuartVaughn

Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/KevinStuartVaughn

Part of my healing journey is journaling fairly regularly to Lou.  I also let him journal back to me through my fingers on the computer keyboard.

But . . . I am a year ahead of myself . . .

Let me tell you something of those last weeks we had Lou. They kept increasing his medications and he hallucinated quite a bit. Some of the medications were totally wrong for him and caused terrible side effects. Also, Lou fell several times.  The nurse took everything away and said it was time for him to remain in bed.

It was 4/15. I was trying to finish our taxes on the computer before midnight. Lou fell, trying to get to the room where I was working. If he could not see me it became a huge source of anxiety for him. I strapped him in the wheelchair, so he could be with me. When he was too exhausted to sit, I helped him back into bed. I tried to get him soothed enough for me to finish. We were both so stressed.  None of his medications worked that night.  He could not sleep. The nurse on night call told me to increase the one he was having the psychotic reaction to and someone would come soon. Lou got much worse. I panicked and became hysterical. That immediately caused Lou to find the strength to become normal & sane and overcome the effects of the medication.

During that time of him calming me down and holding me beside him in his narrow bed, Lou spoke to me and gave me what I have come to think of as his final benediction over me: Wonderful words from God through him, that will carry me the rest of my life.  We finally fell asleep in each others’ arms.

About 5 am a nurse came and told me they were changing the medication and making him “comfortable”. They put him into a “medical coma” which he never really came out of, except once. He had had no water to drink for 8 days by then, because they said he would choke if given any. When he decided to talk, he fought and fought to find and loosen his tongue. “I am dying!” he cried out. That was all he was able to say.

Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/mingman

Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/mingman

On Lou’s last night, my girlfriend took the night watch while I got a medicated sleep.  I woke with a start that morning to the song rolling in my head by the Kinks:  “So Tired of Waiting for You.”  Was it Lou trying to get my attention? I flew out of bed and to his side.  His hand was warm but most of him was cold. I spoke to him and told him over again and again how I loved him and to go with God.

That was it. He was gone. It was 0830 on April 25, 2013.

I had no training as a celebrant, but I knew it was important that Lou’s service do him justice and share his story. I figured I needed to be the one to do it. His unfailing love and care for me had been unparalleled. Outside of me, no one was more important than his loving, faithful daughter April and his grandkids. I simply couldn’t just do facts and statistics. Lou was not that kind of a guy.  He deserved more.

I ended up giving a eulogy that helped people see the man, the one who existed behind closed doors, the one our family loved and respected so much.  Then, it was important to show him visually from a child on up in a video tribute with meaningful songs in the background. Our pastors spoke, our loved ones sang: “It is Well with my Soul” (and it was: He went straight to the arms of Jesus), and “Mansion over the Hilltop” (his favorite, and where I know he is living today.)

Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/eAlisa

Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/eAlisa

We ended with everyone singing together: “Blessed be your Name”  The words described perfectly how Lou and I chose to view this horrible, shockingly short ordeal of pain we lived through together.  The Lord gives and takes away.  It would have never been our choice for this to happen to us. Still, our hearts chose to say “Blessed be the Name of the Lord”.  As I am writing this, I am thinking of Easter.  Because of the resurrection, I know Lou also lives.

Four short months of suffering together, has been followed by the hardest year of my life.  But make no mistake: It is my pain, for MY Loss, not Lou’s.

Still, I am getting by.  I have my family, my faith, people who care about me and my occasional Lou sightings.

So, Happy Birthday, Babe.  And thank you… You were amazing!  I truly had the best!

|| what do you think?

How have you commemorated anniversaries like these?

What practices have you found helpful in your grief journey?

Anne

About Anne

The youngest of 8, I was born in a tiny town in the Keeweenaw Peninsula of Upper Michigan in the late 40’s. My minister parents died 6 months apart around the time of my 5th birthday. My older siblings raised us in the family home until all were graduated except me. Gradually only the boys remained, so at the age of 10 I moved to other homes. My childhood was rich with experiences that sparked my young imagination. When I finally read the Anne of Green Gables series, I totally identified with Anne. I have just celebrated my 46th anniversary with my dear husband, Lou. Our daughter, April, 4 grandchildren and one great granddaughter bring our family a lot of joy and reasons to be thankful. I have worked at O’Connor Mortuary since 1996 where I handle the accounting. The Mortuary has become extended family and it is a source of satisfaction as a job I thoroughly enjoy. We attend the Village Church and that is another wonderful extended family, one who not only worships and learns together, but loves and prays for one another at the drop of a hat. We live in a retirement community and enjoy taking our two dogs, a Bernese Mountain Dog and little Cocker Spaniel, to Dana Point Harbor for Sunday jaunts. I absolutely love participating in the Mortuary Blog. I have found my voice! Thanks for following me.
This entry was posted in Inspiration, Perspective, Seasons of Life and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • Lori

    Annie,
    Thank you for giving us all this intimate view of your journey. “God was not helpless among the ruins”. Even when Lou was at his weakest, God gave him the strength to pull out of his medicated state and take care of you as he had for so many years prior to taking ill.
    Your love story is beautiful and it is in times such as this, “in sickness and in health” that you proved you were up to whatever test was brought your way. You lovingly cared for your Lou, just as I know he would have you if it would have been the other way around.
    I know it has been a hard year. I can see it in your eyes when you are having a particularly hard day. I want to be able to race in and say something profound to take your pain away. That is my protectiveness over you. The reality is, there are no perfect words. I can hug you, tell you “I Love You” and listen to you tell me about how you are doing. I wish I could do more, but the reality of grief is that we have to experience all of the emotions.
    I am always here to listen…
    Love you so much,
    Lori

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      Lori
      I haven’t always let you in close enough to say something profound. Sometimes, I just can’t talk about it, without totally losing part of the day to overwhelming emotions, so when you want to be of extra comfort, I just go with the hug. Believe me a hug and I love you or I’m thinking about you help more than you know. Til I get more time behind me, talking isn’t always the greatest thing. I can write easier, somehow.

      Thank you for your love and care over here in Bldg 2.
      Love
      Anne

  • Patricia Kolstad

    My sweet friend . .
    Thank you for offering strangers a glimpse of your life through Lou’s dying process. As I watched from a distance, and sometimes up close and personal, I realized through the words of your cancer journey with Lou, that you were mentoring me for things to come. I was privileged to be by Lou’s bedside a few times and watch you lovingly prepare his medications and gently give them. You showed great strength throughout, even in your weakest moments.
    For years, you and I have been on a journey together. We have talked about this at length. And as you bring this very poignant year to a close, you will continue to “say good-bye” to what was and begin your “new normal”, moving ever so gently into this new world.
    I love you and appreciate always, your wisdom, your enduring strength, and your willingness to walk along side of me. Well done, my friend . . Well done!
    Lovingly,
    Pat

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      Thank you, Pat. Well, since you are older, why don’t you go first for awhile?? I am tired of blazing trails. Seriously, God plans the trip and I choose to gladly follow. This part is not fun, but hoping things can lighten up a little in the 2nd year. Thanks for always being open to my never ending opinions and observations.
      Love
      Annie

  • Mike Bayer

    Enjoy your walk with him today…and Him.

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      Mike,
      It was a good walk, with him AND Him. I have no doubt they were both along.

  • Fitz

    Anne,
    Thanks for sharing your heartfelt journey. You are truly an amazing person. We are so blessed by your words and your presence in our lives. You will never get over the loss of Lou but you will get through it with faith, love and hope. God bless you.
    Love,
    Fitz

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      Fitz
      Well, you get to see my at my worst and best in our office. Thanks for your gentle caring and your patience when I am in a fog or losing it, and your protective support when I need that, too. Then on the good days, you get paid back double.
      Here’s hoping this 2nd year puts me way down the road to a much happier place than I have been.
      Love
      Anne

  • Mark

    Anne….Thank you for sharing from your heart…..you are a tremendous testimony of love and compassion….the words of the song are true… the Lord does give and take away…I pray he continues to give you comfort in the days, weeks, and months ahead…Mark

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      HI Mark,
      All I felt and gave was nothing more than Lou always gave me. I could do nothing less. I know the Lord still has abundance for me. Part of it is up to me, to quit looking back so hard that I can’t see His present and future blessings. I am not there, but I am getting there.
      Anne

  • Elsa

    Anne,
    Great Words and great story. I will be thinking of you today as you celebrate Lou. Thank You for sharing your Journey Anne.

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      And thank you, Elsa, for reading it and for the friendship and caring I receive from you.

  • Jeff Turner

    Dearest Anne with an “e”,
    I saw only small glimpses of Lou’s final days. What I did see was the dedication to the marriage vows that most of say, “in sickness and in health”…”’til death do us part.” or some variation of that sentiment. Watching you “live it out” right before our eyes brings great perspective and challenge. Thank you for being vulnerable, open and accepting of help during even the darkest of time or perhaps, especially in the darkest of times would express it better.

    I love you and am thankful that we have been connected because of our work for so many years. I pray for our journey ahead as death awaits each of us and its path is yet to be revealed. May we each have someone as passionate for our healing, prayerful for our comfort and diligent over our needs as you were for Lou in his dying hours. I am grateful for your living it and now writing it for us to reflect upon.

    Blessings and comfort in the days ahead.

    Jeff

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      Jeff,
      You also are so dear to me. Your own faith and saying the right things when you visited with Lou and your prayer over him and us, will always be a wonderful part of the entire memory. The way you put it truly capsulizes the progression of the ordeal. Since we had had personal experiences and believed in God’s promises of healing, although not all are healed, that was the first request. When it became obvious that was not in the plan, we moved to request prayer for comfort. Finally, as long as there was a breath in my body and the ability to put one foot in front of the other, I tried to give myself completely and lovingly to Lou’s care and comfort. Was I 100% successful? Of course not. Sometimes exhaustion or panic overruled my best intentions. If this helps another suffering person, either now or in years to come, as someone surfs the web, then it was worth the vulnerability offered up to complete this series.
      Love
      Anne

  • Neil

    Hi Anne –

    I cannot believe it has been a year since Lou has died and has gone to heaven. Your struggle throughout Lou’s death has amazing. Amazing lessons in love, friendship, compassion, patiences, persistences, frustrations, sadness, loss, memories, joys, pains and heartache, and so much more. I know you have been a great example to me, your family and many more about how to love all the way to the end of life and beyond. You planned and delivered an amazing funeral of Lou and for us. I believe the best practices are, exactly what you did, you engaged your self deep into Lou’s end of life. You planned a very thoughtful ceremony that allowed us all to participation and you evoked emotion in all of us. Your ability to keep Lou’s memory & story alive is so powerful, that is healing. Thank you for reminding of the importance of life, faith, compassion & love! I love you dearly, XOXO

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      Neil,
      When one loves deeply and for many years, when they are loved back unconditionally there is no possible way to turn one’s back and let the hospitals or agencies do it. I couldn’t comprehend going home at night and leaving Lou in a hospital, never knowing if someone would come right away if he had a need in the night. And even if they did respond quickly, would they care like I did? Even if they did a better job because of their skill set, would he rather have them or me? We both knew the answer to that. We did it the only way that seemed right to us.

      And even though I would have continued if it took a lifetime, God and Lou knew I was already close to the end of myself and God took him.

      You are still young compared to me and have many years to deepen your bonds beyond what you can imagine now at this age. So that when your time comes, you will find within you that same strength and persistence needed for the moments of truth you face.
      I love you,
      Anne

  • Diana Williams

    You gave a beautiful eulogy of Lou, I learned so much about his life through you, Anne.
    Thank you for sharing this painful journey with all of us.

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      Diana
      Thanks for reading, and responding. I guess I wanted a combination of the plain truth about a regular, ordinary guy, yet telling enough to make sure everyone understood why I loved him so much. I wouldn’t have if he wasn’t worth it. 🙂

  • Maria Fernandez

    Anne, the love you two shared was something VERY special; leaving a mark on the lives of couples who know, encouragement to fight and inspiration to always love.

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      Maria,
      I have to say, Lou and I did not always see eye to eye on every single issue. We argued when we disagreed, but always with respect for the other person.
      Never hit below the belt. Never use the “D” word as a threat. Never go to bed mad. Never leave the house mad. (Well, sometimes a long walk or ride to cool off is good.) I think it is important to agree early on that you are in this together for the long haul and that you will spend your greatest efforts making that happen. Also, that person has to feel they matter more to you than your friends, your family, or any other person who might try to turn your eye or your heart. There’s a little fodder for how to always love.
      Love
      Anne

  • Carrie Bayer

    Dearest Anne, thank you for this final Lou blog. Each one has been so remarkable- you have ensured that we all know, love & miss him through your amazingly descriptive writings. I feel fortunate to have known him & to have seen him on his last night. His funeral service was absolutely perfect & I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. You did the most beautiful eulogy I have ever heard & I won’t ever forget it. Thank you for sharing your journey. I love you…. XOXOX Carrie

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      Carrie,
      Here you are, ready to embark on such a happy part of your life. I have had it and I am thankful that you will too. You helped us so much through Lou’s illness, and then on through the arrangement to the funeral services and the cremation, even to having Lou’s truck washed. Lou appreciated everything he knew about. I appreciated all of it.

      I love you,
      Anne

  • Shayna Mallik

    Anne,
    The service for Lou was so beautiful! I was so happy I could be there and learn so many great things about your beloved husband. You are so strong and I hope you know I am here for you whenever you need. You eulogy about Lou was breathtaking and I loved the words you used. Thank you for letting us in on such a painful journey.

    <3 Shayna

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      Shayna,
      Here you are a new bride, with so much love in your heart and stars in your eyes. This is such a beautiful, fun, joy-filled time. You are just a the beginning of creating your own memories, building a life and a bond that I know, with work and perseverance can grow as deep as ours.
      Love
      Anne

  • Tom

    Thank you, Anne, for the sharing Lou’s story with us. I remember Lou telling me the story about the time he camped in an area of Del Mar, while he was in the Marine Corp. The area where he camped is now a car repair shop near the beach. I find comfort in remembering how hard my parents worked to raise tree children. I am blessed and inspired when I think back on the sacrifices my parents made for us, because we came from a place of having very little. . . .

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      Tom,
      Lou liked to tell his stories. I am glad you have a memory or two of your own, from when you worked together.

      We all started out with very little. We always want to make it so our kids don’t have to struggle for things the way we did. Actually, this is a disservice to them. By the time the butterfly or moth works its way out of the tight maze of a cocoon, it has exercised its wings enough to be strong enough to flutter constantly and allow it to FLY!

  • Joe Lavoie

    First and Foremost I appreciate you sharing about your journey it always helps us all understand we are not alone. I always commemorated the day renee died by having her favorite western bacon cheeseburger at her graveside , it was a time I would reflect and remember all the good days we spent together from 19 years of marriage. I have not missed one and will have now my ninth this year on July 13. The way I made it through my grief was surrounding myself with family and friends as everyone has been so supportive of me and my daughters. Again thank you so much for always being there to talk and support me as well.
    Sincerely Joe Lavoie

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      Joe,
      Thank you. I always hope I can be there for you when you need someone to listen, pray or give you a proverbial shove. Sometimes I feel like maybe I am too tough on you, but it is all in good intentions.
      It is good you keep a ritual. Lou was a great believer in ritual. I was always one to try to please him and let him do what he wanted when we could. He was always attentive to see what pulled my chain or made me smile. Then he would try to repeat that often until it became a ritual of our week or month or year.
      Now that’s gonna be hard to replace!
      Annie

  • Christopher Iverson

    Anne,
    This has been quite a year for you and those of us who have shared in this unique journey. I have been so aware of the old saying, “Life rolls on…” We get lost in the day-to-day and all of a sudden a year goes by. I thank you for the hugs and smiles. They serve as a reminder to the beautify life Lou lived with you.

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      Chris,
      Quite a year is right. Two steps forward and one step back. I feel a little bit liberated tonight and like I can finally respond to these comments. Last week put me back about a mile, but it is behind me. This is a new year. In my journal Friday, the anniversary of Lou’s death, he told me he hoped I would soon be able to put the intense grief I carry over his dying into a drawer and shut it tight and only take it out occasionally and then put it back. That was a helpful picture of what I need to do next.

  • Joanna Ramirez

    Anne,

    As always, thank you for sharing your journey with us all. I cannot begin to understand how this year has been for you but I want you to know that my thoughts are always with you.

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      Joanna,
      I always feel kindness and caring from you. You don’t say much, but it comes through anyway. Thank you.

  • Amy

    Anne,
    Thank you for allowing us to be part of this journey with you through your eyes. No one can understand what this year has been like for you and what the rest of your journey holds. I commend you for having the strength and courage to be vulnerable and share with us. He is with you always.
    XoXo
    Amy

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      Amy,
      I knew I had to write about this. It is possible that later, I may write more, on my own, not in the 700 words or less required of a blog, which often strangles my thought pattern. I believe there’s a story to be told that people may desire to relate to.
      And yes, he is here. I am aware now and then and it helps.
      Love
      Anne

  • Chuck Ricciardi

    Annie,
    You are an incredible woman and Lou was a lucky man to have you in his life and to share this journey with. I thank you for allowing us to get a glimpse of those final weeks and moments. We try to understand what someone in grief is going through but even if you have had your own journey of grief each is as unique as a fingerprint. So I will just acknowledge how hard and devastating this year must have been on you. But one thing I have learned is our loved ones do not die! They just move to living in our hearts instead of on earth. But it is that pain of not having them here physically with us that tears us apart. Know that your O’Connor family is here for you and will be keeping you, April and your family in our thoughts and prayers. Annie, thank you for being a friend and confidant, I truly cherish our friendship and working relationship.
    God Bless!
    Love,
    Chuck

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      Chuck,
      You hit it on the head. Not being with us physically is what tears us apart. It is something you will never get over with your Matthew. Sure makes heaven more precious, doesn’t it. Shouldn’t but it does.
      Lou was always so amazed that I loved him so much. I felt so lucky and spoiled that he loved me so much. We always couldn’t wait for the end of the work day because we would see each other again. Dumb, but I think we somehow sensed that life was gonna be way too short, however long it was. I am glad we didn’t know about the cancer any sooner. That part messed things up.
      I am so glad we do work together. This whole entire working family has freely given their love, understanding and support. Not one of you has told me to “get over it” or you have “grieved long enough”. Nobody would like to “get over it” more than me, but it will come when it comes.
      Love,
      Annie

  • Mitch

    You are incredible Anne. The Lord makes everything make sense.If He is not here then there is no reason to feel the way we do or to treat each other with respect. Lou was someone to respect & admire. I am happy you had a chance to experience that kind of love & devotion. Keep hangin on to Jesus, He’ll get you through.

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      Thanks, MItch,
      I am so thankful for the faithfulness of Jesus through all of this. And we can’t live on yesterday’s experience. Last week when I was out being miserable, the second day, I just put the Blue Letter Bible on the computer in the Psalms all day and let it run. When I started sinking I just focused on what I was hearing and it got me through.
      Glad I work with you Mitch. Still water runs deep.

  • Shasta Cola

    What a beautiful story, Anne. I am so glad you got to experience your life with Lou and stay with him until the day he died. That must have been such a difficult experience to go through, but I am happy that you have your faith that is probably helping you so much as you have gone through the year and coming years without him. I am sure he is proud of you for being so strong through this. I would love to hear about your occasional Lou sightings 🙂

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      Thank you, Shasta. Tonight I went over to our vegetable garden to see if it was alive or dead, from lack of attention. I picked and ate a few ripe berries that were transplanted in January from the garden I gave up. I looked over at the greens which were going to seed and back in the next bed at a fully ready volunteer lettuce plant that I needed to pick the outer leaves before the rapidly approaching dusk overtook me and they locked the gate. I turned back to the collard greens and ripped out the top of where the plant was going to seed. I pulled and twisted with such strength that when it gave way, I lost my balance and fell backwards into the raised bed behind me. When I finally got myself standing again, I turned around and saw I had fallen on the lettuce plant, completely snapping all the leaves off into a perfect pile on the ground around it, without breaking the center stem, which will keep producing! Just then I saw security drive by to empty out stragglers like me. I scooped up enough lettuce for 3 days of salad in two seconds. Now that is a little “Lou sighting”.

  • Jenn

    I don’t know if its being newly married, or just because I know and care for you so and feel so much for you, but this last installment brought tears to my eyes. I know this has been a rough year and I love how you stated that you grieve your loss and your pain, its selfless to see it that way and that is your nature, kind hearted and giving. As lucky as you were to have Lou, he was very lucky to have you as well. I am sure he will welcome you into his mansion in the sky with open doors someday and that will be a beautiful thought to have in that moment. My Grandfather grieved for over 17 years for my Grandma Rita, when he died I just thought “finally they are walking together holding hands again” and that thought helped me get through MY pain. xoxo

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      Jenn,
      I am so glad you are here with us. You are genuine and real. Lou would have liked you a lot, I think. Can’t wait to see Lou’s mansion. There will be room for me and as long as he is in it and we are with the Lord, it sure doesn’t need to be fancy.

      It is probably good that Lou went first. Men who love deeply often have it harder if they are left behind. In saying that, I can’t imagine it being harder, but I still think I have more strength to get through this eventually than he would have.
      Love

      Anne

  • Lauren

    Anne thank you for sharing yours and Lou’s journey with us. Reading your experiences shows the very special love that you two share. We will always remember the day that changed our lives and to celebrate them is the best way to honor those events.

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      Lauren,
      I hope you are doing the same with your mom’s memory… marking the times and honoring her. I know you do whenever you wear one of her pieces of clothing or jewelry. I am sure that makes her smile.
      Love,
      Anne

  • Anne Anderson Collins

    Dearest Toni,
    What a beautiful thing to say. I guess you have told me this before, but seeing it in print somehow made it more, I don’t know, genuine or something, like you weren’t just being comforting, saying it to make me feel better. 🙂 Well, now if I don’t get it written by the time he is ready to marry, you can at least click on the link to this blog and print it out for him. If I actually wrote it, I imagine I would recall a lot more.
    Wednesday was Lou’s birthday. The family all gathered at my house and we had a party for him. My granddaughter Jessica’s boyfriend hadn’t known Lou. We shared a lot of stories that night around the table which he so enjoyed. Jess asked if I could get out some pictures of Lou when he was younger for Brad to see. We decided to put on the video of the pictures from the funeral. Of course it ended with Annie’s Moon. I was fairly fine through the whole evening until then. I lost it and became a puddle.
    I still watch for that moon every month. Usually someone texts me and asks if I have looked in the sky yet. I love that. You can be one that helps me never miss it if you want. Just shoot me a text. I never want to miss a one.
    Love
    Anne

  • Becky Finch Lomaka

    Strong, courageous, caring, deeply spiritual, insightful, smart, intuitive, loving…these are all words I use to describe you, Anne!

    For you to share your grief journey with us as you are living it has been an amazing and impactful journey for all of us who have been following your series of blogs. Your faith has never seemed to waiver through the unimaginable pain you have endured. Yet even through your pain, (when it would be so easy and understandable for you to lose yourself off), you have chosen to share with us and help us see that death is not the divider, but that those we miss so dearly continue to be with us. Thank you, Anne, so very much for your gift to us.

    Love,
    Becky

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      HI Becky,
      Very kind words. We just all do our best. It helps if we feel purpose for our lives. There must also be purpose in Lou’s death, greater than just leaving us early from cancer, so I had to tell it.
      Love
      Anne

  • Stacy Ortiz

    Thank you for sharing your last moments with your beloved Lou. He may not be physically be around you but he definitely is watching over you I believe 🙂 I cannot imagine what it is like to endure the loss of someone you love deeply and means the world to you. I use to like to think I would be able to keep my composure being a professional in this field but reality is… I would probably be hysterical and my heart would break into millions of pieces. Your blog made me realize that even in those final moments you can treasure memories shared together. You are very brave and demonstrated such immense love for Lou. I am sure he felt so loved and in peace in the end. You were right beside him comforting and letting him know not only that you loved him but also that this was not going to be good-bye forever. Blesses be Anne, your story is one to admire and it is in fact that the love you share with Lou lives on forever. 🙂

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      HI Dear Stacy,
      How I love your heart. You have a capacity for compassion for the families you help through your job that goes beyond what many would do.
      Hysterical? I WAS hysterical more than once, but then I was more hysterical once I was alone and realized there was no bringing him physically back.
      Is he with me? Definitely. Not all the time but here and there and I sure know it when I get it.
      Thanks for reading.
      Hugs
      Anne

  • Kari Lyn Leslie

    Annie,
    Thank you so much for this powerful end of life tribute. Most of all thank you for sharing your amazing marriage with us. You have always been willing to share what worked when it came to you and Lou. I am so thankful to have you in my life.

    Love & Hugs always!!

    kari

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      Kari
      Hey, that is what is important in life…living through difficult and painful stuff, growing old and looking back and realizing what works, what is important, and being willing to be open enough to help others learn from words instead of having the pain of living through it.
      I am thankful for you too, Kari
      Love,
      Annie

  • Anne,
    This story is so real, courageous, honest & painful. I can just hear the ache in your writing, the sorrow in your words and the refreshment that seems to come from your “talking” to Lou. I can’t tell you how thought provoking and inspiring your story is for all of us who can only image what cancer up close looks like.

    Thank you for trusting us with your story & for giving us these last moments with Lou. I’m sure he had a wonderful birthday with Jesus.

    love, Molly

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      Molly,
      Thank you too, for facilitating all of this and giving us our “voice”. I just finished the first year without Lou. I did it, and now I know I can continue, gradually get more outside of my own little box of pain and be more useful to the Lord and my fellow man again. I know Lou had a wonderful birthday. And if he was looking down, which I am pretty sure he was, he saw and heard all of us remembering him as a family and singing happy birthday, having cake and Elisabeth blowing out his candle and being together, just because of him.
      Love
      Anne

  • Erin Fodor

    Anne,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us all.

    Every anniversary of my father and uncles death I always make sure to make it to the beach. We spread my father’s ashes off of Diamond Head Hawaii. So as long as I make it to a body of water, I feel he is with me. I often listen to a song called Little Red Balloon. And from that song, I have for years sent a red balloon up into the air with a little message for my dad. This helps me still today, in my journey of grief.

    Anne, you are so strong, and I feel blessed to be working along side you.

    Love,

    Erin

    • Anne

      Erin
      Going to the beach holds you close. For all you know, a bit of ash or dna is right in the vicinity where you are. It has swirled around all these years. Who is to say? And I love sending off a balloon. We are so earthbound, yet our spirits are not. If we could only see…through the vapors that surround our humanity, I doubt they are very far, or at least come close now and then, when they can.

      I am glad you work here Erin. You add a lot!
      Love
      Anne

  • Michael Thomas

    Anne,

    All I feel I can say to conclude this incredible journey is: You’re absolutely right. He is home. And one day, I will shake his hand again as he says “Thank you for caring for Annie all those years.”

    Love, Mike

    • Anne Anderson Collins

      Mike,
      You just keep on caring for me, ok? Someone has to take over for Greg’s daily hugs. Or many someones…that would be even better.
      Love,
      Annie