Boomers Write

1st Place Winner
Boomers Write Short Story Contest 2008

One Woman’s Lesson Learned

By Harriette J. Schwartz
© 1994

Jay Gary Sanderson was my friend, my lover and for eleven years he was my husband. He was also the father of our beautiful daughter, Merelle. When we first divorced in 1990, Merelle and I moved across the country from New York to California. Jay moved out in 1991. We managed to come full circle and before Jay died on June 8, 1993, we had become very close friends who loved each other.
As a father, there are few who could surpass Jay. In the last six months of his life, Jay nurtured Merelle, devoting himself totally to her. Though ill, he prodded her through homework, as well as tennis and dance lessons. Nothing was more important to him. Despite a deadly diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and a chest-implanted Portocath for 24-hour-a-day chemotherapy, Jay pitched at Merelle's softball games. In the process, he endeared himself to an entire team of little girls and their parents, some of whom were present at his funeral.
Jay became ill in December of 1992. Only 44 and otherwise healthy, his doctors decided on a surgical procedure called a Whipple, performed New Year’s Eve of 1992. This operation gave him time as 90% of the time it is not curative. In March 1993, Jay moved in with Merelle and I in Woodland Hills.
Jay was very sick and frightened, though on a day to day basis he was in denial. I knew how incredibly sad at heart he was and how little time he and Merelle really had left. If I could not help him then the best I could do was to give him as much time as possible with her.
On the day of the night he died, I took Jay for a blood transfusion. I had been told by his oncologists that he was bleeding internally would probably die within days. Where there is life there is hope and Jay was playing for more time. He wangled the transfusion as an outpatient. All went smoothly and then suddenly he began sweating and vomiting blood. He refused to allow himself to be admitted. He wanted me to take him home. For the first time during his illness, Jay asked for pain medication. We left the hospital at midnight and by 2:30 a.m. he was gone. I believe Jay wanted to go home because he knew he was dying, that was where he wanted to be.
His mind never gave up. His body failed and Jay was forced to leave us. But his strong spirit never will. I will always remember Jay as a vibrant, handsome and intelligent man. I try to make certain that Merelle be the best person she can be. I know that was his mission. I intend to protect her love and her memory of her Dad.
This nightmarish experience showed me that life really is too short not to forgive and forget and to savor the sweetest moments of life with which one can be blessed.

Home Page ..... Site Map ..... Contact Me