May 07, 2015

Filling the Void

By Contributor Jan Bono

Quick note: this post is too poignant for the usual meandering introduction, and by now you all know how awesome Jan Bono is, so let's just get to it this time.--Crabby

Sunday, April 26th, 2015, two beautifully decorated half-sheet cakes sat waiting to be cut on the reception table. One was a white cake with raspberry filling and the other was a chocolate cake with chocolate mousse inside. Both had plenty of buttercream icing.


I knew everything about those two cakes except how they tasted. I’m the one who had drawn the designs, gone to the bakery, ordered my love’s two favorite cakes, and convinced the gal to give me both the senior and military discounts.


Perhaps the baker took pity on me because I cried throughout the entire cake-ordering process, and she knew my tears were not tears of joy. My mission that day was to purchase the cakes for my fiancé’s memorial service.



Rick and I were “FFs”—“Forever Fiancés.” We chose that designation to allow me unrestricted access to his medical records and doctor visits, but not being “legally married,” would protect me from being responsible for the balance of his significant hospitalization bills when he died.

As fate would have it, we were together exactly five years to the day, from our first in-person to the day I gave the eulogy at his memorial service. And yes, we both knew right from the start how our relationship would end. Rick was already a long-term survivor of CHF (Congestive Heart Failure) when I met him.

We had three fabulous years filled with travel, laughter, and fun.


Followed by two years of lengthy hospital stays, numerous surgeries, and his constant declining health. The last nine months I spent most of my time sitting by his hospital bed, just holding his hand. He often looked at me and shook his head. “You didn’t sign up for this,” he’d say. And I always answered, “Actually, I think I did.” And then we’d smile through our tears.

So what does any of this have to do with “Cranky Fitness,” my weight, my food plan, or those two cakes sitting on his memorial reception table?

(Geez, do you really have to ask?)

All that day I tried to convince myself that one small piece of each of those cakes wouldn’t kill me, and that I somehow owed that much to Rick’s memory. But in my heart of hearts, I knew that “sugar won’t fix it,” and for me, one bite leads to another and another and another until I’m completely out of control.

Back in the day, I most certainly would have used the debilitating grief as an excuse to abandon my healthy food plan. A virtual “Queen of Rationalization,” I’d have tried to tell myself that I’d get right back on track the next day, and that I needed the sugar rush to help me cope with the pain. After all, there was a hole in my heart you could drive a truck through, and surely I could indulge “just this once.”

Standing there in front of the reception table, my first impulse was to call for a bigger plate and pile on several pieces of each cake—particularly the pieces sporting the most frosting. Instead, I called upon Rick’s unwavering support and strength one more time.

Rick and I had often talked about how there is no “comfort” in eating yourself sick, and the fact that there was no problem that overeating couldn’t make worse. He’d called me his rock, I called him my anchor, and we’d faced our challenges together for five years. I pictured him giving me the “thumb’s up” as I declined the proffered cake.

I smiled at the server, took a big breath, and said, “I’ll have some later.” Then I filled a cup with decaf coffee, and continued working my way around the room, sharing fond memories with friends.


Later, I did put one small piece of each cake, without any frosting, on a plate to take home, and incorporated it into my “legal” food plan. The leftovers were divvied up and sent home with Rick’s grandkids.

I honored Rick, and I honored myself, and I know he would have been as proud of me as I am proud of myself. Ooh-Rah, Rick. Semper Fi!


48 comments:

  1. I can't imagine how you must be feeling, but know that we are thinking of you. Can't believe you can manage to be inspirational even while facing such a loss! So, so sorry.

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    1. Thank you. My goal has always been to "inspire and encourage," even in the face of overwhelming circumstances. In my book, and in my life, I strive to show other people the path that has been shown to me. Hugs.

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  2. That was a tough read! But strong people like you both make the world a better place!

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    1. Thank you, Dr. J. ... All my life, people have called me "strong," and I have kept ducking the designation... Until now. Now I know it's true, and I'm grateful.

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  3. Prayers are with you. Good for you! Stay strong.

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    1. Thank you, Lisa. It's been a tough month.

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  4. I'm so sorry for your loss, Jan.

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    1. Thanks, Shelley. I appreciate your condolences.

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  5. Such a hole in your life cannot be filled. (He was my age: obviously I think that's too young to die!) Sending you as much virtual strength as I can push through the intertubes.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

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    1. I gratefully accept every single bit of virtual strength sent my way, Mary Anne. My online community has been my greatest source of solace... "His kids" were not fans of mine, and I have almost no family to speak of...

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  6. Please accept my condolences for your loss, and thank you for reminding me that as a sugar addict, i can't let down my guard.

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    1. Thank you. Sugar addiction is a nasty one. Back on 9/11, I first chanted "Sugar won't fix it" as I navigated the candy aisle in the convenience store on the way to school to teach... It's been one of my go-to mantras, and has served me well.

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  7. Jan, this is such a wonderful write up. My best to you as you grieve for someone you love. I'm glad you are treating yourself well during the process. :)

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    1. Thank you. I wondered if it were "appropriate" to hang it all out there in this venue, but doing so reinforces my belief that none of us are facing "new" circumstances, and we are all in this together... Together we can do what we could never do alone... Another mantra of mine. I believe in garnering support and holding hands...

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  8. I'm so very sorry that you lost your Rick. What a wonderful tribute to him those cakes were. I have never seen the like. So glad that you had the time together that you did xoxoox

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    1. Thanks, Katie.... I have a portion of Rick's ashes to "someday" take to Maui so he can swim with the sea turtles at Fleming State Park... He loved it there, and it was one of his specific requests when we knew his end was near... So was the Marine Color/Honor Guard, and he even dictated his eulogy to me... He was one hell of a guy, which makes it all the tougher...

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  9. You are incredibly strong. I am so sorry to hear of your loss.

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    1. My mother always told me we came from "Good pioneer stock," DRG... I have relied on that to see me through many tough things, but this was the hardest. Thank you.

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  10. I am so sorry you lost your anchor.

    Thank you for sharing your story of such strength in the wake of that loss. I will remember this the next time I am absolutely convinced that some "treat" will fix it.

    Thank you. Thank you. And I will be thinking of you and this story for a long time.

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    1. Thank YOU, Genie, for taking the time to write. Stay the course! :-)

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  11. I am so sorry for your loss.

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    1. Thank you. I appreciate your condolences.

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  12. Thank you for sharing - HUGE HUGE HUGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  13. Oh my goodness Jan. My heart goes out to you. I am so sorry for your loss. And so glad you had those 5 years to spend together. You are right - when you love someone, you take the good with the bad, no matter what, and make the best of the time you have. I am glad you can find strength in his memory. Hugs from afar.

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    1. Hugs from anywhere are always welcome!

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  14. Despite the sadness, this is also such a beautiful love story. I loved the FF - that is a great phrase. :) Thank you for sharing his memory with us.

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    1. His "kids" are furious that the death certificate lists "fiancé" as the reporting person... Well they all abandoned the apartment instantly after he passed... I had over an hour with him, and the hospice worker, bless her, who stayed discretely in the other room...

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  15. So sorry for your loss, Jan. I am so glad that you were able to spend time together enjoying life.

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    1. Thank you. Three good, two horrid, and now ... Now the mess with his ungrateful kids...

      I try to hang onto those good, but the bad continues... Trying to detach from them is pushing more buttons than ever for the food, but it will not bring him back, and he'd hate that I didn't "Marine up", so on we go, honoring him...

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  16. Dear Jan,
    I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. Thanks for sharing your lovely, heartbreaking story. I'm glad you had so many good times together.

    Dave

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    1. Thank you... It continues to push my buttons, but I have faith that this too shall pass.

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  17. Very inspiring story... So sorry for your loss.

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  18. I've read your post every day. I'm so inspired by your ability to choose to love fully knowing that you would suffer such a great loss. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story. I hope you enjoyed every bite of your well choosen cake.

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    1. I smile through my tears... I did enjoy the cake, but... I did not "finish" either one... I left a bite for him, as we gad "shared" everything for so long... He would have liked that... A lot.

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    2. Ok, NOW you make me tear up. :)
      More hugs to be delivered.

      Mary Anne in Kentucky

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  19. I'm so sorry for your loss. That was an awesome post & beautiful story. Hugs and prayers to you.

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    1. Thank you. Unfortunately, it's been 7 weeks, and just now, his kids are stirring more angst up than his (expected) death. Seriously... How soon the freeloading worms turn... Their dad enabled them to ride the gravy train for way too long, and I am resented, and hated, so no "emotional" support there, as I will NOT continue paying their bills! ... Oops, sorry to unload, it is still raw and continues to grow ...

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  20. You are loved as you have loved.

    Peace and Blessings,

    Miss Kimothy

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    1. I pray you are right... His kids have certainly shown their true colors... Sigh... Staying the course on my food plan is more of a challenge than ever... Sadly... But I AM doing it...

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  21. Dont worry ...keep it up !! Try to motivate others

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    1. That's a HUGE factor... Staying the course and being ACCOUNTABLE by not hiding the pain or challenges. Thanks for reminding me!

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  22. You are a STRONG woman. Most women just give up on exercising, life, and health. God Bless!

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    1. Thank you, Milissa... Sometimes, I think that exercising, life, and health are the ONLY things we have ANY control over, whatsoever!

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  23. You're such a motivation!! Blessings!

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    1. Thank you. Maintaining a healthy food plan is the cornerstone to my sanity!

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