How do you go on when your other half departs this world?

How do you go on when you lose your life partner? Someone who was not only your wife, but someone whom you actually moved from advanced teenhood into adulthood and into the beginnings of senior status with?

And I don’t think that I am alone in this — that is to say, I feel that as a baby boomer, a child of the 50s and early 60s, and as someone who by some measure is more of an introvert than the opposite, I have lost my link with a world I once knew but that has moved way beyond me.

Yes, I blog. And yes, I talk on a cell phone. And yes, I don’t read newspapers as much as I used to (and I once worked in that field), and yes I surf the web.

But all that aside, I have been feeling increasingly isolated in the world in which I live.

And now I feel guilty about bothering to comment on my loss and isolation. I’m the survivor.

Just as my spouse had her health problems and demons, I have my own — a lingering and ever-threatening cancer, Waldenstrom‘s Macroglobulinemia, a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is incurable — and that sense of isolation.

But I am alive and she is not.

(And married people take heed. I have witnessed this before in life. My wife worried a couple of years ago that she was going to lose me. But she died first. My dad worried at one time my mom was passing when she had to have major surgery. He died at 85. Mom is still alive at 99. My mother in-law feared she was about to lose her husband, but he survived her.)

I was on the road when my wife died. I had seen her 24 hours earlier before coming home to find her passed away.

My only consolation is that at our last brief meeting and parting — she brought me a meal in Tupperware and a plastic bottle of milk — things were pleasant and I gave her a parting kiss and thanked her for staying with me all these years and promised to leave the road behind (both of us knowing that such a promise would be hard to fulfill, though theoretically not impossible). My being gone on the road as an over-the-road truck driver was a continuing source of friction.

We were married as mere children — nearly 43 years ago.

After our life experiences neither one of us would have recommended marrying as young as we did.

But I look back with only one regret and that is that I could have not shared more years with her.

Together we started a new generation, and the light of her life was getting to see and take care of the latest addition of the still next generation, who is just more than a year old, and to be with his two older siblings.

And such is the way of the world — a new life begins and an older one ends.

But I did not answer my original question — how does the survivor in marriage go on?

I don’t have the answer, but she was there beside me that first lonely night in spirit and my eyes played tricks on me and I actually saw her.

And I know she will never really leave me.


And I have never been able to come to grips with whether there is a Heaven or afterlife, but I want desperately to see her beckoning hand when at last I take my final breath.

Joan (Geeter) Walther, Dec. 11, 1950 to July 28, 2010

2 Responses to How do you go on when your other half departs this world?

  1. eric wood says:


    This was incredibly touching.

    I’m sitting here reading your posts about WM. A family member was just diagnosed with it. It’s like a bad dream.

    Then I stumbled upon this post. It makes me think that I need to interact differently with my wife because she will not be around forever. We have a great relationship, but I need to do more. Your writing made me realize this. Combined with the whole WM ordeal, it really hit home.

    So… thanks for your writings. I wish you happiness and continued stable health and–for your sake and other WM sufferers–I pray that a cure will soon be found. How I wish the government would take the billions sent to other countries and pour the money into cancer research.


  2. Maura says:

    Tony ~ Thanks for sharing. Dad died suddenly & unexpectedly of WM last year (6-25-2010.) He was 82. He lived (with treatments & transfusions) 10 or 15 years past his original diagnosis. He snorkelled in a COLD mountain lake in summertime (wearing a wetsuit) & never lost his driver’s license. In the spring of 2010 he thought he had a chest cold & continued to feel worse instead of better. He was in the ER being taken for an x-ray when he suddenly bled to death. A quick, relatively painless end. We should all be so lucky!

    I’ve heard that WM can be hereditary & found your blog while researching. Hope you are feeling well & are encouraged by Dad’s experience. Cheers! Mo

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