This is an old article. I wouldn't have reposted it if Quillette hadn't put the original behind a paywall. The only reason I ever gave it to Quillette in the first place was I thought it deserved more traffic than I could get hosting it on Medium where I was writing at the time. They offered to pay me for the article and I never accepted the payment.
I was asked by a couple of people why I chose Quillette to put it in - both were left of center and they probably bobbed around Q and saw a lot of the antiwoke material they were publishing at the time. The reason was twofold - I knew the Euro editor of Q at the time by Twitter connection, and the other reason was the woke were in a full steam attack on "stoicism" at the time, claiming it was toxic. I needed a wokefree space to share the story, which was largely about Buffy's stoicism.
It did get a lot of traffic. I never found out how much, but I literally bumped into a random mom on Facebook a year after this got published who recognized me from the article, and said that they discussed it in Sunday School. So the reach Quillette gave the article must have been quite large, and for that I'm thankful.
That's a beautifully written tribute to your wife. Very raw and real; you're an incredible writer to be able to put those profoundly difficult, painful, and deeply personal experiences into words. Best wishes for you and your children.
I recall reading this on Quillette and recognizing your name. I don’t read Quillette anymore. I can’t think of much to say other than I hope that you and your kids are doing well and I’m sorry you went through this. Death does have a way of showing what and who is worthy of your attention.
Your loving tribute to Buffy brought tears to my cynical eyes. She was just as lucky to have you as you were to have her.
Thank you for sharing this with those of us who had not had the privilege of knowing about it before.
Thanks for posting this, otherwise I probably never would've gotten the chance to read it.
I'm currently home sick from work dealing with what I can only describe as burnout from type 1 diabetes. I live my life the best I can until I can't, then I rest for a day or so and get back to it.
The day to day stuff isn't really that hard anymore. It's more the pure relentlessness of it. There are no vacations and every so often I'm forced to stop everything but the essentials. Eat, shit, sleep.
Not the same as colon cancer, of course, but I do already know the thing that will likely kill me (or at least significantly contribute to the thing that does).
It's a weird place to live. Denial and hope in equal measure for sure.
I guess what I'm trying to say is: thank you for sharing. Buffy is a good example to follow. When my time comes, I hope I do it half as well. I'll certainly try.
Sounds like your wife made the world a better place to be in. I'm glad she had someone with your strength to help her through to the end. I'm sorry for your loss.
That was powerful and moving. I'm terribly sorry for your loss and your family's.
Oh goodness. This brought me to tears. Much love and healing to you.
This hits a little differently these days. I just lost my grandmother on 1/3/23, a few days ago, to colon cancer. She was 83. She had taken me in 8 years ago to finish up my degree, and I wound up staying there to help her. Identical story, didn't realize the cancer was there until it had already spread to the liver, and in my grandmother's case to the adrenal glands and kidneys. She had struggled with diverticulitis and IBS for years, and when I got the message telling me of her illness, the initial diagnosis was just constipation. It took two days to get the confirmation of cancer. The emergency surgery removed the mass, but in the process they found the rest. That was 10/22/22.
My grandmother did not choose Buffy's path, and instead chose to enter hospice care at my uncle's house to focus on controlling the pain. Two months later now, she's gone. I can't decide which is a better way to go. She knew she was dying and spent her time getting ready for Christmas. She wanted to be here for one more.
She got her wish. She was awake and conscious on 12/24 when the family came, and the following Tuesday when I made the three hour drive to come and see her again. We joked about her cats that I was taking care of, and she told me again that she was glad to have gotten to know me, as I had been estranged from that side of the family until I was a young adult. The day after she lapsed into a coma and died a few days later. I was 30 minutes late getting to my uncle's house to see her final breath. She was on a heavy dose of fentanyl and had liquid morphine for pain, so it was a relief when she passed...at least she wasn't in pain any longer.
I think she was happier not knowing it was coming. The night before she went into the hospital, she climbed the stairs at her home for her second story bedroom, and slept in the bed she had shared with my grandfather until he passed five years ago. The cats had slept with her. She had always been afraid of a long, drawn out illness, so I am glad that I was able to help her stay there as long as I was.
This is one of the saddest and most sensitive pieces of writing I have ever read.
How are you and your children doing now?
Jesus Christ that was tough.
Too many parallels to handle. A moving memoir. And I too hope for an afterlife and accept whatever must come. Revisiting the what-ifs is frequent but pointless. Quiet tears.
Beautiful tribute. Thanks for re-sharing it here.
If you ever need a beer and an open ear, hit me up dude. I'm fairly sure you have better options tamhan an anonymous poster on your articles (friends, family, that old hobo down the street...) But the offer's guenine. Keep on holing on.
Wow. That is a powerful and loving tribute. Thank you for sharing yourself like that. Your wife sounds awesome as are you.
This is powerful, heartfelt, deep. You honor Buffy by telling her story, you keep her strong and burnished gold in your heart and, now, in ours. The survival drive is so powerful, and one of its great feeders is hope. Your eloquent description of being down in the pit was so moving. And she never went down there and that’s more moving still.
There was a year where three loved ones - sister, mother, mother-in-law all died. Only one did it in the way she chose, and Buffy’s story brought some of that memory back with vivid clarity. I remember expressing my anger that the mesothelioma was taking years away that we could have shared. Guyla’s response: “I don’t see it that way. I’m grateful for the time I’ve had.” Such an admirable woman.
Thank you for sharing.