Hans and Renée
My husband, Hans, was 52 when he was diagnosed with bladder cancer. It was just 2 days before Christmas 2005 and it took only 10 months for the ravaging cells to destroy his body.
Hans suffered from depression for 40 years and felt a little better the last 2 years. It was, therefore, sad to see that he was hit with this devastating disease.
Although we knew fairly soon that the cancer was very aggressive, it didn’t make him depressed, instead the depression completely lifted and he was finally able “to smell the roses”. The last year of his life became an amazing and beautiful experience not only for him, but for us both. He enjoyed every moment and was totally at peace. He wished for all to cherish our relationships and be content with all the things we have instead of longing for the things we don’t have. I am not able to express this as well as Hans did in the letter he wrote to say goodbye. This is the reason why I like to share it with you.
[Renée is now a volunteer, lending support to the recently bereaved on our online forum: http://blcforum.com/smf/index.php/board,6.0.html]
In Memoriam Myself
Dear Loved ones and Friends, The history and progress of my illness this year has allowed me to contemplate this particular day and to reflect on the end period of my life and what it means to me. I like to express my hope and desire that you have come together today, not only to celebrate my life, but also your own life and the endless potential it has.
There are pros and cons to knowing your fate, and death may fill us with fear and anger, sorrow and self-pity, but it also allows coming to terms with yourself and your life.
In the final stages of my life, I’m happy to be able to say that I conquered all my fears including the fear of death. It is very satisfying if you can say that nothing fazes you anymore. It is a great sense of freedom that allows you to travel inward without any trepidation.
No doubt the dark emptiness, sense of despair and cynical nihilism of chronic depression, which I battled for many years and finally conquered a few years ago, has given me a sometimes painfully honest understanding of myself and this does not go without facing your shortcomings. It is somewhat of an irony that this battle now has become a very useful and fulfilling prelude to my last months of life.
I’m at peace with myself and I have no unfinished business to take care off, neither people nor things. I made my share of mistakes in life, but I’m content that they are based on ignorance and foolish stubbornness and never have been at the detriment of others.
Long ago, I have forgiven my misguided foes and so called enemies. I’m proud of that, because they were part of my childhood years and it is so easy to keep the flame of anger and revenge burning for those who filled my childhood with fear and misery. Ultimately, their ignorance was bigger than mine ever was and I’m happy that I didn’t become like them.
I have no regrets about my life. I learned from my mistakes, often the hard way, but I learned and I look back with satisfaction on this.
I was able to help some people to improve their chances in life or to change their direction towards success, independence and confidence. There has not been any greater satisfaction than this in my life and it made it all worthwhile.
It is easy to feel sorry for myself for the life that I will miss out on, after all I’m relatively young and there are still many possibilities and so much potential. However, what counts is that the last months of my life have been filled with joy and intensity towards the simple things in life. More importantly, after 28 years sharing my life with Renée, our relationship, love, and friendship has grown more intense and deeper ever since the day we heard the blunt news of my imminent fate.
At times, I have envied you for your life, the more because it has taken the larger part of my life to appreciate it with a sense of harmony and contentment. Ultimately in the end however, it comes down to quality and not longevity. There was a smile in my heart the last months of my life among you and that more than compensates for the years that I will miss out on.
My wish for you all then, is that you’ll find your own smile and harmony in your heart. There was a time that it was popular to say that life is a bitch. I would like to add that a bitch could have beautiful puppies. So find your loveable puppies in life and nurture them with unconditional love and dedication. Don’t postpone your love, show it now. Don’t postpone your compassion and ability to forgive, act on it today.
Hans (Hans died October 27, 2006).