It's been thirteen days since I last posted, an unheard of interlude here. The reason is something we never imagined.
On el Cinquo de Mayo, Jeff Stamps, my husband of 38 years, father of my children, business partner, and my co-author of six books and many articles, went to the doctor. He'd not been feeling well for several months but, being quite physically fit (he was a competitive downhill skier from the age of eleven, has always jogged, done tai chi, and more recently practiced yoga), he attributed his malaise to stress and overwork. The wife was not so sure but finally, nearly two weeks ago on a gorgeous Wednesday, he consented to visit his primary care physician.
Within harried hours came the diagnosis: Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
By that evening, Jeff was admitted to the hospital for a simple procedure to relieve a blocked bile duct, which had caused severe jaundice. Meanwhile our children and grandchildren had arrived home and we found ourselves on a twisted path that was beyond our reckoning. In just this short time, there have been many turns already, most of them lined with gifts of friendship and love that lay hidden in the normal schedule of life.
We don't know how many difficulties face Jeff (and our family) going forward but we know they are considerable and we're clear about the conclusion and the vague time frame, which is mercilessly short.
And I don't know how much I'll be writing about this. My natural inclination is to use writing to stay sane and clear, which is what I've done for my whole life (ok, since I was six and I wrote my first published article about a birthday party in my first-grade class). But this is different, as I'm sure you can appreciate. And I'm finding that I can't keep up with the many beautiful notes we've gotten. So if you're prompted to write, please know that while I may not be able to respond, we are very grateful.
We are learning things we never knew about Jeff -- or perhaps better stated, things we knew but which didn't have the proper venue for expression. Like his huge capacity for grace when staring down his own death, his ability to let go of the things he holds most dear, and his untiring appetite for tackling complex ideas, which he continues to do even as he faces treatment to reduce symptoms. I would wish this kind of acceptance on anyone given the kind of death sentence he has. And I would hope that all families could find the way to do what our children have done, which is to join us, and find ways to continue their important work even as their father is dying.
We now are a three-generation household with our darling grandsons providing the new background music. Watching them laughing their little heads off (they're eight months now) softens the jagged edges of this journey.
More, I'm sure, as this unfolds.