My Beloved, Kind, Generous, Loving Husband, Hugo Who Died Too Young
by Elisa (Hugo's Babe)
(New York, USA)
My Dearest Hugo, whom I called Babe and he called me Babe, too, was suddenly, without any warning signals, symptoms, was diagnosed with lethal pancreatic cancer, stage 4, and it had already spread to his liver. That was on September 26, 2011, the most saddest, nightmarish day of our lives as the "love story" couple, together 46 years, married just l0 days short of 44 years before he died on Sunday, July 29, 2012, at 7:40 pm.
He was told he had 2 weeks to live; however, he fought so hard to stay alive and lasted 10 months, but most of those 10 months were agony: hospital stays, emergency room visits toward the end, strong chemotherapy, lab tests, doctor visits, and even a deep vein thrombosis that suddenly appeared in December of 2011. We prayed for a miracle, and he left most of the decision-making about his care up to me; he trusted me with his life, but he knew things were not looking good at all. His beautiful hair fell out, his once vigorous, vibrant energy wore down, his weight diminished from 165 pounds, with his broad shoulders sagging, and the scale in the bathroom told the truth: 120 pounds, then, at the end, I buried Hugo at 110 pounds, with no hair, pale skin, and really not looking like the handsome man, and "cute" boy I met and was married to.
Yet, through it all, Hugo never complained, only once in a while would tell me the pain was bad, and he tried to avoid taking the morphine. Sometimes he waited too long and the pain would get bad enough that he had to give in and take it. He never drank, and to be subjected to taking morphine upset him. The cancer took away his dignity, but he tried not to show it. A man's man he was, but in ICU he had to wear diapers. I would never have believed that my husband, so strong, so energetic would be reduced to wearing diapers, hooked up to machines, and towards the end of his life, he was not himself in so many ways: weak, unable to speak much and when he did sometimes he didn't make sense. I could not believe what was happening to my talented, creative, always-working (at work and at home) husband, best friend, protector.
Many times I heard from several people in the family or friends and even from some of the nurses in the hospital that Hugo was more worried about me than about dying. He kept saying, "What will happen to my Lisa when I'm gone; who will look after her?" He meant every word because he truly took such good care of me and I might add, he stood by me as I took care of my parents (who were like parents to him in every sense of the meaning of what parents are). He loved, respected and cared for them; they loved, respected and cared about him).
The day he said to me, "I ruined our life," I told him rather sternly, but with tears in my eyes, "No, Hugo, you didn't ruin our lives, the cancer did." I then ordered him to never say that again, to be strong, and I assured him I'd be by his side every minute that he fought this battle of his life. (He was in Vietnam, and he survived that war, but this battle beat him down,until he could not fight any more.)
I can take up over a hundred pages talking about Hugo, but my main purpose is to share our grief because I know that so many of you who read this are going through the same pain, the same trials and heartache that goes on during the illness, and then after death separates you from the one you love so much.
He held on for as long as he could that night, and I didn't want to believe that he was really dying. He fought for me, to stay with me. After so many hours, I knew what Ihad to do, I had to release him by telling him I'd be okay and that I wanted him to go to God, to the light, to my parents, and right after my last syllable of my last words to him, he stopped breathing.
I try to hold on to faith, at times faith eludes me; but I am praying that I can get through this tremendous, deep pain of being separated from my dear Hugo; we were like one person. I pray for the time we will be reunited again.
Until then, I will cry, I will miss him so much that I just want to go find him. I have questions, I ask why, why now when we had so many plans, and he was only 64--a young-looking 64. He wanted to do so many things and he often lamented that he left tasks undone.
I cannot move one thing from the way it was that July night in 2012, I cannot remove his clothes, nothing. I just can't and maybe I will never be able to. In a way, keeping everything the way it was comforts me.
So, my darling angel babe, Hugo, my prayer is that you are out of pain, well, embraced by God, reunited with Mom and Dad, your Dad, sister, your grandparents, and all our relatives whom you loved and who loved you so much because you were a kind, gentle, wonderful, generous human being.
You made me feel like a princess, especially every Christmas, your favorite holiday. And I'm glad that you put up the Christmas tree December 23, 2011, after saying to me, "Please Babe, let me do it, it will be my last Christmas tree that I put up." You were so weak, but you put it up, and it was the most beautiful tree in the world.
No Christmas will ever be the same, but I am grateful we spent 46 of them together, except for the year you were at war in Vietnam. Ever since we met back in 1966, we spent every holiday together. I hold those memories in my aching heart.
I love you, I will love you always, and I will miss you until I see you again. Please hold out your hand to take me when it's my time to go. You are my brave Babe.
Love, your wife for eternity, Elisa M.