This Blog is Over

Thank you all for coming to Heather’s services to share your love and stories with Paulie and I. The book with your messages will be something he and I will cherish for the rest of our living years. This blog will also be made into a book for Paulie to one day learn the details of his mother’s final year and a half and know how much she was loved.

Many have expressed their desire and support of me continuing this blog or to find another way to keep writing. I’m stepping away for awhile to enjoy fatherhood. Maybe something will surface later.

Happy Anniversary Heather. I miss you every day.

Oakland, California | July 17, 1996.

 

Happy Anniversary my sweet Skeba. I miss you every day.

 

 

The Healing Begins

kristen-hugMonday was beautiful. Every moment. Those who were there know it. Heather’s energy was in the room. We all wrapped her with warmness and shared loving moments of what she meant to us and how she touched our lives.

Our friend, Amy Edwards, prepared a wonderful remembrance of Heather’s life and gave everyone a heart-felt eulogy. Amy has known us since 2003 and is one of the “seven sisters”. She moved everyone by her grace and raw emotion in honoring Heather’s life, love, and battle.

I smiled and cried as family and friends shared how they were touched by Heather. I always knew Heather was smart, compassionate, competent, modest, altruistic, funny, and present as a human in every role she wore. This was evident when so many described my sweet wife for the strong traits that she lived for. This was my smile.

Friends and family also shared a memory that exemplified one or more of her traits. In each example I could close my eyes and relive it like it was told; I saw Heather’s smile; I heard her sweet voice; and I was lifted by her spirit. This is what brought me to tears.

Family friend, Elaine Dempsey, bookend’d the whole ceremony with two songs, California Dreaming, and a song she wrote, Dance of the Moonlight. She told everyone that she envisioned Heather signing this song to me just before she passed away. There was not a dry eye in the building. Follow Elaine’s band, Big Wide Grin, on Facebook. They tour on both costs! Elaine, I love you!!

Paulie was amazing. He sat next to me and listened to every word from every person who spoke of his loving mother. I am so proud and happy that he experienced such a memory as it will surely help the years of coping with this great loss. He also made it through most of the reception line. It was a healing evening for both of us to get hugs and kisses from all who loved Heather and expressed their condolences.

Paulie, Heather’s sister Laura, and I rest now before heading east to Connecticut to be with more family and friends eager to share their love and stories of Heather.

West Coast Love

Lets celebrate Heather’s life and share what she meant to us.

flowers

I will have paper at the service and will ask that you write something you loved about Heather. I’ll be doing the same on the east coast and after, will combine the two collections and have them bound into a hardcover book for Paulie to keep. The book title will be “What I Love About Heather”.

Looking forward to many hugs.

This Beautiful Life

I will always love you

I will always love you

Today, at 6:59 a.m., Heather made her transition peacefully. It was a beautiful experience that I’ll never forget. Alone together, I stared lovingly into her eyes and reassured her that what lies ahead offered something wonderful and peaceful. I stroked her face and repeated how much I loved her, that I’d raise Paulie to be a great man, and how we’ll be together again. Soul mates. I kissed her forehead and she took her last breath.

I am such a lucky man to have lived and been loved by this woman. She gave me so much – nothing greater than our son – that I have no sadness at this moment. This journey has left a hole in my heart but Paulie and so many of you will help fill a lot of it with her memory over time.

A service will be held at the Flower Farm in Loomis, CA on Monday, June 17 at 6 p.m.. Another gathering will take place on Saturday, June 29, in Heather’s hometown of Bolton, CT on the lake she grew up on. Details will be provided soon.

Thank you all for loving, sharing, supporting, praying, and joining me on this journey. So many of you have not been personally thanked by me. I simply wish to show my appreciation with a hug at one of Heather’s celebrations.

There are a lot of things I’ve got to do over the next few weeks… and then I will start a new chapter with Paulie. And begin some needed therapy for my broken heart.

The Angel is Near

She's coming

She’s coming

Laura and I spent the night in shifts as Paulie sleeps quietly in his room. Heather had a rough day and evening yesterday day; moaning and irregular breathing. Unable to communicate, she is entering day five of no food or water intake.

She begins her third day of methadone (.25 ml every 8hrs) and morphine (1 ml every 4hrs). We had a visit from the on-call hospice nurse last night around 8:30 to help us ascertain whether or not Heather was aspirating. Her lungs seem clear. After some crushed doses of amlodipine, hyoscyamine, and lorazepam, and turning her to her side, we believe she’s again stress-free and resting comfortably. Her blood pressure continues to be high and her pulse is extremely high – between 145 and 147.

I’ve been telling Paulie that mom may be going soon. He responds like an eight year old … that doesn’t understand mortality. His anxiety is high. Have to keep him busy. The animals seem to sense something … especially Doug.

I whisper in her ear. Reassuring that its OK to move on. Some how. Some way. In a world that is foreign to both of us, we’ll find one another again. It is meant to be. And I’ll make sure the angel knows that.

People Love Heather

The sign created for the fundraiser

The beautiful sign created for the fundraiser

Heather was visited today by two of her friends at Sutter Roseville, Tina Miller and Lauressa Ditson. The two of them organized a huge yard and bake sale. With their hard work and much love for their friend, they (along with a fundraising web page) raised over $5,000 for the Schilling family! I was blown away to hear their stories of how Heather’s story affected people… even strangers. THANK YOU all who have been so kind with your support and donations. As mentioned in my last blog post, everything raised/donated from these efforts will be given to Paulie’s school, Harvest Ridge Cooperative Charter School, in Heather’s name.

Heather worked with some incredibly awesome women at Sutter. Tina and Lauressa shared some wonderful stories with me, Laura, and Brinda about Heather that warmed our hearts.

Again, I have so much to be thankful for.

Love Shines In Each Morning

Love shining in

Love shining in – photo by Traci S.

Heather got into her hospital bed here at home on May 1. She has not been up since. Her mother is here staying in a trailer in the driveway that our neighbor was kind enough to lend us.

Heather sleeps between 18-20 hours most days. She speaks occasionally and we’re taking great care to see that she is pain-free and comfortable. Someone sleeps next to her each night, whether it is me or her sister, Laura. Her mother has been reading to her ever day. Hospice has been great and I’ve hired a 24/7 caregiver. So many of you have reached out to offer support and I’m afraid that I have not been consistent with whom I reply to. Know that I hear/feel your love and am fortunate to have all of you – even those who I don’t know that have followed this blog and Heather’s journey. Recently, MANY friends have organized a contribution site and fundraiser. I would like to set that money aside and at some point make a donation to Paulie’s school (Harvest Ridge Cooperative Charter School) in honor and memory of Heather. She was so involved at his school and the entire staff along with so many families have been so helpful by providing needed support for Paulie and me.

The reality that is upon us has been a struggle with me. Good days. Bad days. Had to consider and act upon things that I had avoided thinking about until recently. Some friends and loved ones have made some of that easier for me. But the truth is… that I am so lucky. So lucky to have known true love for the time I have been with her. And this wonderful gift it brought in our son.

Let the Love Shine

Thank you Sutter Moms

Heather came home yesterday and we met with 4 members of the hospice team. Her bed is set up in the living room and she has the best view in the house! I will be looking to hire some caregivers in the next two weeks to help out with keeping her safe and clean.

Heather had a wonderful visit from the Sutter Mom’s Group she belonged to when Paulie was born. Its so nice to see heather showered with love and attention. We sat on the deck and drank wine and laughed. I want nothing more than days like this for Heather. I’m humbled to learn how many people have admired the blog and have been drawn in to Heather’s story. I received a lot of hugs tonight and I’ll never turn those down. We have several visitors coming over the next few weeks…. I keep telling people to “just come over – the door is open!”

Come tell Heather how beautiful she is.

One Last Walk to the Beach

I’ve always imagined that when the time came, I’d find myself on a large beach at sunset. I look down and see that I’m holding Heather’s hand. She’s not sick. She is my beautiful wife smiling back at me. It is then I begin to cry uncontrollably. As I weep, she holds me in her arms and comforts me. She tells me everything is OK. She never loses her smile. I sleep and tell myself when I wake up I’ll see that smile forever. I wake to find her gone. Only footprints that lead to the sea.

This tumor has been an ugly beast. Relentless in it’s growth, as if to only mock us in any of our attempts to slow it with treatments. Avasitn did nothing. Last on the list is CCNU. I’ve been told that it stands a 10% chance of giving her another 6 months. And a 100% chance making her very sick. She has been comfortable through most of the past year. I do not want to change that.

We will no longer provide treatment for Heather. When she is discharged from this hospital visit, she’ll come home to hospice care. I will work with our family to ensure they all fulfill any role they feel they can take on in caring for Heather with me. I encourage anyone who wishes to see Heather to come and do so. Our home will be open for visitors for the next several weeks.

This has been a roller coaster of a year. This is not news though to any of you that followed this journey from the beginning. The hardest part from my perspective has been having no control and little insight into the challenges I’d have to overcome to ensure we had a plan and that it was the best one… often changing course before reaching a goal. But now it becomes a little clearer for me. I see I have now been given directions to a trailhead that will lead me to the beach.