My name is Paul Henderson. Marie Henderson was the love of my life.
Since we met over 25 years ago, we were almost mirror images of each other. We were the best friend each of us ever had, and ever would have. We did more than just complete each other. We were the period at the end of each other’s sentences. We did everything together. We lived our lives as one.
Cancer stole that life from us, and there is no way I can ever get that life back. When she passed, it left a void inside of me that I wondered if I could ever fill again.
Losing a loved one is hard, but there’s a certain emptiness that losing your spouse presents.
When you get married to someone, you dream of growing old together. But we tend to turn our backs on the reality that one day, one of you is going to have to watch the other die. It’s not something you want to think about and, if you do, it’s nothing you dwell on. We think we’re doing ourselves a favor by not preparing for that. Instead, we’re doing ourselves a disservice.
This is the journal I kept as Marie and I went on our journey to battle breast cancer — that miserable son-of-a-bitch that stole her from me. It’s also the journal of my fight to find a glimmer of hope for myself after losing her.
I wrote the journal a number of years ago. I recently found it buried in a box of keepsakes I was collecting from my travels. After flipping through it, I realized that it might serve as inspiration for others who are going through their own set of crises.
It began as Marie and I embarked on our journey together. I thought it would end when our journey was over, but it didn’t. My own personal journey was just beginning, as you’ll read in the pages that follow.
Before cancer, I had a plan for myself – to live as if my childhood had never ended. Outside of my job, mortgage payment, and other adult responsibilities, I wanted nothing to do with serious matters. Life had other plans for me. Before I knew it, I was thrust into becoming the responsible adult I never wanted to be.
Life isn’t fair. That’s not a secret. But in the face of despair, it would be a great injustice to not move forward and make the best life possible for ourselves — no matter the circumstances.
Anyone who knew us said “Paul and Marie” as if it were one word, not three. A friend told me that days after Marie had passed. I would never have noticed that, but it makes total sense. We were one and the same.
I thank Marie every day for giving me strength. She taught me more life lessons than I ever knew existed. More than anything, she taught me how to be strong. Bob Marley had one of my favorite quotes about strength.
“You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.”
Damned straight, Robert.
I trust that this journal will bring you hope. With whatever struggles and problems you face that seem to literally fill your life, remember this: There’s always room for happiness. Enjoy the ride.
— Paul Henderson
New York, NY