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It seems to get harder as time goes by...

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My dear Lord, why doesn't this get any easier?

It seems to get harder as time goes by...

I finally got the courage about a month ago to get serious about going back to the wonderful world of work. I sent out resumes and secured a position in a local hospital.

I am a RN (graduated 8 months before my husband Ahmed was diagnosed). I didn’t have much experience before we started down Lung Cancer Speedway. I left work the day Ahmed was diagnosed and haven’t been back since, in spite of the fact that he passed away nearly 16 months ago....

I have been so focused on our now 15 yr old son who was only 13 when his dad was diagnosed and 14 when he died.

My son, Tariq, wants to be a filmmaker. He has been home schooled since kindergarten and started taking college courses at a local 2 yr college when he was 13. Actually, he has been involved with their college for kids program since he was 5 and started adult continuing ed classes when he was 10. But since he was 13 he has taken official adult (for credit) classes and maintains a 4.0 GPA.

Because he is so exceptional, I have been focused on providing him with everything HE needs. He was accepted to New York Film Academy the year Ahmed was sick but couldn't go because life was UPSIDE~DOWN, RIGHTSIDE~UP & EVERY~WHICH~WAY...

Ahmed died December 5, 2004 and life came to a halt for us... suddenly all of the family (from both sides) returned to their lives. Life seemed to be going on without us… I was very depressed and couldn’t think of anything except him.

I decided that I had to pull myself out of it and be strong for my son… I had to focus on what we had and not stop my son’s life because I couldn’t let go of what I no longer had. I didn’t look at anything that talked about cancer, didn’t write about cancer, didn’t go near anything that reminded me of this ugly disease. Until now I still haven’t looked at old family movies or photos. I guess we all deal with things differently but this was how I knew I could get through this.

Tariq received word in the beginning of January 2005 from New York Film Academy that he was welcome to join this year’s program. So I forced the issue with him. He didn’t want to go. I think he felt that if he were to continue his life, having fun and doing things that distracted him from his grief, that in some way he was betraying his father or his father’s memory. Perhaps this was my problem as well.

So I made the arrangements for us to spend the summer in Florida. NYFA’s summer program has many satellite sites, one of which is MGM Studios @ Disney in Orlando. But we weren’t scheduled to leave until the end of May. I wasn’t sure how we would get through the next few months. I had let Tariq take the semester off from classes, so we were strictly home schooling.

Looking back, I think that was a mistake, but he had been through so much. I didn’t want to put too much pressure on him. The thing is, is that I forgot how much of a positive distraction school had been through the whole ordeal. It gave us a reason to get out of the house and not let the days pass us by.

During the next couple of months, my mom had been after us to move to Charlotte, NC at the end of the summer in Florida. I, at some point, relented. We left Connecticut in February and headed south. When I got to Charlotte, my mom took us out to look around at houses. I wanted to buy a house but housing was so expensive in Connecticut. We had looked at 2 bedroom condos before Ahmed passed away that were selling for $695,000.

I couldn’t believe it when I arrived in Charlotte and found beautiful, large homes for less that $200,000. And brand new houses at that! I was hooked. I felt that we would be making a good move. Housing would be more affordable and we would be close to my mom and sister. They sold me.

So I kept looking but perhaps there was too much to choose from or that I didn’t know the area well enough. So I returned to Connecticut with the intention of packing up the house and having the movers take everything to storage. I figured that during late spring and summer we could make a few more trips to Charlotte and eventually we would find something.

We did make several more trips to Charlotte but in August we chose an apartment and kept looking around. Nothing “felt right”. Life is so hard for me now. I continue to want to turn my head to my best friend and talk to him about everything, find out what he thinks. But when I look around for him I am overwhelmed by the fact that he is gone. I get this feeling that comes over me from head to toe. It feels like the day we were diagnosed. It feels like a truck hit me. It feels like the day he died. It feels like I lost my best friend never to see him again. It feels like every inch of me is burning, twisting and turning. It feels like hell. Then I begin to cry.

Finally, in November 2005, we found a townhouse that we like enough to just get it done. I thought that if we moved into our own home with lots of space (2400sf and 2 car garage) we would at last feel “settled”. I don’t know when I became naïve during this treacherous journey. I have always been known to be smart and on top of everything. Suddenly, I feel like a lost soul.

I was cautiously optimistic though. I knew that at least we would be closer to family. Having my mom and sister around a lot would be a tremendous distraction. Only it didn’t happen that way. We officially have the movers move us into our new house and suddenly everyone has their own life to live. No one has time to socialize. No dinners, no lunches, no nothing.

My sister is so busy with her friends and job that she never even returns calls. My mom is constantly running around shopping and socializing and has her own routine. We hardly ever see them. When we do, they are always in a rush. I commented once about it and was told, “I hope you didn’t move here for us…”.

Oh my God. What have I done? I am devastated over all of this. I decided in January 2006 that if Tariq and I maintain our own routines and not depend on anyone for anything then life would stabilize somewhat. I don’t know if I am kidding myself or what, but I KNOW that I would NEVER have chosen to live in North Carolina if it hadn’t been for the desire to be closer to my family and the fact that THEY persuaded me.

I know I started doing the “poor me” thing which I absolutely hate. So I started sending my resume out. I took this position in the hospital, reluctantly. I really wanted a job in mother/baby but they steered me to a cardiac floor instead.

I started orientation there on Monday and by the end of the day I was in tears. I didn’t realize how difficult it was going to be for one. My “first day” back to work since Ahmed was well. Maybe I have held onto the feeling that he is still with me if I don’t change my employment status… I don’t know. I know this is all crazy. I hate the way everything has turned out. I hate North Carolina.

Anyway, at the orientation, they kept having the group of new hires get into small groups and perform skits based on patient care and customer service. I didn’t know how to react. I felt tears coming to my eyes more than once. They showed a clip from “Terms of Endearment”. It was that scene where Debra Winger is dying from cancer in her hospital room and it is time for her pain meds but the nurses keep putting her mother Shirley McClaine off. They told her they would get to it in a few minutes and “sorry ma’am it’s not my patient”. Shirley McClaine gets really outraged from their responses or lack thereof and starts circling the nurses’ station screaming that it was time for the shot, “give my daughter the shot!”

Well when the clip was finished, they asked the group if the mother was justified in her behavior. I was horrified that I was the only one who replied that it was. I said the nurses, for one thing, should not have been so non-chalant about the situation and that everyone reacts to situations differently. I felt that the nurses should have put themselves in the patients/families situation…

I was so angry to hear the other responses. Some said she should have “contained” her anger and acted “professionally”. Some said she should have been more patient. Others said that the patient should have asked for the meds and not the mother. Their whole attitude about how the family members should be treated or are perceived was shocking. Actually, it was appalling.

I felt so bad that I was “one of them”. I didn’t want to be. I hated the way Ahmed was treated during his hospital stays. I hated the way nurses are thinking. I hated feeling like I was alone in my position that the patients and families deserved kindness and understanding. That is our job as the healthcare professional to recognize that everyone deals with illness and difficult situations differently and to allow them the space to be “angry” if they needed to be. I hated the fact that I saw so much lack of compassion then and now. I hated knowing that there are nurses out there that have attitudes that they shouldn’t have and that perhaps shouldn’t even be nurses.

I didn’t realize that I was still so angry.

Now as if that wasn’t enough, my recruiter had misled me re: the unit I would be working on. They decided to put me on a different unit without asking me because they had a “greater need”. Oh and by the way, “your health insurance is going to cost double and cover half of what I told you because I wasn’t aware of the new plans”.

Needless to say, at the end of the day, I decided not to take the position and began my search over again. I have never, ever done that before and felt as though I was copping out. But it just didn’t feel right.

Yesterday, I spoke with a recruiter for a home care agency and have an interview with them tomorrow. I think I need to stick to homecare for now. That is what I was doing before we were diagnosed. It is really a rewarding position. You can act as patient advocate and you really feel like you make a difference. Maybe if I fight for my patients, it will be therapeutic for me. I don’t know. I don’t know anything anymore.

I thought this would get easier…. but it doesn’t… it just gets harder.

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I am so sorry, for the loss of your husband, Ahmed. It is a devastating disease, that affects everyone, in the family! Good luck, with your son and his film career! I agree with you, about the Shirley McClaine (Aurora/in one of the best movies, ever made!) That was an awesome scene and I personally felt, totally justified! My prayers are with you and your family!


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Lisa..It is so very good to hear from you. It just doesnt seem possible that it has been 16 months since Ahmed's death. Im sure it seems like a lifetime to you.

You have been through so very much, and I think I would be upset as well with the move and family situation. I am glad you are trying to get a job again, that should help, getting out and meeting new people in a new town. Is it this coming up summer that you are going to Florida or was it last summer? Got kinda confused there, but either way you have MUCH to be proud of in your son. Its good that he had some time off, but is getting back into things. I have found that is the worst thing in the world to do...sit around and do nothing. When my hubby died 10 yrs ago, I pretty much lived in my bedroom for 3 yrs and let my mom take over, anything i could get her to do so I wouldnt have too. She shopped, took care of my kids, everything. Looking back now I cannot believe I actually lived like that for so long. It was not healthy for me, and I am so glad that I finaly realized this and got a job and started living life again. I also got on anti-depressants which helped so much, and i still take them today.

Take it one step at a time, and you will find it really truly does get easier.

Take care


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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey Lisa:

I don't know you, and you don't know me, but I live in the Charlotte area. If you need someone to talk to, give me a call. I would love to talk to you!

I am so sorry of your loss, it must be the most difficult thing to lose your best friend and soul mate.

Charlotte can be a tough place to be in, but it does grow on you! You just have to meet the right people!!!!

Are you at Presby or CMC? I have been to CMC for numerous infertility treatments and they have a great staff!!!!!

Anyway, let me know if you want to chat!


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Lisa, dear Lisa,

It is good to hear from you, but my heart bleeds at what you have gone through.

At least your mother-in-law went away.

Change of any kind can be terrifying when you are uncertain of yourself.

You are right, Tariq keeps you anchored in the here and now, but you have to pick yourself up and go on sooner or later, no one is going to do it for you.

I'm glad you've decided to go with homecare nursing, it sounds like you are so much more comfortable in that role. I hope Tariq takes advantages of his many opportunities and still has fun being a kid.

Thank you for letting us know what's up with you, it's been a long time, and I'm relieved to have you touch base.

God bless and keep you,



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