Erica Finamore is an editor and writer from New York City. After 26 months of caregiving, she lost her husband to glioblastoma, a terminal brain cancer, at age 30. She is a brain tumor research advocate and member of the Gray Nation Endurance Team through National Brain Tumor Society.
A caregiver pens a letter to her husband on the first anniversary of his death from cancer and recalls all the things he’s missed and how she wishes he could have seen it all.
It’s been almost a year since I lost you, and visiting your grave somehow still makes me feel dumbstruck: how could that really be you there? Every time I look at your name etched in the concrete, it makes me feel like I’m in “A Christmas Carol” and this is all a bad dream I’ll wake up from, but it’s not.
There are dozens of little things every day that I wish I could share with you. A lot of them are totally unimportant, like did you know that Russell Stover is now making full-sized hazelnut chocolates?? Those were always our favorite in those Valentine’s Day boxes and you and I could never figure out why they hadn’t marketed them in a better way.
The other day I was walking around Carl Schurz park, the park right near our apartment that we used to visit almost daily. I’ve always loved reading those bench dedication plaques the parks have. Over the years I’ve read hundreds of them and taken photos of other people’s quotes and memories. On this day I happened to pass a bench I hadn’t read before. On it, it said, “How we wish you could have seen it all.”
And more than any other aching, unending emotion I’ve felt this year, that’s what hurts me most deeply about losing you. On big dates when I’m aware you should be here and on boring days when I’m just watching TV with our dog, Leslie, I wish.
In this weird year I made new, close, friends and as I sit with them making new memories, I wish. Last week I spent time with your nephew, Max, who you never met. He has these incredible blue eyes that remind me so much of yours. I’ve watched him grow into this happy, joyous baby and I wish. Since you’ve passed, people have received awards in your name at both NYU and the University of Delaware and I wish. I wish you could have met them all.
Joe Biden got elected president and I bought my apartment and I wish. Your brother wrapped up his second year of law school, and mine made it through another busy season with his wits about him and I wish. I wish you could have celebrated it all.
You would have been in your first year post-fellowship, working as a real doctor and I wish. We would have celebrated our 11th dating and third wedding anniversaries, plus our 32nd birthdays together, and I wish. Our “on deck” trip was Japan, and I’m not sure we would have gone during COVID-19, but I still wish. I wish you could have done it all.
I remember your big days by celebrating in a way I think you’d love. I try to keep little things in perspective the way you always did. I go after the things I want now, because your fierce belief in me made me believe that I could, and I wish.
You’ll forever be a part of me; in every smile and every heartbeat, but I wish you could be here in person, too. And as I look back on all the things that have happened without you and as I think about everything yet to come that you’ll miss. How I wish you could have seen it.
How I wish you could have seen it all.
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