It's almost Thanksgiving. This time last year, my husband was admitted to the hospital for his first Auto Stem Cell Transplant. I just "knew" that it was going to work. I did not think for one second that it wasn't going to. I guess it's a good think I'm optimistic. Right? I don't regret this one second either. I remember how strongly Ty and I felt that it would work and that the cancer would be GONE. We did not find out until April that it had not worked. I have to say that the 17 month battle with his cancer was one that only made us even closer.
When you are married or watch on TV you hear often people say, "in sickness and in health." Well, let me tell you... I meant it when I promised Ty that forever I was with him. In moments of sweet tenderness, he would "hate" the way he looked. I still adored him. He would not let me take photos (or rarely) and he wanted them all to be private. I understood, but often wanted others to know what a WARRIOR I was married to. I just wanted to take care of him. I didn't want him to worry about anything but getting better. I worked harder to ease his burden so I could take care of our family. We often talked about what a blessing God had given us with my company and the successfulness it had given us. It was indeed peace of mind for Tyler. I knew and know God is mindful of his children's needs. We saw remarkable blessings unfold and I knew that I was going to have to RISE to the challenges. I had a journey ahead and I was not allowing death in the picture. I was not accepting that one day that I was going to have to say goodbye.
The final week in the hospital was so filled with tender mercies. Imagine having to face the truth. Dr. Sweetenham came into our room and Ty was busy having a test done. He said he would come back again a little later. Ty mentioned that he never comes back normally. This time, he did and we both knew that it was time to face reality. Ty and I knew it was not going to be good news. With so much love and sadness, Dr. Sweetenham told us that they were out of options. They could not control the cancer. It was now spreading and there was no treatment options at this point.
Ty's left leg was massive in size and swollen from his toes to the groin area. He had a blood clot in this leg that was cutting off blood flow. They put him on heparin. The lymph nodes across his abdomen were growing and getting so large. You could feel the enlarged nodes. Ty's neck was so enlarged with nodes and some in his shoulders too. The cancer, being a blood cancer was spreading and Dr. Sweetenham was so sad to tell us it was time to accept that treatment options were done. I sat there and cried with Tyler. We held hands and I just wanted to fall into the floor. He told us that Ty would leave the hospital and need hospice care. Looking back, I was still in denial. Was this really happening? Ty truly just wanted to get to come home that following Monday with me. He was worried about getting new tires for Zach's car for the Winter. He did not want me to have to do it. He was willing to endure more treatments just to have more days.
This was when reality set it. We talked about life and what he wanted. We cried and cried and then he needed me to stop. I prayed so hard to be strong. If you know me, I'm so sensitive, but somehow I tried to be brave and kept telling him how much I loved him. I knew it was the time to help him know that no matter what I would be okay... and I wanted him to not worry about me. I needed him to not worry. I have no doubts he lived for seventeen months for us. His body was ready way before his spirit was to go and he fought it. We spent hours going over our trust and will. I am sharing this with you because you have NO IDEA how many people are not prepared. We had done this years before and we discussed each of our children and their future. He shared tender feelings for each of them. We were preparing to say goodbye but I can honestly say that I was not ever ready to do this.
I stayed at the hospital but could not sleep. He was determined to go to the bathroom and get up at any time. I was so worried he would fall so I was exhausted. He was also not wanting to take pain medication at the end because he wanted to be "coherent" and not sleep. He wanted to talk and share. I marveled at his strong will when he was in so much pain.
Once in the middle of the night, he was in intense pain. We somehow made it to the bathroom and I was holding him up. I was scared. The noises and sounds he was making were so hard to hear. I thought he was not going to make it out of the bathroom. They had brought us pain medication and I tried so hard to get him to swallow it. I was in the bathroom and I begged God to please take away his pain and help him. He was in a state of so much agony that I could barely get him back to the bed. I was accepting that Tyler's cancer must be getting much worse. Finally, we managed to get him back into the bed and I begged him to please take the medication to help relieve the intense pain. Within minutes he became really calm and said "I did and the pain is going away". I told him that he had not and he told me to look in the trash that he had. I checked it twice. I was literally in shock and amazed. I "knew" there was no way he had. I was with him the entire time. However, he was now in "no pain" and was laying in bed and going to sleep. I went to the trash and found nothing again. I found the two tubes of pain medication on the counter and they were untouched. He had not taken anything and yet he "had" and was now out of pain and going to sleep. He even slept for a few hours. It was a true miracle to me. I could not sleep after this and I was just so grateful for this experience.
He did not want me to leave him his side and I held his hand and told him countless times that I loved him. He told me LOVE YOU so many times. I could not be close enough to him. I crawled in his bed the day before he passed away and he loved this. We spoke and shared our "love." Ty and Zach did not go to school and came to see their dad. Taylor and Gentry came to Huntsmen, as well as his sweet mother Carol and sister Leann and Bret his brother. We were saying our goodbyes and I wanted our entire family to be with him. I knew his family meant the world to him and I needed them close too. I was still not prepared to think it was so close. I remember telling him countless times that he was my everything and that I loved him.
I reminded him that what we had is forever. I think he was going "home" at times and he was going to the spirit world and then back with me. He asked me where he was. He thought he was in San Francisco Medical school at times. Then he would ask "who is that?" He was seeing people in the room. One time someone told him a joke and he laughed and told me to say it again. I told him I had not told a joke and he said, "yes, you did silly." He talked about walking up flights of stairs and having to keep going up. He mentioned "who are all those people?" He then said, "you want me to go up more?, who is that? you want me to now go left?" Then he would be back with me. I simply listened and knew I was witnessing something sacred and real. I believe that he was seeing where he was going when he passed away. I felt the most beautiful spirit in the room. It was so peaceful and I knew Ty was getting closer to leaving this world. He loved me to lightly scratch his back.
He was never scared. Ty was steadfast in his faith in Heavenly Father until the very end. He was only sad to leave us. He made the boys promise to take care of me, honor me, not talk back and appreciate me. He told them that I worked harder than any woman he ever knew and I would do anything for them and not to take advantage of my kindness. He gave them hours of "advice" the day before he left us. He told them to work hard their entire life. Ty believed that kids should work hard and not just be given things. Working hard makes you a better person and more grateful. I wish I had taped it. Thankfully, I listened to the prompting to have them come to the hospital that Friday and not go to school. This was a "gift" to the boys and I.
There is so much more that I could share. I wanted to share in hopes that you each know that this life is not the end. If I thought it was I would not be able to endure this pain. I sat in our closet floor today and cried. I got down on my knees and prayed for comfort. I keep thinking he is with his dad and grandfather and my mother watching over us. I miss my best friend. This is unlike any pain I have ever felt. I have never felt so alone. My poor family is dealing with me talking nonstop about dad. I got the best book today from Ty's sister. it's called TEAR SOUP. Of course, I read it and cried. It was me!!!! It is you... it is all of us when we are grieving. I realize that we are all different. I have simply shut down and am allowing myself to be really sad, cry, reminisce, laugh at memories, and keep going through the emotions over and over. I know that it's okay and I will somehow keep working on my own "tear soup" until I am stronger.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Monday, November 24, 2014
I have to say that although I have been blessed with many children, I feel so alone. I don't think you can ever prepare yourself to lose your spouse, your best friend. Last Tuesday, we went to the cemetery to pick out plots for Tyler and I. There was this massive big tree that I had noticed when we arrived. When it was time to find the burial spot, I immediately knew the perfect spot. It is right by this beautiful strong tree. I knew instantly that this was the place and marveled that there was spaces available right by the tree. We had not spoke of the "details" of any of this until the last week. Our denial was because we simply did not want to say goodbye. Finally, Ty let his mother and I know he wanted us to be buried in our hometown. He wanted to be close so our children and I could visit him. He was always thinking of others.
It was like I was in a movie and I was just going through the scenes. I kept thinking, is this really happening? I stood at the ground of where my husband would be buried. I knew eventually... ONE DAY... I would be with him. I thought at that moment, that I just wanted to join him to be buried with him now. I don't want to do this without him. I can't describe how much my soul aches for him.
I have felt literally that half of me is gone now. I feel incomplete. I feel completely alone even with a house of children. I had to explain to my children why I don't want to get out of bed, get dressed and why I can't concentrate or think right now. The pain is so painful. Tyler is my everything. I was his everything. In many ways, it is harder when our closeness and our desire to be with each other trumped going out with other couples or doing things without each other. As our boys have gotten older, we joked and said... it's just US and we were loving "our" time. Through years and our trials we became stronger and closer. I've mentioned before, we had both been married. Tyler had told me, "Divorce is not a option." This is how we lived our marriage. We blended our children and then had two more handsome sons together. We grew more in love over the years. We knew each other better than any one else knew us. I understood him and he understood me. I am thankful for our trails and for the times where we disagreed. I know we grew from having to work harder to understand each other.
For seventeen months, we both could not accept that we would be apart. He often told me, "You can't do this without me. you need me." Ty fought so hard to stay. On Friday, the night before he passed he spent hours trying to convince his doctor via text and nurse that he would want another round of chemo just to give him "more time." He was not giving up. He just knew it would give him more time. I watched him and knew in my heart his time was very limited. He fought like a warrior for TIME with us. It was a testament to me of his massive love for me and our children, his family.
To the outside world, Ty could be more quiet. He could be opinionated at times. He was much smarter than I am (yes, I loved telling him this and he never disagreed). Ty was the man who would tape "our favorite shows" and not watch them if I was not with him. He would watch Hallmark movies with me to be with me. He would go to every single baseball game or event because he wanted to. Ty wrote love notes and left them on the counter when he went to work. They were always signed TnT. I will miss the love notes. He loved taking care of us. He probably took care of me too much. I've never mowed our lawn, paid a bill, got gas in my car until he was sick or he was away... he just wanted to do this for me. Ty would go to Costco and buy groceries. He often made dinner and wanted to lighten my burden. I had many friends who knew that Ty just adored and wanted to take care of me. I would try to do these things myself and he would not let me. I have thought over and over how often he told me that I need him. I soooo need him. I love him. I don't want to be apart from him... yet as my heart is tender, I find moments of peace that I feel are coming from him.
I believe that when we die that it's not really DEATH as we think of a ending. I believe he is still very much with us. I feel that his spirit is close and that we are going to be watched over. I will always remember that WHAT matters MOST is WHAT matters MOST! Often, we just forget. We let the world consume us and forget why we are here. To be honest, I have been in Ty's pajamas for two days. I visited the his grave yesterday. I simply put on jacket over them. I am reading some books that some dear friends gave us. They are on death and comfort me. The one part that spoke to me is this... We live to die. We actually should think each day about this. We should focus on what matters and live each day with this purpose. I think to myself... am I living the life that I should be? Am I forgiving others? Am I lightening the burden for others? I know that I have a huge responsibility alone. I have children to raise, get through high school, missions, college, marriage, etc. I have a business to run. When the time is right, I will know what to do. Right now, I'm just focusing on being grateful IT HAPPENED. I am so fortunate to have found this special man that I adored. I loved him more than he ever realized.
The beautiful casket spray. Ty's mom wanted to buy this for her son. It was beautiful. It was very special.
Flowers were everywhere. They were gorgeous. This was a one that I had made from our kids. Little Ty picked it out. Since Ty loved the outdoors, he did some burlap and it was stunning.
Ty's brother Bret and his mother Carol.
Carol helped me so much with the funeral. She was indeed inspired and prompted to help me.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Our family wants to thank each of you who have helped our family at this tender time in our family. We wanted to share our beautiful memories with you of a man who will forever live in our hearts. We are most grateful for the food, the flowers, the memories shared and the kindness to us as we deal with the loss.
(this beautiful tribute video was done by Jami Morrell and edited by Gentry Bartholomew. They spent hours doing this and truly captured his life and what he loved most)
Thursday, November 20, 2014
This is my best friend.
TYLER LEWIS COLLINS
My heart is so sad that I am struggling to accept that
he is gone. I just want to stay in these leopard pjs
and stay in bed. I know I can't do this, but right now my world is filled with losing him. I have
to go on alone. I know I have my kids but anyone who has had a beautiful loving marriage knows what I am saying. I have to accept God's will just
like he did. We had many beautiful conversations
over the past 17 months regarding his diagnosis. This past week, Ty kept telling me
that he did not want to leave me. He said so many times-
"The hardest part is leaving you and, but once I'm gone, it will be YOU
and the kids that will have it hard. YOU will miss me. You will have to
deal with the loss and having to live life without my help. I feel bad that I am causing this pain. I'm so sorry!"
He always was more concerned about his family and me. He worried about his mother. He knew she was now going to bury a child. I encouraged her to come to the hospital and she did. I knew this was so important and needed for both of them.
He worried about family relations. It was so important to him that our family stay close to his mother and sister and brother/families. He was
to the end wanting everyone to be united and be together. He wanted our youngest boys to have family close to help me. I have been so comforted by his family. Leann has been such a blessing to come help me write the obituaries and make food and more. I am still not thinking or speaking clearly. His mother has been arranging for so many things as I am struggling to get in a shower. It's times like this that families need to come together with love and grieve together. I have had so many people come and bless me with stories that Tyler had shared with them about how he felt about me. THIS has been the sweetest blessing and reminder to me right now.
I am most grateful of the five days in the hospital with him. It was full of miracles and blessings. Most of you do not know him. He often told me that I was his only friend. (This was silly of course) He had friends. He just always wanted to be with me or the kids. He said family is more important than anything. He lived it and he meant it. He hated contention and fighting. He would never want to hurt anyone's feelings. When he did, he felt horrible. Tyler was always thinking of ways
to make life easier for me and the children. Yes, I've never mowed our lawn, filled my gas tank (unless he was out of town or when he got sick), etc. He wanted to take care of my needs. This is how he showed his love. I love that he told ever one of our children that they were his "best friend." I know he meant it. He told all of us this...
I love you more than anything you can think say or feel!!!!!!!!!!
I loved watching him with the kids. He loved when the grand babies lived closer. It was sad when they moved and he rarely saw them and then he got sick. He would watch social media to see them. He loved seeing the photos. He would often ask me, "did you see the photo posted today on Instagram?"
I have had a rough time. I wish I could say otherwise. It would be a huge lie if I said otherwise. You are never prepared to lose you best friend, your eternal companion and the person who just is your everything. I don't know how this goes. I don't know how to even understand these crazy sad feelings I have right now. My heart is so tender and I have cried so much that my lips are severely chapped and hurt. When I purchased our grave plots, I felt at that moment that I wished I was with him. I had never thought this before. I just miss him and want him near me.
If you knew the real T-n-T. That is us.... you would know that
Tyler treated me like a queen. He actually used to call me princess until I said... okay, that is crazy and don't call me that. Then we would laugh. We were a team... we were crazy in love and yes, we had fights like everyone else.
Our disagreements made us stronger and more in love.
He would tell me that I'm feisty and I would say... and so are you. I told him always that when I saw him I thought he was the most handsome man in the world and I still get butterflies after all of these years.
My sister flew in last night. I am typing this in the middle of the night. Everyone is asleep but me. I can't sleep. I'm exhausted, but just have so much on my mind. Ty's obituary will be in the newspaper today here. You can read it below for the details.
I wanted to share a book that is VERY comforting to me right now, it was a gift from the Barton family this week. It is called-
What's on the OTHER SIDE? BY BRENT L. TOP
I have been sent so many flowers. It has been huge love from family, friends, neighbors and business friends. I can't thank everyone enough. I am touched and lifted from your prayers.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
On the day that Tyler was in the hospital nearing the last hours of his life we played this song over and over. It is Zach's favorite and it's speaks to my heart. Devan and his friends are playing this at the funeral. I love verse 4 & 5. It just means so much to me. There is NO END....
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
I remember a night in a hotel in Chicago for business. My husband texted me to let me know that he wanted me to listen to this song. I was overwhelmed with love and feeling the SAME way that he was. This song is EXACTLY how I am feeling right now.
I was getting ready for bed that night at the hotel and I watched this video over and over. I love that he always wanted to be with me. "I am here without you baby but your still on my lonely mind. I think about you baby, but you are still with me in my dreams. And tonight, it's only you and me. Everything know and anywhere I go, it gets hard but it won't take away my love. And when the last one falls when it's all said and done it gets hard but it won't take away my love."
I miss him so much that the pain is hard to articulate and feel. I am planning his funeral. This is what is keeping me going. I want it to be a tribute to him and his life. I am going through photographs. I got up at 4am with Zach. It's hard to sleep and to focus. I don't fight it and know that everyone mourns in their own way. Right now, I am listening to songs that comfort me. I am pouring through photos. I never thought I would be in my forties and lose the love of my life. I never imagined having to go to the cemetery yesterday and picking the grave and my grave. Can this be a horrible bad dream? I am not angry one ounce. I am so thankful it happened. I am so thankful we found each other. I just miss him. I am more determined to honor, love and make him proud that I am his wife.
Monday, November 17, 2014
At this really difficult time, I keep thinking of my best friend and how much I love him. LOVE is what is bringing me some type of peace. This love is carrying with me forever. I cry because I am so sad to have lost my best friend and I miss him terribly.