Category Archives: Co-Parenting Hell

Thank Goodness for Her…

Yesterday morning , as I went running off to a meeting, I grabbed my tan jacket for the first time this season and bolted out the door.   I realized there was a piece of paper in my pocket and came to see it was my Penn Hospital name tag from April 20, 2017 … the day I drove our daughters down to Philly so they could see you in ICU for the first time after your surgery.

I took a moment and decided this was a sign showing me the strength I had when you were diagnosed.  When we visited that day my plan was to carry everyone on my back through your inevitable recovery.  Yesterday that name tag was a reminder that even though these last two months didn’t go as I planned and have exhausted me (since that inevitable recovery did not happen) I had to find the strength and keep moving forward.  Little did I know, with that one little sticker, you were speaking to me…

Little did I realize that in a very small way you were giving me a very very clear message to think of you that afternoon when I needed direction.   You were reminding me that you still have say in the girls lives even though you are no longer here.  You knew I needed a reminder that your network, your people, your connections could help me – and I should reach out to them…and that you wanted me to.

Little did I know it was going to be a horrific afternoon, as I spent some time on the phone sharing yet again with others that you were gone…asking for their help to sort out yet another unusual situation created by your death.   Over these last two months so many things fall into this category and most have been uphill battles.  As the details unfolded and I wrapped my head around the options,   I knew I needed help… I had to make a call…but I was so unsure of who it should be to.    My two closest friends didn’t qualify, so I made a list of those who would.  The job at hand did not match the  candidates, no matter how qualified or honored they would be to step up.

And as I have taught myself to do over these last two months, and as that little name tag in my pocket reminded me to do,  I thought about what you would want me to do …and immediately knew the answer.

And so, I called her.

I called the woman you loved, the woman you planned to spend the rest of your life with…who stood by your side through the horror of the summer, and who was now alone.  I have been saying for months that I hope she eventually heals enough to move on…and find someone amazing and worthy of her own amazingness.  And yet here I was, calling and dragging her into our lives and a hole that only exists because you are no longer here.  I felt horrible.  But I knew in my heart you would tell me to reach out to her.  I needed her and more importantly,  our child needed her.

We chatted and caught up, she asked about the girls.  And then I told her about my current dilemma.  I explained I was calling because I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, you would tell me to.

I was clear that she was my first call, but that there were others who would help.  I explained that she could absolutely say no and I would completely understand.  She was adamant, explained she thought she had mentioned it to you, and would do whatever I needed her to do. We commiserated over the situation, shared how sad we are that we have to even deal with it.  Honestly John,  I felt like I was talking to a sister-in-law who was dealing with her own grief but still so connected to our children.

There is a formal process she will now walk through with me,  some hoops to jump through, some very official  signing we will need to do together.  And honestly, I can not think of anyone better person suited for the job.  I have no doubt she will care as if she was her own.

John, the woman you love is standing right beside me,  helping us move forward as we still try to process your absence.  It is a testament to you John,  that your ex-wife can call your girlfriend and ask for a rather significant favor, and that we can work together out of our friendship and love for you to get us all through these obstacles.

Thanks for the message yesterday morning  my friend…it helped me find the prefect solution to an incredibly difficult situation.  As for the name tag, well I’m keeping it in the trench coat as a reminder that we have all the support we need to move forward, no matter how hard.

Still wishing every day that you were with us…we all do.

The Start… “I Have Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer”

On April 12, 2017 my life changed forever.  Those of you who have walked this path with me over the last several months have listened, cried, worried, hoped and prayed alongside our family. The writing I feel compelled to share now is a recount of my experience…the details of what we went through.

At the wake and the funeral so many people asked…what happened?  They hadn’t even heard he was sick and yet he was gone.  John R. Wengler, my ex-husband passed away on July 2, 2017.  Not even three months after his initial diagnosis.

So back to 4/12 – I was sitting in a conference at the Pyramid Club in Philly.  I knew that John was scheduled to be at UPenn medical that day.  He had found a lump on his neck and was meeting with a surgeon to have it removed.  Tests had shown it wasn’t cancer but the doctors were sure it still was.   Before I left that morning I commented to my husband that it wasn’t good that he still had the appointment.  Afterall, they always call with good news, you go in for the bad stuff.

At about 10:30 I heard from John with a text… “I have Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer.”  My heart sank for my dear friend as I envisioned the surgery and radiation would wreck his summer – and John R. Wengler LOVED summer.  My next thoughts were kind of strange and ranged from “for the love of gosh John, cancer…like we need to now juggle this right now?  Our girls were settled after the move, life was good, I needed time to spend on my business”  I quickly realized I had never heard of Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer…so I looked it up….

Rare…aggressive…deadly

What the hell?  I have a few friends who have had thyroid cancer…a little surgery, a little radiation and they are good to go.   But as I read in those first few minutes that he had a 10% chance of living a year, that treatment would be brutal, and most patients live just a few months…well I started to cry.

John was my friend, my co-parent.  What was he going to go through?  And what about our girls?  He was young…so young to get this…maybe his age would save him.  A myriad of questions filled my head as I continued to search on the small screen of the phone.  I texted my husband to let him know…and just continued to cry.