If wishes could come true I would turn back the clock to the summer of 2007. My husband Frank was about 18 months out from a stem cell transplant for Leukemia. He was doing extremely well and we were planning the rest of our lives together.
At the time, we were essentially newlyweds. We had been together for some time, but he wanted to make sure I would be protected if things didn’t go as planned. He proposed one evening and we were married two weeks later in my living room with six of our close friends in attendance.
The first year of our marriage consisted of weekly doctor’s visits, hospital trips, transfusions, and finally Frank’s transplant in January of 2006. This was followed by strict home confinement for six months, a germ-free diet, and as much exercise as possible.
The following summer, in 2007, we set out for New Hampshire to look at vacation homes. Frank always wanted to live “way out in the middle of nowhere.” My only stipulation was that whatever we bought had to have running water and a toilet that flushed. As we were driving to N.H., I remember reaching across the front seat holding Frank’s hand and saying to him, “We’re so lucky; We beat it — life is good.” I never felt such happiness.
Frank did very well for the rest of that year. He was back on his motorcycle, going on fishing trips and living an almost normal life. Unfortunately it wasn’t long before his body started rejecting the transplant and, by the next summer, he was losing weight and getting weaker.
Over the next few months his health continued to fail. The fight just got to be too much for him and the last 10 days of his life were spent in the ICU. I never left his side, except to go home to shower and change. Even then, I really thought he was going to beat this thing that was ravaging his body.
The night of January 5, 2009, I decided to go home and get a good night’s sleep. He was doing better, his vital signs were good and the doctor was even considering weaning him off the breathing tube the next day. I told Frank I would be back in the morning — he nodded, squeezed my hand and I left.
When I walked in the room that next day, I knew my Frank was gone. His heart and lungs were working, but his soul or spirit (whichever you prefer) had left his body and I knew it was time to let him go.
I held his hand and thanked him for fighting so hard for me. I told him I would be fine and that it was okay to let go. The only thing I asked him to do was to always stay by my side and to somehow let me know he is there. He died on January 6, 2009 at 1 p.m.
I have always believed in signs and, even now four years later, I still ask him for signs that he is with me. He very seldom fails me! About three months ago, I was at the cemetery bringing him a rose, which I have done at least once a month for four years. I was feeling an overwhelming sadness that day. I got in my car and decided that I was going to by myself a present from Frank.
I drove to the Alex and Ani store in Chapel View. As I walked in I said: “Frank let me know what you want me to have.” After drying my eyes, I finally walked over to a display case and the very first thing that caught my eye was a bracelet that said “Live a Happy Life.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but I knew Frank was trying to tell me something, and naturally I bought it.
A few months before, I had also bought the Alex and Ani Feather bracelet — “Truth, Light, Virtue” — but to me it signified something else: We were told in our bereavement group that if you come upon a feather, it comes from an angel who is sending you part of his wing.
A couple of my bracelets were gifts. The ones I have bought for myself signify a connection to Frank. But the one that means the most and makes me smile every time I wear it, is “Live a Happy Life” because I truly believe Frank picked it out for me.
Written by Sue Connell Quetta about why she wears her Alex and Ani following the loss of her husband.