A Huge Loss

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Cancer As Curse And Gift

For four of the six years we were married, my husband Bud dealt daily with the realities of cancer. After a long remission, his prostate cancer flared in 2006 and from that point until his death a few weeks ago, Bud lived in constant pain. Fortunately, Bud and I soon discovered Harmony Hill, a retreat center on Hood Canal in Union, Washington that offers cancer programs that truly transform the experience of cancer.

Bud took the skills and lessons gained at Harmony Hill on the road, speaking to groups about the new possibilities Harmony Hill offers to those experiencing cancer, including family members. He also started a men’s support group for those facing serious illness and disability which now continues in his name.

The Wrapping Sucks

Like so many others, Bud and I did find that cancer brings many gifts in its wake, but Bud was quick to say, “Cancer is a gift, but the wrapping sucks.”

One gift I won’t soon forget was Bud’s amazing appreciation for just being alive. He woke up happy, just because he did wake up. It is awe inspiring to live with somebody who actually embodies that delicious pleasure in life.

Bud faced his numerous losses with courage, humor, dignity and abiding love. In his final few years, Bud was able to realize his deep desire to live a life of service and had some of the happiest times of his life.

A Final Project

One of Bud’s last projects was to convert our old hot tub into a garden bed. Now lush with winter vegetables, it is one of the first things I see each day and a constant reminder to be grateful and kind. In the end, it really is kindness that counts the most.

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10 Responses to A Huge Loss

  1. Eben Atwater says:

    What moves through us is a silence, a quiet sadness, a longing for one more day, one more word, one more touch. We may not understand why you left this earth before we were ready to say good-bye, but little by little, we begin to remember not just that you died, but that you lived, and that your life gave us memories too beautiful to forget.

  2. Erica says:

    This is so beautiful that I’m sitting here typing with tears in my eyes. Thank you for sharing and reminding us all to be grateful and kind.
    Best wishes,

  3. Karen Moawad says:

    I read your comments with joy at how beautifully you look at the cycle of life and death and the gifts in between. May we all be inspired and transformed by Bud’s life. He gave us all so much in his quiet and calm way.
    With love,

  4. Kari Seybolt-Murphy says:

    Thank you for sharing these beautiful thoughts and memories. Darren and I will never forget the kindness you and Bud shared with us as we walked down the cancer path. Your willingness to share your experiences helped us through a very difficult time. Bud’s courage and positive outlook gave Darren much hope. We are thankful for the lives Bud touched in so many different ways. And for your generosity my friend in a dark time.


  5. Dear Ann. I stumbled upon your blog in my never-ending search for wonderful garden writing to share. And although I don’t know you, I just had to comment on this heartfelt post.

    I just wanted to say “thank you” for using your words in such a positive and influential way. Writing is a gift, and each writer has the opportunity to either spread joy and happiness and positive thoughts or to harp on the negative aspects and supposed injustices of the world. Thank you so much for using your words to spread the wonders of this fantastic journey we call life. Such a beautiful reminder for all of us to appreciate our blessings.

  6. Clare says:

    Dear Ann,
    I’m sending a big hug to you today. Transitions are often times difficult for humans, but you are showing us that moving forward with a positive attitude, being grateful for the gifts we’ve been given, and a willingness to share this with others is the key to moving along on this journey called life. I am glad you had this time to share with Bud. Many blessings to you!

  7. Bonney Lemkin says:

    I’m teary-eyed as I read this. My friend Barbara Ray, remembers being on the bus with me many years ago when we told you our story of our dried flower venture. ( so didn’t make it!) Turns out Barbara is a friend of Gretchen’s and a major contributor to Harmony Hill. She brought me there a while back and I was so impressed at the beauty and good work that is happening there every day. I’m so happy that Bud was able to be there and use his experience to help others. Hope to see you soon.

  8. Pat Patterson says:

    Ann, I feel like you are a friend, though we have never met. I am glad you had the time with him and were both able to savor it. To often we trudge through life battling all the petty frustrations and worries and humdrum or retreat into TV or vicarious living on the web. You remind me that each day, even hour, with our loved ones is a gift to be noted, appreciated and stored. A huge hug from your erratic correspondent, Pat

  9. Ann, I have searched the internet for you every now and then. Your lectures transformed my life as a gardener back in the early 90s. I am so sorry to hear your husband died; I had been following the story as I could through the news but had lost track. I still treasure the Edgeworthia you brought all the way to the coast for me. I have to admit I manage to do it in when I transplanted it to a new garden, but I still use the framework of branches as a decorative piece! Best wishes to you; I do miss hearing your wonderful talks and slide shows.

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Skyler, lovely to hear from you again. I must admit that I also lost an Edgeworthia that I transplanted at the library (though the original plants are still going strong in my former garden). Ah, the dear departed… I suspect that they don’t move well, though I’ve not had trouble planting them from containers. Hmmm.

      Thanks for your kind words. It seems like a lifetime ago that we were all young, ardent, plant-crazed hortheads in the midst of a vibrant plant revolution. Shouldn’t there be a song for that? “Those were the days, my friend…”

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