A Wounded Heart

The hour is close to midnight as I write this. A new day is beginning. The 7th of April will never be forgotten by our family. This is the day my wife died.

Maria Klump was the daughter of Italian immigrants that came to our country in the sixties. Both of us were from middle-class families. Maria was content with going through life anonymously, happy with her family and friends. She shunned the spotlight and was very humble and modest. Maria had a big heart and beautiful soul. She wasn’t interested in money or having a lot of material things. Her focus was on God, her husband, and her children. One of the things I admired most about Maria was her ability to see good in every person no matter whom they were or what they may have done. The last 5 years of her life was anything but anonymous.

My wife was the anchor of our family. Her being gone for me is like being in a boat out to sea adrift. My wife was not just my spouse and best friend, but, she was a second mother to me. She took care of me like Italian wives are known to do. She was everything to me.

You hear about Post Traumatic Stress when it comes to our veterans returning from war, but, unless you have experienced it, you just can’t understand. I still have issues with short-term memory loss and the inability to focus or concentrating. I truly understand why so many vets are homeless. When I am in the kitchen preparing a meal, thinking about a spice that I need from the cabinet, I will open the cabinet door and just stare for a few minutes trying to figure out why I opened the closet door, to begin with. I will go outside sometimes, and wonder, what am I doing out here? I knew I came outside for a reason, but, forgot what it was. The worst part is at night, sometimes dreaming that this whole ordeal was just a bad nightmare, only to wake up and realize it wasn’t. If our veterans are experiencing anything like what I have experienced, they really, really need our support and prayers.

I am saddened to see so many couples out there quitting on their marriage and going through a civil divorce. When I was young, divorce was still rare. Maria and I were no different than any other couple. We were nothing special. It is easy to take your spouse for granite or any loved one. Maria and I did. It is human nature. You must surrender your pride and selfishness. The power of mercy and forgiveness is awesome. You have to learn to seek and also ask for forgiveness. We are both baptized Catholics and prayed The Holy Rosary daily and with our children. The Rosary helped us immensely. Still, we had our difficulties like anyone else, but, the thought of quitting never entered our mind.

There are many posts on FaceBook daily and it is doubtful that many will read this. If just one soul, or one couple who is contemplating on quitting their marriage, or if a couple is already separated, my fervent hope is that they will have a change of heart, after reading our story.

This is the last time I post anything publicly about our story and revisiting these events from 2 years ago.

Here we go.

Our story began in 2011. In the late winter/early spring, Maria began having severe pain in her lower back which also moved into her front thighs. We both thought that it may be either sciatica or a slipped disk. We both were really out of shape at the time. In June of that year, an MRI revealed a tumor on her spine that was malignant. After further tests, we were told it was Multiple Myeloma. I never heard of it. There are many cancers out there, but, that was one I had no idea about.

Myeloma is considered a blood cancer, but, it is commonly referred to as bone marrow cancer. This horrific disease eats away your bone marrow and then will go after your vital organs.

2011 through 2016 was a roller coaster ride for us. There were times when the drugs they gave her worked, but, only for a short time. Once they stopped working, we were in panic mode trying to find a way to stop or slow the progress of the disease.

Fast forward to April 6th, 2016. This day, like so many that week, was more of the same. Maria was complaining of severe and chronic acid reflux. I made a drink for her with the amino acid L-Glutamine, which is great for your intestinal tract, along with some other things including probiotics. Nothing seemed to help. I realized that this disease was ripping her guts out, literally. Her kidneys had already failed and she had been on dialysis for some time.

Towards mid-afternoon, she had to go to the bathroom. By that time, she was in a much-weakened state and I grabbed her around the waist and put her on a porta potty. She was dead weight. I later found out that I tore a muscle in between my spine and shoulder blade, which causes me severe problems to this day. This is a way of reminding me of the all of suffering that she went through.

Nighttime was falling and Maria’s breathing was slowing. Those present were Maria’s mom “Nonna”, her sister and only sibling, a couple of friends, my two youngest sisters, my youngest brother Greg, who is a Catholic priest, our girls and I.

During much of the day and evening, I was trying to keep myself busy moving from room to room and also praying the Rosary.

I knew Maria was leaving us. I didn’t know when, but, I knew we were at the end. Maria was in a hospital bed provided and in the same room that her father died in 26 years earlier. The room was dark except one lamp being on. I walked over to the side of her bed. She was semi-conscious. She had a sheet or blanket covering her and for some reason, I lifted up the blanket. That is when I saw it. I gasped, “oh my God!” There were bruises all over her body like someone took a baseball bat to her. I’ve never seen anything like it. That is what happens when you bleed to death internally from liver failure. My gasp startled Maria. The dreaded Myeloma was going after her liver, like a shark going after its prey. I posted here once before that it was a ghastly sight. That is the word for it, ghastly. I knelt down beside her bed and cried a river of tears. I begged Our Blessed Lord to take her away from her suffering, and then I said, may your will be done, not as I would have it. Maria Klump died the following morning.

Maria was a woman full of life and it was very difficult watching her very life being squeezed out of her.

I haven’t had a decent night sleep since that night. I suppose I never will. Oh well.

There you have it. Our Story.

So, if you are having a bad day, going through difficulties in life or in your marriage, stop and think to yourself, is it really that bad? And then remember the suffering of Maria Klump from Creve Coeur, Missouri. I hope her suffering has not been in vain.

Moving on does not mean forgetting. Every Mass, every Rosary, and every time I kneel down at the bedside for evening prayers, I always pray for her immortal soul and think about the violent way she left this world.

I’ll never be the same again. My life is changed forever.

I Love You Maria Klump. In this life and forever in eternity.