When I became a hospice nurse in 1992, I never dreamed I’d be caring for my husband as he was dying. “Notes from Theme Park Earth – A Memoir of Life, Loss, and Everlasting Love” is a love story not only about our marriage, but also the kindness and creative generosity shown by countless friends and relatives during that time. My core message is that we will all die one day and that losing someone you love is sad, but doesn’t have to be grim.
Like Randy Pausch, author of “The Last Lecture,” Stewart had fun even when he was dying. His grace and humor helped carry all of us who loved him. He was constantly surrounded by friends who wanted to play music and listen to his mystical perspective on our time here at what he whimsically called “Theme Park Earth.”
We communicated with our friends and family through a series of emails that was like a blog about what was ultimately a deeply moving experience. Many of these posts are included as they express our feelings during that time. There are stories of some of my hospice patients and what they have taught me. Stewart and others I’ve lost are still a part of my life because the love never dies.
My healing since Stewart died includes a grief support group and returning to hospice work with a deeper understanding from having gone through it. My passion for helping people who are dying the families who are losing them is something I share with Dr. Ira Byock, a leader in end-of-life care, who is one of my heroes.
Most of our story takes place in Austin, TX, where Stewart created an award winning residential remodeling company and loved going to the Kerrville Folk Festival. Baby boomers might also be intrigued by the fact that Stew and I met on a large commune in the 1970’s where we worked with horses, lived without electricity or running water and our children were born with the help of midwives.