This is my husband and myself when we were happy—-***********************************

I’m married in the above photo. The pose is one of contentness as I surround myself with flowers in full bloom.  My son-in-law took the photo at Michael’s surprise 65th birthday party—before the overhead sun, before the heat of the day, before the  cancer entered our lives.  .  . . . . . . . . .   


This is me when I became a grandmother for the first time . . . . 

Kai Christopher Ehlen, born December 9, 2006


This is my man who loved to cycle . . . .



This is my husband before his freefall with cancer . .  .



I’m still a married woman enjoying life with her husband . . . .  



This is a portrait of our love. Michael wanted photos of us after he recovered from his surgical procedure—the Transhiatal Esophagectomy. It’s the holiday season. We are happy to be together. . . . . . . . .



Here’s a photo of me standing tall on a large rock looking across the Pacific Ocean, not seeing anything but blue water foaming as the waves peak and head my way. I’m feeling strong and resilent as I inhale the ocean air. I’m alone because Michael couldn’t walk down the steps to the water.  I bring back my treasures: a child’s bucket of sea shells, a golf ball, and one black flip flop with pink sequins.  (Laguna Beach 2010) . . . . . . .  



Michael has come to grips with the reality of his illness. . . . . . . . . . . . . .


This is my youngest daughter kissing her stepdad goodbye . . .


This is my oldest daughter loving her stepdad . . . . . . . . 


These are my two best friends, Carol, who helped me take care of my husband, and Michael. Carol flew in from Pennsyvania and moved in with us until he died.

Carol and I took long walks together, shopped together, cooked together. Carol and I cried and laughed together. Carol and I went to the mortuary and picked out his wooden casket. Carol stayed with me after he died—until I could be alone . . .  .  . .


This is a photo of me in love anticipating a great loss . . . .


This is Michael kissing his grandson, Kai, for the last time . . . .  



This is my husband on his way to hospice, eight days before he died  . . . .



This is Steve, Michael’s best friend, saying goodbye . . .  . . . . . . . .  . . . .


 This is my best friend, Carolyn, telling Michael a joke . . . .


This is Michael praying the day before he died . . . . .



This is me kissing my husband the morning before he died. I then turned my head slightly and whispered in his ear, “Go to heaven. I’ll see you soon.”  . . . . .


This is my husband before he died . . . .



This is my husband’s marker . . .



This is me placing a stone on his marker . . . . . . .



These are all the people buried around him . . . .


This is how I remember my man . . .


This is me now . . .  .  a widow

About TRatner

Terry Ratner is a freelance writer, registered nurse, and writing instructor in Phoenix, Arizona. In June of 2004, she graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative nonfiction from Antioch University, Los Angeles. Writing has always served a purpose in her life, but it wasn't until her son died in a motorcycle accident in March, 1999, that she began to publish her works. What's unique about Terry is the way she balances the life of a nurse with the life of a writer. "Nursing allows me to give back to the community and then write about those experiences." Ratner teaches creative writing in a variety of settings from community colleges to a school for homeless children (Thomas J. Pappas) to wellness communities throughout the Valley of the Sun. In 2004, Terry launched an Arts and Healing program for children undergoing dialysis at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. She has published numerous personal essays, cover stories, interviews, and book reviews for a variety of national and regional publications. Her manuscript, a work in progress, features a series of twelve essays, ten of which are introduced with black and white photos, dealing with issues of family and identity.
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10 Responses to TELLING A STORY WITH PHOTOS \ July 17, 2011

  1. Aimee says:

    Wow, very touching photos. Who doesn’t shed some tears while looking at this post. The photo of Michael and Kai kissing is absolutely moving to the soul.

  2. Sylvia says:

    Oh my gosh Terry, I knew your husband……he was always the gentleman at Tom’s Tavern where we went to lunch for the past 20 years. He was truly an awesome person with the biggest smile. Anytime we went in for lunch, he made us feel welcome and happy that we were there……I heard he was sick last summer and then suddenly my husband became sick and I devoted all of my time to him until his passing in November. My heart aches for you and for me……This time last year we were going out for the weekend, what happened???

  3. Terry,
    I am reminded of the music of Miles Davis. This composition is, and reflects, truth and beauty without a single unnecessary note. It is a complete historical record conveying nuance, impact and inevitibility. More words could not enhance it, only mar it. Thank you for sharing this complex and painful event with us.

  4. Barry Schulman says:

    A remarkably painful yet beautiful saga of love and loss.

  5. Jim Schwartz says:

    Hi Terry,
    I didn’t know Michael, but I can tell he loved life, his family, friends, and you. Through your writings we, the readers, can get to know Michael on some level. So thank you for that.

  6. Candy says:

    Hi Terry. I’m a friend of Tracy’s. Thank you for sharing your touching blog & beautiful photos. I lost my beloved husband Jeff to prostate cancer on June 8, 2009 at the age of 56 after 5 1/2 years of marriage. You’ll be in my thoughts & prayers. Wishing you comfort & peace & whatever you need, Candy

  7. Bonnie Dean says:

    Heartfelt. Bless you.

  8. Joanne Dean says:

    You are truly a special person for sharing your deepest love for your husband. You both had a special bond. I have the same love for my husband and I appreciate every day we are together-Reading your blog everyday just confirms how precious life is and not to take it for granted.
    Joanne Dean

  9. jan says:

    My husband also died from esophageal cancer, squamos. They wouldn’t do the surgery. He was fine for a year and a half until cancer raised its ugly head. He battled for 3 and a half years before he died January 11, 2013. He, like your husband, was just a shadow of himself.

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