Sunday, April 25, 2010


In my eighth grade year I played Captain von Trapp in our school's version of the play The Sound of Music. Near the end of the play, just before they escape Nazi Austria, the Trapp Family children sing "So Long, Farewell." It's a long goodbye.

This blog was about my experience as the spouse of someone with cancer. Sue was diagnosed with multiple myeloma on May 1, 2009, and she died of complications from the cancer on March 29, 2010. Sue's eleven-month struggle with multiple myeloma was, it turns out, a form of long goodbye. My blog might have ended in March when Sue died, but I have been doing my own version of a long goodbye. To my way of thinking, some things relevant to the cancer experience of the non-cancer spouse have happened in the month since Sue died.

It seems that people who live through wars experience the horrors of war, but also often look back on the war years fondly. I'm not sure why that is, but I think it must be, in part, because such experiences are intense, and a lot of memorable living gets packed into a little time. During the Battle of Fredericksburg in December of 1862, Robert E. Lee said: "It is well that war is terrible - otherwise we would grow too fond of it." In some sense this past year with Sue's cancer was a little bit like that; It was terrible, and I wouldn't wish it on anybody; But at the same time it was intense, some of it was good, and a lot of living got packed into a short window of time.

I've enjoyed blogging this experience. It's been better than having a psychotherapist, and cheaper. I've appreciated your comments and prayers more than I can say. I've appreciated being community with you, and you being community with Sue and me. But as Harrison Ford told Gene Hackman in the movie "Witness," "It's over! It's over!"

There are a lot of ways to say goodbye. So long, farewell, aufwiedersehn, and audieu, among them. But adieu best expresses my sentiments here. Here, I bid you adieu in both the fond farewell sense, and the permanent farewell sense. But also, I bid you adieu in the sense that the French used to use it: "Adieu vous commant." [From the latin "ad" (to) and "deus" (God).] I commend you to God. (See


Anyone who cares to correspond with me is welcome to try, provided you understand the rules. Sometimes I'm slow to respond. Sometimes I don't respond. I'm mostly retired from active law practice, so I'm not soliciting legal business, nor will I be likely to accept it. If you correspond with legal questions your correspondence to me will be protected by attorney-client privilege, and I will protect your confidences. But merely corresponding to me with your legal questions will not obligate me to respond, nor will it create the kind of attorney-client relationship where I am under any obligation to respond to you or to advise you or to protect your legal interests. Such a relationship would require a written agreement between us signed by both of us.

With that disclaimer, the author of this blog, George E. Harper, can be reached by email at: for general correspondence, or at for legal correspondence.

Also, I did start another blog last November, the first time I thought I was through with this blog. The subject matters of my new blog are more scattershot and less compelling. Still, if you are interested my new blog can be found at

Thank you again. And again, adieu.


  1. Well, adieu to you, too. Boohoo. I'll miss you and your thoughts here. But I understand... there comes a time for endings... closure.

    I've appreciated all you've written. You've expressed your thoughts and feelings in ways that many can't. I'm sure you've helped others in ways you may never even know about.

    So thank you for sharing. And don't be surprised if I pop in on your other blog to haunt (or even scold) you once in a while. ;)

    Keep on keepin' on... in whatever direction the Lord leads you. Keep learning and growing... I'm sure Sue would have it no other way.

    God bless your future, whatever it holds. Hugs to you and yours....

  2. Are we not here to exchange? Your expression of self has been an enriching experience for me and I hope your new beginnings will give you gradual delight as you move from deep grief to hope and maybe even new love.

  3. George -
    Thank you - just thank you - for the sharing - & for loving Sue - & for welcoming me. These things have all been a cherished gift.


  4. Thank you, may the blessings you gave us, come back to you in many ways.
    You have taught us much, and my prayers go with you as you learn to walk a new path in life.

  5. George;

    Thank you for sharing this difficult intense year. You've helped remind me how important it is to be patient and understanding of the journeys of strangers.

    Farewell and good luck with the fish,


  6. My days will be different now. No longer will I log on to my computer to see what George has written and to find out how Sue is doing since yesterday. Some things will never change though; I will pray each day for you and your daughters and think of Sue. And hope when my time with myeloma ends that I might chance upon Sue in heaven and chat a bit about gardening. Thank you and God Bless you George. Rebecca Weber

  7. Thank you, George, for so much. I admire and am humbled by your strength and honesty and resolve. It is abundantly clear that you and Sue were a match made in Heaven, as they say, and that you both shared a love that many don't experience. I wish you courage and peace. Adieu! Sean

  8. I have told George for the last month when he writes his last blog I would comment. I believe I commented one other time regarding the chicken that survived on the freeway for years but has since went to chicken heaven.

    As a neighbor, friend, partner at Lakeview cottages and most important a chosen family member I have had a front seat on the roller coaster ride of Sue's MM. From sensing something wasn't right, to diagnosis, thru chemo and stem cell, local treatment, hospital vists and finally farewell and memorial goodby. George your comments have been from the heart and your honest feelings, now granted they weren't always agreed by every one but they were real and that is what made this blog what it was.

    The comments and relationships that have developed thru this are something that none of us would have dreamed of 10 years ago. I am amazed at the support and even scoldings that came out, literally from all corners of the country and even the world have expressed support. I know that many have learned to know the Harper family thru this road and I loved and enjoyed reading all the insight by some very gifted people.

    So to my good friend George there is nothing I can say or do that will change what God has planned for us. The only thing I can do is to love you as my brother and tell you what I think and feel. As friends we have a great rule that we can tell each other what we think and we do not have to agree but we still have to love each other.

    George it has been an amazing roller coaster ride and we will continue this ride on another roller coaster car and track as we continue what God has planned and has in store for us.

    As Always (luv ya Jess and Val)

    P.S you never get over the loss. You just get used to the new "normal".

  9. George,
    Your advice in these last few postings is priceless. Thank you. Though none of us want to think of these things, this is all so helpful to so many of us and such necessary information to have. Blessings to you.

  10. It has been wonderful to read and weep with you. I am looking forward to analogies from the world of fishing. I will continue to pray for you! Thanks for your comments on my blog. Janice

  11. George,

    Thank you again for your truthfuliness and sharing your most intimate details of soemthing very tough for all of us. We love the Harper family, I will stay in touch, not for legal advice but to share new memories and thoughts.

    Jennifer L

  12. George,
    I'm so thankful that you took the time and effort to do this blog. I appreciated the frequent and honest updates about Sue's condition. I assume I speak for other family members as well, when I say that I always read your posts, but usually felt too emotional to leave a comment. I'm in awe that you were able to type through the tears.

    I am also grateful for all the knowledge you have shared about dealing with a terminal illness, hospitals, bills, Kleenex, insurance, etc. We all need these kind of honest discusssions. There is no such thing as too much information!

    You definitely have the talent, if you decide to write that book. In fact, I have been tempted to print off parts of your blog, not knowing how long these things remain on line.

    But now, it is time to rest and heal. Take care of yourself physically - you know how change and stress (even from happy events like weddings)can weaken our immune systems. My sister, who was a caregiver for many years, had trouble sleeping after her husband died, but a few months of counseling really helped with that.

    We hope to see you this summer. Jill

  13. George,
    Thanks so much for this blog. It helped us get to know you and your family and helped us know how to pray. You have shared your heart is an amazing way. We continue to pray for you all.
    God's Blessings
    Neola and John

  14. I just came upon this blog from the Good Funeral Guide blog. And having read a few posts, I feel compelled to read the whole thing. Your wife was so lucky to have the family and friends that she did, as you were all lucky to have her.

  15. George, I only recently found you and I am going to bookmark your new blog to keep tabs on you especially since your topic is now one so near and dear to my husband, my caregiver. His major stress reliever is to walk down to the pond in our neighborhood and play a little catch & release with his fly rod (and then come home and describe every fish on what fly and how hard it fought...)


  16. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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