A TRUE "LOVE STORY"

              NEVER Ends

 There's No Greater Love, Than Sharing The Dying Process With The Dying, Nothing Harder

               Henri Nouwen

                                             "Because of Annie" 

 If you love someone today, try to love them more tomorrow. "Life Happens."                              

                                        End of Life Care--"The love"

   You Know you've Loved, And Done Enough, When All You Had Left To Fight

With, Was Your Love For Each Other.                                                 

This bed was created out of love for my beautiful wife Annie. It is and forever will be the bed where she, "made her last stand" in her battle with a deadly blood cancer, Multiple Myeloma. Annie had a 3 to 4 week prognosis. No one knew of her tenacious will to fight in an effort to live, just one more day. She defied the odds so many times in the first two months, they started calling her their little miracle girl in the hospital and at the cancer center. During the 3rd week of Annie's cancer, she broke both femurs, her right hip, and her spine collapsed. On top of that she had 4 broken ribs. I guess what I'm saying is, if you are fighting the battle, never give up on hope, and love your loved one like there is no tomorrow. I gave Annie 24/7 quality care, and my daughter Melissa was my wing man. We were a formidable caregiver team, with the attitude, you have to live, laugh, and love, to beat back a nasty cancer. Annie survived 30 months, and although it was very traumatic times, we're so glad we fought just as hard for her as, she fought to live. Powerful combination. Of course, Annie had incredible doctor's, specialist's, oncologist's,  medical personnel and her newly found Spiritual Awakening on her side too. 

With grief, it doesn't matter how hard you worked, how loving you were, in fact it's not relevant. Grief tells you, you should have tried harder, done better, and it's not until later on in your grief that you know for sure, "you gave it all you had, and did enough to pull off that final miracle if, the story had not been written. Peace

The Empty Bed

The Empty Bed

 Article--Added 21 May 2018:

After Annie died, if I were to guess, I’d say grief was entrenched in me for, four long years. It wasn’t ever easy, the ups and downs were continuous, and at times I felt like I was just going around in circles chasing my grief…and perhaps I was.

After I made it through those years and started pulling myself out of the trenches, life didn’t just magically change.
It Became a Process
Life became a complex of mazes–so many ways in, but only one way out. And that’s the process some of us must go through to get well. At first the maze held its secret, with the mystery only being revealed to me as I aimlessly wander through my solitude in the maze, searching for the escape route, trying to exchange my old reality for, the new.
I was on a mission until, the mission became me. I became one with my grief. I had a strong sense I was healing, while watching and waiting for a door to swing open, offering me an exit from all the anxiety and chaos I’d been living. But, it was not over yet.
Nurturing The Spirit Through Memories
After Annie died, life became so damn complicated. I wasn’t really sure of anything. Yet, somehow I knew there had to be more to life than, just death. To me, it just didn’t make any sense. Annie simply lived, to die?
During her illness Annie had a “Spiritual Awakening,” however, for the previous 37 years we were married she believed in the Native American Spirit World. Maybe that’s why folks always said, “Annie is so full of spirit.”
The more my mind wandered, the more I realized that, although Annie was dead, her spirit was shining “Brightly.” Instinctively, I knew where the secret to my well being lies.
In My Memories
It seemed reasonable that, I needed to communicate with her, in spirit. So I devised a plan where, I would take a couple hours out of each and every day, turn off all the devices and distractions, and spend time with Annie. I called it “Annie’s Time.”
As odd as it may seem, spending time with Annie was priceless. Yes, there were tears of joy, sorrow–I talked about the good, the bad, but most of all, I talked about our deep love for each other that was cultivated during the darkest hours and days of our lives. It’s easy to love another, but to find the true meaning of love, I believe you have to touch and be touched, in spirit. It’s like a real deepness, a togetherness, the feeling of being one entity–perhaps, “Soul Mates.”
It may sound strange, talking to a picture while listening to some of our old favorite music, but, the conversation and music release little nuggets of information that lead to some beautiful memories. And that’s where we need to go. We’re trying to reconcile the bad, by incorporating it with the good, our togetherness–in spirit. We need to become one.
Becoming one is important for many reasons. In essence, for the rest of your life you will be carrying their love with you, where ever you go. It’s not a bad thing, not selfish, it’s simply a part of who you’ve become.
As you enter the new world in one spirit, there will always be room for another. The past, and all the nurtured memories will be safely stored with you to share as you please...Spirit love is kind, it will not get in your way.

The transition towards your new chapter in life will now be much easier, and full of wisdom from the nurtured memories. 

In the end, what it all boils down too is--to be released from the old world, we have to embrace the new, in the spirit of love. "Because of Annie."

Feb 23rd, 2018: The following blogs were written by me (Bob) and reflect my many phases of grief. If you read them, it may help you better understand how you're feeling. None of us grieve the same, but we will and we must grieve the loss of our loved one. You must grieve to get through grief. In my case I'm getting through it, but doubt I'll ever get over it.

The blogs were written, submitted to the Caregivers Space, Ny, Ny., to be published nationally as well as internationally. They've been well received. They were individually written between Jan 1st, 2015 and July 2017, along with over 50 more. As you can and will see, my grief was driven by a deep love for my wife of 39 years, Annie. 

About Bob Harrison

Bob Harrison was raised in the heart of the Redwoods in the far northwest corner of northern California. The little town of Crescent City, California was located near some of the world’s tallest trees, with the west shoreline being the Pacific Ocean. Bob spent most of his time fishing the two local rivers where some of the finest Steelhead and Salmon fishing is located. He was also well known up and down the north coast as an avid motorcycle racer, winning several hundred trophies, and one Oregon State title. Bob graduated from Del Norte High School with the class of 1966, then spent a one year stint at the College of the Redwoods, before having a strong sense of patriotism and joining the United States Air Force. After three years of service, Bob met Annie, the love of his life, and they got married in England in 1972. Bob’s love of country pushed him on to what turned out to be a very successful career, retiring in 1991. Bob’s last military assignment was Wichita, Kansas, a place he and Annie decided to call home. Together they developed and ran two very successful antique businesses until the stranger knocked on their door and changed their lives forever; “Because of Annie.

Grief & Loneliness

Caregiver grief & loneliness

On 28 December 2015 I posted Grief: a silent killer. In the article I discussed caregiving, grief, stress and the role they play in our long term well being. After reading over one hundred-fifty comments to the blog on the Caregiver Space Facebook page, I saw an alarming issue that I failed to address, and it’s a key ingredient to the others when caregiving, grieving, or after the grief.


Caregiving can create a strong sense of loneliness, as folks, often friends and family just seem to disappear into thin air.  That’s compounded by the fact that sometimes communication with our loved one can be very limited due to the nature of the disease or illness.  In other words, there may be no communication for lengthy periods of time.

When I was caring for my wife Annie, due to her low immunity we could go several days without a visitor of any sort.  And the fact that she was on high dose narcotics didn’t help matters any as, she slept much of the time.  

What made matters even worse, was that Annie, although very ill was lonely too.  It’s can be a real oxymoron.  People can be a nuisance at times, when they come into your home and all they want to talk about is their problems, especially to a woman that is in her hospital bed dying of cancer.  But being desperate, loneliness often wants them there anyway.  Company becomes company, and the conversation, no matter what it is, becomes fresh and new, with a new voice. Sometimes the new voice takes the patient or loved ones mind off their own illness, and that’s a good thing.   

It seems to me, what it boils down to is communication.  I wasn’t very good at communicating to friends and family that we could sure use some company.  Instead, I just wondered why not many people stopped by.  It’s tough.  There were times when people did stop by and Annie had very low immunity, the new rules, as laid down by her oncologist, had changed the rules on the playing field.  I wasn’t allowed to let any person, especially children, near her over the fear of her catching a germ which could lead to a very serious, and in-fact fatal infection. So I had to turn them away. So as you can see, loneliness is a big part of caregiveing, and can happen through no fault of anyone, or the fault of everyone and everything.  Sometimes, loneliness simply gets lost in translation.   

Grief also creates a strong sense of loneliness, and can lead to a lot of solitude. On the other hand we may be surrounded by people, but we’re still lonely over our loss. In essence grief and loneliness go hand in hand. It’s the double edged sword effect.

When one grieves over a loss, there can be a strong sense of isolation, and in that instance the isolation creates the loneliness.  And I might add, the loneliness felt from feeling isolated is a real problem and can cause mental health issues.

I saw Dr. Bryant, my psychologist, the evening of 30 December 2015.  He said to me, “my biggest concern at the moment is dealing with your loneliness.”  He said it can create instability in a person, depression, anxiety and escalate to a whole sundry of other problems, which perpetuates being lonely.  Many of the illnesses I went through in 2015, probably used loneliness as a contributing factor.

From his words, loneliness is not to be trifled with, and can make you sick over time.  Having said that, a full recovery is possible when and if the loneliness dissipates.


When I was 20 years old I joined the Air Force.  After basic training and technical school I was sent to England for 3 years.  The first six months in England, even though I worked most days and made many new friends, I felt like I was the loneliest guy on the planet.  Over time, I think the cycle broke rather naturally as I accepted my fate. I was going to be there for 3 years whether I liked it or not, so I might as well spend my time having some fun.  So I did!  Eventually, I felt less lonely with my military buddies than, I had at any point in my life.

The truth

In the metaphor the loneliness was real, but there was always going to be a fix. After all, I had a maximum time limit of 3 years to the loneliness, then I’d be going home, and I could always see the light at the end of the tunnel.  

Losing a loved one is the real deal.  There is no time limit on anything to do with grief or the loneliness, and at the time not much hope either.  And there is no magic wand to wave and make things better.  

The dynamics of grief is such that we can literally bury ourselves in our own sorrow, cutting ourselves off from the outside world, and our family and friends.  In doing so, we inadvertently create circumstances that will fester, and develop into full blown loneliness, during and after the grief.

Understanding that loneliness and stress are bits and pieces of grief, one needs to take grief very seriously. When mixing the three together, the grief can become very intense over a short period of time, and in the case of elderly couples it can lead to extreme grief which develops into the broken heart syndrome. In a research study over a 9 year period of over 373,189 elderly U.S. couples, by Nicholas A. Christakis of Harvard, and Felix Elwert of the University of Wisconsin, it was noted that in 18 percent of surviving male spouses and 13 percent of surviving female spouses died not long after their other half, from sudden death due to all causes.  So if you lose and elderly parent, and the other parent is alive, pay attention to them. Help them through their loss if you can.

Personally, I despise being lonely.  But it’s my burden to carry and I carry it every day, where ever I go. My life has turned into a 4 step program. First there was Caregiving, then the grief and stress, now loneliness. That’s a lot for me or anyone else to deal with.  It’s like being caught in a shadow world where one minute you can see your shadow and the next minute you can’t. Meaning, we walk out of the house with good intentions thinking we have it all figured out, then soon realize, we don’t. It’s just another illusion of happiness. It’s really tough to have anything other than spurts of happiness when your lonely.

Another point I should make is that loneliness is kind of like grief, in that it allows us to make poor decisions. Perhaps, we might do things we wouldn’t normally do for a fleeting moment of self gratification.  For example, buying a new expensive feel good toy that elevates our spirits for the moment, but when we get home we think, how silly, I don’t want, or will never use that toy. And the beat goes on.

How do we get out of loneliness

I say we, because I’m stuck in the loneliest period of my life as I write this article. Yes, I could go out and meet someone, but I’m smarter than that.  Loneliness is very deceptive. I could one day get over the loneliness, and wake up one morning with someone that I don’t want to be with, or perhaps, I don’t get over the loneliness quick enough, and she decides she’s made a bad decision and leaves me. Either way, someone often gets hurt.

What I think I’m going to do is, get more involved with volunteer work, which will get me out into the community and help me start meeting new people, and doing some things that I might not necessarily want to do, but in order to break the cycle of loneliness, I need to do. I really have no other answers, or options that I know of. I’ve been told, yoga and meditation are helpful, but I’m not that guy. I know this, being around family and grandkids provides some comfort from the storm, but are not the answer. The answer lies from deep within me, and I just have to dive in and pull it out.

This has to be my year, and I’m going to get better and break the cycle of loneliness, no matter what it takes. I know, I’ll stumble, maybe fall a few times, but each time I do I’ll get right back up, dust myself off and try again.  

When I was in the 7th grade, and at a school dance, I was so afraid to ask a girl to dance with me, in case she said no. But I did it, and after I got turned down a couple times, I became more determined than ever to get a dance. Then fate intervened, and this cute little  popular girl named Bonnie, walked up to me and asked me if I’d dance with her. I couldn’t believe my luck.

One thing I know for sure.  Sitting around in this house day after day is not going to break the cycle of loneliness, or change my luck, but it could break me if I don’t get that dance.  

And sometimes, despite all we do to break the cycle of loneliness, we still need a little help. So, as I sort of did at the dance, put yourself out there and just maybe fate will do the rest. It’s not going to be easy, but you can do it, and so can I.

My fear is, if we fail, the consequences could be dire.

I wish you the best!

After The Death: grief & dreams   After the death: grief & dreams

After being my wife Annie’s caregiver for thirty months through her battle with cancer, I lost her. I started out as a novice caregiver, but over time I got my Caregiving PhD through on-the-job training. It didn’t take me long to realize the pain and torment some caregivers go through is really badIt was as if my body was always in motion, relentlessly moving to the beat of a hostile drum. Their wasn’t much time for me to sit and relax, sleep, or do many of the things that would have been good for me.

Within the first month I realized my body no longer belonged to me, I was a Caregiver. In my case there was no room for being selfish or of wanting anything that might be good for my well-being. But you know what, for thirty months my body never let me down and I gave everything I had in me to Annie. Never once did I get a cough, a cold, or a fever–I just willed my body onward. So, there I was always moving forward trying to stay one step ahead of the pain and fight off any infections. Annie’s bones were very badly diseased, she had virtually no immunity on a daily basis, and needed to live in a sterilized room as much as possible. A very difficult task!


Technically, from the day I heard Annie's prognosis I started grieving.  After all, a three week prognosis is not very long. As you already know, Annie survived 30 months fighting a nasty cancer. I was told that I was fortunate, in that when I lost her my grief would not be as bad–I had been grieving for quite some time. Don’t ever buy into that theory, it’s not right.

When Annie died, this body that was always in motion lost it’s purpose. I felt like I hit a brick wall doing one-hundred miles an hour. She was just gone–no more giving her medications to her, tucking her in at night, washing her body and beautiful hair, cutting her finger and toe nails, messaging her legs when they hurt, sitting beside and sleeping in a recliner in the hospital for over one-hundred days, telling her and reassuring her “that this is not it Annie,” you’re gonna get through this event, and simply loving her with all my heart and soul–She was just gone! After the initial shock and knee buckling pain my mind started asking questions. Is she okay? How is she doing? Where is she? My faith told me she was in Heaven and doing just fine–but to me in the initial stages of grief, heaven didn’t have a role to play. I just wanted her back!!

An accidental solution: dreams

Having so many questions without answers was eating away at me from the inside out. I was searching for answers. Then one night I laid my head down on my pillow and looked across the five feet to her empty hospital bed. I noticed the sports bandage on her night stand that she wore after braking her pinkie finger. Eureka! A light bulb went on. Annie would sprinkle “Sweet Pea Jasmine” oil on her sports bandage, get in her wheelchair and move around the room wiping it on our fabric furniture and curtains. It made our house smell lovely. My thoughts were, that if I go get the oil and sprinkle it on my pillow I might have a sweet dream of her. I quickly checked the internet to see what it had to say. It said, by laying in a bed of rose petals it is sometimes possible to invoke a sweet dream, however, it can’t be targeted. I was very disappointed but at that point I was not going to give up. When I went to the wicker basket where she kept the oil, I noticed her perfume. I got really excited, and felt like great things were going to happen this night.

And they did! When I laid my head back down I said a prayer to my creator asking him to let me see Annie one more time, then sprayed her perfume on the pillow and the blanket up near where my face was. After I fell asleep I had the most beautiful dream of Annie. She was standing beside her hospital bed, dancing around in a pair of pajamas I bought her, letting me see she was okay. She was turning from side to side, letting me see that her spine was no longer bowed out, and her legs were healed. She was finally free of all the torment and pain she had been suffering. She seemed happy! I couldn’t see her face, but I knew it was Annie.

Isn’t it ironic? Her special perfume was “Angel.” The first four out of five nights I used the perfume I had a pleasant dream of Annie. The stronger the scent the more vivid the dream. And after the first couple of days, I always saw her face. Knowing that greed is a bad thing I didn’t ask to see her or spray the perfume every night, but when I did, the combination worked.

Several months later I was having problems with a question that kept going around in my head. “I can’t let go of her, until she lets go of me.” I went to see my psychologist, Dr. Bryant, and posed the question to him. He looked at me very seriously and said in a soft voice, “Bob, she is not holding on to you!” I said in a soft voice, “I believe she is.” That night I sprayed the perfume and asked for clarification of my question. What I’m going to tell you was simply amazing. When the dream came, Annie and I were up on a grassy hillside, hand in hand, arms swinging in unison like a couple of kids. When the dream ended, we were standing on a porch. Annie had let go of my hand. There was a lady with dark hair standing in the doorway behind an old-fashioned screen door. I looked at her then turned to Annie who had her hand extended to me. She wanted to slap hands. I reached over and gently slapped my hand against hers. She gave me a beautiful smile, turned and stepped off the porch and disappeared. What did it mean? I believe that Annie was telling me when I’m ready it’s okay to move on. She had just let go of my hand.

Note: After several experience’s with dreams, I went to the store where she purchased it and was able to speak to the Angel representative. She told me that Angel contains the same ingredients used in aroma therapy, but much stronger. If I had to give one warning it would be that some of the dreams were not pleasant, and were deeply troubling. I used her Angel until it ran out and although I still have the bottle, I won’t refill it. While grieving I believe my mind had opened up to a higher level of consciousness, hence even life felt very vivid. So when I witnessed trauma on a routine basis as I did, sometimes when dreaming I think I triggered the mechanism in our brain that allows psychic trauma to creep in. In other words, re-live a traumatic event through your dreams. It’s not and individual event, but just as traumatic. Annie wore Angel perfume for nineteen years. So that became her trade mark scent and I loved it.

If you’re grieving it’s very important to keep a journal or diary of how you feel and some of the events that take place from day to day. Later on in your grief, it becomes so important to be able to look back and reflect on your journey. In a sense you are tracking your grief and can clearly see if you are getting better or not. The dreams I spoke of and the many more I had were all documented in real time and now I can use them for a reference point, and share some with others. Believe me, in grief that’s a win, win, situation.

Grief A Silent Killer   Grief: A silent killer

You know, I could start this article out with a bunch of fancy words and statistics to perhaps prove a point, but I really don’t need to.

Annie’s journey through cancer was very difficult, and the truth is, she was always dying a little more each day. From the moment of her diagnosis/prognosis, which was, “we can’t figure out why she is still alive,” but she may have “three to four weeks.” Imagine trying to wrap your head around that grim news.

And I get it, when someone says, “why would you post this blog during the holiday season when spirits are running so high.” My answer, “why wouldn’t I.”  You see, I’m now thankful for what I have, which to me is the gift of having the ability and platform to share stories and events that are happening to caregivers every minute of every day, and don’t magically disappear during the holidays. I say things that many folks are thinking, but don’t want to talk about. I call it “The Truth.”  

And the truth is, none of the serious illness we get are discriminatory.  I don’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat, a lawyer or a doctor, rich or poor, black or white, it just doesn’t matter. Many of the serious diseases will level the playing field for all, and can bring you down no matter who you are. And you will most likely need a caregiver.  Someone like me that truly does care for your well-being regardless of your status in life, and willing to share stories or articles with you anytime of the year. Some may just help you get through a rough patch.

Caregiving is like going on a journey where no person has gone before. Why, because if you haven’t been through the experience, you can’t possibly understand the concept of just how difficult being a caregiver can be.  It will take you to places where you don’t want to go, and having you doing things that you don’t want to do. Your emotions will get very elevated at times, and your stress level can be at the top of the charts.  In essence, stress from being a caregiver can, and if not controllable, create a very unstable and unhealthy lifestyle.


There are many books floating around out there on how to manage your stress.  Well they may be fine when dealing with normal day to day lifetime stressful issues, and we all have them, some worse than others, but if you think a caregiver deals with typical stresses, think again.  

Enter the caregiver for a terminally ill loved one, whatever the disease, throw in Alzheimer's or Dementia, then you can honestly say, as did Tom Hanks from Apollo 13, “Houston, we have a problem.”  And I don’t care how many books you read on stress, they are words and guidelines that can become meaningless to a caregiver under some very challenging, and tremendously unsettling circumstances. Imagine, under the dire circumstances of Apollo 13, someone handing Tom Hanks a book on how to deal with extreme stress. I wonder what his words would have been.  Probably not, “oh, thank you.”

Yes, that was a simple metaphor, but in reality many caregivers face that scenario every day. And the truth is, there is no instruction manual or stress guide that can help you in the heat of the moment, which in truth is a moment that can be created many times a day, day after day. Tom Hanks was flying Apollo 13 by the seat of his pants, and so goes the caregiver.  We have to adjust and improvise as events unfold. And of course, making the right decisions at the time will determine the outcome of the event.  Good or bad.  No pressure, huh.

If you don’t know by now, you should know, over and extended period of time, stress is a killer. It’s a fact that, many caregiver’s will get ill and die before the person their caring for dies. And it’s usually form some sort of live or dormant disorder that is triggered by excessive stress.  

To prove my point I’m going to tell you what happened to me over the entire year of 2015, and why. It’s scary, and sneaks up on you without warning.

Extreme Caregiver

What is an extreme caregiver? Simply put, in my opinion, it’s a person that takes on the role of being a caregiver for a loved one that needs ongoing 24/7 care, which can lead to severe weight loss over a period of time, many sleepless nights, all while dealing with chaos and confusion from lack of instructions…And does it in a selfless manner, without complaint and with no regard for their own well-being.

That’s the way it was caring for Annie, as her hope for another day rested with me. There was no other choice. Annie had many broken bones from the cancer and was basically wheelchair bound, and in a hospital bed from the third week on. Just rolling her over in a manner that didn’t break another bone was a challenge.  Her bones were very badly diseased from the cancer. She was on 200mg of Morphine a day, plus a Fentanyl patch, and Percocet when needed. Her pain medication, which she had to have, was my biggest nightmare.

I knew from day one Annie would not survive her cancer, but I guess I couldn’t accept the facts as they were presented to me. So, I spoke of my fears to her oncologist about all the pain medications she was on. He was brutally honest with me when he said that he was doing everything he could to keep her alive, and my job was to keep her out of pain. Then with strange facial expressions he explained to me the type of pain she was in, and walked away saying, “stay ahead of the pain Bob,” then turning back to say that if I get behind on pain control, playing catch up can be very dangerous as one extra pill can lead to the overdose that kills her. I guess I needed to hear that, and it seemed to make me more determined than ever to fight for her.

It was up to me to make sure that when she took her medications, I kept an eye on her for the first couple of hours watching for shallow breathing.  If the breathing were to get too shallow, Annie could stop breathing altogether, and die. That was a huge responsibility for me, especially when trying to rest at night. I found myself continually waking up and looking at her chest to make sure she had positive air flow. Some nights her shallow breathing was so bad I stayed up all night, giving her a head massage and talking to her.

Bottom line is, I loved her and was willing to do whatever it took to keep her alive. Yes I was tired, but I knew I had the rest of my life to sleep and get rest, but in her case the days were numbered, it was not a matter of if, but when.

In a sense, my life was no longer mine. It belonged to everything I put into caring for Annie. And I would not change a thing. I loved her deeply, and whatever part of her that was not my world, became my world. My position in her life was way more than just being a loving husband.  I was determined to make sure that when the sun set, even during the dark of night, she had the best possible chance of surviving for sun rise, and the dawning of a new day.  


Thirty months after diagnosis, Annie passed. She died with the same grace she fought cancer with. She took me on an extraordinary 30 month journey, allowing me to see what a precious gift she was to me, while helping me understand love in a way that many people never will. I discovered, that for that moment in time, true love penetrated deep into my soul, there was no anger, no resentment, and I found it to be very spiritual. It seemed that my goal in life while caring for Annie was to share every minute I could with her in happiness. Despite everything cancer had in its arsenal to hurt Annie with, we fought back on a daily basis, and we had some fun.  

Annie’s journey through cancer was never about living, it was always about dying, and a caregiver man and his beautiful wife that simply refused to throw in the towel. We literally fought until the end.

When you consider what I just said, when Annie died it was like I hit a brick wall doing one hundred miles an hour. I was totally lost, swallowed up by darkness and despair.  I just wanted her back. Nothing else mattered.  That went on for about three years, day and night.  I didn’t know from one day to the next if I was coming or going and for that matter didn’t really care.  Over a period of  the 4th year the pain started easing considerably, and I was starting to feel alive again. So I thought.

Stress related illnesses

The year 2015 was the worst year of my life for healthcare issues. I was never a sickly person, and all through Annie’s illness I never even had a sniffle. My four years of grief were not quite uneventful.  I was put on heart medication to control heart palpitations that started a few months after Annie died.

A few months after Annie passed I went to see my general practitioner for a physical. The only problem he found was low vitamin D.  Still, his lingering words,  “Bob, there will be consequences for your extreme caregiving, they just haven’t reared their ugly head yet,” still ring in my head.  I think his thoughts at the time, followed by 3 years of intense grief,  and the 4th year spend  coming down from grief, created the perfect storm in 2015. My immune system broke down from all the stress.

In January of 2015 I had my annual physical. All my red blood cell counts were abnormally low. The low blood counts were later on diagnosed as being caused by moderate to severe Gastritis with anemia.  Also, I had two separate lung infections with inflammation, requiring steroid treatment, followed by shingles. Then out of nowhere, came a high level of full body inflammation which triggered a search for tumors in my body.  The inflammation in my body cause me to have what I called the perpetual flu, every day for 6 weeks. My general practitioner asked me if there was any place in or on my body where I didn’t hurt, I said, “my feet.”  He kind of laughed as he left the room.

It’s been a long year for me.  The low blood counts and inflammation triggered so many tests, I felt like a pin cushion. I’ve had a heart catheter, colonoscopy, gastroscopy, x-rays, and a sundry of other tests. Plenty of antibiotics, steroids, pain pills for shingles and so on. It was simply one thing after the other spread out over the year.

It seems like I’ve weathered the storm for now, but I have some more testing in January. The good news is, I don’t have auto immune disease, the bad news is, my full body inflammation can return at any time triggering another round of shingles and other illnesses.  

I’ve climbed a mountain of health issues this year, but caring for Annie taught me how to fight through illnesses that to her would have been commonplace.

The answer, Caregiver=stress, Love=stress, Pain=stress

Under the circumstances as I presented them above, I don’t believe there is an answer to stress relief. Problem is, if you really love someone, when they hurt, physically you can’t feel their pain, but in your heart you certainly can and will feel their pain.  

When my wife Annie was standing beside me and I heard her right femur snap and her hip break, and the audible sound of pain, all I could do was catch her as she was falling. Where do I put that! When she was put on the ventilator for 5 days fighting double pneumonia, sepsis (blood poisoning), and swine flu, I was told the odds of her surviving this event were incalculable. Where do I put that!  The 4 or 5 times the doctors told me that Annie would probably not survive the night, where does that go.  These types of events were a main stay of Annie’s illness.  They happened often.

Looking back, it’s obvious I was living in anticipatory grief.  Not knowing from one day to the next if she was going to survive or not. So in essence, the stress was not going anywhere. It was interlocked with the anticipatory grief and went with me where ever I went.  You can’t make the feeling of doom and gloom go away and you can’t relax or read it out of your head.  It’s there, and there it will stay. You’re gradually getting sick, and you don’t even know it.  You think you are just sad.

Then, over time Annie passed. The anticipatory grief turned to full blown grief and from that point on, the stress was firmly entrenched in the grief cycle.

Three months after Annie passed I started seeing Dr. Bryant, Psychologist. The first six months I saw him twice a week, one hour a session.  Five years later I still see him on a weekly basis for an hour each session.  

I can look back on the many times, when I got back into my vehicle for the drive home after leaving his office, feeling okay, then I’d see something that reminded me of Annie and all the dark emotions came flooding back. Like I said, stress and grief are sort of intertwined, and stress seems to piggybacks off of grief.  

When I first found out I was not well in 2015, the damage to my immune system  had been occurring over a period of the previous six and one-half years. How was I to know that?  And what could I have done to fix it, if I had of known?  There is no magic potion or pill to take away ones pain. Yes, the pain can be masked through medication, but when the mask comes off, guess what, the grief that you haven’t dealt with is right there waiting for you with all its glory and stress.

Bottom line, if you love deeply, you will grieve deeply, the stress will be strong and right there with you too. Stress can be, and sometimes is, “the silent killer.”

Grief: Time Stands Still

Grief: time stands still

One of the most painful experiences a loving caregiver will ever witness, is the dreaded moment when time stands still, and a loved one slips away in front of your eyes. Sadly, there’s nothing you can do to comfort the burden of your pain. It’s there, it’s real, and the grieving process that’s already firmly entrenched in your mind, will begin in earnest. Grief’s arrow will pierce your heart.


This is not how it happened to me, but in a sense it is. And if I didn’t know the truth, I couldn’t speak it.

Internally or vocally you’re screaming out in pain, but no one knows the depth of your sorrow, but you. Everything around you becomes an illusion, where it becomes difficult to process the real from the unreal. You know you saw your loved one pass, but in your mind it’s a case of, “maybe it just a dream.” It didn’t really happen, did it?

You find yourself standing on the edge of a cliff, not sure which way you’re going to fall. You become frightened, you’re lost and don’t know what to do, and then it hits you, this is real, as you fall back into a chair mumbling the words, “I just want my loved one back.”

The pain is excruciating, the fog of death is thick, and you’re slowly coming to terms with the fact that “life as you knew it has, changed forever.” There’s no going back, the care giving for your loved one is now over, and I can honestly tell you from experience, you’ve just traded one nightmare for another.

In my case, being a caregiver for my dying wife Annie was a nightmare. My anticipatory grief was always present, and in the forefront of my thoughts. She so wanted to live, but was not afraid to die. I guess I just wanted her to live, and having to let her go at the end, was beyond my understanding of how life was supposed to be. The emotional drag put on my life by viewing her death has not been good, and doesn’t create a good last memory. The medical personnel telling me how peaceful her death was, by noting the lack of stress on her face, meant nothing. She was just gone!

Oh sure, all her pain and suffering from the cancer was gone, and her nightmare was over, but for me, my nightmare was just beginning. And that may sound a bit selfish, but grievers know, “it’s the truth.”

There’s no second chance to say I love you, fix her a nice meal, or to do the special things for her that sometimes made her day. This body that was continually in motion for thirty months, was now at a standstill. It was like being on a merry-go-round for thirty months, going round and round, never stopping. Then it happens! The merry-go-round stops, and you can no longer stand, so you fall to your knees, head still spinning from all that you went through. And when you finally raise your head and look up, what do you see. In my case it was darkness, laced with a lot of chaos from fear of the unknown. Which is the same fear I, and most likely you felt when care giving and battling for your loved ones life. You are now back on the merry-go-round, but this time it’s different, it’s the merry-go-round of grief!

This is my fifth year post grief and I’ve written thousands upon thousands of words on the subject, but this post was truly meant to be about that moment in time, “When time stands still.”

Still, I need to say this: If your new to the world of grief, or been a griever for awhile, the most important advice I can give you is to not hold back your emotions. You must let them flow. Your tears are your best friend, and if you’re like me, you may cry a thousand tears, think you’re getting better, and cry a thousand more. You’re a griever, where logic is simply a state of mind, which may or may not play a role in your healing process. If you’re feeling locked up, get the photo albums out and start browsing through your pictures. That will allow you to revisit old memories which may get your tears flowing again. I’ve said this before, you have to grieve to get through grief.

Journal your thoughts, or simply jot them down on a piece of scrap paper with a date. That’s how I tracked my grief. I could look back over a year or two and proclaim, “wow, you were really messed up dude!” Not realizing I was still messed up, just not as bad. I was healing. And I knew it based on old notes I’d written. And the photo albums, well, when you can look back on the old memories, and the emotional rush doesn’t hit you so hard, or the tears fall in more of a random pattern, you are healing.

I’d like to share something with you, that a stranger recently posted as a tribute on Annie online memorial.

As you read the tribute, think how important “Your Story” would be to others. All grievers have their own unique story to tell, and think of the people you could touch, and perhaps help by sharing your journey through grief. And believe it or not, over time it becomes refreshingly healing.


“I can never thank you enough for sharing your journey with us. The help you have extended goes way beyond the readers and posters here. So much to say, but for now, adding what Henri Nouwen said in OUR GREATEST GIFT, our “fruitfulness” lives on way beyond our passing; it is then at its greatest.. There is no greater love than sharing the dying process with the dying. Nothing harder. Should Nouwen be alive today, you and Annie would be added to an updated version of Our Greatest Gift. What a gift that you have given to us, especially me.

God’s peace always..”

Henri Nouwen, was considered one of the great writers of our time. A Dutch Catholic priest, professor, writer and theologian. His interests were rooted primarily in psychology, pastoral ministry, spirituality, social justice and community. Henri passed away in 1996. Wikipedia
Posted by Andrew JImenez on December 12, 2021
Happy birthday Nanny! Missing you more than ever. Can’t wait until we can all celebrate together again! Love you forever.

Posted by melissa mcmukllen on November 2, 2020
Hello mama...I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since your passing. I miss you as if you just left! Now that dad is with you in Heaven i will so my best to come by and say hello to you both and keep your page moving for him. Daddy was so proud of this ama loved keeping your alive this way. He visited you EVERY SINGLE NIGHT...listening so loud to your beautiful music. I bet he is so happy to be at the door of Jesus with you. I miss yuh both so much and have never felt so alone. I love you . My turn now. I can’t wait to be with you both again
Posted by Michelle Lisle on September 22, 2020
Hello Annie hope you are well ..Your husband Bob is with you now ..Would you tell him thank you for helping me through grief and pain ,I didn't get a chance to say good bye to him ....Party on Annie And Bobby in heaven i raise a drink to you both from England . farewell Bob XXxxXX
Posted by Lesley Sokolowski on September 21, 2020
Hello my beautiful sister Annie.
I miss you so very much. And now I will miss your Bobbie also. Although sad I cannot have you here, it brings me joy knowing your together again.
Love you both always and forever ❤️ Xoxo
Posted by Bob Harrison on July 15, 2020
Hi Sweetie, this has been a dreadful year for the world. The Covid-19 virus has much of the world recovering and some of this country back on lock down. As difficult as your cancer was, I can't even imagine you being sick and getting treatment during this virus. You needed some sort of treatment on a weekly basis as does other patients. Sadly, many cancer patients had to stop their treatment due to the virus. Many were not allowed into the hospital due to the virus. This has been a really tough year Annie. At the moment our granddaughter Brittany has confirmed Covid and is currently in her home in Alabama. Our granddaughter Hannah hasn't got her test results back yet, but she's being treated as a Covid patient. I think their gonna be okay, but they have been really sick. Don't worry, I'm in communication with them. I'm not even allowed to be around them. Terrible feeling. I'm trying to get back into the Estate Sale business, but with this virus going around it's impossible at the moment. Yesterday morning around 3AM I decided to put all your dressing gowns in a large blue container, along with many of your personal effects and a copy of Because of Annie. Someday, someone will look inside that container and say, wow, this was our great, great, grandmother (Nanny). I sure hope so. I'm putting a letter in there from me and some pictures and sentimental items too. Those night dresses had been hanging in the same spot for almost ten years. After getting a new aorta heart valve 20 days ago I realized, it's time to do the things I need to the most before, I can't. Love you forever, Bobby, XOXO
Posted by Bob Harrison on April 21, 2020
Hi Sweetie. When you were sick, in Sept 2009 you had H1N1-swine flu, double pneumonia and Sepsis. You were so sick. I remember when your pulmonologist said to me, if we don't get her on the ventilator soon, she's going to code. What a scary, frightful, moment that was. Dr. said, your chances of surviving were 50-50. To some that would be dreadful news. Not to me. We'd been there a few times before when, they said you would not likely survive this event. You had such a tenacious will to live and always fought such a good fight. Bless you Annie. You have no idea how much you have inspired me. Your death certainly changed everything I ever knew and understood about life. The good, bad and ugly, I've seen it all. It's been a difficult 9 years, but, I knew it was not going to be easy. And yes, I'm still writing and posting our story as far as the internet will take it. Which is a really long ways. I doubt it will ever catch up to you as you got a head start on me--and soaring with the Angels. If you ever feel a bit of a bump or nudge, it's just me, sharing my love. God bless Annie, and thanks for so many precious memories. Love, love, Bobby. xoxoxo
Posted by Bob Harrison on March 22, 2020
Hi Sweetie, You know it's been over 9 years now, and I still miss how things were. There is still only you in my life, there's been no other. I'm sure some of the women think that's a bit strange, but when one is not emotionally available, what's the point. I'm not looking for a good time, I'm looking for a meaningful time. Apparently that doesn't exist in my world. It seems we now live in a world of me, me, me. It's all about me. Annie, people have really changed and not for the better. So sad. Perhaps, during the darkest hours and days of my grief I could see the good in everyone. Living in the darkness can do that to a person. I'm awake now, wow. When I first lost you, I was so envious and jealous when I saw a couple living and loving, in love. When I see the couples now, I'm so happy for them. Their finding what I once knew. Life can be as simple as a twist of fate. Love you forever, Bobby xoxoxo
Posted by Bob Harrison on December 13, 2019
Happy Birthday sweetie--loving you forever. Just got back from a 43 day trip to Crescent City. Our Nephew Andre from England joined me for 7 days, we had a blast. Spent a lot of time with family and friends. Did a lot of fishing, you know I loved that. Managed to catch and release about 40 Salmon. My sister Marcy started chemo 4 days ago. She has a blood cancer too. Not the same as yours, and certainly not aggressive, but it still blood cancer and has to be dealt with. You remember my childhood friend Ted. He was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma, 5 days after I arrived in CC. He's going through extensive chemo, and if all goes well, he'll get a long remission, if not a cure. As you can see, my years on this earth is driving me further and further into the world of cancer. It's like an epidemic. Of course, I still have significant Prostate cancer, been on Active Surveillance for 4 years now. Probably need to get it treated soon. My best guess is, I'll have radiation followed by hormone therapy. Not a good thing for me as there are so many dreaded side effects. And that's why I've been stalling for more time. Love you Annie--we went to Gracie's concert tonight, on your birthday. We had a good time, and remembered you in our conversation. We all dearly miss you. XOXO
Posted by melissa mcmukllen on December 12, 2019
Oh momma, I miss you. Happy Birthday my sweet angel. I will always love you xoxox
Posted by Bob Harrison on November 23, 2019
Hi Sweetie, I'm out in Crescent City California on my annual fishing trip and visiting family. Last week I went to Happy Camp, and visited family I hadn't seen in over 50 years. They don't know you but, they love you. Spent a day in Medford visiting Teddy. He's been my friend since I was a child. You met him when we lived in Crescent City, back in the day. Five days after I arrived here he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. He just completed his second,two day round of Chemo, yesterday. And is doing okay. Our beautiful Nephew Andre flew in from London and spent a week with me too. We took a road trip to Crater Lake, Or. Had a great time. He'd always wanted to go there. Long day, but well worth it. I arrived here on 23 Oct 19, and the river has been closed the whole time due to Low Flow restrictions. So I haven't fished. Well I fished the mouth of the river with Andre twice, which is open, but that's a standing joke with the locals as, everyone knows there's no fish there. But sometimes it's the experience of fishing a crystal clear river, and watching all the wild life. Then of course, there is always hope. I learned to hope when you were fighting cancer. I remember when we were told that your treatment had reached the limits of medical technology, all we had left to fight with was our love for each other, and hope. We fought one hell of a battle. Annie, I'm so sorry I couldn't save you. God knows I tried. I love you Annie. Bobby xoxo 
Posted by Lesley Sokolowski on November 2, 2019
Love and miss you as much as ever Annie!
Cannot believe it has been nine years today.
Posted by Bob Harrison on September 17, 2019
My Sweet Annie, I love you, I love you, I love you. Song Bird is one of the songs on your memorial play list. Those treasured words are in the lyrics. I still mean that, and I will, always and forever until, we meet again. When I listen to the music it takes me back to the day, Sept 4th, 2011, when I first started creating your memorial. I was so lost, alone and full of heartache. It never occurred to me that I'd make it this far without you. The say I'm a survivor--I say I'm surviving. Either way, I'm still here missing you. I'll be 72 in March and I'd love to see you, touch you, hold you. It's been almost 9 years. You were always so pretty, carried yourself so well, and your love of humanity was above reproach. My intensity in grief has receded somewhat, but I will never forget or stop loving you Annie. And I'll always be here. Perhaps not as often and maybe not as deep, but I will be here, Loving you. xoxo
Posted by Bob Harrison on July 18, 2019
Hi Sweetie,
In April and June of this year I conducted an Estate Sale each month. Without you by my side it, wasn't easy, but I did it and both sales were very successful. During the second sale, our 18 year old grandson, and 13 year old granddaughter helped me run the show. We had a good time, we had some laughs, and I was able to teach them, not only how running a business works, but more importantly, how to build a relationship with our customer base. You would have been so proud. After the sale was over, Brad, the owner of the contents of the home handed each grandchild, London and Gracie, two 100 dollar bills while, thanking them for helping their grandfather conduct the sale. Brad laid a lot of praise on them. They were so pleased. One customer that used his credit card placed a note with the company on how helpful our employ was, helping him move items out of the house to his vehicle. London was so chuffed. Annie, when you died London, was nine and Gracie four. Their growing up. Beautiful kids. But London is special, he has your kind and loving ways, and treats folks with so much respect. He's a natural in the business. Soon, I'm going to start advertising to do more sales now, that I have a little crew. Oh, in case you're wondering, Gracie is a little unpredictable live wire, that knows something about everything and has an opinion. Luckily for me, folks think that's cute. She's a sweetheart too, but really isn't to interested in your problems unless there some drama involve. Then she's all ears. Love and miss you sweetie, and yes, I wish you were here. XOXO
Posted by laurel larison on June 24, 2019
so sorry for your loss. Heaven has gained an angel and you will be reunited one day. What a glorious reunion it will be
Posted by Bob Harrison on May 21, 2019
Hi Sweetie, been awhile, but as I've said before, I haven't forgotten about you. My life is still based, on a true love story, "Because of Annie." I'd write that book again if the story hadn't already been told. You were the most precious person I've ever had the privilege to know. And to this day I'm, still thankful you chose me to spend the better part of your life with. However, 39 years was not the life time I'd expected. Naively, I thought we'd be together forever. In a super natural sense, I guess we are, still together. Your story and the knowledge I've gleaned from it has helped folks across the planet. And believe me, I'm still telling it. I was in Kohl's tonight and got to share your last Kohl's shopping trip with two young ladies working there. One was fighting back the tears as I shared the beautiful last shopping experience you had. That was such a bitter sweet night. I love you Annie, and no doubt always will. And I'll keep checking in on you from time to time. Being an international caregiver takes so much time out of my waking hours. However, I know that would make you proud, as I'm now carrying your torch of love for humanity. You'd be chuffed if you knew just how many folks in the world that feel as if they know you. You touched my heart, you touched my soul, and you touched my life--I shall never forget you. Love you sweetie. xoxo
Posted by Bob Harrison on February 15, 2019
Hi Sweetie. Last time I spoke to you was on Christmas Day. No, I haven't forgotten you. You're still a huge part of my life. I'm stilling working with the Caregiver Space, working as an international caregiver. Very busy, at times. One really doesn't know the misery in this world, until they become a caregiver or, in my case, a caregiver for the caregivers. Annie, it comes so natural for me. Seems I have an answer for most of their questions, but not so much when, it comes to solutions to their problems. So many people are really hurting. And the sad truth is, most caregivers don't get paid. Some caregivers must quit their jobs, some drop out of college, some don't get to go to college, while some have to work full time, get off work and spend a part of the evening and night caregiving and getting things organize for the next day. Not getting paid makes the Caregivers job so much more difficult. It seems, everything costs something. And then there's one of life's greatest tragedies, "Loneliness." It, along with caregiver burnout hits them really hard. For the most part, they do not get a break. From the time I get up each day, 7 days a week, until I go to bed around 5 AM, I'm always checking on the caregivers around the world, helping where I can. And guess why--you Annie, "Because of Annie." I'm not supposed to be doing this. I'm supposed to be married, you by my side, having some fun, living, laughing and loving. I guess, some things aren't meant to be. I love you Annie, an know this, you may be gone, but you're still helping others, through me. I love it when folks say, "I Love Annie!" Your secret of, helping others beyond the grave has been unleashed and people are really loving it. Good night Sweetie, RIP, Bobby xoxo "You're still the one."
Posted by Bob Harrison on December 25, 2018
Merry Christmas Sweetie, I love you. It's been a very long year for me, but it's finally winding down. Annie, I'm tired. Looking back on how strong you were while battling cancer, makes me feel ashamed, at times. Your strength and courage still amazes me, and set the bar higher than I fear, I can climb. Still, I live by your motto--never give up on hope-for a brighter day. Perhaps, I'm just wishing you were here on this Christmas Day, and why wouldn't I. Your presence in my life or maybe I should say, lack of presence has left a huge void. One I know now, that can never be filled. I've given up on Love-or perhaps, it gave up on me. Love and miss you sweetie, xoxo
Posted by Bob Harrison on December 13, 2018
Hi Sweetie. You're getting a lot of love on your birthday. It ended a few hours ago, but I didn't forget you. I ran a story of how we met on my Facebook page. I wanted to post the results on here so I waited. You are loved kiddo. Love you xoxo 

Happy Birthday Annie xoxo

On the date of Annie's Birth, I like to share a memory with you.

Setting was In Essex England, Spring of 1971.

Me and three other GI's lived in a 4 bedroom Victorian house out in the country away from the the Air Base. It was set back in the woods surrounded by beautiful trees, wild flowers, and green grass everywhere. And once a week the Landlady would bring us a basket full of fresh vegetables. Yummy. Life was good, then, during the first month I met Annie.

Me and the guys were at the NCO Club one night, drinking, dancing and just hanging out. From where I was sitting, I noticed this girl sitting at the table behind me, and if I looked over my right shoulder I, could see her. Her hair was in pigtails, she had on a long muted maxi dress, and sandals that laced up her legs. I fell in love with a dream after a few good looks. Problem was, she was not seeing me. It was obvious that she was unhappy with this dude she was with, it was written all over her face. But, being from a small town, I was respectful and did not approach her.

(Not long before Annie died from her cancer, she was lying in front of me on her hospital bed, and I asked her to tell me a story. This story I'm telling you, she told me from her perspective on, The Night We Met.--It blew me away as I'd never told her my side of the story--She said she had her eyes on a good looking bloke and thought she didn't have a chance. That was me. :)

How we met: I was on my way to the bar to get another rum and coke, but as the bar was so crowded I, decided to go to the Loo instead. When I got out into the foyer, I saw her standing with her back to me talking to my friend "J." I quietly crept up behind her to hear what she was saying. I heard these words--Can you give me a ride home, I'm not happy. Jay, being a very intellectual kind of guy, thought about everything before he spoke. When he opened his mouth to speak, I put my lips near her ear and whispered, "I will." She turned, looked at me and gave me the most beautiful smile I'd ever seen.
We ran out of the club, jumped into my Red Beetle, and took off into the night.

She stayed with me that night, and at 6 AM when I woke, I reached over for her and she was gone. I yelled out her name a couple of times and all I heard was my roommates yelling back, a bunch of words I can't repeat on here.

This is what was special to me--I got up, looked out my window, and she was down in the garden in her long maxi dress, flower in her hair, no shoes, picking fresh spring flowers. She was a beautiful Hippie Chick!

120 Likes: Emilie Roberson, Derek Harris and 118 others
Tracey Grover
Tracey Grover Happy Birthday Auntie Anne, have some fun up
Brenda Carlson
Brenda Carlson Such abeautiful story cuz
Mary Popa
Mary Popa How precious
Linda Byce
Linda Byce Precious Couple ❤️
Precious Memories ❤️
Very Precious Love Story ❤️
Christopher Hogan
Christopher Hogan Happy Heavenly Birthday Annie
Posted by melissa mcmukllen on December 12, 2018
My sweet sweet momma, I wish you the Happiest Birthday ever! I know it will be extra special as you now celebrate your birthday’s with our Heavenly Father. Even tho I know without a doubt you no longer suffer & feel any pain I would give anything to have you here with me again. Momma I miss you so very much. I thought somehow it would get better as time passed, I was wrong. I think of you daily! I love you so very much. Happy birthday mum
Posted by jeff marsh on December 12, 2018
I don’t know you or your family but I can see how much they loved you.I just want to wish you a very Happy Birthday in heaven and if you see my Grandmother and my mother please tell them how much I love and miss them.
God Bless You
Posted by laurel larison on December 12, 2018
Happy Birthday from earth to heaven. You were loved by so many I can sure tell. Even though I didn't know you or the family I just wanted to write something positive. Heaven had gained another angel and you and your family will be reunited one day. Pease of Christ be with you. Even though you left this world you will always be in the hearts and souls of your family here. Peace
Posted by Bob Harrison on November 30, 2018
Hi Sweetie. In October my sister Marcy came out for an 8 day visit. I was under the impression she had what she called pre-Leukemia. Anyway, after seeing her fragile condition I decided to change my plans. I wasn't coming to Ca this year for my annual get-away, but, knowing that she lost her husband of 54 years, Johnny, one of your favorite people, in July, I decided to put my caregiver hat back on and come spend a month helping her with her grief and loneliness. And of course I, got actively involved with her healthcare. Her condition is stable but her white blood cell count in in the toilet. Very little immunity to germs. She's just one germ away from a major illness. It worries me, but I've been reinforcing her on the importance of staying away from children and folks with colds and germs in general. Which in all cases is difficult to do. She still needs to live her life. I have met and spoke with her oncologist. He wasn't telling her anything. Funny how, when a person gets a knowledgeable caregiver, the doctors start talking. We now have a plan that started with a bone marrow biopsy two weeks ago. Results should be give to us at her appointment on Monday, 4 days from now. I'm nervous and a bit anxious for her, but hoping for the best. Because of You, Annie, I've been able to help so many people, to include my sister Marcy. Your Legacy is intact, and as my Friend Earl says, Bob, Annie won't die until you die. He's right. And by the way, you would have loved Earl. He thinks like you. :) Still loving and missing you, Annie. XOXO
Posted by Bob Harrison on November 2, 2018
Hi Sweetie, eight years ago today, my world, our family's world, changed forever. We all miss you from the depths of our soul's. To say our hearts were broken would be an understatement. But, we prod along, day by day, and as far as we're concerned, you're always with us. Perhaps keeping us safe. In our family you were always the center of the wheel, keeping us steady as ,we go. Bless you Annie, you're forever in our hearts, and will be there until our collective memories fade. I, we, love you more than words can express. RIP sweetheart. Until we meet again--Lovingly Bobby xoxo
Posted by melissa mcmukllen on November 2, 2018
Momma... it just never gets easier. I miss you so very much! I love you ❤️ always & forever
Posted by laurel larison on November 2, 2018
I am so sorry for your loss. Even though I never knew her I am sad for you that she is gone. May the peace of Christ be with you always. God had gained another angel in heaven for sure.
Posted by Bob Harrison on September 9, 2018
Hi Sweetie. Your Memorial Page says it all, "and I think I'm gonna love you, for a long, long time. It'll be 8 years, Nov 2nd. It's hard for me to wrap my head around that date. It seems like forever, yet, yesterday. Annie I have not forgotten you. I'm still the stabilizing force in what was your earthly life. Remember what you told me when you were sick. "Bobby, my mum was right, huh." What do you mean Annie. "She said to stay with you, that'd you'd always take care of me." That brought a tear to my eye. Your mum was always right, Annie. Caring for you was an honor and a privilege. You were easy to care for, in that, you were so gracious for any care I gave. Always smiling, loving me with your heart and eyes. How I wish I was still caring for you. Missing you Annie. :( It's hard to cope at times, yet I keep moving along, day by day. My heart still belongs to you, and only you. I love You xoxo
Posted by jeff marsh on July 2, 2018
Just wanted to say God has your Annie in his arms holding her tightly,And as for you bob I am 1000000000% sure you have a place right beside her with Jesus.God Bless You bob and bless your family.You are a very inspiring man who has done many great things with your life.Annie was a very lucky woman to meet and marry such a great man and I am sure you were a very lucky man to meet and marry such a great woman. Thank you for your writings and thank you for your service.
Posted by Bob Harrison on June 21, 2018
Congratulations Sweetie!! As of today you've had over 100,000 visitors. In my first tribute to you back on that warm Sept evening in 2011, I said I wanted the whole world to hear about you, and your courageous fight for life. I was grieving, my imagination was running wild, but I had a plan that I don't think even I would have believed, if not for my grief. Now, 7 years later I'm still writing and telling the world about you. These words, "I Love Annie," have flowed out of so many peoples mouths. I kind of Loved you too, kiddo, and miss you so much. With and the, both being international platforms, I'm not through yet. More people need to hear your voice, the voice of Love, hope, and faith. Love you Annie, RIP Sweetie. xoxo.
Posted by Bob Harrison on June 9, 2018
Hi Sweetie. Guess what? You're getting closer and closer to 100,000 views. My anticipation has carried some anxiety with it, wondering what I could post to make this memorial special. Then I look at it, listen to your beautiful music, look at all the stories and pictures in the Gallery, and realize, your memorial is already special--full of love, hope, and no doubt heartwarming and helpful to others. Still, I can do better and I shall. I want to tell more stories about you and your untiring love of humanity. You were one of a kind, but, where there is one, there has to be more. And I don't need to talk to them--they get it. You and I together need to reach out to the unsuspecting stranger, the one that has been lost in the hustle and bustle of this crazy world. Maybe, the forgotten few. We need to reach out and touch their life, perhaps the heart, of one person at a time. And together that's how we do our bit to make the world a better place. Annie, I know you have touched over a million lives, and probably many more. And it is true, "Everybody Loves Annie." I sure do. Sweet dreams, xoxo
Posted by Bob Harrison on March 3, 2018
Happy Anniversary Annie. Today, 2 March 2018, we would have been married 46 years. But, 7 years ago the unthinkable happened and you went away. I'm still loving and missing you, and looking forward to the day we are reunited. All my life, well, I guess I took life for granted, the thought that you would get cancer and die, never entered the equation. And I had no understanding of just how final death really is. I get it now--it's forever and ever, until the end of time. And that's a long, long time. On Feb the 5th I was diagnosed with influenza, running night time temps of 103.1. I was really sick. Back to the doctor on the 8th of Feb, was told I had pneumonia. Took all my medications as prescribed, but two days later on the 26th of Feb, I spiked a high fever at 1AM, drove myself to the overnight acute care clinic where I was told I had Pneumonia again or it never went away. They didn't know. But they kept me for six hours, did a lot of testing and let me go home. Obviously my GP that I saw on the 27th was concerned. I'm to old for back to back pneumonia's. The hospital really is not an option for me as too many folks have the flu and pneumonia and are dying. Dangerous place. I see my GP on the 8th of March and will see where I'm at with my illness. I feel like I'm making some progress, but not much, as I still have the lung pain. I could use a little Angel kiss, if you're ever in the area. I love you Annie, and hope you are resting in peace. Bobby xoxo
Posted by Doreen Barber on March 3, 2018
Hi Annie, felt you here home near me today in our home land, just want you you to know now I am a great mother , I am not in good health, just being a number , but making the most of what I am and what I have left to give, Bob your beloved husband has so much expressed his love and devotion to you in every possible way in his tributes, you would be so so proud. Rest my beautiful sister in your heavenly surroundings and one day we will all be reunited. God bless. Your loving sister Dor Dor xxx
Posted by Bob Harrison on January 26, 2018
Hi Sweetie, I'm still here loving you. No longer posting tributes every week is not a bad thing, it's a good thing. It means I will keep fighting the "Beast," of grief, but I'm slowly winning the battle. Remember, it started over 7 years ago, and the fact I'm still here, professes my untiring love for you. I will always be here, loving and checking on you with a sweet hello. You were the best of the best in my eyes. I don't know why things happen as they do, or why you had to get cancer and go away, but I know this, I've got the best Guardian Angel on this earth. I love you Annie, RIP my Love. Bobby xoxo
Posted by Bob Harrison on December 28, 2017
Hi Sweetie. Well, I made it through another of your birthdays, and of course Christmas. We had a good Christmas for the first time since you passed, 7 years ago. I finally made the effort this year. It's still not the same, and I guess will never be the same--how can it be. You were like a huge party favor during the festive season. Pulled it all together to make life magical for the entire family. I miss those days, and I miss you everyday. People speak to me with admiration while questioning my sanity. How do you keep writing about your wife after all these years. It's easy. They love to hear stories about you and I guess I'm good at telling them. The night we met was magical and they love that story. I had a 5 second window to acknowledge a question you were asking to my best friend Jay. You said, I am bored. Well you take me home. I think Jay was so stunned by your beauty, he lost focus, and when he opened his mouth to reply, I was standing behind you near your left ear. I said, I will. You turned around and looked at me with a beautiful smile and we ran out of that club hand in hand. And as they say, Love Will Find A Way. Love you sweetie. xoxo
Posted by laurel larison on December 12, 2017
Even though I didn't know you. I have read so many great things about you. I know you are in heaven and celebrating with the Lord. We grieve because you are not here but I am sure you are here in spirit. Guiding and listening to everything that is going on. Peace and know you were loved by so many. Prayers for peace for those left behind but it is in knowing that one day you will be reunited again in heaven.
Posted by laurel larison on November 2, 2017
Even though I didn't know you, I wanted to leave a message here. In going and reading through all the wonderful comments, it touched my heart. I know your husband misses you that I can tell for sure. I feel you are in heaven celebrating with all the family that has gone on before. I too have had all my family is now gone, dad, brother, mother and grandmothers. I sometimes feel alone too but in knowing our loved ones are now safe and no longer hurting makes all the difference. the Lord has a special place for you and I am sure when the time comes you will all be reunited. wow what a celebration it will be. Love from earth to heaven and kiss and hug. The Lord had gained another angel when you went to His heavenly gate. WE mourn as we don't have you anymore but I am sure you will ALWAYS BE in their hearts and minds but more importantly you touched their souls. Love and peace
Posted by Bob Harrison on October 12, 2017
Hi Sweetie, On Nov 2nd it'll be seven years since you passed. And I'm so sorry you're not here. I miss you terribly. What's been most difficult is the dreadful loneliness. Very hard to overcome. Last Saturday night we went to the Leukemia and Lymphoma, Societies, Light the Night Walk. And for the seventh year in a row I spoke to the grievers in the Remembrance Area. So sad to see people in the position I was in a few short years ago. Lot of broken hearts. I so wish you could see this beautiful memorial I created for you, in your honor. You've touched so many lives Annie. You were an amazing lady, so full of love and kindness. I'll miss you forever. So much love, Bobby xoxo
Posted by Graham McKendry on August 28, 2017
Hello Annie, I just wanted to let you know that your Bob has inspired and supported so many people, through his blogs, you would be so proud. He shines brightly emanating a beautiful empathy that warms the hearts of strangers all over the world. These same strangers I believe now feel a unique friendship and bond with him. The hope he has given me to carry on my own journey, one that like so many seemed lost, is unbelievable. People talk about being an humanitarian, however, finding one these days seems very difficult. They say we all come to this life with something we want to achieve, I think Bob might have found his when he wrote about loving and missing you. Like you were he is still, a very unique and special individual. Thank you for sharing him with us.
Posted by Bob Harrison on August 5, 2017
Hi Sweetie. Just wanted to stop by and say hello. Not much going on these days, life has become a bit stale. My prostate cancer is still doing okay--meaning it's still in my prostate and has not spread. I suppose one of these days I will be forced to make a decision, but at the moment I just pray about it, and take some natural herbs from Green Acres. When I lost you, I knew life as I'd known it had changed forever, but I never expected this. It's even worse than I thought. I'm just muddling through life, looking for the happy ending that never seems to come. One day I will leave this earth and join you, but until then, who knows. Life goes on. Love you my Angel, Bobbyxoxoxo
Posted by Bob Harrison on June 24, 2017
Hi Sweetie, it's been awhile since I posted, but I'm on here everyday, checking on you. I think my mission to get your story out there has been a huge success. Together, through your tragic journey through cancer, we've helped more people than I ever could have imagined. The past 3 years I've been working with a great caregiver organization out of NY City, The Caregiver Space. We have a huge following and do everything we can to assist others. And, because of you Annie, and the extraordinary caregiver journey you took me on, I was inspired to get involved in the lives of those less fortunate than I. I know that would make you smile. You were ever the caregiver for so many people, and we didn't even know it...Until you got sick. I wish you were here and I didn't know all the things I know now. I love you and miss you. Bobby xoxo
Posted by Bob Harrison on May 17, 2017
Hi Sweetie, Just listening to one of the songs on your play list. "A Thousand Years." It says, "I have loved you for a thousand years and I will love you for a thousand more." Well, with a smile, it has only been 6 1/2 years, but I'm still here loving you. And no doubt, I will certainly love you to the end of my time on earth. It's been a long lonely 6 years, and I suspect that it's not going to change. Love you sweetie, hope to see you one day, xoxo precious love!
Posted by Bob Harrison on April 28, 2017
Hi Sweetie, Being your caregiver, watching you pass away, then dealing with 4 years of grief has really taken it's tole on me. I've developed a significant prostate cancer, gastritis with anemia, full body inflammation-on and off, shingles, inflamed lungs and the list goes on. They say that's what intense care giving does. That was certainly how out journey went. You know, I worked as hard as I could and gave it everything I had, but I could not save you. I so wish you were here. It's lonely. We cultivated our marriage over many, many years, and I believe we did a good job. But we never made it to our retirement ages as a team--retirement was gonna be so grand, but, it wasn't meant to be. The first song I put on this memorial a few years ago was Song Bird, by Eva Cassidy. It's playing now. It reminds me of the early days of grief, and I played the music over and over. The song playing now is by Lynda Ronstadt, Goodbye My Friend. I love you Annie, in a soft voice, "I wish I could tell you.
Posted by Bob Harrison on February 22, 2017
Hi Sweetie, time is starting to slip away now. You've been gone 6 years, 4 months now, and although things can never be the same as they were, I still miss you, and think of you every day. There's still a shop in the area, where you bought many nice things for our home, and some lovely clothing for yourself, that I still won't go into. Way to many memories. When you went shopping, I was almost always with you. You'd pick something off a rack, hold it to your body asking, how would this look on me. It looks beautiful, Annie. You simply had a beautifully unique way of dressing, which matched your unique personality. I loved you so much, RIP Annie. Bobby xoxo
Posted by Bob Harrison on January 14, 2017
Hi Sweetie. I have loved you for a thousand years and I will love you for a thousand more. That's what it feels like since you went away. I can sit and listen to your memorial music, and fall into love with you more. Those memories we made during your illness ware so special, albeit a bit sad at times. When I was with you it was always alright. even during our darkest hours. We created something very special and hard to find on this earth. The "Perfect Love." I love you Annie, big hugs, Bobby xoxo
Posted by Bob Harrison on January 1, 2017
Hi Sweetie, Christmas and New Years has come and gone, and not much has changed. I was, in a more celebratory mood this time around. But, still didn't do anything special. It's like I've been saying on here all along, time goes on, but I stand still. I mean, it's certainly better than when you left me. I look back over those 4 years, and I was so sick. Grief really did beat me down. But, I survived, and kept on loving you all the while. And so it was, and so it is. I'm gonna be okay, I just wist I was with you, somewhere. It's strange Annie. I can set here at this computer, your memorial music playing, and hear your voice, see your face, revisit old memories, but, I can't touch you. I know, we must not handle the Angels. I know you're here, always here. For that, I am thankful. I love you Annie, rest in peace sweetie. Bobby xoxo
Posted by Bob Harrison on December 12, 2016
Hi Sweetie, today, 12 December 2016 is your birthday. It's been 6 long years and 1 long month since you had to leave. I so much hate Cancer. And I wish you were still here. Life is not and never will be the same, without you. I miss your smile, laughter and love, every single day. I hope there is something special going on in Heaven. I know you rock the place with your trademark smile and laughter. I want you back Annie. Love you always, Bobby XOXO I'm flying back home tomorrow from Northern California to Wichita. I will be soaring with the Angels. I'll keep a look out for you somewhere up in the sky. I have window seats. :)
Posted by Bob Harrison on November 20, 2016
Hi Sweetie, Been in California for 28 days now. I've only gone fishing a few times, it's been raining too much. The river usually has too much water to fish from the bank. I did catch a 40+ pound salmon at my favorite spot, when the river dropped, but the next day it was going up again. I miss bringing home cans of smoked salmon, setting around the dining room table and having a delicious snack with you. Wow, it's really hard living without you. So many things, I miss. My grief isn't so bad now, but the loneliness is hell. And I can't change a damn thing. I'm no longer sure what life is all about. We're here one day, then we're gone. You took a big chunk of my heart when you left, but thankfully you left me with a chunk of yours. So sad. I love you and always will. Bobby xoxo
Posted by Doreen Barber on November 2, 2016
Dear Sis, Remembering you with love today and always. Rest in peace angel. Miss Doreen xxx
Posted by Bob Harrison on October 27, 2016
Hi Sweetie, I arrived in California on Sunday, 23rd Oct, only to be met with a very wet forecast. The two days I've been here it has rained and rained. The next ten days are calling for rain too. Gotta give those big Redwoods a drink. But, as you know, I can't catch the salmon when the river is running high, so I wait. Bummer! Remember all the times I brought home fresh wild smoked salmon. We really did feast, and fed some of our family and friends too. Wonderful times and memories. Now when I take some home, it's in the form of smoked salmon jerky. Delightful stuff. I love and miss you Annie. RIP Sweetie. xoxo
Posted by Bob Harrison on October 18, 2016
Hi Sweetie, finally some good news. Got my Decipher Genetic Biopsy testing back 4 days ago. I still have a significant prostate cancer, but as it turns out the results of the testing were excellent. Chance of cancer Metastasis over the next 5 years is .08%. 10 year prostate cancer specific mortality is 1.5%. So I'll stay on active surveillance as long as I can. The report also stated that with my low Decipher score in most cases the prognosis is favorable. I so wish all newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients would get this test. It's allowed me not to have treatment that has so many bad side effects. I'm very thankful, you truly are my guardian angel. Love and Miss you Annie, Bobby.
Posted by Bob Harrison on September 29, 2016
Hi Sweetie, I'm still trucking on. My prostate cancer still has more questions than answers. I've been fighting off treatment (radical surgery or radiation) for six months now. I'm supposed to be getting the results of some genetic testing on Friday. And I'm told it will determine whether I need to go into treatment immediately or have some time, and stay on active surveillance. I'm sort of stuck between two worlds at the moment. With my cancer being intermediate grade, if I have treatment there is no guarantee the cancer will be gone. Thirty-three percent of patients see the cancer back within 3 to 5 years. Then it's considered metastatic. I love and miss you very much Annie and will keep you posted. RIP Sweetie. xoxo
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Recent Tributes
Posted by Andrew JImenez on December 12, 2021
Happy birthday Nanny! Missing you more than ever. Can’t wait until we can all celebrate together again! Love you forever.

Posted by melissa mcmukllen on November 2, 2020
Hello mama...I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since your passing. I miss you as if you just left! Now that dad is with you in Heaven i will so my best to come by and say hello to you both and keep your page moving for him. Daddy was so proud of this ama loved keeping your alive this way. He visited you EVERY SINGLE NIGHT...listening so loud to your beautiful music. I bet he is so happy to be at the door of Jesus with you. I miss yuh both so much and have never felt so alone. I love you . My turn now. I can’t wait to be with you both again
Posted by Michelle Lisle on September 22, 2020
Hello Annie hope you are well ..Your husband Bob is with you now ..Would you tell him thank you for helping me through grief and pain ,I didn't get a chance to say good bye to him ....Party on Annie And Bobby in heaven i raise a drink to you both from England . farewell Bob XXxxXX
Recent stories

Bob--The look of Grief.

Shared by Bob Harrison on September 17, 2019
This picture was taken in the fall of 2011. Less than a year after Annie died. Taken on Thanksgiving Day at a friends house in the country. As I remember it, was so damn hard being around a bunch of happy, smiley people. The meaning in my life had just disappeared. It's apparent by the picture, the look of grief is real, and no longer could I see an ending to, the beginning. Almost 9 years later its been tough, buy I've survived and found solace in helping others deal with their grief. Just as Annie would have wanted it. And I now know the ending. It will be when I no longer, "Am." Peace.

Bob & Baby Beaux

Shared by Bob Harrison on September 17, 2019
This picture was taken 5 years ago and I know that because I'm holding Baby Beaux. And Just like Annie, I can't see her but, I know she's there. Annie has a grandson and great grandson that she never got to meet. Sadly, those boys will never know or even understand the concept of Nanny's love. It was the best. XOXO

sorry for your loss

Shared by laurel larison on June 24, 2019

Even though I did not know her, I read all the comments and she was one special lady. I go through to see if there is something I may say in comfort. One is that My dad died October 2008 from lung cancer. I had seen him get sick and in hospice as well.I know there is no really comfort other than in heave there are angels and I am sure that Annie was greeted at the gates with open arms. It is hard for us that are left. I sit outside on m patio and when I look to the skies I ask dad are you ok? Every single time I get a gentle breeze from the trees and that is my answer every single time. I know that she is with you always, looking out for you and the family. I believe in angels and I am sure annie is one. God bless you and all I can say is that one day you will be reunited and what glorious day that will be. Prayers and condolences. laurel