‘I’m coming over whether you like it or not.’ We had drinks and told stories about our Kile. Jack slept on my sofa that night. Then the whispers began.’

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“Kile and I met when we were in our 20’s and believe me, it was love at first sight. His love for music and his loud laugh drew me into his world immediately and started a love story that wound last over the span of 20 years. Our lives took us in different directions, but we found each other again in 2013. We immediately moved in with each other and began planning our life of fun and shenanigans. He loved me more than he had ever loved anyone, and everyone knew it.

Courtesy of Sherry Lillard

He drove me nuts. I was ‘Mrs. Responsibility’ and he couldn’t even spell responsibility. But he loved me, and we had so much fun together. He was a singer in a local band, so we were always busy at shows and having a blast. Everyone loved him. We both had such a zest for life and laughter. We teased each other like brother and sister and made friends wherever we went.

Courtesy of Sherry Lillard

In 2017 Kile became ill. He was not himself. He had a sore throat with a visible lump on his neck and was so tired all the time. He was stubborn and refused to go to the doctor until I broke down and cried. He couldn’t stand to see me cry, so he made an appointment. As we sat in the exam room, nervous, scared and unable to breathe, the doctor walked in and sat down and delivered to us the shot in the heart I knew was coming. Kile was diagnosed with stage four throat cancer.

I was numb, I stared out the window all the way home and cried. Our life after that moment was forever changed as we began planning chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Six days a week for twelve weeks. What was to follow was the hardest fight of either of our lives.

Courtesy of Sherry Lillard

In the next 12 weeks I watched the man I loved fade away to nothing. The vomiting, the mood swings. It was so much for one person to handle. I was working and being his primary care giver. I was exhausted. He was starving to death. I felt like I was failing. Through it all, we maintained our sense of humor and loved each other the best we could.

Courtesy of Sherry Lillard

After his last chemo treatment, we went for his final checkup. We were so hopeful. He was feeling better, eating some soft foods and even hitting a couple golf balls around. The doctor came into the waiting room and with big tears in his eyes told Kile and me the bad news.

‘The cancer has spread to his blood and bones.’

I couldn’t even hear the conversation between Kile and the doctor after he spoke those words. I was devastated. I had worked so hard. I had failed.

The weeks to follow, as any caregiver knows, changed me for the rest of my life. Kile gave up. Kile lost his ability to eat, walk and do anything for himself. He was angry and lashed out at me and his mother daily. My heart was broken. He knew he was dying. Kile and I confessed our love to our friends and family with an intimate wedding ceremony at our house. I sat by his bedside in a white dress and promised to love, honor and cherish him until death do us part. I just didn’t expect it to be 5 days later.

Courtesy of Sherry Lillard
Courtesy of Sherry Lillard
Courtesy of Sherry Lillard

On the day of his passing I sat with Kile’s mother Debi by his bedside and held his hand for 12 long hours playing his favorite CD repeatedly. I administered the morphine drops that let him pass from this world to the next with as little pain as possible. I gave him drops of water with a washcloth to quench his thirst. He lost his ability to speak and he would mouth to me and his mother, ‘Don’t cry. I love you so much.’

His sky-blue eyes turned black, and Kile took his last breath in the early hours of the following morning. I was so stricken with grief and so relived he was not in pain anymore. I sat with his body until they came to take him away. I didn’t think I would ever stop crying. I couldn’t eat, or sleep. I was a true mess. I had only been with him for five years and he was gone.

Courtesy of Sherry Lillard

I asked God, ‘Why would you do this to me?’ ‘Why would you do this Kile?!’ I pulled myself together and began to make a few calls and text messages. One was to one of Kile’s best friends and drummer, Jack, to let him know Kile had passed.

‘I’m on my way over,’ Jack immediately texted back.

‘No,’ I said.

‘I’m coming over whether you like it or not.’

When he arrived, Jack held me while I sobbed and let it all out. We had a couple of drinks and began to tell stories about Kile. We laughed. Harder than I had laughed in a year. Jack and Kile were known for getting themselves in some crazy situations, especially since they played music together. The stories being told were so hilarious, but I could see the sadness in Jack’s eyes as well. Jack slept on my sofa that night because he didn’t want me to be alone. I felt better when I woke up. It felt good to laugh.

The next few weeks went by in a blur. Anyone who has ever experienced the following weeks after a loved one’s death knows how hard this can be, especially while maintaining your composure. Everyone needs comforting and no one really comforts you. Except Jack. He was there for me every day. I received daily messages from Jack asking how I was doing and if wanted to have lunch or drinks after work. He would pick me up at my job and we would go to lunch. We always had fun together, he had been my friend as well for 5 years, so joking around came easy and laughing felt great after a solid year of tears. Jack would drive to my house on the weekends just to hang out with me. We talked a lot. Told each other our stories. I would break down and cry and he would reassure me that I did everything possible that I could have for Kile. That no one could have done what I did with such love and composure.

Courtesy of Sherry Lillard

I don’t know when Jack’s feelings for me changed. Some say they we there all along. Maybe it was the laughing, maybe it was that we knew we could trust each other. Whatever it was, it was written in our stars and he knew it way before I did. Over the next couple weeks, we spent a lot of time together. He was very blunt in his feelings for me and my face would turn bright red every time he would look at me in a certain way. I will never forget him saying, ‘Just let me love you.’ No one had ever asked me if they could ‘just love me’ before. I was baffled. I was resistant, but deep down, I knew right at that moment that I loved him and if I didn’t let this man love me, it would be the biggest mistake of my life.

Courtesy of Sherry Lillard

We went out together, had drinks together, did cookouts together. We had so much fun together that it was hard to be apart. Then the whispers began. The dirty looks began. I felt sick. How dare these people judge me? Kile was gone. I was not cheating on him. I had been in mourning for the man he was and our life that would never happen for over a year. Where were these people when he needed to be taken care of? I knew Kile wanted me happy, laughing and loved.

There was also a following of loyal people who loved Jack and I both and could see the effect we had on each other. Our biggest supporters were and still are Kile’s own mother and father, who welcome Jack into their home as if he is their own son. My happiness is very important to them both. I remember our first kiss was on a Wednesday night after drinks at a local pub. I was so nervous because this scared me to death. There was no turning back after this. I felt like a teenage girl being dropped off after a first date. It was the sweetest display of affection I have ever been given.

Courtesy of Sherry Lillard

It has been over a year since that first kiss, and every kiss since then has been just as mesmerizing. We are best friends and do everything together. We are yin and yang. Everything we do flows so smoothly with no effort. We have planned a future together full of love and laughter. We talk about Kile all the time and there is not an ounce of jealously. We miss him. Kile’s death affected us both deeply.

Jack saved me, saved my heart, my soul. I hope I saved him, too. I never thought I would love anyone so freely and honestly as I do him. Jack allows me to be me. The real me. I never have to do anything on my own again. I know this. My life led me on this path for a reason. The path to help Kile pass this world with the dignity and honor he deserved, and my reward for my selfless actions was Jack’s love. I believe this with all my heart. I believe Kile smiles at us every day. He knew Jack would love me and protect me as he did. Love and destiny are real, I now know this. Out of this horrible sadness, this beautiful bond was formed, and I cannot wait to see where our journey takes us.”

Courtesy of Sherry Lillard
Courtesy of Sherry Lillard

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Sherry Lillard of Kokomo, Indiana. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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