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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • After loss of husband, relief in a blog

  • She began the blog, which her friend Linda Meier characterized as sometimes "funny, sometimes sad but always from the heart," about a year after his death.
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  • When Deborah Day Laxson took her husband, Bill, off life support, it wasn't her choice.
    It was her husband's wishes she was following.
    The 60-year-old from St. Cloud took to blogging her thoughts in the form of poetry after the heart-wrenching decision.
    "I'm 'solo,' " she said as she sat cross legged and barefoot, with framed photos of her loved ones within arms' reach. " 'Widow' implies that you are permanently grieving, 'single' implies that you're looking, 'solo' implies 'I'm OK as is.' "
    Her upcoming book, "The Gray Zone: When Life Support No Longer Supports Life," is part of her planned trilogy about "death, grieving and living" following the death of the man who was her second husband, the St. Cloud Times reported (http://on.sctimes.com/Z0sDc7 ).
    They were married when she was 22.
    "He had three kids, I had one kid, and we ended up with two kids. By the age of 23, I was raising all six of them," said Day Laxson, who was a grandmother while still in her late 20s.
    "But there is nothing in any of that, which would suggest that I write, blog or anything."
    The mother of six, grandmother of 12 and great-grandmother was undaunted in tackling the personal project even though she had only 11 college credits to her name, she said.
    Her husband, a veteran, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, which is a form of terminal cancer, during a visit to the emergency room in 2008.
    "We didn't even know he was sick," she said. "And they literally went from being perfectly normal to terminal in four hours."
    After undergoing a stem cell transplant at the Mayo Clinic, he developed pneumonia in 2011 and returned to the hospital's intensive care unit on Valentine's Day.
    "I ended up taking him off life support 10 days later," she said of losing her "best friend" and the decision that changed her forever.
    Though buried in Little Falls, her husband never remains far away from her thoughts.
    "You get stuck, sometimes, in grieving, so the grief counselor suggested journaling and writing, and my friends said to blog," said Day Laxson, who now seems comfortable in her own skin.
    She purchased a Mac because of its back-lit keyboard, which allowed her to type in the dark, she said.
    "You lose the person when they are diagnosed with terminal cancer, you lose them the day that they get that diagnosis," she said.
    "Bill would say to me, 'I can't worry about you. I have to worry about me,' and so that partner that you had, by default, changes ... as a matter of self-preservation, and when they change, you change."
    Deborah and Bill were married in 1976. He died almost two years ago at the age of 67.
    Page 2 of 2 - She began the blog, which her friend Linda Meier characterized as sometimes "funny, sometimes sad but always from the heart," about a year after his death. (The blog can be found at http://acceptpeacejoy.blogspot.com.)
    "One of the drugs was causing what I would call symptoms of suicide, and so you have to be constantly vigilant ... is it the drugs talking, is it their anger or their emotions talking ... because the person you are talking to, sometimes you don't know who they are and that's hard," Day Laxson said.
    Her blog, "Accepting Loss, Making Peace, Choosing Joy," includes more than 80 entries that allowed her to still talk to her husband and receive support from others online.
    "It was a purging of the emotions," Day Laxson said of the blog. "And the other piece of this has to deal with removing him from life support. It was working through the pain of having to do that.'
    The self-described introvert is putting the final touches on the 33-page, double-spaced rough draft of her book that she described as "98 percent done."
    "People are frankly uncomfortable talking about death and dying, and they're uncomfortable a lot of times with terminal illnesses," she said of life support, which she described as "a blessing and a curse."
    She and her husband had a health care directive set up before his stem cell transplant in 2009, but it did not prepare her emotionally for what was to come.
    "One of the things people forget is that a health care directive is not about what you think you should be doing ... or what you want ... but it's really about what that person has asked you to do," she said of honoring her husband's wishes even as she wanted him back. "And it sucks."
    Day Laxson said her husband left her specific directions, with respect to his quality of life, and that it was her job to execute them.
    "As the days went by and he started needing kidney dialysis and insulin shots, it started to become clear to me that we were prolonging his death," she said.
    "And it's that subtlety of what I was working through that — when I would talk to people — they'd go, 'Oh, God. You have to write a book.' "

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