As bad as things were getting, I was always fiercely optimistic that I would never have to post something on Jerome’s blog on his behalf. I am devastated to deliver the tragic news that the love of my life has just passed away.
It happened just after noon on Tuesday April 3rd. We had checked him into Clare Holland House in Canberra to tackle pain management and control what had become hourly vomiting for more than three straight weeks. These things seemed to have improved after less than one week at the hospice, but took a terrible turn when his lung disease worsened unexpectedly quickly over a couple of days. He passed away on his ninth day there due to breathing difficulties. The doctors didn’t seem to expect it to happen so fast; we were waiting for some sedatives to kick in to alleviate his anxiety and give a dose of antibiotics a chance to work. We figure now that they likely would not have helped anyway.
I was there, holding his hand and hugging him at the end. His parents, his sister Jessica and her partner Pete were in the room, talking to him and touching him. He was not alone and he knew it. Jerome wanted to pass away in peace, but he would never have been one to slip away. Even though his encounter with death was distressing, traumatic and the stuff of his nightmares, the process was representative of the way he lived his life and swifter than it might have been. Despite his struggle, he was active and aware, fighting physically and mentally until his last breaths.
That last bedroom was a beautiful one. In the small ACT hospice he had a private space with a garden walkout through a set of sliding glass doors. He could see the calm Lake Burley Griffin from his bed and the sun shone every day we there. We watched the mist and the gorgeous pink clouds in the sky in the mornings and evenings, and during the nights we talked and joked. The day he passed featured the most amazing sunset myself and his family had seen in years.
After his passing we each had a chance to sit with Jerome, speak to him and keep him company. Shaken by the events of the morning, I meditated with him alone for a little while so to bring him and myself the peace he sought.
Jerome had a wonderful life, and often reminisced about the amazing time he had during 2009 when he was undergoing extensive treatment in Melbourne. Despite the aggressive chemotherapy and radiation, it was during this period that he developed a sense of uninhibited happiness when it came to appreciating his life. The stresses of everyday troubles evaporated and left him with an immense gratitude for the wonderful people around him and the gorgeous world in which he lived.
I could go on and on, but you his readers know how he felt. As with almost everything he took on, Jerome developed a remarkable knack for this cherished hobby of his. He came into his own with a sublime ability to express his thoughts through beautiful words. I’m sure you would all agree.
I am immensely happy to be able to call him my husband. We married exactly one month earlier, to the day. Our ceremony was intimate and magnificent and I’m so glad the two of us were fortunate enough to be able to celebrate our love that way. He began to decline significantly the following day.
I want to thank you all for supporting him through your involvement in his journey as readers. He was so grateful to all of you for your time, interest, appreciation and devotion. He would send love to you all, my beloved warrior for his worthy cause.
I was heartbroken at the thought that I would never read a post on Jerome’s beautiful blog again. Your words are equally beautiful, Amelia. I’m always thinking about you.
And as you said the other day: He was pretty fucking wonderful. And you were his perfect partner in that regard.
I’m am so sorry for this loss you, your friends and your family have suffered. In the wedding picture you can see how in love and truly happy you both were. Such a beautiful couple.
Thank you, Amelia, so very much for writing this beautiful piece. The world is less bright without Jerome in it, but I am so deeply, deeply happy you found each other all those years ago, and that he knew those who loved him were there with him, throughout and to the end.
Thank you for sharing these last moments so openly Amelia, I’m inspired in the way you have been so loving and supportive, I can’t imagine some of the pain that you would be feeling but your heart is very open.
I’m very sad to hear this, I’m glad you could be with Jerome after he passed and meditate with him, that was very beautiful.
I am so sorry,Amelia,you both looked so beautiful in the wedding picture,our whole family is saddened by this loss,you are so loyal and courageous,Elspeth and Fred
Beautifully said Amelia … he was lucky to have found a woman like you, just as you clearly feel the same about him. Life just isn’t fair sometimes … you both deserved a lot more.
And, must say that I felt privileged sharing his experience with him through this blog – heartbreaking at times, inspiring at times, but always Jerome telling us how it was for him. That’s something for us all to treasure and learn from.
RIP, Jerome. God bless you, Amelia.
Have just now belatedly discovered this blog – so brave, so moving and such a reminder to focus on the important things and people, not the trivial superficial stuff. I feel a bit of an intruder commenting now but hope it’s OK. Thanks Amelia. I’m sure Jerome knew that he was an inspiration to people who’d never even met him.
Amelia, though i have not been close to jerome for a while now, during much of my childhood and adolescence he was one of my best friends and continues to have a profound effect on my life. Terrible as his passing is, I am so glad he was able to find someone as strong, beautiful and loving as you as his wife. Ultimately all we have in life are the connections we have made with others, and Jerome was a bright sun whose beams of light illuminated a whole universe. I will treasure my memories of him forever.
I’ve just discovered this blog via facebook and I’m so sorry for your loss. While what you’re going through must be so hard, sharing your experience with other people is such a beautiful thing to do. From reading this I am reminded to slow down and realise that life and death stand side by side, neither one being that far away from the other. Thank you:-)
I saw Jerome’s inspirational climbing video back in 2009 when I was battling with cancer too. At that point I had no doubt that he will make it. Now this video has came into my mind again and I just wanted to check up on him. And I find this news. I am shocked. You must be very proud of him, you were great partners to each other. I will always remember Jerome as I saw him in the video…
a fellow climber from Europe