Ever since Michael Lance Goullee, my fiancé, entered my life, my life hasn’t been the same. We’ve been through a lot of happy times and not-so-happy ones. He took me to wonderful places and made me feel, do, and try things I’d never done before. I picture my future together with him, that will be amazing.
In November 2019, Mike had a seizure caused by the cancer that we thought we had cured in the beginning of the year. He had 4.5 cm tumour in his brain, that was just 2 days after he came to visit my family in Sumatra and asked their permission to marry me. I proposed to him in the hospital room. And since then, it’s been a roller coaster. It’s a long journey that I didnt find the answer nor clarity right away to all of my questions grudge, anger, hopes, and love.
Yesterday was the lowest moment we’ve had so far in Mike’s healing journey. 12 days prior, his oncologist said that he’s got only 6 months-1 year to live, the cancer is incurable and agressive. It was totally a big slap on the face for all of us, especially for Mike, because we felt that we’ve tried so hard and we felt betrayed or defeated in an unfair game called life. Mike’s condition got worse and worse in the last 4 days I wrote this writing, he was rushed to an emergency surgery and for the first time doc said, “otherwise he’s not gonna make it.”
Since November, I had been a different person, not myself, for better and worse. I think I got too busy of being scared, mad and sad that I forgot to really question why these feelings happened. Here’s my confession that I need to let go.
From November, I had to admit that I had been holding a flame of anger that maybe unconciously grew overtime as I didnt admit it as a problem. I’m usually not a person who keep anger, vengeance or regret. I’m like Mike, a very positive person. I love life and I have a lot of passions in life. I never keep regret in my life, especially as an entrepreneur, I know 90% of the experiments are failures and that’s alright, we’ll pivot our strategy. I’m usually the kind of person who never ask “Why is this happening to me/ my loved ones?” when bad things happen. I’m the kind of person who’s gonna say, “Ok, this happens. We’ve played out our strategy and it didn’t work out, we’ll try with another strategy. There’s no use in regret or anger over what happened, because if I could rewind the time, I’d make the same mistakes anyway, because I would’ve had the same knowledge and feeling; rewinding the time won’t change anything.” That’s usually the kind of person I am, and that’s probably why Mike chose me and I chose Mike.
But from November 2019, that person was slowly fading. Maybe because my love for Mike is so big and I want to protect him from anything that causes him disappoinment and pain. We all do; me, his parents, family. To be honest, I kind of blamed one doctor who missed scanning his head back in April 2019. They just checked him from neck down when it was not this serious. I carried this anger for months. Then, usually I also never feel jealous or mad of other people’s choice of living their life. If they wanna be a loser, fine, it’s their life anyway. But I had been more sensitive since then and seeing people that I think spending their lives meaninglessly, I felt mad. These people have no passions in life, they’re stupid and useless, and burden for the society, country and everyone, like if they die it’s gonna be a fovour to the world and humanity. But why TF they have health and Mike didnt?? Why my fiance has to fight for it??
After the first head surgery and during treatment, we stayed at Mike’s flat in Muizenberg. In that area, as a woman I dont feel safe. About 500 meters from our flat, there were like a community of homeless people. They had no job, they’re using drugs, and they didn’t work, nor try to look for work. We sometimes had leftover food when buy food from outside because the food portion in SA is too big for my Indonesian belly, it can feed my whole family! So Mike or Dick (Mike’s dad) always walked to that homeless people spot to give our leftover food to them. Mike said we have to help them because they’re in a tough time of their life. And here is my fiance, walking with a big surgery-scar on his head and cancer in his body giving them—these low-life breathing creatures—food. I felt mad. Really. I even uninstalled social media and only kept Instagram, and I never scroll, I only use the search feature to look for news/ design inspiration. This stupid TikTok phenomenon is like a nuke of stupidity for me that I couldn’t tolerate at the moment. Like why the hell they dont have cancer, I felt that if cancer is really a blessing in disguise then it should’ve happened to these people, then it’s a blessing, not to someone like Mike!
Most of the positive thoughts that I used to believe were gone for months and sounded like a bullshit at that time. I was angry to “you get what you need, not what you want”. I was like, “What do they know about what I need, F that, I totally need Mike!!”
Ever since we got that 6 month verdict, I’ve been trying hard to keep my head up and positive. It’s very hard to see Mike in pain and cried, moreover because I’m stuck in Bali due to COVID-19. Mike is a very very strong person, he never cried before, even after 4 surgeries in a month and being in ICU for 3 weeks, he didn’t complain. This is the first time I saw Mike being very very vulnerable, emotionally and physically. Mike started to show signs of giving up, or maybe ‘checked out’ is a better term, not really give up but didnt want to try to be optimistic. It has been an intense 12 day period for me too, I’m still optimistic and not giving up (as long as he’s breathing, I wont give up, whether it’s tomorrow, next month, year or 50 years from now), but also I started to feel afraid of losing myself if what I want to happen doesnt happen. I’m afraid I’d choose to end my life or drag myself to death, because I dont have the same love to the things I use to love, things or place that usually excite me now mean nothing. I mean, I live in my fave place, I loved my job and very passionate about it, and now I don’t. Like what’s more to live. Even I said to my friend, “if the doctor turns out to be right, please then just kill me. I will have nothing to live anymore” , and this is super super weird to come from a person like me, I’m full of life and I love life. I couldnt believe I said and thought like that, but I didnt get the answer right away. It drove me crazy, in the past 12 days, flashback or memories from my childhood til the moment I spent with Mike, came to my head like a heavy rain and all at once.
This makes me realize and teach me about my love for him and my love for myself. I noticed the difference in Mike’s cry day to day. I could feel his disappointment of his own body and life, he felt defeated, he is feeling that his body is failing him, he’s scared of missing the life he hasn’t had yet (the future) and he at the moment couldnt be grateful of the life he’s had, his amazing life. Mike is good at almost all the things he does, flying, surfing, cooking, gardening, etc. We all can understand his frustration and it’s really heartbreaking. That’s the moment where I understood that my love for him is beyond ‘I want to spend my life with you’, I love him so much and what I truly want is him to never hate his self. I want him to love his self, forever, the way he loves me, he loves me even when he got annoyed with me and I want him to do the same to his body and self.
Like it or not, death will come to every living creature, sooner or later. My wish for all the people I love is the same, no matter it’s tomorrow or 50 years from now, I dont want them have any hatred, disappoinment, or regret when it really comes. Even if really death death comes tomorrow, he should NEVER worry about the kind of life he wouldnt be in, he should focus on the life he’s had, the joys, good moments, success, etc.
I can feel that right now there are three versions of Mike in his own body:
- Version 1: The old Mike with the job he loves, flying the kind of planes he’s always dreamed of, surf after work, hang out with friends, own a boat.
- Version 2: The cancer Mike that he sees as the failure
- Version 3: Mike who sees these two versions of his self.
I really hope for Mike’s version 3 to hug the other versions of his self, instead of adoring one and hating the other. Because all of them are his self, one entity. Three days ago, on a video call, before Mike was rushed to the hospital, I gave Mike a short guided meditation. I asked him to close his eyes and breathe deep and long, as free as when he was before this cancer happened. I asked him to imagine his self doing what he loves, flying in over Papua mountains, in his fave plane, and just imagine how it feels. Then I asked him to imagine if there’s a copilot next to him, and that person is his version 2, “What would you say to him?” I asked him.
Yesterday was a very hard day for me since the beginning. Because I am in Indonesia, my days start earlier than them in SA. Maybe my connection with Mike is so strong because I always feel something when bad things were going to happen to Mike. I was very very very sad yesterday, with massive headache and all these flashback memories hitting me. And turned out Mike had a seizure in the morning and rushed for another surgery to remove the cyst.
I asked myself, what does having him or losing him really mean to my life?? Why do I feel that I would lose the desire to live?
And I guess, this is just the next level self-love. As a woman, there were times in my life I didnt have any love for myself added with the imposter syndrome. And I thought I’ve passed that phase, I thought I’ve had enough self-love because anyone’s opinion doesnt bother me anymore. But the fact is that we can forget to love ourself not only because of bad treatment by others but also by loving someone so much and wanting to spend our life with that person that if that doesn’t happen, my body, my organs, my blood that work for me everyday, I dont thank them anymore. And they dont deserve that.
I practiced what I did to Mike to myself. The three versions of me in the current situation is:
- Version 1: Myself with Mike, so happy, planning our future together.
- Version 2: Myself who’s scared of not having Mike and living my life without him
- Version 3: Myself who sees these two versions of my self.
I need to have the same hopes that I hope for Mike, for myself. I flashbacked to a conversation I had with Mike long before cancer came to our picture, he said that he loves me because I’m a strong person that will be able to take care of myself when he’s gone, at that time ‘gone’ in this concept was when he was busy with his friends and work or at parties. Then he also continued, “I’m not gonna live forever, I dont want you break down if I leave.”. True, this time I forgot this. I held anger, regret, since November. I need to release them, if I die now or tomorrow, I dont want to have hatred, anger, nor regret. I need to forgive the doc’s mistakes, even if we could turn back time, we’d make the same mistakes anyway. I don’t want to keep the hate I had for other people that I thought useless, it’s not for me to judge. My Michael doesn’t deserve cancer, but nobody does. I dont hope this on anyone.
By the time I am writing this, I’m still waiting for SA morning time after that big emergency surgery. Still no news. Doc said 24 hrs after surgery are still critical time. We did what we could to help Mike, we should not worry about the result. Whathever the result is, none of us is going to be the same person, not Mike, not Me, not his parents, family. We love Mike and we’ll fight for him.
And Michael, my man, my love, if you ever get to read this post, please love yourself. I love you for as long as I can still breathe, all my life, no matter what and your parents and family also have endless love for you, but the only love that can fullfill yourself is the love from within yourself.
Have I had the love for other things I use to love back? No, not yet. But the fact that I admit it and realizing I need to do something about it is the first step of taking responsibility of myself and keep being ‘your sayang’ you know.