Hi friends! Chrissie here. I’m excited to pass the mic over to someone in the Love Is Project community, Tim Lundell from Los Gatos, California. Last year, Tim was faced with the unimaginable: losing the LOVE of his life suddenly. Read his incredible story as Tim reminds us that LOVE is in the little things—and sometimes it’s unexplainable.
Tim, take it away….
In 1977, I was a young, recently minted attorney living with a couple of buddies near downtown San Jose, California. That summer, at a neighborhood street party, I met our next-door neighbor, a tall, beautiful Irish girl who recently arrived from upstate New York. Her name was Penelope O’Neill, and I was in love.
We began dating, quickly moved in together, and even more quickly got married and had our first child, Patrick. We moved to Los Gatos, California, in 1978, where we lived for the next 42 years. A second son, Danny, arrived soon after the first, and over the years we built a wonderful life together, with both Penny and I involved in community and schools, and always happy and healthy.
Then, in April of last year, as I was on the glide path to my planned retirement and to all of our long-anticipated travel plans, Penny learned that the occasional pain in the side of her abdomen was apparently caused by gallstones. We arranged for the routine surgery for gallbladder removal, and expected a quick two-day recovery from the laparoscopic procedure. Tragically, as the surgery got underway, it was discovered that what appeared to be gallstones was, in fact, advanced cancer of the gallbladder. Even worse, we found that it had already metastasized to her liver, lymph nodes, and bones. The doctor gave us the grim prognosis: the only treatment would be palliative care, and Penny had only months to live.
Over the next four months, I discovered what it was like to fall in love all over again. We spent virtually all of our hours together: I traveled with her to all of her chemo treatments, meetings with the nutrition and medication counselors, oncology visits, and trips to the pharmacy. I took her shopping, to the park, for visits with our son and grandson. Later, as she grew weaker, I pushed her wheelchair wherever she wanted to go. Each day was a gift I was thrilled to share with her. In July, I learned of the “Love Is Project”, and ordered a bracelet for myself. When I received it, I showed it to Penny, and vowed to her that wearing the bracelet was a commitment of my love for her. With Penny watching, I slipped it on, pulled the leather thongs through the knot, and promised not to remove it from my wrist for as long as I lived. Penny died while I held her in my arms on August 11, 2019.
Through the months since she died, and my terrible grief at the loss, I have looked every day at the black and gold “LOVE” bracelet on my left wrist, and remembered the promise I made to her. In many ways, as I go about life without her, I feel and see little signs from her that she knows how hard this is for me, but expressing her wish that I continue to have a happy life. While not being particularly religious or believing in the supernatural, I have learned to be open to her ”messages,” even when there appear to be rational explanations for the little events. As it happens, I tend to bruise very easily on my hands and forearms. I am told that as I get older, the skin (and blood vessels immediately below) in these areas gets thinner, which means that as I do housework and work in the gardens at our house, I find new small bruises nearly every day. One day recently, as I sat in my office following a busy weekend of digging and planting for the Spring, I glanced down at my left arm, just inches above my “LOVE” bracelet, and had to rub my eyes to believe what I saw. No rational explanation this time! It was Penny’s reply to the promise I had made.
Thank you, Tim, for sharing your beautiful LOVE story. <3
If you’re interested in the bracelet Tim wears as a reminder of Penny’s LOVE, check out the Skinny Black/Gold LOVE bracelet now.