My wife died in my arms this morning.

My wife Pam died this morning at 1:30am after a long illness. She had been diagnosed with diffuse scleroderma in 2006, and over the past 5 years, it slowly robbed her of her ability to breathe and digest food, among other insults to her body.

Scleroderma is most cruel disease imaginable, imposing pain the Spanish Inquisition would find abhorrent, yet she bore it all with her smile and her caring for others instead of herself. Bit by bit, it stole her hands and replaced them with useless claws so she could not enjoy her sewing and crafty stuff. Towards the end, she could barely hold a drinking cup, or bathe herself, or put on her own socks. Scleroderma filled her lungs with fibrotic scar tissue, and made her dependent on supplemental oxygen, even though she never smoked a cigarette in her life. Even with oxygen, she couldn’t walk more than a short distance without becoming short of breath. Scleroderma reduced her to eating nothing but Ensure nutritional shakes and maybe a little yogurt or tapioca pudding, even though she was an excellent cook, and loved to make dinner for me or her friends and family.

We met online, on the old dating site. She was living in Massachusetts, and I was in Alaska. This improbable pairing flourished as we corresponded, then talked, and finally, in her bold way, she suggested she wanted to come to Alaska to meet me. I was smitten, and we met in the airport in Kenai, Alaska in February 2002. She worked her wiles on me in the most stealthy ways, like cooking a big batch of Cape Verdean kale soup, and leaving numerous Tupperware containers full of it in my freezer, so whenever I got hungry, I would pull one out and think of her.

She was so outgoing, and loved the same things I did, except camping (“That’s why God made Marriott Hotels!”) She always left people shaking their heads with her antics, but then they always said, “That’s Pam!”. One time, she used her mascara and eyebrow pencil to make us both up like silent film stars; she with her Gloria Swanson eyebrows, and I with my pencil-thin moustache carefully drawn in. Then we went down to the Moose Lodge for dinner, just to see if anyone would notice. That’s Pam.

For the next two years we continued our courtship. She visited Alaska three times, I went to Massachusetts once to meet her big Portuguese/Cape Verdean family. I made some sarcastic joke at dinner once, and her sister’s head snapped around and said, “That sounded just like Pam!” We were perfect for each other, and In November of 2003, I packed up my stuff and my dog, and moved to Massachusetts, and we were married the next week. We had two years of living life our way, travelling to California to meet my family, and going to Venice Beach to look at the freaks. Driving with our dog to a pet-friendly bed and breakfast in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, or taking the bus to Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. I probably spent too much time online yacking here, but she always asked about all you Dopers, whom she called the Crazy People. "What did the Crazy People think about American Idol last night? " or, “I bet the Crazy People are going off about Sarah Palin today!” She was a good judge of character.

I am not the easiest guy to live with, let alone love, but for some reason she loved me, and I was privileged to be her husband for seven years. She made me a better person, and I hope I was able to ease the pain she did nothing to deserve.


You paint such a lovely picture of her.

Oh, Fear Itself, my heart is broken for you. Pam sounds like such a classy lady. You’re better for having her in your life, and she was better for sharing hers with you. Thanks for sharing a bit of her with us.

You’re in my thoughts.

A very beautiful post.

You’re in my thoughts.

I am so sorry for your loss.

Wow. Almost nine years. And so much happiness.

I wish you strength, comfort, and peace.

I am so sorry. Pam sounds like a lovely and remarkable woman. I’m glad you had seven years together and I hope you are able, if not now then soon, to look at those years and memories as something that brings you joy and reminds you of love.

I’m sorry. She sounds wonderful. Peace and strength to you.

I’m so sorry. You are in my thoughts.

I’m so sorry. I can just say that she died knowing how much you loved her.

I am so sorry for your loss. What a touching tribute to her.

I’m very sorry. I hope there is peace for you.

My deepest sympathies. Your love shines through the page.

What a lovely and sad message Fear. I’m so terribly sorry for your loss.

Aw dude, you’ve got me all choked up. I’m so sorry for your loss, the world can be so unfair sometimes. It seems like you are trying to concentrate on the good times, which is the best thing you can do. Remember, I’m sure she would want you to be happy, and the best thing you can do to honor the love you shared is to let memories of her remind you of the wonderful times you had together in this world, not the tragic way she had to leave it. Your post was a lovely tribute to her, and she was fortunate to have had someone who cared about her as much as you did.

What a love story. So very sorry.

A lovely tribute, she sounds wonderful. I am sorry for your loss.

So very sorry, Fear. My mom has scleroderma, though hers has been getting worse much more gradually. The worst part for me is watching a woman who used to be joyful slowly turn more and more negative as somber as the disease turns its screws on her. I keep telling people to be patient with her because she’s living in constant pain. But it’s hard.

I’m glad your beautiful wife has finally been delivered from the pain that this awful disease inflicted on her. I’m also glad that she met you and found such fulfillment in what time she had on this Earth.

Peace be with you.

I am certain of it. So sorry to hear this.

I’m so sorry. I knew your wife had a chronic and serious disease, but this is not something that anyone can be prepared for.

My prayers for your peace in this loss.