A Maltese man whose wife died of cancer, leaving him and their young son during the prime of their familial life, has opened up about the daily anguish he lives with and how her memory will always live on within him.
“17 years later and the fire was still there,” Jean said in an interview on Xarabank. “We hadn’t gotten tired of each other, not at all. That’s why it’s so difficult. I really really miss her, it’s impossible not to miss her… I miss her every day. Every single day.”
Jean lost his beloved wife Janet to cancer in 2017, and he and his son are still grappling with the loss
He has opened up about his personal story in support of Hospice Malta, who supported and cared for Janet with the utmost care as she battled her cancer.
“The boy thinks of her every day,” he said. “He goes on the balcony to tell her what he did that day and what his thoughts are… he looks to the sky every day. He doesn’t cry, but he speaks to her like she is still part of his life. She is still a part of his life.”
“Eventually, at the top of his voice, no matter what time of day it is, even if it’s one in the morning, he shouts: ‘Goodnight, I love you!’ and the whole street hears it… it’s like everyone is waiting for it,” he said.
“We don’t avoid talking about her, not at all”
Jean cannot forget about Janet; indeed, he doesn’t want to.
“I don’t want to forget her, and that’s why I speak about her,” he said. “I want to remember her; whenever anyone mentions her to me, my eyes light up. I am not going to not mention her, even with my son, I tell him: ‘remember when mommy did this?'”
Till this day, Jean and his son continue to share special moments with her
“We spend midnight on New Year’s Eve at the cemetery in Naxxar with her,” Jean says. “At the stroke of midnight, we’ll be there, behind the gate, looking at her tombstone, so that we can start the New Year with her.”
In a touching moment in the interview, Jean recounts a moment towards to end of his young wife’s life
“Once I told her, ‘things couldn’t be any worse than this, could they’, and she simply replied: ‘Yes, they could have been. The cancer could have been in our son. And it would have been much worse’,” he said.
To make matters worse, Janet was afflicted with the same cancer that Jean’s mother was afflicted with: cancer of the colon and kidneys.
“I remember I went up to my dad and told him: ‘you were able to cure her, and I wasn’t able to,” he says with pain on his face.
“Until today, I ask: ‘Did I do something wrong? Could I have done more? I did everything I could… I did everything I could. From diets to doctors to therapies, we tried everything… but it wasn’t enough. And I think she knew where we were heading.”
Though Jean lost the love of his life to cancer, he considers himself lucky to have so many friends and family to support him
‘I’m very lucky in this respect,” he says of the people around him. “But, you keep feeling it, that you are alone, that she’s not there. I’ll look at the chair where she would sit, and it’s like she’s still there… that will never disappear.”
Before her death, Janet wrote a letter to her son about her impending death, and another to Jean, telling him to continue, that he needs to find happiness again, and that, eventually, he should find someone else.
But Jean just wants one more day with Janet.
“Why couldn’t I have another day with her?” he asks. “How I wish… I would give everything to spend one more day with her, just to hear her voice again, just to tell her how much I love her.
Jean wants people to understand how they shouldn’t take things for granted in their daily lives, no matter how mundane
Seeing his friends complaining about the little things, the little fights they have with their wives, he smiles with a look on his face.
“Do you know how lucky you are?” he says. “The fact that you can go home and find someone who loves you, to have someone there waiting for you You just cannot take that for granted.”
You can find out more on Xarabank’s upcoming show on the 26th of April, in aid of Hospice Malta