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March 21, 2023

When The Rocks Sing: Marv Weidner's story of life after death

In this emotional episode, Coach Jon interviews Marv Weidner who shares his experience of his wife receiving a devastating cancer diagnosis. Marv describes how their future plans vanished and the past no longer mattered, leaving them with only the present moment.

In this emotional podcast episode, Coach Jon interviews Marv Weidner who shares his experience of his wife receiving a devastating cancer diagnosis. Marv describes how their future plans vanished and the past no longer mattered, leaving them with only the present moment. They recount how they received the news that his wife Marty had cancerous lesions throughout her body and that the cancer had spread to many places, putting her at stage four. Despite this, Marv's wife Marty faced the next stage of her journey with extraordinary courage and engaged in every possible treatment to lengthen her life. Marv shares how she lost abilities such as writing and speaking as the disease progressed, but still found joy in playing piano until she was too weak to sit up. The episode explores the emotions experienced when receiving such devastating news, including fear and sheer terror. Overall, this episode offers a poignant insight into one person's experience of facing a life-threatening illness with courage and determination.



00:00:00 Between The Before And After: A Podcast On Inspiring Stories

00:02:32 A Normal Midwestern Upbringing

00:07:36 Government Employees Work To The Minimum Necessary, Sometimes Play Games To Appear Busy

00:10:47 Colleagues To Couple: A Love Story With A Twist

00:12:33 Transition From Friendship To Romance

00:16:52 The Importance Of Open Communication In A Relationship

00:20:00 The Devastating Moment Of Losing A Loved One To Cancer

00:23:59 Marty's Courageous Battle With Cancer

00:28:23 Blending Of Religious Teachings In Marty's Eulogy And Communication After Losing Voice

00:30:19 Decline In Ability To Communicate And Play The Piano For A Woman With A Progressive Illness.

00:33:18 Intimacy And Acceptance In The Face Of Death

00:35:50 A Loving Goodbye And A New Beginning

00:39:02 When The Rocks Sing - A Book Co-authored By John And A Counselor During Intense Grief Process

00:41:50 Finding Peace In Nature's Subtle Sounds

00:42:49 The Complicated Situation Of Loving Again After Loss

00:47:02 Overcoming The Fear Of Grief



Key Takeaways:

The podcast features a conversation with Marv, who shares his experience of losing his wife to cancer. Marv talks about how his wife faced her illness with courage and engaged every possible treatment to lengthen her life. He also shares his own journey of grief and how he learned to navigate the depth of emotions that came with it. The podcast ends with Marv offering a message of hope and resilience to those who may be going through a similar experience.




I'm excited to share this story with you. So let's dive in, what would it be like to watch the woman that you love go through terminal illness all the way until her passing and then try to rebuild your life after that. I know this isn't a unique experience, but it's a very, very difficult one for anyone to go through. And that's something that Marv has been through and actually inspired the writing of his book when the Rocks sing. And so I'm excited to explore Marv's story, not just not just behind, behind the book. Marv. Marv is complete story and where he is today. So Marv, welcome to the show. 

Thank you for having me, John. Yeah, it's really a pleasure, you know, before we dive into your story, I always like to give people a quick idea of what you're up to these days and kind of where you're at presently. Well, I live in Gunnison, Colorado out in what we call the western slope, uh, really out in the boonies, out in the, out in the hills in the rocky mountains in western Colorado. Uh, I live right on the Gunnison River. 

Uh, fish a lot hike. I hunt when it's the right season. Um, there's a beautiful little community here in the, we're surrounded by mountains and rivers and lakes and it's just an awesome place to live. And where I am personally, uh I'm still uh an owner and uh of small consulting company. This is our 25th year. 

We work largely with uh with public agencies, government agencies to, and this may sound like an oxymoron but help them focus on their customer in everything they do. Very, very cool and it sounds like you live in just, you know, a place where a lot of people would envy. Um, just access to beautiful nature. You get, you know, connection to the land and of course, by power of the internet, you know, you get to, you get to also do what you love with, with the company that you have. Yeah. And so, yeah. Oh, man, it sure is, you know, and so, um, is Colorado home for you? Were you born and raised there or where did, where did life start for you? 

I was born and raised and spent my 1st 50 years in Iowa in the Midwest. You're over 50 by a good shot, well done. Uh, yeah. So I grew up in a small town in Iowa. 

My, my folks were just, you know, Midwesterners to the t mom was a teacher. My dad was, uh, you know, Ford Mercury dealer in a small town. Uh, my grandparents were farmers. So I grew up in the fields really, um, played a lot of sports in high school and just had a really normal, you know, upbringing in the Midwest. That's, that's fantastic. And, uh, you know, when, when you were maybe growing up and sort of going through high school and whatnot, do you have an idea of how your life was gonna unfold? Did you have a picture in your mind? 

This is what I'd like to do with my life. I had no idea. I was, I was interested in sports and cars and hunting and, you know, just what I was doing at the time, by the time I got into college I had a pretty good idea and I pursued political science and economics and undergraduate school. I graduated when I graduated, I, um, I applied both to law schools and the theology schools. I obviously couldn't make up my mind. Um, I knew I wanted to make a difference but in the end I chose theology and went to Northwestern Evanston's for graduate school and theology. Okay. Fantastic. Now, theology, I gather that would be a Christian study. Yeah, it was sort of the left leaning, uh, branch of the United Methodist church. Okay. Um, do I guess churches have, pardon? My ignorance? I mean, I'm a Christian but like, did the churches have leanings? And what does left leaning mean? 

Well, at that time I was studying black liberation theology and women's liberation theology at the time. Uh, it was, it had the normal, you know, historical look at biblical texts and in the history of course, of evolution of, of the church itself. And I studied world religions as much as I studied Christianity. It was a great, great time. Yeah. And, and, and um along the way, um you would have met your wife um who features in the book that you've written here. Um Take us along a little, little journey here. How did that come about? Sure. Well, I was consulting actually with the city of Austin and um we needed an internal consultant lead and they chose Marty. So we, we actually met through work. Um And that, that was really a lovely foundation for creating shared experiences for our, our future. And um the progression of our relationship was that we were first colleagues, we worked together. Uh And uh as my business grew, I invited her to come out and start working with me a little bit and take some leave time from her job with the city of Boston. So she did that and over the course of, you know, a year or so, we became good friends and after about a total of two years, we also became a couple and about four years in, we got married. Okay. Yeah. So when you say consulting, because it's, it's a very, um, I guess all encompassing kind of term, what sort of, and you mentioned having a background in, in political science and economics, which, I mean, gosh, what a time to have a background that day and age, uh, you know, and then, and then pair that with theology. Um what an interesting combination. What sort of consulting were you doing? What are you helping like the city of Austin do, for example? Right. So the struggle the government has is to focus on its customers, right? And it government has a strong tendency like large organizations do being more concerned about itself than it is about their customer, right? So the culture of government tends to lean inward instead of outward. And what that means is that their language and their beliefs and their behavior tend to favor what they do. 

If you ask them about their services, they'll tell you what they do rather than talking about what the customer receives. So our focus really is helping them um identify and then measure customer experiences that they're trying to create, to at least create some balance between their internal focus and their external focus. And we do things like we do things like write uh strategic planning, creating measurable strategic results operationally we work with all of their operations, we actually take their, their budget apart and put it back together to fund results instead of just funding the organization. Right. That's, that's a little bit of a, of a sense of what we try to do. Right. Yeah. And I mean, when we think about government, um, as a, as a sort of a business entity, I mean, government is not responsible to shareholders or private owners to necessarily be profitable or efficient in what they do. And I think the hallmark of, you know, civil servants is uh the idea. 

They don't, they work um as soon as little as possible to the minimum necessary kind of idea. And, and I don't want to paint all government officials or employees with, with the same brush. But there, you know, I, I, of course, I was, I worked with the military for a number of years as well as I worked for a few other local municipal and federal government organizations. So in Canada. Um but imagine there's probably some crossover in certain government type culture. And uh as an example, I recall in 11 organization, you know, we would play crib at lunchtime and oftentimes lunch would go to two half hours because we didn't want to do too much work in order unless we ran out of things to do and then, and then funding might get cut. So we had to appear to be busier than we are and we play for chocolate almonds of all things. Like it was just, it was absurd when I thought about it and I had this idea. 

I was like, man, if, if other people knew that this is how their tax dollars were spent to fund their salary to play crib for chocolate almonds, uh, they'd be awfully annoyed, you know, I thought that was a little, a little sort of snapshot of, kind of the tendency for government to be kind of inefficient and what they do. Well, one aspect of that is, um, you know, if you're in a room with a group of public servants and you, you ask them, do you often come in, you know, most days and believe that you can make a difference, most of them will raise their hand and say yes. But what happens is that the culture and the processes, the work processes, even including employee performance measurement begins to pull them back away from that and get them all involved in what the organization really wants rather than focusing on making a difference. And what we try to do is develop organizational cultures and management systems to help the organization to actually reflect what's in the heart of the, of the people who work there. Yeah. Yeah. Really neat stuff. And so, um, along the way, because you work with the city of Austin, you were introduced to Marty. 

What, what, what struck you, um, the first time that you met her and had, had to maybe um interact with her. Well, if I'm being honest, I'll have to say she was the most beautiful woman I've ever seen in my life. So that was there. So yeah, there was an immediate attraction but also because she really understood at a very deep level what it was that I was trying to do to help the city. 

She was actually managing uh the whole employee performance management system. And the trouble she was having was that she didn't know what to really tie employee performance to. And the process that I bring helps tie individual performance to operational performance. And she was, she just in a very, very genius way. She understood it very quickly and expanded my own understanding of my own. So he said, wow, this woman is beautiful, intelligent, highly capable. 

This is someone I need to know better. Yes. Yes. Exactly what I thought John um you know, did and do you recall if she shared any kind of similar sentiments or was she, did she have blinders on this? I'm trying to work professional. 

Well, she told me later, you know, our progression was that we were colleagues and then friends and then a couple and then eventually we were, we were married. But later uh much later, actually, she told me she watched me walk down the hall and said, I wonder what it would be like to be with a guy? Like Marv Weidner. So that was there too, I guess. Yeah, I wonder what she was, did she ever specify like, what she was seeing or thinking like about you? 

She did because she knew I worked hard and play hard and that was something that was very appealing to her. That's fantastic. And so, um, so obviously in a relationship, like there comes a point where you recognize, okay, we're more than just professional colleagues, any concerns about, I guess the crossover between professional and personal. 

Yes, very much so. Um And you know, I own this small company. She was taking time away from the city of Boston and coming to work with me and we were very conscious of the fact that we presented ourselves as, as colleagues to my customer jurisdictions. So we were very, very careful about all that and we really took our time uh to, you know, become a couple. We were really, you know, we're really staying in the form of colleagues and friends for probably two years or more before we allowed our, our true feelings to really show or, or, or be shared at that point. So, yes, we were, we were quite cautious, right? Yeah. Now, isn't that fascinating sort of because I imagine obviously I say obviously, but I imagine that uh you know, prior to that two years, sort of that two years, I don't know exactly was, you know, two years to the day kind of thing. But prior to that you have these feelings but you're having to kind of push these feelings aside a little bit, you know, like, oh, man, I don't want to, you know, cross, cross inappropriate boundaries. But boy, there's something there that is almost impossible to ignore. You described it perfectly. That's exactly what we were experiencing for what seemed like a very long time. Yeah. What, what sort of broke the ice? How did you break through? What? There was a shift from friendship to we can't, we can't just keep being friends. We gotta, we gotta get together. Right. Well, we were, we were actually riding in a car from the airport to downtown Seattle where we were, we were working with the city there and, um, I reached over and held her hand and she looked at me and I looked at her and we decided we'd better have a conversation. 

Uh, you know, it's funny. That's, that's a, that's a great, like, just a very nice first move, you know, just hold her hand, let her know. Look, there's something, there's something more here, you know, were you pretty confident that the feeling was mutual or what did that feel like a little bit risky? Well, there's always a risk. Right. It's always a risk even if the feelings are there, whether or not, you know, the man or the woman that you're having these feelings about. 

But, um, you know, we were both very um, comfortable with each other. So it wasn't hard to talk about really at that point. So, and it didn't feel like a significant relief or what did you feel when finally it's like this wall is down. We, we, here we go, you know, what was sort of feeling? Well, it was, it was, it was rather complicated because we were working together. Right. So we, uh, we really felt, I think both of us a sense of, wow, we can really breathe now. 

We can actually be honest about how we're feeling. But we also have these work relationships that we share with, you know, these big complicated organizations. And so we decided to keep our, our feelings for each other and our, our, our budding relationship as, as lovers, uh, quiet. Um, there was, was one customer, however, who we had dinner with at the end of an engagement, she said, you know, I know, don't you? So it was fun. Yeah. Yeah, that's fantastic. So, you know, and when did it click that this is the one I want to marry, right. 

Um, I think that we had gotten to know each other so well at that point that, um, there was, there was little doubt in either of our minds that, that we were the right one for each other. So that part was pretty easy. Yeah. And so, and I understand that you got to enjoy 22 wonderful years married together. Undoubtedly there were some ups and downs along the way. Sure. Yeah. Well, we were, uh, Barney's Children were still, you know, in grade school and junior high. So there was, you know, raising Children and being a step parent for, you know, for all that period of time. So we used to say, you know, we needed baggage handlers because we brought so much baggage into the relationship. 

But, you know, we, we stayed very close to each other and had lots of great supportive friends and family. So, you know, looking back over the time that you spent together, you know, married, it seems like today we live in a bit of a throwaway culture where people, people just aren't as willing to, to stick out difficult times in a relationship. And, you know, I have this sense that any, any relationship is gonna last has to be able to get through tough times. What, what would you share for, for anybody who may be in their relationship is going through a tough time. 

Says, man, I'd love to, I'd love to have a relationship. I can describe as fondly as, you know, Marv talks about his marriage to Marty. The advice I would give is actually twofold. 

one is to share everything. Don't hold anything in, don't allow, you know, a hard thing to uh remain inside you and build resentment. Our commitment was to share everything and hold nothing back. So whatever feelings we were having whatever thoughts or fears or concerns we were having or, you know, if we were going through some difficult times, um, you know, we ran a business together, which is not always easy. Right. Not everybody can do that. 

Uh, so that was our commitment was to do, you know, was to commit to being completely open with each other. And later on much later when Marty got sick, um, that commitment really served us well. The other thing I'll share and this, um, you have to kind of understand this a little bit with the fellow was who married us, who was conducted, the ceremony was a longtime friend of mine and his advice was do whatever your, your, your spouse asks you to do. Right. So that sounds a little bit, you know, counter to our normal culture of, you know, independence and, you know, self, you know, self reliance, self reliance. Right. Thank you. Well, there's that too. 

Um, but what, what that really depends on is that, you know, that your spouse would never asked you to do something. It wasn't good for both of you and Marty and I lived by that and it was, uh, I think it was a core value of our marriage and our time together and it, it was a big part of our bond. It's fantastic. And so at a certain point in time, Marty, Marty became sick. And how long ago did you kind of, were you aware that something was wrong. 

Well, it was in the spring of 2016 that we began to go to the doctor. Um, you know, we were, she was experiencing, you know, she'd have pain in her shoulder, she had pain in her ribs or hips and, you know, the local doctor that we were seeing Sort of, uh, didn't write it off, but just as soon made an assumption that was probably arthritis or something like that. At that point, she was, she was 64. And uh we became, you know, pretty concerned about what was really happening. 

We went to another doctor who was a pain doctor in three hours from here over in Colorado Springs. And uh he became very concerned about what he was seeing and that was in late September John. And um the diagnosis came back just like, you know, the next day from an M R I that um there were cancerous lesions in her brain and then other subsequent Mri's that same uh same day revealed that the cancer was in many places in her body. Um So by that time, it was, it was before until it was, I'm sorry, at the time it was discovered she was already in stage four. 

What runs through your mind when, when you, when you, when you have something that confirmed this is where you're at. Well, the future that we had planned simply went away, it vanished and the past no longer really mattered. All we really had was that moment. And thereafter, all we really had was each day we knew almost right away from, um, you know, the wonderful oncologists that we were working with in Colorado Springs that this was, this would take her life. 

We just didn't know how long and, or what she would choose to do. At that point, we didn't know what would be asked of her. You know, whether she would want to do, you know, everything that they're sorry, ambassador in computer. Um Whether or not, um there were things that we could do to lengthen her life, but we knew almost right away that it was going to take her life. And so again, it was, it just put us into the present moment. Uh I know I'm repeating but the future just simply vanished. 

Yeah, I think about like every one of us in a sense lives with a life sentence that we are mortal, but I believe particularly in, in, in the western like first world, we have this idea, this expectation that we're going to enjoy a long life, probably give or take 80 years. That's, that's kind of what we, we picture and when we're presented with the reality that that's not gonna be the case for you. It's I imagine that to be a really tough thing to try to navigate because, you know, as we touched on there, there's a sense of expectation around this is what life is supposed to hold from. Was there was ever any, like anger, resentment or like you mentioned, your future vanished? 

You know, almost like in a, in a moment in time, the picture you had in your head. What sort of emotions do you experience in that moment? Well, in the moment you've heard the expression that your stomach just falls, there's just this, this empty pit, uh, in the bottom of your stomach. And that's what we both experienced when the doctor called and told us the news. Um, we were actually driving into the parking lot at the local hospital here in Gunnison when he called and it was, it was terrifying. Uh It was, it was, it was sheer terror. Um But because of the way we were with each other and the way we had decided to live our lives, you know, we just called it out as you know, for what it was right away. We said this is dancer. Um and we're gonna face it head on and we're gonna do it together and, you know, as we, as we were accustomed to doing, we professed our love for each other and that um we would, we would face together uh whatever would come and I will tell you John an awful lot came our way. It was very, very tough. What was the length of time between confirmed diagnosis and her passing nine months? nine months, OK. She passed away on July four. Okay. Yeah, a lot, a lot, a lot came your way. 

You know, as you just try to, you know, and you, as the surviving partner, I mean, you have to consider, I guess, well, there's going to be a life without her and, and she is navigating, you know, my future is disappearing when sort of the first, maybe emotions of, like, terror and frustration and loss and disappointment kind of washed over. How did she face the next stage of this? Well, I would say that Marty faced it with extraordinary courage, you know, it was all, it was very painful. You know, when you get, when you're told that you have cancer, um that's the initial diagnosis. But over, you know, a period of time when you're going through treatments, you actually receive a series of diagnoses in a series of prognosis. 

So, uh marty's decision was that she wanted every day of life that she could, that she could get. And what that meant was that she uh engaged every possible treatment that could lengthen her life. The first one being whole brain radiation for, I think it was 11 days straight. Um And eventually your, you know, months later that actually took away her ability to speak. Um and her, her hips were very affected by the cancer. So she had to have two hip replacements to keep them stable. 

She had chemotherapy for repeatedly for, I think it was six months. Um, so her decision was to keep herself alive to enjoy and, and have every day of life that she could possibly get. And that was a, that was a very courageous decision. 

And, um, one thing about her story is that she never once complained. She, when she was in the ambulance going from Gunnison, uh to the front range and the doctors in Colorado Springs that could help us. Um, she told my son and me later that she cried, but not because she had cancer, but because her life had been so beautiful. Yeah, she just, she faced it with just uncommon courage and, um, you know, she endured an awful lot through the treatments and the pain from the cancer. Yeah. Did she have, I know you mentioned you studied theology. Um, did she have particular belief system or, or religious beliefs? 

Well, um, we actually were both practicing Buddhists. Okay. So we, we did, you know, we meditated every day and continued that practice, um, up until her passing and that, sorry, pardon? Pardon? My, my simple understanding, but in the Buddhist sort of philosophy when one passes from this, this world to the next, um, what is, what is the belief that takes place? 

Well, it depends on which Buddhists you ask fair enough. Um, we believe in and it's continues to sustain me in a constancy of existence that a life never really ends. Um, we don't really engage in, um, in rebirth philosophies. But we believe that our spirits really never die. So there is. Yeah. Yeah. So there's an element of us uh in, in the Christian philosophy, you might call it a soul that, that has an eternal quality to it. Uh Something, something that, that is immortal in a sense. And what sort of brings about this question? Because I know you said you decided theology and you studied world religions and whatnot. Like, were you a Christian who converted to Buddhism or was Buddhism something that when did that come into your practice? Um I really uh started engaging Buddhist philosophies in uh the late nineties, I did some climbing in Nepal and sort of immersed myself in the culture at that time. But I um I really shifted to more of a, of a Buddhist philosophy believing that God is within each of us. Um And that really made a lot of sense to me and to Marty. And we never really said, well, we're not Christians. 

We, you know, we didn't, we didn't need to reject something in order to become something, you know, uh Marty's eulogy. Uh I wrote that um for her, Jesus taught us, taught us how to love and Buddhist taught us Buddha taught us how to live. So it was kind of a blending if you will by all means. So as I mean, I suppose you might not know the exact date, but as it became clear, you mentioned you know, at a certain point in time, she lost her voice. How, how did you communicate after that point? 

Well, that was, that was very challenging, Uh, for a few months, uh, towards in the spring of 2017 again, she passed in July in the spring. Uh, it was, this was really hard for her because she was a very intelligent, very articulate person. She could start a sentence but then couldn't finish it. So for quite some time, I actually finished her, her sentences for her and she would tell me with her facial expressions, whether I got it right or not. 

What, you know, it's funny because I think about married couples and sort of like the jokes that surround like finishing each other's sentences and things like that and, or sometimes it's considered annoying trait that, you know, someone so well that you can already kind of predict what they're going to say. So as she's losing the capacity to, to speak and communicate in clear sentences, um, you know, I still imagine that there's, there's someone on the inside that knows the words they want to say, it's just they're not coming out, right? You know, that, that in itself, boy, I just imagine that feeling like being almost like trapped in a sense and, and she felt that, um she, she had, you know, other ways to express herself. She loved to play the panel and she was able to do that uh, right up until the time that she was too weak to, to sit up, you know, on the bench. 

Um, and, uh, by late spring, she also lost the ability. Well, before that, in the spring, she lost the ability to write. So she, she had enormous difficulty expressing what she wanted to, to say. And I think we did really well up until about the last I would say two months and then, and then it became difficult for her to formulate the first part of the sentence. And so I would, you know, I would try to understand what she was trying to communicate. And, you know, we would, we would have, you know, these loving sessions when I would, you know, say something, is that what you're feeling or is that what you're thinking? 

And, you know, after all those years, we, we could communicate nonverbally really well also. But it was, it was really hard We think about, you know, we, we say that like I'm gonna probably misquote the percentage, but something like 70, 75, 80% of communication is nonverbal. Yeah. And a large majority of the percentage of communication is nonverbal. And so here you're, you know, it's, it's interesting to think about relying so heavily on the nonverbal elements of it and the deep bond that's been forged. You know, probably one of the things that was very easy to convey without words with a deep love and affection that you had for, for one another and that in all of this, there was, there must have been this beautiful sort of security knowing that um that that part will always be able to, to be communicated. Yes. Thank you John for that. 

You said you said it very well, you know, keep bumping my computer. Sorry. Uh You said it very well and there was never any lack of ability to communicate our love and affection for each other. 

We are very affectionate with each other. Our smile are the look, the expression on our face to touch. Um It was all very intimate and one thing I would share is that even though we had this, you know, really vibrant, vibrant uh marriage and a wonderful long term relationship. One of the things that we experienced was, you know, during that nine months, we experienced more and greater sense of intimacy than we ever had when someone is that week and has to be lifted, you know, from the bed to a wheelchair. Um And has to rely on someone else to bring them a glass of juice or fix coffee or, or put on their slippers. 

She's a very independent woman and she let me take care of her. And that created a sense of intimacy greater than we'd ever experienced up until that point. Yeah. When it came time for her passing, you know, were you increasingly aware that the end was near? Yes. In fact, uh, Marty was never afraid of dying. 

She wasn't afraid of death. Our, our thoughts about that were why be afraid of something that we don't really understand. Right. But what she was afraid of was being surprised by it. 

And, uh, so it became very important for us to have conversations with the doctors and nurses about what, you know, what they were seeing in terms of her body and what her time frame was. And these were very poignant and sometimes really tearful conversations that we would have about how much time she had left or we had left as a couple. And in the last, I would say the last six weeks, we started having those conversations more frequently. And in the last month, we had those conversations every few days. And so I wanted to do everything that I could and so did the wonderful hospice nurses that we had helping to take care of her. 

We just did not want her to feel that it was coming as a surprise. And I think we succeeded at that. Uh she, she was very aware that, you know, you know, the I V s were stopping and uh that she was in the final stages of her life and, and we're able to be beside her when she passed away, Marty loved to, to be held with her hands like this with my arms around her. And um as she was drawing her last breasts, um I laid down in the bed with her and, um, took off my shirt so we could be skin to skin and I held her in that way. Uh, and she took her last breath. Mm. That's, you know, heart heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time. 

Very, very much so. And, and how incredible for her to take her last breath in, you know, the secure, loving embrace of her, you know, her life's partner. Really? That's what she wanted as did I Yeah. So then when the time comes that, well, the day, the day that we knew that was coming has now come and now we have to begin a new life because so much of your life has been dedicated to just revolving around, around caring for her and, and maximizing every moment that you have with her. And as you mentioned, like a deeper intimacy just that you never experienced before. And I'm not sure if, you know, work took a backseat or somehow things sort of function in the background as they may have. 

Well, what, what happened during that period of time was I have a wonderful business partner who stepped up and literally took over the business. And so I really didn't have to work much at all during those nine months. Um But I think what I would, what I would add is that um at the very end, um what I said to her was, you know, don't look back, don't worry about me or anyone else here. 

You know, the research is that our hearing is the last thing to go. And I wanted to, to, to say to her, you know, go to the next, please go to the next part of your journey and don't worry about us, we'll all be fine. So I imagine that of course, there's quite a profound sense of grief and loss as you try to figure out. Well, even though we knew this was coming, we most of all of this, the inevitable grief and sense of loss comes. And how do you, how do you navigate the first few days and weeks after, after her passing? 

Well, um my grief was, was only sadness. Um It wasn't complicated by regrets or guilt or shame. Um One thing that was helpful and it was, it was just a profound sense of loss and it literally felt like she was ripped from my body from my cells. Um And I think there's a lot to that. 

Grief is a very powerful and painful process. It was physically very painful for me. Um But one of the things that I share uh in the book and one of the things that I like to share is that two years before this, Marty and I had a conversation about what we would want for each other if one of us died. And that, that made so much difference because she wanted me to go on and you know, live my life out and that continues today to be a loving message from her that, you know, you see it heals my soul. Yeah. Yeah. But, but the grief, the grief process was really intense, John and you worked with a counselor side by side. And uh yeah. So and ultimately co authored the book When The Rocks Sing. And I have to say, I'm curious, what is the meaning behind the title? 

Well, part of my recovery was to try to get myself back into the world. And there was about four months where basically all I did was walk and meditate and talk to friends and family. That's really all I was capable of doing. And I realized that I really needed to just force myself back out into the world because, you know, for me, grief was, you know, it was a series of decisions. 

Do I want to allow my, my life to shrink to become, you know, just a sad guy and, you know, not continue to live, you know, bold engaged life. And my decision was that I really wanted to continue, I really wanted to continue to grow and evolve myself in my life as Marty would have wished. And so I, um I created a trip for myself to Australia and New Zealand, right? 

I didn't know anyone there. And I thought, well, if I put myself out there, uh you know, I'm going to go someplace I've never been before and meet people. I don't know and do things that I've never done before. And it was, it was a bit of a, I was a bit of a cheap because I went to a place where, you know, everyone spoke English. It wasn't, it wasn't too hard, but I was, I was walking a beach on the South Island, New Zealand. 

Uh, it's a place called Greymouth, you know, not very creatively. It's the mouth of the Gray River is the name of the town Greymouth in New Zealand. The names of places are either very plain like that or the, they're these beautiful, you know, melodic Als Maori names, but this is Gray Mouse. So I was there and I walked this speech for two days. Um And it was midday the second day when I began to hear the rocks chattering against each other. And what happened is the rocks at that beach were basically pounded into disc shapes and when a big wave would come in and then as it came out, the rocks would chatter against each other. Yeah. And it took, it took, it took almost two days for me. 

I've been walking the beach for two days and hadn't heard that. So it was a moment when my heart was calm enough in my mind was still enough that I could hear that subtle sound of nature. And the idea of the name of the book is that I hope for everyone who's lost, a dear, loved one that they too will come to a point when they can hear those subtle sounds of nature because their heart is, is calm enough in their mind, is quiet enough so that they can hear those sounds. 

That's a beautiful sentiment to express their. And, and so, you know, in our pre recording chat, you mentioned that you, you know that you have a girlfriend and, you know, I think this is, this is an element of grief and loss that a lot of people will struggle to navigate. And I think you mentioned you had the privilege of having this conversation with Marty prior to her passing. 

You know, hey, if, if one of us leaves, this is what I hope. How do you, how do you come to the place? Because I mean, this is, this is a complicated situation because of course, you have this person that you love so deeply and you said you felt based like, like something was being ripped out from the cells of your body, that sort of level of pain to, I'm going to commit to a relationship with somebody else and someone else who might, who may or may not know what that is like, but is willing to commit to me even knowing that like there's still a deep love in my heart for the one I've lost, it's not uncomplicated and it uh it takes a very special person. Uh to be able to love me knowing that I still love Marty and that I'll always have a measure of grief for the loss uh of her life and the loss of what we shared. Um Perhaps it would help if, if I shared that, you know, my purpose, as you pointed out, John, my, my whole purpose had been to be the best husband I could be to Marty. 

That was my purpose for all those years. Um And what I, what happened when Marty died is that purpose just vanished. So my primary purpose in life was gone. and I realized, um you know, about 6-8 months in uh I'm here, but I'm not sure what my purpose is. And that was, that was, that was really powerful for me. And so I really started digging deep. 

I did a lot of meditating, a lot of, you know, a lot of soul searching. And what I, what I came to is my purpose is to live with an open heart. And that has, that's also not easy. Um But what that has done is that has made it possible for me to continue to love life, to love the people in my life and to leave myself open uh to, you know, another, another great love which which I'm experiencing. The other thing I'll share is that my girlfriend also has some great losses in her life. 

She lost a baby to SIDS um many years ago. So not that we share a bond of sadness, but we know we, we understand each other's losses and that those, those loves that we have continued to be part of us, um, as we go forward in life. Yeah, that's beautiful. And I think it would be a wonderful, wonderful theme to explore in another conversation, you know, love after love, after the love of your life passes, you know what that would look like. 

But, and Marv, I've truly enjoyed our conversation today. You're a wonderful heart centered man and I appreciate your openness and vulnerability and sharing your experience. I think this will touch the hearts of many people as they, as they listen to this. And so as we think about closing out the conversation here, I always like to ask my guests if someone was listening this conversation. Um What, you know, what if there was a nugget of wisdom that you could offer people or that you would hope that people would take away from this conversation? What would you like to share? 

Well, if you've, you've been through a big change in your life, whether that's the loss of a loved one or, you know, the loss of, you know, some of the opportunity like a job or something else to take it seriously and engage the feelings that come along with it. And most importantly, believe in yourself. Because what I have found is that all of us have a reservoir of resiliency within ourselves, to face whatever life can, can hand to us, right? And we, we have the freedom, we have the freedom to, to move forward. We have the freedom to embrace the emotions that come with that. And we have the freedom and we can build the resiliency to fall in love with life again. Hmm. I think that's such a beautiful and powerful message. 

I think this is maybe what stops people from truly experiencing grief is perhaps the fear that they don't have the resiliency, the capacity to navigate the great depth of emotion they're going to feel as they go through this experience. But you're, you're, you're a shining example of what it's like to have the power to do that. It's not to suggest that it's easy, but it's to suggest that we, we do have the capacity for it and we can't fully know it until we're in the moment, but when you're in the moment will, will realize it. So, thank you for that, that beautiful message, Marvin. Thank you again so much for being on the show. 

I've truly enjoyed our conversation. Thank you, John. Thank you so much for tuning into between the before and after. 

If you've enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and leave a review because that helps this podcast to reach and inspire more people. I love exploring the stories that take place between the before and after the powerful experiences that shape who we become and I love human potential. I love the possibilities that lie within us. So whatever you may be up against, I hope these stories inspire you. Because if you're still here, your story is not done yet. So keep moving forward. 


Marv WeidnerProfile Photo

Marv Weidner


Marv Weidner lives in the beautiful, mountainous
Gunnison Valley of Western Colorado and is a
volunteer with Living Journeys, a local not-for-profit
organization providing services and support to
cancer patients and their families and caregivers.
He is a proud father and grandfather to his and
Marty’s children.
Marv's book, When the Rocks Sing, places the voice
of a man who lost his beloved wife to cancer side
by side with the perspective of the grief counselor
who walked the road of rebuilding and resiliency
with him. It addresses a variety of topics, such as
harnessing resiliency, facing grief head on,
embracing loss as an integral part of life, staying
present in the midst of trauma, de-stressing in
healthy ways, reaffirming or discovering a new
sense of purpose, and much more.