Lisa thought she would have a lightbulb moment once she was faced with the reality of Patrick's illness, but the lessons didn't come right away. "You think that you're going to get these terrific illuminations, and I basically looked around and went, 'This is awful,'" she says. "But it happens in its own time. Those lessons come when they're damn good and ready, and not a moment before."
After standing by Patrick's side for almost two years of illness, Lisa says she eventually learned invaluable life lessons. "Mostly, the proverbial 'Do it now,'" she says. "When you're looking at a very limited time with somebody ... you end up living a lot more in the moment and you realize that we don't have anybody for long."
Lisa's outlet was talking to her girlfriends, whom she says were her rock for the past two years. "I have some of the most awesome ladies in my life. They said: 'Call me at 3 in the morning. I don't care,'" she says. "I would pick up the phone, I'd cry and get mad. Anything I wanted with my friends, and then I'd go back to him. Because both of us had to deal with his illness, but he's the one who was going to pay the ultimate price."
Lisa says they talked about heaven over the course of Patrick's illness, but they didn't often talk about death."We were too positive," she says.
In his final days, Patrick was peaceful and free from pain, Lisa says. "There's a strange, difficult transition from trying to treat and make better to trying to make comfortable," she says. "His heart [was] so strong—metaphorically and literally. But it was only so long that his heart was going to keep going."
Lisa says on the day Patrick died, she had anticipated that it would be their last day together. "I was afraid to leave his side," she says. "But once it was time to go, he was making that journey. He was on his way."
"After 34 years, finally he rides in on a white horse!" Lisa says. "I was happy."
They were together for more than three decades, but like any marriage, Lisa says the relationship took work. In Time of My Life, which she co-wrote with Patrick before his death, she reveals that they separated for about a year. "He had some drinking issues and some very dark thoughts," she says. "I didn't think he would live through it, frankly. And I didn't want to be there to watch him die. Not like that."
Over the years, Lisa says people have asked them their secret to a long marriage. "When you come down to it, it's work. It's really being willing to work and hang in there that long."
Moving on will be hard, but Lisa says she knows that Patrick would want her to enjoy the rest of her life. "I had a moment where I thought, 'If I was really courageous, I would be open to the possibility that I could go on in life,'" she says. "I've been really blessed to have a man who always believed in me and thought I was smart and beautiful and good...all these wonderful things. And I hope that I can continue to prove that he was right about me."