Reel

What to write?

The news is all bad. All shocking. All impossible to believe or comprehend.

Death is a familiar concept to all who walk this earth. We are aware from early in life that we will one day make our exit. Most of us have at the very least known a distant relative or friend to die, or have watched someone else go through the process of losing a loved one. I have experienced both. But this…this is a completely new experience. I am suddenly shocked at the finality of death. My mind keeps playing over and over the incomprehensible reality that when a person dies, they are no longer here.

“Duh,” I want to tell myself. But really–how can that be? How is it possible that a person who has loved me since my first intake of breath might simply cease to be?

I feel that the planet may stop turning.  It cannot be the same world after he is gone.

I don’t know how to end this. I have no tidy string to wrap it up with; no lessons or conclusions today. I am made up of frayed bits and jumbled pieces. Maybe the lessons will come later.

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Cope, pt. 2

Cancer is a steam engine train, barreling forcefully ahead, unstoppable.

Just a few months ago I stood on its tracks unwittingly, unaware of the rumble in the distance and unprepared for the collision that would sweep me away from the sweet normalcy of my daily life. From the moment of impact I have been changed forever.

It seems that I will never see my dad well again. That knowledge is rocking me. I am not ready for what is to come.

People keep asking how I’m doing, and I have no answer. I guess I’m tired. I’m sad often but in short bursts. I feel normal (or at least numb) most of the time. I’m happy sometimes. I cope by continuing with life; going to work, drinking coffee, watching TV, buying a new sweater.

I breathe in and out. I cry, I laugh, I shout, I sit.

I feel like I should say something about God’s abounding love and provision because that would be the wise perspective to take, but I just can’t. This feels too wrong. I’m not losing my faith, I just can’t speak gushingly about it right now. God will still be with me.

Get it out

Today, I am sad. And exhausted. My head feels fuzzy and I can’t open my eyes all the way and I need to cry.

I’m tired of seeing my dad hurting. I’m tired of being away from him.  I’m ready for this move to be over, to be living only an hour from my parents’ house and minutes from the hospital. From there, I could easily be the one to sleep on a cot in his room or take walks with him or cheer him up or cry with him. I could help.

I need that as much as he does. I need to be a part of what is happening in my family. I’ve said before that cancer is a family disease. All five of us have been diagnosed. All five of us suffer. And I am too far away. The one absent member. Continue reading

Cope

This month has been insane. Cancer, travelling, major life decisions. It’s been a doozy, to say the least. Here are some small things I’ve done to cope:

Got a new haircut. Felt refreshed.

Ran on treadmills and on Centennial Trail. Exerted as much energy as possible, and sweated out a whole lot of anxiety and frustration. Continue reading

Listen

Life in Cancer Land is exhausting and confusing and unfair and I don’t like it at all. There are some jewels among the complete and utter crap, though: time with family, breaking of barriers, shedding of everything but the essentials.

Something occurred to me the other day. I hesitate to say that I thought of it myself; it feels more like it was whispered in my ear, and began to entwine itself with the multitude of jumbled and confusing thoughts and feelings in my heart until I noticed its presence.

For the first few days after my dad’s diagnosis, I was angry. And that was appropriate. It was reasonable, understandableand right. Not to be angry in such circumstances would be dishonest; we human beings are not built to understand illness or prepared for the possibility of death.  It feels wrong to us. In addition to that, though, I felt that it was utterly unfair that I should be hit with another crisis so soon, having only recently recovered from the decimation of my marriage.

But the sweet realization the Holy Spirit has whispered into my heart in the last few days is this: maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe he knew this was coming all along, and that I would not have the strength to face it while caught up in a failing marriage. Maybe he knew I needed to be free from that weight, and that I needed time to heal before I would be prepared to deal with my dad’s illness. He knew I couldn’t have coped with this six months ago. The timing of this is evidence of his goodness and mercy in my life; not his cruelty or apathy. He gave me exactly what I needed.

He always does.

There are many conflicting feelings that pervade my existence these days. I don’t know what to think, want, feel, hope, pray. But my life, my family, and my dad’s body are in the hands of the only one who can carry that responsibility. Thank God that’s not me.

(On a practical note, if you’d like to keep up with my dad’s progress, we’ve set up a website here. You’ll have to create a username but it’s pretty simple, and we will be updating it regularly. His surgery is scheduled for tomorrow.)

Walk forward

Cancer.

It’s the ugliest word I know. The word we all hope will never be spoken regarding ourselves or our loved ones. The word with long, bony fingers that wrap around your insides and squeeze your life away while you choke and struggle against it.

Cancer has entered my life by way of my dad’s pancreas. Its first sign appeared a few weeks ago when his skin and eyes began to turn an unnerving shade of yellow. Appointments were scheduled, tests were run, and just as the doctors were on the verge of a much less threatening diagnosis, a final test came back with the least likely and most terrifying possible result, turning our lives around in an instant.

The news came on Thursday, and I have spent the 5 days since feeling alternately terrified, numb, and angry. So. Angry. A friend told me anger is a strong emotion we use to cover up weaker emotions like sadness and helplessness. This is true. I am pissed off because it gives me something to do.

We know so little. We can’t make plans. We can’t leap into action. We can only wait for the next appointment, schedule the surgery. We can’t guess how serious the prognosis will be, how long the journey, how strenuous the fight.

Continue reading