I would be remiss to not thank you all for the kind words you have passed along about my last post and my idea to start this blog to help me cope with what I am going through. Every word was appreciated and it helped remind me of a few things, important things, that I need to remind myself of more often. It reminded me of the hours and days and weeks past our diagnosis when we received the outpouring love and support from family and friends. The calls, the messages, the texts of love and kindness were overwhelming at the time and even now are still hard to wrap my mind around. A friend from Jr. High that got my number off LinkedIn and reached out to me to make sure I was OK, a girl who was a dear friend but I treated poorly in my 20’s (that had every right to hate me) sending a lovely care package to my girls and my closest friend growing up sending me a message that I know must have been impossible to write. All of this meant the world to me (and still does).
Cancer isn’t ever easy, this Cancer is impossibly hard. It sticks with you every hour of every day and clouds everything in your life. It’s not just hard for me, but it has to be hard for the people around me that have chosen to help carry this awful weight. The people in my life that have taken this on week in and week out are the best people I know and I need to remind myself more often how lucky I am for the support. Because it’s easy to move on, it’s easy to be there for a weekend and check out and it’s easy to leave us because you think we need space. I struggle with this constantly, but I need to learn to not fault people for leaving or not being there for me like I want them too, because the weight and magnitude of something so awful is hard to deal with, even in the third person. So overall I want you to know that it means something, the calls, the messages, the texts, the posts, the extra few seconds of a hug I get when I see you, it means something and I am thankful.
During the radiation treatments we were staying in the city at Ronald McDonald House during the week and only going home on the weekends. I would leave our home on Sunday, drive the family to downtown Chicago, stay the night with them in the city and drive into work on Monday. On our first weekend in the city and going into work for the first time since Abby was starting her radiation therapy I was listening to a Marc Maron podcast with Katie Couric (of all people) and got a piece of advice and comfort that I hadn’t expected. She was talking about her first husband and losing him to cancer when he was 42. She talked about the hardest part of it all was not knowing how to deal with people who weren’t grieving for the absolute smoking pile of rubble her life had become. Wanting to shake and scream at complete strangers on the street and ask them how they can smile when your life was in ruins. It was something that rang so true and important to me that I had to pull on the shoulder of 290 at 8:15 am and take time to process. I realized that I can’t be focused on people living their lives without the same pain in their hearts and getting mad at strangers on the steps of the Museum of Contemporary Art or at Burrito Beach was not going to heal me or make my life any better. I understood that it can’t all be misery, it has to be something else. That road of bitterness and anger is a long and painful journey that I am not prepared to take my family or friends on. Life had to be beautiful again.
So from a podcast (internet radio for my Grandma) I learned one of the most important lessons in my life. From a TV news anchor on a middle-aged comics podcast I learned something that will probably stick with me until the day that I die. The world and most people in your lives are going to move forward and that my anger isn’t and shouldn’t be universal. Appreciate the people who are there for you and try to make things good again. So that’s been my struggle, trying to make things good again. For Abigail, Rachel, Emma and no matter how much I fight against it, myself.
4 thoughts on “The Bends”
After my dad died I was driving to his house to meet with my stepmother and the minister who would conduct his funeral. I looked over at the car next to me and the people inside were laughing. I was devastated and wanted to scream at them. How could they not know that the world had changed?
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My favorite way of dealing with the enivitable pain of watching people move along while I’m still knee-deep in my reality and pain is by thinking and sometimes saying out loud, “They don’t understand, and you don’t want them to.” People have to experience it to get it and I don’t wish that kind of learning on anyone. Your strength and perspective mesmerize me. You might not think you’re doing the best job at remaining understanding towards others’ impassiveness but I see and feel your effort and Adam it is absolutely enough.
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Please know that if someone doesn’t know the situation they aren’t able to react to its magnitude. Believe me the people who are aware are aching for your family and many like yours. They may not know exactly how it feels even by a tenth, but they feel.
On a different note and I know this is easier said than done & a bit cliché, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, which is why we call it the present.” Very corny, I know, but it has merit.
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Thank you for the comment. I do know that people who are unaware about our situation can’t react to it. It’s just an unexpected part of this whole process seems to be getting mad at strangers for no reason, or at least it was for me in the first few days after diagnosis. It’s completely irrational and unhelpful, but it happened quite a bit. Thankfully I have gotten over it.
The quote does have merit and I think of different versions of it every day. Because the present is all we really have and I do my best to live in the now as much as possible.