Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Getting Good At Suffering

Well there's a whopper of a title for you. I have to admit it half makes me want to vomit and half makes me laugh (thanks to my twisted Irish humor and ability and inherited gift to make light of any situation. quite literally). I have to say, after a few beers this evening, that this idea is resonating within my head.

Is it possible to get good at suffering?

And then comes the WHY? And the agreement that the idea of such is horrible... but yet one that many of us will experience at some point in our lives.

For those who don't know the shitastic adventure we've been on for a couple of years now you can check over here for the short version. Cancer is a like a "joy" ride from hell and unsurprisingly it brings with it a LOT of suffering.

I made a post around my birthday discussing the idea of getting used to the crappiness and constant uneasiness of living with cancer (or someone close to you who has cancer). As I said, for many the cancer road is a short lived experience, for us it was about 2 years of utter chaos, anxiety, anguish, vile, awful... and and and (are there any better words to describe the hell other than HELL?? I think probably not). I almost felt as if someone suffering from an eating disorder in the sense that your true reality is inherently distorted in your own mind. Millions around you can easily say you're crazy, I see this and yet you see a completely different picture, but you're TRULY unable to distinguish this... it's like you're not looking in the same mirror as everyone else. You think the sky is yellow when everyone else tells you it's blue, and we're talking a conviction in your beliefs that its yellow... talk about a complete disconnect from reality. After a while of this constant bombardment to your current "normal" you stop the fighting and eventually concede and settle for his new version of "normal".

That sounds so bizarre to write... I'm sure there are people out there who've experienced something similar and completely understand what I'm saying. It sounds awful and I'm not going to lie, it is! But there is no other option if you intend to continue functioning every day of your life. You MUST find that new sense of normal and continue to plod along whether you agree or not because when it comes to health and disease you're not really a contender in something like cancer that will run over the strongest of fighters. Trust me... and without discouraging all of the current fighters out there I will attest to the idea that in the end it's not really up to you nor I whether our loved one is the winner in the end... as I got to witness, ever so painstakingly, the fight doesn't equate to the end result. What is meant to be will be.

BUT. And with a big BUT, I say to any and everyone fighting (just as my Dad would've said to them) Don't you EVER. give up the fight!!!!


I told myself on a daily basis that miracles happen every day. And they do. You nor I is privileged to know the reasoning on "why" they happen for some and not others and therefore you MUST keep fighting. You MAY be the miracle. And by damn if any similar fate ever bestows me you can bet that I will go down with the most outrageous fight ever witnessed, I will fight for that miracle with every cell in my body.

With that said, I buried my Dad 3 days ago. It was symbolic because he was cremated 2 months ago but this was the final goodbye. We held a wake in his honor just as he asked us to do. And it was perfect... I mean really...


I felt him smiling and laughing the entire way through. And in some ways it helped my psyche... in others it hurt. This was an official goodbye. ... Not that I'd been avoiding it prior... I'm not in denial that he is gone. As morbid as it sounds to those who haven't experienced a death this close to home I can say that I saw the man hauled down the stairs  of his home on a gurney by the mortuary company... I held his hand and kissed his forehead in a chapel when he was more than expired. I touched his body that was a mere shell on this earth as clearly his vibrant life was gone. I'm not in denial that he is gone.

It wasn't pretty, it was real. I'm ok with the real.

And here we are left with the suffering...

It hurts. Yes it hurts. We have done this too many times to count in the past few years... I lost an Uncle the day my second son was born, at his funeral my second Uncle announced his health struggle and was gone about a year later... 2 months later my Grandfather joined them on the other side.... and less than a year later my Dad rounded out the male family quartet in Heaven.

FYI. Heaven is/has been having the most insane reunion/party since then. The party has arrived folks and I can only WISH for one moment that I was there to experience it myself... I'll get my day eventually and I smile at that prospect. It took me a long time to get to this point.

There are tears. There are awkward conversations about Heaven with my children who are too young to understand the gravity of what has happened. Their Grampa was at my house 4-5 days of the week for years and now it ceases... His pictures are hanging around the house and they are told that they can visit him every. single. night. in their dreams if they want to but that does not fill the void of a man whose personality was nearly indescribable to outsiders. We get it. They really don't.

There is comfort in trying to tell myself that I was lucky enough to have 27 ish years of memories made with this man.... but anger that it was cut short... Comfort that he held each of my newborn sons commemorated with photos but yet they probably will NEVER remember him given their age at his passing. There is comfort in thinking thank you that it was NOT my child nor husband that is gone, but a parent and then guilt for even having such thoughts as if it trivializes his importance in my life...

It's a very dynamic and complicated matter, death.

I feel as though I've gotten good at death...

I mean isn't there some sort of easiness with practice? I've sure had a lot of unwanted practice over the past few years.... I guess in the end I say that the dimensions of suffering don't surprise me anymore but the hurt. the anguish. the sorrow.... those do not change. They don't get easier. Practice doesn't make perfect in death, and as I've comforted myself in the past few months stating,

"At least I was lucky enough to have someone in my life who made all of this hurt that bad"

I was lucky to have a man in my life who was my everything, that I will miss with every ounce of my being. And it HURTS! Many people aren't lucky enough to know what this feels like...

I am sad to see him gone, I am even more distraught to finally give it that official goodbye, But I am thankful to have had him here. He made all of the sadness worth it. He made every memory count. And I can only hope to pass half of this feeling on to the next generation... may they know his spirit, his worth and his legacy as I did.

I love you Dad.
Thank you for being you.
Thank you for teaching me to be ME.
Though our time together was cut short I thank the man upstairs for every day we got together. Walk by me, guide me, and be by my side in death as you were in life.... until we meet again...

Baby Cakes.


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