I don’t know what’s worst… death or the process of dying.
It looks like my cousin is losing her battle with cancer. It’s hard for me to digest as it not only cuts too close to home but it is my first real experience with someone succumbing to the disease in front of my very eyes. I think I’ve been in denial about her. She’s always been vivacious and beautiful. The cool older sister. I’ve never met anyone who died from cancer. My sister survived. My dad survived. She was suppose to survive.
Throughout her battle, I’ve seen her here and there. She always looked like herself and acted like herself even through the pain, heartache, and anger. When I saw her yesterday, I didn’t recognize her. No, she was unrecognizable. Taken by the cancer. Eaten by the anorexia. I only realized it was her when the sweetness of her voice sounded familiar to me. I was taken aback to say the least. But no tears. No feelings. And I didn’t understand it as I am an emotional person these days.
I hold a wall up. I answer questions for my uncle the best I can. I don’t let myself get emotionally connected. I think it’s because I’m scared. Not of death. But that she’s a mom to a young 5 year old girl. I think I block out sympathizing with her for the profound sadness she must feel leaving that beautiful little girl. Wondering if her daughter will ever know what her mom went through to have that little, precious being come into her life and into this world. How brave her mom has been for that little girl. How hard her mom fought in this battle to stay alive for that little girl. Will that little girl know? I know these were and are still questions I ask daily in regards to my relationship with my daughter. The difference is I’m here to tell her. That’s the part that gets me and that’s the part I try to block out.
I see my uncle and his want for his little girl to be physically available. To remain on this earth. It was truly a difficult conversation for me to have with him. To tell him to let her be comfortable. To let her decide what she wants. And yet, to start preparing to let her go peacefully.
Death. It’s finite. The dying part is not. I think it’s such a drawn out process of unanswered questions and of the unknown. The part of death I think that is scary… is leaving behind the people you love. Not being able to be here to reassure them that you are ok and at peace. And wondering if they are holding up. My girlfriend said if she died leaving behind her children she would die with her eyes open because she wouldn’t be at peace leaving behind her precious loves. I fear that for my cousin as well. That although her body may be at peace when she leaves this earth…her mind, heart, and soul may not be. And that’s the saddest thing to me, because when she or anyone goes… I want them to go fully at peace and without fear.
My husband and I were having a discussion… well, this discussion happens almost daily. Him complaining about how tiring his job is. Coming home exhausted from the drive long drive, etc. I get it. I give him mad props and accolades for it. But get this… he absolutely loves what he does. He loves treating his patients. He loves teaching his students. Yes, those are the good parts. I’m sure the bad parts are dealing with the politics at school, dealing with the drama with his offices, employees, and patient complaints… oh and the long drives. I mentioned that, right? Well yeah… I hear about it all the time. Haha. But no, I do know that driving an hour to two hours multiple times weekly is not a walk in the park. My buttcheek and legs are hurting, numbing up, and cramping just thinking about it.
But here’s the point in my story. I said one night, “I don’t know anybody who complains so much about what they love to do.” Yes, I’m a jerk. But I was at my wits end feeling like a part-time single mom. His response…ladies… prepare… “you love being a mom. I never heard another mom complaining so much about taking care of her baby she loves so much!!!” WTF. Yeah, my “Go Apeshit Button” was blaring. But I used some recently learned coping mechanisms and just took a breath.
I said, “why don’t you spend every waking moment with her and see how hard it is. You will never get the full gamut of my daily life. Yes, she fulfills me. She makes me laugh. She’s my everything. And yet, she breaks me down like no other. And as a human being, you can only take so much before you lose it. You are “fun dad.” You get to do whatever you want because you have insta-sitter (me)… and blah blah.” To that, he said… “well, you get to go to MNO and go out.” My response… “do you think those evenings happen whenever I want and at any time? No way, those takes weeks of planning and lots of effort. I don’t know what spontaneous means except for when O spontaneously in rare blue moons falls asleep without me having to PUT HER TO SLEEP!!!” Icing on the cake… “well you have free time now when she’s in school.” Me: “who do you think keeps this house clean, your clothes washed, your clothes nicely folded into your drawers, your lunches and dinner made? The fairy?” Him: “Well, we have a cleaner once a week. Your life is not that bad.” Ahahahahahahahaha. Men.
Do you see where this story is going? Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus. They don’t know what it’s like to walk a mile in our shoes and will never. They say we don’t know how stressful it is for them. Please. We do. Most of us have worked at some point. We can empathize with the politics. We can empathize and feel compassion about the dramas of working for others and with others in the workplace. What I do give to them is yes… they do carry the bulk of the financial burden. And yet again, many single parents do it and have experienced the stress as well.
Complaining about what you love to do… I didn’t know verbalizing how hard it is to be a mom was complaining about what I love to do. Haha. Looking back at our conversation… it’s comical. Yes, it is my calling and a job to some degree. But to use that as an example just blew me away. Don’t get me wrong… he’s a great person… but sometimes… his analogies just don’t work.