If I had Just One Wish

Once upon a time, I posted a quote to Facebook:

Perhaps watching someone you love suffer can teach you even more than suffering yourself can.” – Dodie Smith.

My point was that I figured I’d learn something from the experience of having to watch my father suffer through cancer, even if the only lesson was that sometimes bad things happen to good people. Guess what? Bad things happen to good people.

I didn’t know what to do with the phone that was cradled in my hands when I received the phone call from my Dad that night. I couldn’t do anything but sit silently, saying nothing, while he gathered his courage, swallowed hard and told me the frightening truth. My mind went numb; I remember saying “Oh My God“. I think I may have even said “that sucks“. I was suddenly unable to say anything appropriate to the situation. I didn’t know how to process the information, how to work my way through it, how to come out on the other end at a better place than where I’d started. The “oh…“s and “yes…“s and “right…“s flew out of my mouth simply to fill the void where a more normal, intelligent person might be saying “do you need anything?” or “I am so sorry” or “you’re going to get through this”.

A comment on the posted quote came from a friend a short time later…

“Yes, but it would be easier to suffer yourself.”

Is that true? It’s absolutely heartbreaking to watch someone you love and care about suffer with a disease, any illness, any pain. Would it be easier if I were the one to suffer? Would I take it on in his place if I could?

They’re easy questions to answer on the surface. Yes, I would sacrifice myself in order to spare him. But it’s only too easy to say it without actually being held accountable, since it isn’t something that can be accomplished. I would banish the shadows from under his eyes, if I could. I would wave my magic wand and all the documents and forms required by this organization and that company would be filled out and sent in in a matter of minutes, if only to spare him from weeks of labour and frustration.

I felt so… betrayed, when I found out Dad had cancer. Not by him, but by those higher powers, the ones that should know there is no possible way I could continue to exist in the world without my father. The ones who keep heaping things on me, with the constant expectation that I’ll be able to handle it, I’ll be able to cope. I was finished with it. Done trying. Done making excuses for all the bad karma, and I pushed the blame button.

There had to be a reason for this, a purpose. And of course it had to have something to do with me. I did this. I did this to him, somehow. It was my fault. I began to back out of social engagements, preferring to sit alone at home. I outright disregarded my closest friends who only wanted to offer support. I argued with my Mom, I spoke to my brother only through e-mail. I grilled my Dad about the disease: What would happen now? What kind of treatment will they give you? How will you feel through it all? When what he needed was some time to work through those questions for himself first.

Looking back, I realize how badly I handled the news. I’m not sure, if given another chance, anything would change. It’s devastating news, to the person with the illness, to the family and friends. I don’t think anyone faults me for reacting the way I did, but I can’t help but think of a saying I wrote down a few years ago and kept reminding myself of: You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you react to it.

I wish I could have controlled my reaction more, but I hardly took the time to decipher what that reaction was, nevermind attempt to control it. You can always look back at a situation and think of ways you could have handled it better. I have to stop analyzing my actions; it doesn’t matter what I did, it matters only what I do.

2011… Another Whole Year

Gone. I can’t believe how quickly time flies when you’re flying around wasting it.

A quick re-cap of my year? Okay. Sure.

I tried boot camp classes and. they. sucked. My shins hurt something terrible and I had to stop. But I kept running, you know, for a while there. But the damage to my shins had already been done and eventually I stopped running completely. Am now trying to work my way back. Once again.

I ran two 5k races and walked a 3k. I had planned (a 2011 resolution of mine) to run both a 5k and a 10k, so I obviously failed with that, but am very proud of myself for sticking things through for those 5ks.

I had also made a 2011 resolution to save money. Bahahaha. Well, I did, sort of. I saved money that was gifted to me. But that’s about all the money I saved. Still, I suppose it’s something.

I lost my Dog to Lymphoma, many of my Grandmother’s siblings passed away this year, and Dad was diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer.

Yes, 2011 has been quite a year. I’m sure I’m missing a lot of events that also were very important to me, but what’s most important is that it’s over. All over. I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly ready for a fresh start. Is that too cliché to say?

And at some point, as I always do, I will think up some resolutions for 2012. If I could sum them all up, it would sound something like this:  Work on Becoming Perfect.

Should be easy enough.

Oh…hey.

Well.

I don’t really know what to say about the months-long hiatus I took from posting. A few things have happened since last you read.

My dog’s disease progressed rapidly and I finally made the decision to have her put down in October. That will go on the list as one of the Top 5 Hardest Days of my Life. It has been strange trying to adjust to no longer having a doggie nearby to scoop up and cuddle with. It’s been strange listening to the noises old houses make and realizing those noises did not, in fact, come from my dog at all.

In November, after a doctor’s visit I decided to try a walking program that would gently progress into jogging after a sum of weeks. It consisted of walking every day; the first week at 10 minutes, the second 15 and so on until I reached the magic 30 minute mark. At that point, I would begin jogging three times a week. I did not make it far. I made it to Week Three, where Shin Pain from Hell finally forced me to admit that this was not something I could continue doing.

I made a conscious decision at this time to walk three times a week for as long as my body would let me, and go from there.

Unfortunately, not even a week later I received a call from my Dad with horrible news. He’d been diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer.

I really gave it my best effort to not become focused on why this was happening to him and instead accept the fact that he was going to have a difficult road ahead of him. I soon regressed from that approach, however, when his frustrations became mine not even two days into his battle. I stopped going out, talking to friends, spending time with family, and began stewing in the comfort of my misery and selfishness. I wondered why this, why now, why him, why me, why, why, why??? I was angry. No, enraged. I took it out on those closest to me, and even those who weren’t so close.

I have since come to accept things more easily. I do still sometimes find myself asking that damn question though, usually when I’m alone at home and wondering how Dad’s feeling after his radiation treatment.

He is scheduled for radiation Monday to Friday for six weeks, and six chemotherapy sessions each Thursday. Since he lives in the city, an hour and a half away, I’ve only been able to make it to his chemo treatments. So far, two sessions into it, things are looking good (knock on wood).

This is becoming an overwhelming post. I’ll talk more about this in future.

The moral of the story is… I’ve jumped off the jogging bandwagon. I’ve gotten  a bit of Walking Time in, but certainly that is not the secret to success in and of itself, so I have a bit of work to do to bring things back around.

The plan is actually to wait until my next doctor’s appointment and harass him into giving me x-rays. That’ll work, no?