Jul 17, 2012
Each morning I hope that today will be different but so far it's always the same. Going through the motions...slowly, painfully, unbearably. I cannot do anything easily, it's always a chore, a huge effort just to get the laundry done and the grocery shopping finished.
To the unknowing eye, the house looks fine, the dogs taken care of, the kids and husband reasonably content. Underneath, it's a mess. Countless things not done because I simply cannot get myself to do them. Day after day I try but day after day only the basics get done. Does anyone but me notice I wonder that I am faking every waking moment? Smile, make conversation, go to meetings, talk with the neighbors, etc... all the while my mind is on him and this void that is always there.
It was a month ago yesterday that he died. Sometimes when I close my eyes and see the details of his face or hear his voice in my head, it's almost like he's right there next to me. Then it all comes back; that is all I will ever have of him now, those visions and memories.
No one could have a conversation with him about his cancer. He wouldn't allow his mind to entertain the thought that the cancer would win. He would tell his son, my husband, that "nothing is going to happen to me." I remember how stunned I was the first time my husband told me he had said that to him. He pushed him as hard as he thought he could to make him see that things were serious. He just couldn't push him any harder. Looking at it now, I think pushing him any harder would have forced my husband to face what was coming. He wasn't ready. None of us were ready.
Not intertaining the thought of defeat was how he deal with his cancer, and for a long time it worked.
We all drank the koolaid. After all, his whole life was one of accomplishment and breathtaking achievement. He was never below average, average or mearly above average, he was always off the charts. And in spite of the chemo, he looked great and remained physically active. He would beat this. If anyone could, it would be him we all told each other.
I shared some of my journal entries with him. Perhaps if I emotionally exposed myself to him, he would do the same. Oh, he did open up but not for long and not the way I expected. Maybe I should have pushed him more. He seemed to be always right on the edge with me, right on the edge of just embracing it all. Was it denial on his part or just positive thinking? He was one of those people who was always in the zone. You know the kind. Nothing could shake him.
It was after his last hospitalzation that he talked about his grandfather and his fear of just being a faint memory to his grandkids. He wanted more and was determined to get it. The cancer was so unexpected, so surprisingly shocking. If I listed everyone I knew above the age of 50 and had to rank which one I thought would be the next to get cancer and die in descending order, he would be very near the last on the list. He took impecible care of himself in every way and his genes were golden. His dad died at 98 not taking care of himself and his mother is still alive and independent at 100.
I tell myself that he probably would have died decades ago had he not taken care of himself but it still seems so unfair for him and for the rest of us who have to go on without him. I want to go on, I will go on but I just am not ready to let go in the way that one fully needs to to move on.
There are bad days when I cannot let go of his failed effort to stay with us. He tried so hard. He seemed so confused when he had the stroke. He, nor we, were not expecting it. We figured that we would have months, perhaps years more of his struggle to survive, and he would gallantly carry on until his body gave out. A sudden death seemed so cruel because it just took him w/o his consent. Yet, I know that perhaps it was the least painful physical way for him to go.
The confusion is what I remember when I saw him the day after he entered the hospital. Like a person with cerebral palsy trying to speak and can only contort their body and mouth. Don't try to talk we told him. His ability would come back we said. Just rest and give his body time to repair.
The repair never came. I feel like I lied to him. What did he want to say? What was he thinking? Was he afraid? I pray to God that he found peace and understanding, just like I pray to God that we are able to eventually find it ourselves. Until then, I will go on faking it until it becomes my reality.