I just don’t know why cancer has to come into your life and rip your heart out. My experience knowing someone that has this illness was when I was a little girl. My Mom’s cousin had bone cancer, and I remember it being talked about in hushed tones. I went to see her in the hospital and everyone was there praying with her. I knew this was the end of her journey, and I was so scared because I couldn’t help her. Then my step Grandma who I saw in the hospital and then back in the home of my Dad and step Mom was towards the end of her life. I sang at her funeral and I felt like my heart was being twisted in a vice, as I looked at my step Mom and her sisters faces. I couldn’t imagine the pain of losing a Mother, but I felt every shred of theirs. Then time passed on and my Aunt (my step Mom’s sister) was diagnosed. It happened so quickly and it was a losing battle. I remember visiting her in the hospital and listening to her crying out in pain while I sat there by her bedside and prayed for her relief. Then it was my Dad who had two diagnosis’ of lymphoma back in 2007 and 2008. My Captain had just turned one years old when I got that dreaded phone call. I remember it like it was yesterday, dropping the phone, huddling on my bathroom floor my body rocked with my sobs. My Dad was the bravest man I’ve ever known, and he fought valiantly till the end. He has come to the city and did his radiation. Before he stayed with us he wanted to know if the affects would cause my son or us any harm. He was afraid he’d be glowing from the exposure and in his words “lit up like a Christmas tree.” We spent that week together and he would go for treatment in the morning and come back and nap I’m the afternoon. He’d wake up in time to play with his Grandson and they’d giggle and give each other nose kisses. That week is still so precious to me, and I remember it like it was yesterday. We celebrated my Captain’s birthday, and stayed up late and ate lots of cake, then drank tea and wine. I saw the sunsets and sunrises with my Dad laughing, talking, and crying. He got to see my son walking and saying his first jumble of words. I watched him be brave, in the face of this monster taking over his body. I saw how strong my step Mom was being, when my Dad would be in pain or cold from the affects of this disease. I’d see a look of worry and a furrow in her brow and it would quickly be replaced with sadness. Now to fast forward through radiation and chemo and my Dad was having his birthday and he got that call he was in remission. It was such a happy and blessed day. I remember coming home after a workshop to hear the fantastic news. Happiness was short lived as he went travelling to visit relatives and he got sick. I know he knew that this was the last stop on the road of life. He came home and much to our chagrin, to be diagnosed again. I got that phone call shortly before Halloween from my brother, and I raged, cried, and screamed. I was told I had to remain calm because Dad was going to call me, it sounded like I was in a tunnel when I heard the conversation. I remember in the summer taking the trip to the city, his appointment with the oncologist, the MRI, his name going on the experimental cancer treatment list at number 3,147. The number still etched in my brain so many years later. How could this be? It’s not possible how can his remission only last 3 months?! Well the answer came back after my Dad’s amazing Dr asked the same questions I had. There was a spot on the MRI that was missed, and just like that my world plunged into the depths of despair. My Dad was proactive and said he’ll just do chemo again and then was told by his the cancer clinic he wasn’t a candidate for a second treatment regimen. Luckily his Dr didn’t expect that so she called in favours and pulled strings, and got him to another hospital in another province. I thank God for her strength and tenacity because she gave him one more Christmas with his family. I will forever be grateful that she did that for us all . We weren’t ready to say goodbye, we never ever would be. I spent that last Christmas and nearly a month with my Dad and step Mom until he was hospitalized again. It was the scariest thing to wake up and know this was the beginning of the end for my one and only Dad. And when I was told there was no hope, I battled back and said no one could put a sentence on the power of the human spirit. That next month I spent as much time on the phone with my Dad as I lived away from him. He had his phone always busy with all six of his children. That phone call I was praying never would come, and yet it did. My Dad had taken a turn for the worst. So back we went in the frigid winter to visit for one last time. We had four days with him and he got to spend time with all his family. His brother, nephew, and his fiancée made the trip, and the phone never stopped ringing in his room. I remember seeing this beautiful painting on the wall of this hospice room. A garden overflowing with flowers and a white archway beckoning you in. I looked at the picture and saw its beauty, and I grew more angry and disillusioned looking into this heaven like image. I wanted my Dad to not go gentle into that good night. Please just rage, rage, against the dying of the light. Here I quote one of my all time favourite poems by Dynan Thomas. Who wrote this work of poetic art when his own Father was dying. I was there when the pain became too much as this monster cancer grew and took over my Dad’s body. The nurse administered a subcutaneous pain patch and then later a PSP morphine pump. I watched and I prayed and I held my Dad’s hand all day. Then one by one my siblings were there each taking their turn to say their goodbyes. The worst sound I’ve ever heard is when the morphine medication empties. The excruciating sound of the alarm still rings in my ears to this day. As we were all exhausted and numb with impending grief we slept where we dropped. I took my uncle and my nephew to my in laws home. I couldn’t have them sleeping standing up as my Dad would’ve said. I don’t remember sleeping that night, but there I was running in my dream. Running blind, running scared, wanting to cry, wail, but I didn’t dare wake up a sleeping household. My son hadn’t seen me all day, as I couldn’t leave my Dad’s side. So I got up out of bed and watched my son as he slept and I knew in that moment I would never let him forget his Geedo. The phone call came into the house and my husband answered it. I knew the minute I heard the ring, that this was goodbye. So my husband took my Uncle and my nephew to the hospital as I held my son so tight. I had to explain why I was crying because I couldn’t see my Dad anymore, and I wouldn’t again. And in his profound knowledge he said Geedo is an angel and I would be ok. I’m still in awe of that moment in time when myself as the parent became childlike. And also when I sang at my Dad’s funeral how I felt uplifted in the power of song, and fought through my grief to not lose it. And now as the night has come to a close, cancer has touched my life again As I say goodbye to a dear cousin, who has been taken much to soon. My heart hurts as family we’re all left feeling saddened in this surreal, shocking state. So I implore you hug your loved ones, and never let an opportunity pass by where they don’t know of your love. As God only lends us them for a given time, and will call them home again one day.
- Writers quotes Wednesday