Wednesday, December 5, 2012


I think most people only have a handful of times in their lives when something is happening and they realize in that moment that they are going to remember it for the rest of their lives.  Our other memories, things we think about after the event has come and gone - they come back to us unexpectedly, out of the blue, without our having consciously collected them along the way. But the ones that we know will stay with us as they are occurring are extra special, because we get to live them live in real time and in memory. 

As hard as it is to think back on the time when my dad was sick, I realize that the fact that we were aware of the risk (probability) that his time was limited allowed us to pull in those memories while we were focusing on the specialness of that time. Some of the time, I was functioning in the moment, but I was also deliberately hoarding memories of what was going on. I wasn't trying to hold onto those things because I thought Dad wouldn't be around much longer, though; usually I was logging those moments because I thought he would beat the damn cancer and we would be able to look back and think this is how we made it!!  And even though it turned out we didn't, at least we were afforded those memories, both the good and the difficult, to remind us of the fierceness of our love for one another. 

I dealt with my dad's illness with staunch denial of the fact that the devastating prognosis could apply to us, and, looking back, I think it turned out to be for the better that I wasn't aware of many of the last times I'd have with my dad because of that denial.

In going through life, we tend to think we will always have more time, which leads us to think that it's ok to rush around, to put things other than our loved ones first, and to worry about the past and the future instead of letting everything else fade away and just appreciating the simple physical presence of those we love.  Hearing the words "brain cancer" allowed me to stop all of that and to recognize that I needed to just be with my dad and the rest of my family, even though I didn't let myself think that there wouldn't be many more opportunities to do that same thing.   

And afterwards, I had to see not just that I'd been wrong in thinking the prognosis was wrong, but I also had to realize another hard thing as part of the grief: when the dust starts to settle after the first time you lose someone that you truly love, in the darkness it hits you that your days together with everyone else that matters to you are numbered as well.  And somewhere along the way in dealing with the horror of that realization, you may see the importance of paying attention, of stopping to smell the roses, of committing the moments to memory, because doing so is one of the few things that may possibly help to ease the deep aching when we do have to come to find out that the lasts were just that.

All the inconveniences, the irritation, the stressing out over things, the wishing for things that don't really matter at all seem so insignificant, so stupid, and in some cases so selfish when we put it into perspective.  At some point, for all of us, it will be too late.  We have to do our best to capture those moments now, before they actually become lasts, before there is no hope of recapturing them, before the regrets set in and that's all that we have left.

I still have moments when I don't believe it really happened or that he's really gone, even now, 23 months later.  Damn I miss him. 

What I wouldn't give to see this smiling face again //
"There are no goodbyes for us.  Wherever you are,
you will always be in my heart."  ~Mahatma Gandhi

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