Saturday, June 2, 2012

Going On

I have been considering taking up boxing.  Not really for the exercise but so that I can get a big punching bag and write things like New Normal on it and then beat the shit out of it.

When my dad was first diagnosed with the brain cancer that took his life only ten weeks later, lots of people kept telling my family that we needed to find a “new normal.”  God how we detested that term then, and how we hate it now.  There is NOTHING normal about what we went through or living the life we have been left to live without my dad.   It’s more of a slanted or tainted or stained continuation, one with beauty and good and excitement and happiness in it to be sure but one that we know is not as good as it should have been.

My parents had planned to go on an Alaskan cruise for years before my dad got sick; taking that trip together was a Bucket List item for both of them that did not come to fruition.  

This week, my daughter, who just graduated from high school and who had a trip like that on her own young Bucket List, is taking that trip with my mom, a divergence with necessary perspective, the perspective and the tenacity to move forward that we learned over the course of our lives from Dad.

In my family, we have always known we needed to count our blessings, to relish the quality moments and even more importantly, to consider the times when we were simply together as a family to be of the highest quality.  Our standard family motto when we are planning a vacation together is “The details don’t matter that much – we can have fun together in a closet or a box!”

Dad’s illness brought that sentiment even more into focus.  It emphasized to me the need to consciously hoard those memories, just in case.  Back then, I didn’t really believe a “just in case” would ever happen, but now I know it can and at some point it will.  

That is how we are having to adjust.  Life goes on; it really does.  And still, considering the world without him in it stretches my mind further than is comfortable for me. It’s like trying to grasp the scope of the solar system or shrink myself to a set of random carbon blocks.   I still do not fully believe he is gone.

Like a monk-in-training, though, I am trying to appreciate the little things as well as the big things, the quiet and the noise, the minutes, the hours, the days.  To pause and count my blessings, to stop and smell the roses, both literally and figuratively.  I am trying to go on and have peace and to be happy even though Dad isn’t here.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Truths and Untruths

I have a collection of quotes that have meaning to me.  Some of them are touching, some inspiring, and others are words to which I take issue and want to make a correction.

For example:

                                           "Try not! Do, or do not.  There is no try."

Sorry, Yoda, I have to disagree:

The truth is that there is try.  There is trying as hard as one can, with all of one’s might and all of one’s effort, and sometimes that still does not translate into do.  You can pray, beg for mercy, bargain with everything you’ve got, and still sometimes the thing you are trying for just doesn’t happen.  You can play full out, go for the win, gut it out as Dad told me on so many runs, but still nothing. Like the project manager in Apollo 13, you can say, Failure is not an option.”  But the truth is that sometimes it is the outcome, and your goal cannot be achieved, no matter what.  And then: what lies behind you forever changes both what lies ahead and what lies within.  That’s the truth, that’s the wisdom, and that sucks.

"Once you choose hope, anything's possible." ~Christopher Reeve

Correction, Superman, it’s really not.

"A man reaps what he sews" – nope, not always true!  Sometimes Karma is just shit that happens to you, no matter how good or clean of a life you’ve lived.  

I want to represent those of us who only WISH we could believe in Karma these days! 

I sometimes wish a stubbed-toe on someone whom I perceive as having done wrong to me or someone I care about, but I can't believe in a force of any kind that would bring suffering like cancer to a person of any moral status or other qualifying factor.  I used to think that what goes around comes around, but not anymore.  Now I think that shit just happens; it's all random, except for the way that we choose to deal with it when it does happen.

Believe me, my family and I realize we were lucky to have had my dad as long as we did - 66 years and then 75 days of illness.  In the same vein but based on stories I have heard since my family became so well acquainted with the cruel thief that is aggressive terminal cancer, I am grateful for my dad’s sake that he didn’t have to suffer for too long.  I have no idea how parents get through the loss of a child; I am sure I would crumble.

All we can try to do to keep it together is absorb the support of those around us and hold on to the hope that ONE DAY the memories that bring us to our knees in grief right now will fade and be overshadowed by those of sweetness, love, and connection from when we were lucky enough to have that person right here with us.  And, to work everyday to keep our perspective:  to realize that the truth is that how we feel and how we cope are in large part a CHOICE as we go forward, that things could always be worse/harder/shittier, and, like my dad always said, "If you feel lucky, then you are."