Wounded Spirit

I did not expect that I would have a second course of chemotherapy so soon after my first. I thought I would have more time to enjoy life before stepping back into treatment for my Whack-A-Mole cancer’s reappearance. And I definitely did not think that during that course of chemotherapy I would be losing one of my biggest supporters. A guy who understood me and allowed me to spread my wings and work through my issues at my own pace. A man who guided me through adolescence and into adulthood with the patience of a saint. My dad recently died in a freak accident. He wasn’t sick. We weren’t expecting this and there is no way to brace for this shock or prepare in any way. He was there one minute and gone the next. I feel broken. And broken-hearted. My body aches and I can’t think straight. I find myself barely able to breathe. I have never known pain and loss like this. I feel gutted, like my insides have been removed and there are all sorts of holes to fill, only it’s impossible to fill them, so I’ll just have to exist like this now. I am incomplete.  

Grief takes over at random moments in the day and I find myself hunched over on the couch weeping into a pillow. As I walk through my house, I think, “What if just picked up this flower vase and threw it through the window?” Reality doesn’t make sense to me- what is a window and what is a vase if my dad isn’t here. You know what the worst place to go to when you are consumed by uncontrollable frustration is? Costco. I went four times last week.

I got to delay chemotherapy.

This opportunity was offered to me by my oncologist who assured me that chemotherapy works best when you are rested, nourished, and with your spirit in good shape. I haven’t had chemo since June 5th. I feel bitter and resentful that I got to delay chemo for my terminal illness because my dad died. Aren’t I lucky? #blessed? So, consequently, my body feels a little better, but will my spirit ever be in good shape again? I don’t know.

Many people have expressed that they don’t want me to lose my positivity or spirit because of this. I know. I don’t want to lose it either, but this is hard. This is gut-wrenching. This has me questioning everything. Karma, God, life. I just don’t know how much more unfair life can get.

Did I do something wrong? Am I being punished?

At times, it feels like I’m being tortured alive. It feels like there is a dark cloud following me and my family and at the first glimpse of sunlight a storm erupts. I don’t know the limits of my own strength, and I don’t know if my family does either, but I wonder which straw will be the last we can support.

At the same time, I look at my husband and children and know that I’m lucky to have them and fortunate that we are able to teach our children about love and compassion. I’m certainly building resiliency in them. But do they have to be this frickin’ resilient? I wish they didn’t. I’m reminded that in the future they will have the tools to cope with multiple life scenarios. That they will have the compassion and life experience to navigate many roadblocks. I try to focus on that positive possibility as I hold their sobbing little bodies to try and soothe them, and as I lay with them at night to help them fall asleep.

Zoey and Dad

I wonder if I’ll even be there to watch them grow. And I feel the pain and hurt that I am experiencing missing my dad, and I know they too will experience this pain. Sooner or later. Let’s hope for later. I need to nourish their innocence, resiliency, faith, and hope as much as I can. Although I can’t pinpoint a time, I imagine that my parents nourished my resiliency and faith and that’s why I am who I am- or who I was 4 weeks ago before my father’s death.

I think about how my dad was really clear with me about how he did not want me to die before him. He hated when I spoke, wrote, or joked about my own death. But I did it anyway, because when has my dad ever been able to control me? I always thought that if I died first his heart might break so fast he might die too. Maybe that is egocentric, but my dad and I- we were pretty tight.

He was one of my favorite people.

So, when I think about this screwed up universe and my dad not wanting to die before me and I’m trying to reason with this whole situation- what do they call that? Bargaining? Anyway, I think if, “Everything does happen for a reason” which some people think is true (eyeroll!) then he was needed elsewhere to help cure my cancer or alternately, I’m going to die and he will be a comfort as I cross into another realm.

Harsh. I know. I’m not giving up. It’s just that my inner spiritual gangster has taken a hit.

I don’t want this to break my spirit. I imagine that my positivity will return some day. I mean, I have big plans. The Cancer Card is taking off. I have stickers available and new t-shirts coming soon and I am making connections left and right. I plan to build my legacy and make it work. Don’t get me wrong. I have plans. I mean, how many more nights of crying until my eyelash-less eyes are practically swollen shut can there be?

Some things you can’t control. Like who gets to live or die. My “spirit” has been inside me long before my cancer diagnosis was declared. Life experiences impact who you are as a human being. My parents and others in my life helped equip me with the tools to cope with this kind of tragedy, but I’ve never had to experience the death of someone so close. I will never be the same.

Me and Dad at Wedding

For now, I am just trying to get through my days. My oncologist suggested I continue to get up, bathe, nourish myself and parent my children. Basic. I can do it. I’m going through the motions. I’m marginally participating in life. I am attending events where the elements of fun are there, but internally I am not quite at a place where the fun is reflected in me. I will get there. Every once in awhile I get a glimpse of happiness. I’m told time heals. I’m also told the pain will never go away, but it will get easier.

Maybe I’m not broken, but my spirit is wounded. Wounds take time to heal.

9 thoughts on “Wounded Spirit

  1. Maggie…this is so perfectly written. My dad also died as the result of an accident. He wasn’t sick…he fell down the stairs at home and my mom found him. That was 7 years ago and the absence of him in my life is still significant, but the grief is just softer now. I could never begin to imagine your grief coupled with your journey through chemo. I can tell you that watching our kids and teaching them lessons that my dad would have taught them and talking about him has been the greatest gift. Every time a rainbow appears in our kitchen through our window prism, we say hello to him and wish him a good day. It’s the best way we know how to honor him and keep him in our daily thoughts. You are so strong and I respect you so very much!


  2. Oh Maggie,
    Thank you! For sharing your walk so transparently. I’m sorry for your loss, your family’s loss. I was privileged to have known your Dad.
    Your writing reflect things that I wish I could express even in my day-to-day life are those closest to me,let alone share with such a wide audience! Thank you for sharing your writing.
    You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers as you walk forward and continue your battle with cancer! All the best to you as you embark on this new endeavor, The Cancer Card.
    I believe the ember of your joy still burns however small and will reignite again!


  3. Maggie, I think of Dick a lot and I keep him and you in my prayers. It is never easy losing a parent but it does get
    a little better as time goes by. Just always think of him as the wonderful father and best friend that he was.
    Love you, Pat


  4. Dear Maggie,
    You don’t know me, and I am at a bit of an advantage here, because through your father’s recommendation, I have gotten to know you. You see, I worked with your Dad at PH and one day he looked down and noticed my pink bracelet and in his very discrete and gentle way, said, “I noticed your bracelet and I don’t want to pry, but I think you would really appreciate someone who is traveling through this. Her name is Maggie and she’s my daughter.” He slowly pushed a torn piece of paper across my desk with “maggiesbrightside.com” written on it. He smiled and said, “you have a similar sense of humor and I think you’ll enjoy it.” That’s all he said– that’s all he ever said to me about it. Somehow, he figured out my secret.

    That afternoon, after our leadership meeting, I logged on, and began to read. I found myself laughing and connecting and getting a little teary– not for myself; but because I now saw into the heart of someone I already respected, and realized his optimism was indeed, genuine and began to see how he carry’s you, very close to the surface of his own skin. The more I read, I started to see that we do share a penchant for some “choice words,” and I understood a little bit more why he thought I’d enjoy your ‘no nonsense prose”.

    Its been about six months or so now since that first read– I’ve followed you and privately read past posts, and noticed you went through a “quiet period,” and then started up again. Although my health has taken a little ‘rain delay’ I continue to read your beautiful, honest and raw life experiences. I was grateful before, but now, I feel honored to know you through Dick and through your writing. I thank you for doing this– very courageous and generous to those of us who are a little less talented and/or unwilling to put ourselves out here 🙂

    I know from my own experience of losing a parent– my dad was 47 and sick only once in the 21 years he was in my life. He had a major stroke and died immediately. I cried for a long time and then I cried with no warning. People didn’t know what to make of me, what to do, or even worse, what they could say to help. There is no way around this hurt, only through it. It worse than being stung by a swarm of vicious bees. It changes over time, but there is no secret sauce here– it just is what it is. Our Daddy’s are always our Daddy’s. Cry, stomp your feet, hell, talk to him out loud while you fold your laundry; but don’t stop feeling your way through it.

    Thank you, so much, again for doing what you do. Those of us from PH who came to the celebration service saw each of you, listened to your stories and walked away with even bigger smiles in our hearts because we already knew how funny he was, but clearly, we didn’t know the half of it! I hope to be able to be quietly along you for your new and different ride, as I have been, since the day Dick, “opened the car door to let me in” 🙂 Sending you my love and deep admiration, Pam Ryan.


  5. Maggie-
    I love reading your writing and your positive spirit has had more impact on me than you will ever know! I’ve had the toughest year of my life on many levels and often get stuck in the broken spirit funk. I,too, have questioned my actions-what could I have done to deserve these events? It’s almost impossible some days to do the basics. Thank you for being real and candid. The world needs more beautiful souls such as yourself!💜
    Wendi Gore (Al’s friend 😉)


  6. Maggie, you are right you won’t be the same. Losing your dad is life changing and there is never a good time for that. Right now, for you, this does seem cruel and unfair but Love survives. You have that in you, from your dad and from all of us. It’s often hidden, but you will feel him in your life and in time it will make you smile. I’m so very sorry for your loss. ❤️


  7. Maggie, I’m so sorry for your loss! I learned at a young age how unfair life can be. I lost my dad my freshman year of high school and my brother the year before that. I understand that anger and rage, but still utter devastation. I am sending you all the love and light to lift your heavy heart …♡


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