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 Maggie 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.