I have had a whirlwind of a week. The irony of it though is it seemed to go by in slow motion. Like the record player of my life was set on the wrong rpm and all the voices were distorted and weird sounding.
My dad and our family received the worst news we (as a whole) have ever been dealt a week ago today. He is sick and while he may get 'better' with treatment, they tell us it will never be permanently fixed. He's been diagnosed with Metastasizing Lung Cancer. Terminal. Stage 4. Tumor. Lung. Lesions. Brain. Mass. Spine. Riddled. Bones. Radiation. Chemo. Palliative. All words that take on an entirely new meaning to me. Words that now scare the shit out of me.
I'm trying as hard as I can to remain optimistic, but that word is entirely new to me as well. I'm trying not to let the knowledge I have about this disease (from years doing what I do for a living) taint my will to stand beside my father and fight this to the dying end. I'm trying hard to smile, but I can rarely find a reason. I'm trying to be there for him physically as often as I can, but my life with two kids and a job and a house continues moving in normal time and I can't be there as often or for as long as I would like. So now I deal with another new word, guilt. I'm trying to remain positive for my kids' sake. But I will not allow them false pretenses or false hopes by giving them misguided information or out and out false information just to 'protect' them.
Hearing the news first hand from the doctor on Sunday was hard to swallow. Harder I'm sure for my mom who was completely blind sided by this. I was starting to suspect this was the reason for all his pain the past few months. But nothing was harder for me than telling my children. Gage is the closest, of the grandchildren, to my dad. They've shared so much time together through his 14 years. He's also the one who will internalize this rather than outright ask the questions or cry or freak out or whatever the clinical books say he should do. I am not 'as worried' about Roan, because he wears his heart on his sleeve and won't hesitate to ask all the questions he has running through his brain or cry or do all the 'right things' you are supposed to do in this situation. He too is very close to my dad so there is no question that this has been extremely hard on them. Gage surprised me and handled it the way I had actually hoped. He bawled. Out right cried. At that point, I wasn't sure which I would have actually preferred because watching him lose his shit was way harder than I was anticipating. I said to my mom after the fact that I am kind of envious of my brother and sister in law because their youngest is, well, too young to know what's going on and their 9 year old is Autistic so that offers its own challenges with Sebastian's ability to fully understand the magnitude of this situation. I was jealous that they wouldn't have to watch their children break down or worry when they didn't break down and kept it all inside. The grass is always greener on the other side right? Wrong. They are struggling in an entirely different way because of Sebastian's Autism. They are continuously having to remind him and reliving all of it over and over again. They are having to deal with a little girl who doesn't get it and shouldn't at this age, so she's wondering where her parents have been all week and she's wanting time with them and they can't just explain that she needs to bare with them during this ordeal. I know my kids understand and get why I need to go to the hospital every day and I take comfort knowing that they also want to go to the hospital and I'm not just dragging them there or trying to make them understand.
I'm worried about my brother. He's remaining strong and stoic in this whole ordeal and I'm not sure that's the best route to take. I can only hope when he's home alone with his wife that he's sharing his thoughts with her and crying and doing all the stuff he needs to do to keep his mental sanity. I'm worried about my sister who lives with my parents and feels the emptiness each night when she goes home and things aren't normal there. I come home to my house and kids and boyfriend and cats and none of that has changed. I know she's there with my mom and that makes me grateful in its own right. I'm worried for her because she doesn't have a partner to lean on in the same sense that Geoff and I have. I worry about Eric. He's still quite new to our family and I worry that he feels like an outsider looking in. I know he's trying to be there to help me through this, but he's still learning who I am and how I deal with things like this and I think that's kind of overwhelming to him. And I'm focusing too much on getting myself and my kids through this that I don't have the time or energy to try to get him through this. I worry about my aunts and uncles. This is their brother. We are a tight family. This is the first major thing to happen to this family since their dad died in 1965 when kids weren't allowed to work through the bereavement process the way they are now. I think for a lot of them they are now subconsciously dealing with his death in the reality of this diagnosis. I worry about my mom who didn't see this coming and is trying her best to remain strong for my dad and us. I worry that she's laying in bed at night awake worrying about getting them both through this. I know she'll worry about finances, about my dad's pain, about her children and how to get us through this, about her grandchildren, about her in-laws, about herself, about my dad not being able to walk again, about her house not being wheelchair friendly, about the worst case scenario, about being alone for the first time. I know she's worrying. It's what she does. And nothing any of us say to her will stop her from worrying. But most of all, I worry about my dad. I wonder what he is really thinking. He's positive and upbeat about fighting this and I'm so grateful because that is a huge part of successfully treating this disease. But I wonder underneath all that how he feels receiving his 'death sentence'. I know he's taken comfort in all the phone calls and visits he's been getting. I know he takes comfort in talking about everything. I know him well enough to know he's worried about all of us and how we're dealing. I guess I worry because I just don't know how he truly feels or if he too is worried for the same reasons we're all worried. I'm worried about his treatment and pray to some unknown entity that it is productive and we receive positive results. I'm worried what the treatment will do to his physical health and his mental health. I'm worried about side effects. Worry. While I'm well versed in that word it's reached a whole new level for me. I've decided I don't like the word. It sounds funny to me to say it. Worry. It doesn't seem like the word matches the magnitude of emotions that it symbolizes.
So this week has been test after test after test with bad news, upon bad news, upon bad news. I can only hope that since the gambit of tests are complete at this point that come Tuesday we'll have a better outlook on what is to come in the months ahead and we can start this battle. I'm hoping that once the process truly begins I'll start to feel more positive. I am hoping a day will come (sooner than later) where I'll be able to share good news with my children about all of this and not another set back.
I am so grateful and genuinely appreciative of all of my family and friends (near and far). They have come out in full force to let us know they are here for us no matter what. We are a united front and I hope this cancer can feel our strength.