Moments - Hanging On

Last updated: April 2023

I would love to say to others when they lose a loved one, "It'll get easier with time". But does it? Or is it a continuous cycle with good and bad days.  Today is a good day for me but I'm sure that could change in 10 minutes or less.

Remembering those moments

The day after my father died, March 28, 2021, my phone began ringing at 5 a.m.  It was my mother and after being unable to reach my father the previous night after 8 p.m., it occurs to me, in the darkness, how much I don't want to answer the phone. I guess part of me wants to hold on to this one last moment. That moment when we were joking around and he wasn't in any pain and we were making his birthday plans. This is that last moment before you realize it's not a joke, or error, or something minor; the moment you know for sure that your life will never be the same.

We never know how events will play out

It's like learning of one's cancer and it's the reason I dislike scans. You never know how they are going to turn out. Because when it starts to grow again, you can't unknow it. You feel it growing, even if only in your mind. It's a type of PTSD we as patients go through several times a year or more. And it's a type of PTSD our loved ones have inherited from our awful diseases. We all grieve for the life we wanted. Not one filled with doctors and hospitals. My father got to the point that he just didn't want to know anymore. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Ignorance is bliss.

Because once they tell you about that tumor, that inoperable killer in your lungs, there is no going back to the person you were before. You are changed.  And so are your loved ones. You feel awful for them as if you could help to get cancer. They in turn feel awful for you, and then everyone is just awful and grieving.

The stages of grief

There are only two times in my life I've felt so upset by my newly acquired knowledge that I actually felt numb. I guess you can say I've been through all of the stages of grief regarding these two moments in my life.

The other moment was November 27, 2012, when I insisted the doctor tell me what was wrong with my family and friends, why were they crying? This is a credo I've learned to live by. Ignorance is bliss. He told me I had stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer. I asked about my chances of long-term survival and I think I just zoned out. It was a type of shock where I thought, "Well, at least I don't have to go to the dentist anymore".

Why was that my first thought above all else? Sometimes I think your brain can't handle the truth and therefore shuts down to a childlike protective mode.

Holding onto those powerful moments

On March 28, 2021, I held on to that moment when my dad was alive and excited about his birthday. I closed my eyes and thought about his infectious laugh and how he could barely make it through another story without laughing. My mind flooded with so much. And then I answered and it stopped. It was silent in my head. I couldn't think but just physically move to get packed and home. Home to my mother and the home to my father where my sister and I spent our childhood with both of our parents.

You see, we all knew he was sick but didn't know what was wrong. We didn't know that his arteries were slowly closing and the last heart attack would be the last heart attack. After all, we've been through so many, I would often tell him we had cockroach DNA.

Cherish and relish the good

So, hang on to those moments while they are good. Cherish them and relish in them. And if you need to ignore the phone for your own sanity, you should. Because we never know what the next minute will hold. Take care of yourself. You came into this world alone and you will most likely return Home alone. Just know that although we are sad on earth, many of us believe we are in a better place. A good place. Where you will be in no more pain and every tear shall be wiped from your eyes. Don't worry, we will all catch up with our loved ones one day.

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