Have you ever had – one of those years? I have had a couple now and I will be the first to admit, I am kind of over it.
I could start with 2007 when my mom, a non-smoker, was diagnosed with lung cancer. I had already lost my Dad to lung cancer in 1994 after an incredible 18 month battle. This was devastating news that rocked our world.
Then there was 2008 when things changed dramatically in the economy and I felt those changes just like everyone.
2009 brought significant changes in life. Among them, mom’s cancer had become more aggressive and we started chemo. Yes, we. Chemo for us was a family affair, as it is for many. I went with her and encouraged friends to go with her or come visit her during those 5 hour treatments 3 times a week. Having a loved one battle cancer is all consuming.
2010? I am pretty sure I had an emotional breakdown, but I am saving that story to tell to Barbara Walters so she can get me to cry on national TV as I reveal my heart-breaks.
2011, now there’s the killer. I was fine one day and then next I was in shock and being rushed to the hospital. Severe pancreatitis, they said. I said, “Say what? What’s a pancreas?” For the record, I did indeed get a D in Biology. The day we had to dissect a baby pig I passed out, hit my head on one of those science tables made of unformidable steel and they say, my skirt went up over my head. I never went back to class.
So, back to that pancreas. Mine is apparently legendary because there isn’t a doctor I meet that doesn’t want to talk about what I went through. They all give me that nod and say, “you know you are lucky to still be here.” No matter how many times I hear it, it still makes my heart stop a beat, the fear rushes through my veins all over again and I have to fight to keep the tears back. I don’t expect I will ever get used to hearing those words. By the grace of God I am still here.
I had it in my head that I would fully recover from my bout of what was originally diagnosed as “acute-severe-pancreatitis.” I’ve since learned in this present year that I will never fully recover. I was re-diagnosed this past summer, to chronic, i.e.; “A chronic condition is a human health condition or disease that is persistent or otherwise long-lasting in its effects.” That isn’t what I had planned or had in mind. But I am jumping ahead a year.
As most of you know, that original bout lasted 10 months. That was 10 months of my life where I will confess, I actually did begin to care about keeping up with the Kardashians. I’ve since been through a program and have learned that you can’t change someone else who doesn’t want to change themselves. The Kardashians have gone on without me!
I guess we are officially in 2013 and I had hopes and dreams, one of them obviously didn’t make it. My mom was still alive and defying the odds of the cancer guru’s and that fueled my optimism in life. And then she lost her battle the end of January this year and honestly, I haven’t been right since. My life has been forever changed without her here.
I have studied the many avenues of grief. I’ve come to know first hand that it is as crushing a physical pain as any damage you can do to yourself. It absolutely hurts, daily. I have become a master at driving and crying, which probably is supposed to be forbidden just like texting and driving. You see, grief hits you anywhere and everywhere. And unless you have been through a devastating loss, you not only don’t understand it, you don’t know what to do with the people around you who are suffering. Yup, I said suffering. I’m not using the word in a victim sort of way. Pain causes suffering. Grief causes pain. I still don’t handle it well after almost a year.
Humanity as a whole, has little concept on how to handle grief. There is a religious observation that you honor the death and grieve their loss for a year. Other’s would argue, obviously, those who have not been through loss, that is too long. I’m here to tell you that I will grieve the loss of my touchstone, my corner stone for as long as I need to. There isn’t a day that goes by that I still don’t reach for the phone to call her at 2:00p.m. I did it every day while she was alive.
I want to say I understand grief, only because I have spent so much quality time here, but I don’t think it is something anyone really gets a handle on.
There is an old Merle Haggard song, “If We Can Make It Through December” and it’s pretty obvious what the song is about. I just keep thinking if I can make it through one more December, and celebrate the arrival of a new year, things have got to get better. But of course, I’ll run right in to that anniversary date of mom’s passing and there I am again.
I don’t mean to sound like I am not aware of the many, many amazing ways God has blessed my life. On the contrary, I can’t even begin to thank Him enough, or the community for that matter for helping through the most difficult days of my little life. I couldn’t have survived any of this without God’s grace and my family, friends and the communities support, encouragement and prayers. I am so mindful of how Central and Southwest Virginia has sustained me and I don’t even know how to give back enough. I just give of myself, all that I physically can and say “thank you” every chance I get
How many people can say a community helped their lives? I am truly a blessed woman.
This all sort of turned into a confessional that perhaps I should have put in paperback form and sold at the local drugstore for a dime. But the truth is, everyone has a story and everyone has difficult times. Everyone hurts and wants to be heard. And I have come to understand that. I am beyond blown away that I have become the poster child for pancreatitis, but I feel privileged by it as well. People just want to talk to someone who has been there and understands. And again, I am blessed when anyone shares with me their story.
I think that is what I just did with you, so thank you for letting me share. And here’s hoping we all can make it through December and January and February and with each passing day and week and month, we recognize the many blessings in our lives.
I’ve lost alot along the way these past few years, including myself. But life is changing for me, I can feel it. It’s been a rocky road but I thank God for bringing me through all He has. All in all, life is good.