Welcome to later…
I’m not really sure how to start this post, which is part of the reason that I didn’t finish my thoughts from yesterday. The only thing I do know is that it feels like many events in my life over the past few years have led me to the place I am now. Without all of these changes and learning experiences, I’m not sure that I’d be holding myself together right now.
I guess I don’t really know for sure that there’s a God out there leading me through these life events just to get me to some end goal or to make me stronger for some hardship that He knows is coming up in my life. I‘ll never be able to prove it to anyone, but just hear me out…
As a teacher in today’s world, we now have to worry about so much more than just educational facts. We are now basically second parents to the kids that we teach. Maybe it has been like that for years and I just never knew it, but I would also like to point out that parenting seems so much harder lately. First, the world is a much scarier place. Older people have told me that the world is more rude, more crude, and more filled with insanity than it ever has been before. I think that even the least political person in this country (is that me?) is even able to comprehend how horrible this country is at getting along right now; at getting along with other countries, other politicians, and just simply the idea of making decisions together. We have people who are absolute polar opposites fighting over the important things and the things that aren’t even true (thanks Internet)! So throw all of that together once and then put yourself in the position to ‘parent’ over 100 kids over an 8 or 9 month period. Keep in mind that each of these kids have their own interests and their own struggles. There’s the kid who’s been abused, the kid who’s depressed, the kid who has major anxiety, and the kid who is trying to remain kind in a world that doesn’t always wish to be kind in return. The students that I taught this past year have strengthened me in more ways than they will ever know. They have shown me how we are all each very different, how it’s not always easy to get along, and how it’s okay to be the parent sometimes rather than the friend.
I never thought much of that strengthening before, except to realize that maybe next year I will be an even better teacher to my next group of kids. But combine that with the changes I discussed yesterday, and I’m realizing just how mature and grown up I have become.
So now why am I saying that God has decided to make all of these things happen for me? What is this huge event that has changed my life forever and required all of these lessons and strength that I have found?
Heartbreak. Pure and brutal heartbreak.
As I typed that last line, I almost laughed to myself. Not because I feel like heartbreak is awesome or funny, but because I am sitting here knowing just how extremely cared about and loved I am by family, friends, coworkers… even my dogs. I find it ironic (in a sad way) that through all of that love, even still your heart can be breaking. I find it horrifying like a sick, sarcastic joke that even while my heart is breaking, from the outside everything looks perfectly normal. More than anything, I find it frustrating that people don’t understand my exhaustion, my lack of motivation right now when it comes to my work, and sometimes my need to just do absolutely nothing but lose myself in a good book or a movie.
So what is this heartbreak I speak of? It’s the kind of hurt that comes from a vicious, evil enemy that I cannot actually find a way to fight. I’m powerless to strike out at the foe that is holding me captive this summer. Worse, I know I’m not the only one in its grasp. That evil is cancer.
I’ve come to learn over the years that cancer isn’t an end-all-be-all thing. It’s not a death sentence or a tyrannical monster that will never be beat. What I have learned about cancer is vast and yet probably not even a percent of the things that humans overall know about its evil.
- Cancer doesn’t always kill and is more treatable now than it ever has been before.
- It doesn’t matter what kind of cancer you have, it seems to encompass and affect all parts of your body, even if its only your strength and appetite.
- Cancer doesn’t always attack those who are the oldest or the weakest; it strikes wherever it feels like it.
- Unless you’re a doctor, cancer is an enemy that you cannot see or really feel.
- Most importantly (at least from my perspective right now), cancer rips apart families and kills even those who are not actually inflicted with its disastrous disease.
Let me explain that last one. Someone I hold very dear to me has cancer. My mom even told me yesterday that the person I speak of almost seems like my second mother. She helped to raise me when my parents were both working and continued to babysit me even when my parents needed to go Christmas shopping or take a break from their kids. But before I get into too much detail about how amazingly special she is, let me keep explaining…
The woman that I speak of has had cancer numerous times in her life. She’s beat it twice that I know of (though I think it may be 3 times). I guess she’s either lucky or her doctors really know what they are doing. Unfortunately a month or two ago, it came back and reared its ugly head in a new form; lymphoma.
We (or at least me anyway) felt pretty disastrous after we heard. It’s hard to know that someone is getting older and that this horrible sickness just keeps trying to take them down. Then when the doctors said there was an 80% survival rate, I don’t know about any of the rest of my family, but my heart soared.
And its been like this ever since we heard she was sick to begin with. One rollercoaster hill after another, followed by a cliff or a huge jump… it all just depends on the day. Cancer is exhausting. Well… I can only imagine how it feels to actually have the cancer inside of you, but even for me (since that’s the only perspective I know), this cancer has been exhausting. One minute you’re thinking everything is okay and we’re all going to continue to live our lives after a few months of chemo and it will all be back to normal. The next minute it seems like there has been a death sentence laid down.
I would do absolutely anything for the woman who is suffering right now. I would do anything for any of my family and friends. I think the bigger issue with this for me right now is that I don’t know what to do and I don’t have the expertise to be able to do. While cancer is horrifying and scary and ruins people’s lives sometimes, right now the only thing it’s doing is making me feel stressed and stuck.
You would think a married woman in her 20s would know enough to at least be able to lend a bit of a hand, but I have still been unable to find a way to make it evident to everyone that I want to do what I can.
Part of my personal struggle with this comes because there are already too many hands in the pot. She has five children, each with their own spouses. I am not one of those ten people. And while some of them appear to be helping more than others, there still seem to be too many helpers as it is. One day I realized the best I could do was be there for her, visit her, and spend as much time with her as I could.
I drove to visit at least every other day while she was in the hospital. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to get there, and it was exhausting. But I felt good about being able to have conversations with her that I feel like I’d been missing out on all these years. My introverted self has not made nearly as much of an effort to visit as I did when I lived with my parents and could just go along to her house for the ride.
Once she came home, it seemed like all hell broke loose. Between all of the appointments and needing 24/7 care, I was never 100% sure what was going on at her place. To just drop by felt rude, but every time I’d call she’d seem overwhelmed to the point that I thought a visit would maInterke it worse. And so I stayed here, at home, without visiting.
At one point I came up with the idea that if I just visited while my dad was there, things would be less awkward and stressful for me and maybe for her. She wouldn’t feel so much like she had to entertain me and I wouldn’t feel so anxious about running out of things to say. But expecting my father to baby me while trying to take care of someone else who is actually sick makes me feel like an idiot. And it’s pretty unrealistic unless you’re a selfish prick, which I hope I am not.
So I’ve resigned myself to visiting when I can, which may not be often. I’ve come to realize that I cannot expect to make up now the time that I lost in the past. I try to regret nothing in life, but one thing I wish I would have done better is to keep the relationship as strong as it was when I was little. I should have remembered everything she did for me and how she was there for me even when she didn’t understand the struggles of a teenager living in the 21st century.
Now that I say that, another thought comes to mind. Maybe even those few short, simple conversations that we’ve had recently are enough. Maybe it means the world to her to be able to talk to me like an adult and be open and honest about how she’s feeling and what’s going on in her mind. Granted, I know she doesn’t tell me all of her thoughts because she’s still got that part of her who is trying to protect me and treat me like the little kid that I am in her eyes. Yet I also remember a conversation we had about the reality of this illness. It could just be possible that she knows I am going to be strong no matter what.
I am suddenly getting very tired of typing about this particular topic and don’t want to go into too much detail since this is the Internet and people will be able to read this from my blog. So let me just end by saying through all of this, the strength that I have found in myself over the past few years has led me to a point where I am able to handle the reality of this situation no matter what happens. I do not feel super confident all the time, nor am I happy about anything that is happening; what I do know is that I will be able to survive this situation just like the rest of my family by being the support system that she needs in whatever way I am called to do so. And just as I’m sure everyone else is doing right now, I’ve found that praying almost constantly and focusing on my religion is helping to ease my mind about many of my thoughts right now too.
Believe me or not, I truly do think that I was working to prepare myself for this situation without even knowing that it was coming. While I wish things were different for her and for my family, the least I can do is be grateful that I’m in a better position to help now than I would have been a few months ago. I thank God for my husband, so my parents don’t have to be my support as well as supporting everyone else. I thank God that I have a home to escape to when being around everyone in this situation gets to be too much. And I’m most thankful that I’ve been through everything that I have. If for no other reason than to get me where I am today.
P.S. As all of my friends already know, prayers are much appreciated!