In a former life, though not so long ago, I prided myself on the ability to separate my emotions from everyday occurrence. As an emergency dispatcher, the ability to do so is invaluable. When, day in and day out, you see the worst in people, it's so important to be able to stay calm and not get caught up in the evil that surrounds you. It's a skill not many people possess and is hard to teach. It's also a skill that brings about skepticism, sarcasm (not that I needed any help there), and even a bit of morbid humor (OK, maybe more than a bit). But dispatchers have to do what they can to deal with the things they are faced with every day. Though I left that life behind me nearly 3 years ago (and shortly after Addie died), that skill still remains. I honestly believe my hardened heart helped me deal with her death. Maybe it wasn't such a good thing, but being able to logically think about why she died helped me cope with my grief, especially once those first few months of darkness passed. Though I will never really be able to accept her death (yes, I still constantly ask "why me, why us?"), I can handle my emotions better than most in my situation. But my hardened heart hasn't stopped me from experiencing the pain my family is facing now.
From the day we are conceived, we are one day closer to death. Think about it...it's true. As quoted from one of my all time favorite movies "It's the Circle of Life." But, even knowing that, doesn't make facing death any easier. Even for this girl, who has faced more death than I care to admit. This time, it's terminal cancer.
Though I will not reveal who, I will say it is NOT myself, my husband or my son, thank God. But it is a very close member of my family, a person who is very important to us. Anyone who has had experience with cancer, knows just how devastatingly horrible it is. And, it's not just the disease itself. The treatments are sometimes even worse. Radiation burns, scars, weight loss, constant nausea and vomiting. Medical technology has made leaps and bounds in the treatment of this disease, but when you know the cancer is incurable it's a hard choice to decide to put your body through something so terrible only to extend your life for a year, maybe more, maybe less.
I see the people I love struggle with this disease, both the patient and those who surround him. I know what goes through my head, but I often wonder what the others are thinking. I try to stay strong and supportive, but it's getting harder and harder every day. Seeing a loved one in uncontrollable pain, or so doped up they can't remember what they said 5 minutes beforehand, I'm not sure what's better. Obviously, I don't want him to be in pain, but the person I knew just a few months ago, doesn't exist when he's doped up. It amazes me that it's only been a few months since we were told of his diagnosis. Literally, less than 3 months, but the changes have been insurmountable.
Regret, guilt, grief...all the emotions are so familiar and even my hardened heart is having a tough time. Cancer sucks. It's a horrible, dreadful, life-sucking disease that no one should ever have to face. But, here we are. We will stand as strong as we can, but we all know the inevitable. No matter how much we prepare, it's going to hurt. We know what the future holds, and knowing really stinks sometimes.
William Nye Heinrichson
2 weeks ago