Thursday, October 16, 2014
Throughout the year I try not to be the woman defined by her breast cancer. I slip at times but for the most part am able to put aside the Big C experience. But October comes and with it Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I’ve never been one for rallies and walks and the such. Even before my breast cancer diagnosis. Since 2010 I’ve participated in one regional and two local events/walks. For some reason I’m so crazily uncomfortable. Perhaps it’s my shyness. Perhaps it’s that a deep part of me doesn’t want to face the fact that those events are for women like me. That I’m one of “those”.
So the month is here. October. “Pink-abulous" month. There are many memories and thoughts swirling about in my head. Mostly from a survivors perspective. Having watch loved ones and friends battle the disease and some die from it I also have the loved ones perspective.
Death. The one topic that should have been on my mind and family’s mind more than anything during 2010. But I never thought about it. I absolutely never ever thought about dying. Which is fortunate in a way for no one ever asked me if I was ready to die. At least I don’t remember if anyone did.
Prayers I remember. Before my surgeries but after no discussion. I’m wondering why. Perhaps my family and friends knew my deep faith in Jesus and the promises of His Word and thus no worries for my soul. Maybe they saw someone who was tough and strong enough to see herself through. Maybe they thought I’d bring the subject up if I needed or wanted to talk about it. Maybe they were afraid if they asked I might say I’m not ready to die. Maybe they didn’t want to face the fact that I might die and their own fears of what that would mean in their life.
For example I overheard Chris talking to someone about my cancer last year. I never knew until then that Chris would wake up in the middle of the night and touch me. To make sure I was alive during my hard nights. That I was breathing. I never knew. I asked him why he didn’t tell me. Talk about it with me. Chris said he didn’t know. Perhaps he was afraid of the emotions the discussion might bring. But I know one thing, when I heard him tell someone this tidbit of information from our breast cancer experience I was….disappointed. I didn’t realize that perhaps in the middle of that treatment year did I not only ignore death but also ignore the need I had for deep conversation. When I heard him tell that story I suddenly had this deep, uncontrollable, weird yearning to go back in time. To go back to one of those nights. To know that he had those moments of weakness. To know he loved me that deeply and had his own fears he was battling. And besides that? To be his comforter. To hug him and tell him it was all going to be alright. No matter what.
I’m guilty of this as well. I’ve had sick family and friends. I’m not sure I have really talked about death and fears of such with anyone. Maybe it’s fear? Fear of the unknown myself or fear of what emotion may be opened up. Maybe it’s fear of saying the wrong thing. Of not having all the answers. Maybe it’s fear of upsetting the person. Or of bringing up a subject they don’t want to talk about. Fear of prying.
Before every procedure the question from the admissions nurses was “Do you have a living will?” “No” was my reply. The nurses would usually look at me in disbelief or in a disapproving way. I guess they thought I was crazy not to prepare under the circumstances. But I didn’t worry about death nor did anyone else.
During my life I have always loved deep conversation about life, death, the universe, and so on. I can remember being little and spending the night with my neighbor Marty. She and I would have these amazing conversations about faith and life and the world and the universe and God and the Bible and we were probably only 9 years old. I remember conservations with my mom about the same subjects. Especially brought on by my brother’s death in 1979. In her deep grief somehow my momma was strong enough to put aside her pain to comfort a little girl scared about her brother Gary’s death—was it painful, did he suffer, what was he doing right then as we talked. Mom and I had great conversations such as those. She gave me a deep peace of death. Perhaps from those lessons I developed the ability to not think about death during that hard year. But then again….maybe I was in denial about the whole darn thing. Maybe deep inside my heart was saying that I won’t die. It won’t happen to me.
Is it a disservice to those we love to not talk about death? To make sure they are prepared. To make sure they have the opportunity to talk about death and explore the possibility. To have their affairs in order. I know looking back it was a great loss to me personally to not have had talks. Not related to the condition of my soul. Just that I would have loved to have those talks about life, death, the universe, what we’d do in Heaven, meeting our parents and brother again especially with my sister Lynette and my niece/friend Jennifer and Jamey, and my other nieces, my husband. What deep and loving conversations those would have been! At times I yearn to go back for this as well. I missed so many, what would have been precious conversations. That’s biggest loss of the whole cancer experience. Not remembering the pain of what was but thinking now of an emotion and experiences I missed out on. An emotional bond and connection which might have been intensified within me and within my family and friends.
I was prepared under the circumstances. For death. But looking back nothing else.
|A few of my nieces. A few of my favorite people.|