I found out some news at work today that threw me for a loop.
One of our patients passed away a couple of weeks ago.
He was sick with cancer, dying, and that I knew. But it's just the quickness, the aggressiveness of cancer, that always seems to take my breath away.
J was a sweet, super friendly man. Always a kind word for me, the doctor, whoever he spoke with. He'd been battling cancer for years and about a year ago, was given the double thumbs up...he'd beat it!
I remember feeling so, so happy for this man who I hardly knew. But he reminded me a lot of my father and he gave me a good feeling. A happy, hard working man working a laborious outdoor job. A man who always had a smile for everyone, NEVER an unkind word!
And when he was getting sick, and dealing with the cancer again, still I held out hope for him. Hope that, unlike my father, J would beat this fucking disease.
I don't swear a lot on my blog. But in this respect, it's almost like an f-bomb isn't good enough. FUCKING CANCER. Going downhill fast, back in hospice, and then...dead.
Another sweet, caring, would-never-hurt-a-soul man was DEAD from this stupid fucking disease.
I'm angry. I'm feeling sorrow for someone who I only knew in passing. I'm feeling helpless. I'm feeling confused about why this man's death is affecting me so deeply.
I had a strange experience about a month ago and like my boss said, sometimes people like this are put in our path for a reason.
I was driving home from work after a morning spent fighting back tears. J's health was failing, my boss told me when I asked...he was terminal. I couldn't get my father out of my head. Rugged, tanned skin from working in the sun day after day. Strong arms, the better to hug. A warm smile to share.
I think about my Dad often, so often that it surprises me. Before he passed away, I NEVER knew that losing someone so close would leave such a hole in your heart. A hole that maybe you could sort of patch up, but never, ever would that hole be filled again. A piece of you gone forever.
So here I was analyzing the comparisons between my dad and J, and struggling to hold back the tears at work. Feeling how just unfair life could really be. I hopped into my car and started driving and instantly an Adele song came on. Adele and Sarah McLaughlin songs have the knack of knocking the breath from my lungs and instantly transporting me back into memories. (that is pure talent!) And that day was no different. I was by Dad's bedside, rubbing his cold, cold skinned arm, his hand. Watching his chest rise and fall almost painfully, it sounded like he was drowning in his own body. Whispering in his ear, as he lay there eyes sometimes open, there but not really there, "Don't worry. You can go now, Daddy. I'll take care of Mommy."
And I can't remember if I spoke out loud, or in my head in my car that afternoon, but I said something to the affect of "Dad, I miss you so much. I'm so angry you are gone and that someone else is going to lose THEIR Dad. IT's not fucking fair. I wish I knew you were still here." The song ended, I dried my tears, and I went and picked up my kids.
Later that afternoon, I hopped on Facebook while the kids were napping, and went into one of the Mom's groups I belong to for each kid's birthdate. There is this woman in our group who has said in the past that she communicates with those that have passed away. Whether you believe her or not, she's amazed some of the women on the board with things she's told them about THEIR loved ones. Once before she told me my father saw me walk down the aisle in my peach-colored dress. My dress was gold-colored but Dad was color-blind, so maybe? I kind of took it with a grain of salt.
Anyway, that afternoon, there was a message from her about how she'd been scrolling through her fb home status updates and something about my profile picture stopped her. Her message to me was as follows:
"April, I think I have talked to you before. Your picture stands out today as I read through the posts. I have been so busy with my daughter and an emotional mess that I stayed away from this group. I have something I want to tell you. You need to slow down and BREATHE. I know you will understand this msg. You have been going too much and your health is starting to suffer(minor aches/pains). I keep getting .. BABY GIRL. This is a male.. I believe your father who is concerned the aches and pains might turn into more if you don't take it easy. Also there is something medical that you have put off for a while.. now is the time to take care of you . Is the passing aniversery soon or just passed?"
"Oh my God!" I remember saying out loud in shock. And instantly bawling my eyes out. In the car earlier that day, as I gasped for air in between tears, I thought how I just needed to BREATHE and that I could barely BREATHE, life had been so chaotic (especially with Daryl going back to the emergency room and the kids misbehaving and me not feeling well). And I WAS my dad's baby girl, he made it known to everyone. He called me his "Chicky Babe". And JUST THAT MORNING, I had called and made myself an appointment at a new doctor's office cuz there were some issues I wanted to address.
It's like everything was connected. My sadness over J, morphing into missing my father...and it being a wake-up call for me to start taking better care of myself. Which I immediately made my mission to do.
And then this morning hits.
Ugh. Like a load of bricks slamming into me with the knowledge that cancer has stolen ANOTHER person. I'm sad. I'm angry. I'm lost.
I don't know what else to say, other than if cancer was a living, breathing being...I'd seriously kick it's fucking ass.