“I hate cancer…”
This was the statement, made by my cousin on Facebook that broke me from my reverie. It’s early on a Sunday morning and I’m not awake yet, but reading that, reality crashed down…hard. We’ve been dealing with the slow passing of my grandfather who is “transitioning” now (as the hospice nurse described it). I’ve been ok. Not crying, not angry, but at peace. He’s 83 years old and had a great life. I’m ok that it’s his time. So why did her statement strike me? I hate cancer. I hate cancer. What is it about that statement that has made me sadder than I’ve felt about my grandfather’s passing? Did it make it more real? Did I realize that those of my family who can’t come see him are hurting more than I am? Am I doing what I’ve done with loved ones in the past…pulled away as to not watch them morph from someone I knew into a shell, hollow and thin without the ability to communicate ? Truthfully, I’ve not gone to visit him, despite the repeated times my mother has alluded to the shortness of the time he has here. It’s not because I don’t love him or don’t want to see him, but deep down, I think I don’t want to see him like that. I’m afraid that the image will be with me and that is how I will remember him – instead of the wise-cracking, card playing, coffee drinking fun that we’ve been having these many years.
When my father died, it was fast, shocking, and over in minutes. Massive heart attack at 7:30 in the morning is a hell of a way to wake up. But I’m not sure which is harder. Watching helplessly as your loved one goes slowly or springing into fruitless action to try to save your loved one. Either way, you have no control and can only trust in God to have control over the situation. I think that’s why I haven’t been sad, angry, or in a hurry. God has this. I trust him. I’ve said the things I need to say. My poppy knows I love him, we’ve spent lots of time together over the years, my son (his great-grandson) sings songs about coming to see him because he’s excited. There is nothing I regret in my interaction with my grandfather. I will go and see him to say “I love you” once more, because it’s worth it.
Ah… “I hate this game….” That was what my grandfather and father used to say when they would lose at pinochle to my mom and nana. That’s what struck me. Like cancer is some sort of disgusting game that humanity can’t win. You move forward a few spaces with treatment, take a few tricks, then it comes back and you’re sent to home, “Sorry”, it takes a few tricks. Even the meds they give you, can make you sick, and he had enough. At 83, he’s chosen to be home with his wife and family and spent a while enjoying his life as much as possible, instead of being tied to a hospital being sick, bleeding, and tired. He chose quality over quantity. He chose. He chose. I respect his choice.
I think I will also start thinking of questions…questions to ask my grandmother. I want to interview her about her life and about my grandfather and make a written record with pictures, so my son will have that when he can’t remember poppy anymore.