What an ugly word. Unwanted. Darkness. Epidemic. Misery. Burden. Disease. Pain. Sickness. Unhappiness. Destruction. Poison. Infectious. Agony. Heartache. Deadly.
Cancer. I hate just saying the word. Cancer. My stomach churns. Cancer. My lower back and spine start to hurt. Cancer. It sends shivers down my entire body. Cancer. I shutter in fear. Cancer. And every time I speak it, I’m faced with it’s reality…
I don’t know what I would do if I lost her. I think about it all the time. I’ve been attempting to stay positive, at least that’s what everyone thinks. Cheerful to those on the outside looking in towards me. “There she is” they think. “She’s got such an interesting way of looking at life. Such a positive outlook. Such a free spirit. Such an open soul.” And I smile back.
Because if I show any sign of weakness, any at all, even let this smile off my face… they will know something is wrong. They question you. I’m not ready to talk. They just make me feel worse… holding back the tears forming in my eyes. Quickly I walk away before they become to suspicious.
Sometimes I hate being so open and understanding. It’s like people take advantage of it. They talk and talk and talk and talk. And I listen. But the second I talk, suddenly I’m speaking to an audience of the deaf. As long as I can solve their problems, then all is well in the world. But the moment I just need someone, the earth can only be balanced as long as there is no one to listen. So instead I hide. Underneath my happy-go-lucky exterior. And I act out. And I push the people close to me away. I try to be open about what’s going on, but I just can’t. And they read it on my face. And they just write me off as being a bitch. Let them.
None of it even matters.
None of it.
I would suffer it a thousand times over as long as she didn’t have to suffer. I would trade everything. My money, my possessions. I would absorb the cancer out of her spine and into mine if I could. I would walk to the end of the earth and back again, for as long as I needed to, until my feet were raw and I couldn’t go on anymore, and still I would press on. I would if I could. But instead I lay in bed. Too scared to even get up wipe my eyes for fear anyone will know what I’m doing. It’s my business. Not theirs. They couldn’t even begin to understand even if they knew.
And I pray. I pray to God. Every moment of my existence I am dedicating my practice of life to God. Maybe not on a conscious level, but God is always there. Always. The most important force in all my existence. Love.
And lately all I can do is ask God for understanding. And praying to God that everything is going to be alright. When I first heard she had a tumor, that night I cried so hard and spoke to my creator. I said everything that was on my mind. And right at the point of complete chaos, right when I thought I couldn’t take anymore…
A moment of clarity. I was filled with love. And with grace and with peace. And I knew in that moment everything would be alright.
I felt human. I felt whole, and yet incomplete. I said that sometimes I felt so overwhelmed in life, that I didn’t have all the answers, that I couldn’t even begin to understand it all being only human, and I couldn’t wait to eventually be back home again.
Finding peace, I eventually drifted off to sleep, ready to take on the next day.
The next day.
I can’t but think am I being foolish? Am I in denial? I mean, people lose their loved ones EVERYDAY!
What should make me so lucky? People starve in other countries. People starving in this country. People have no where to go at night, they freeze. And often times they go unnoticed. Mother’s lose their sons to war. Son’s lose their mothers to disease. A father of two, had to stay late at work, and on his way home, feeling accomplished ready to come home and tell his beautiful wife how much he loves her… struck by a drunk driver.
Loss. It’s an inevitability. It’s the constant struggle, the balance, the push and pull of the universe. The tragedy, the comedy. The beauty of life.
I need to mentally prepare myself for either outcome. Losing her is something I may have to deal with. It’s constantly on my brain. And a world without her smile, without her grace, without all the good she has to offer it… a world without my beautiful sister is just not complete.
I’m so happy to see her. So happy to be sitting in a bar, chugging pitchers of beer, stuffing our faces with disgusting pizza, both regretting eating that last slice. And we’re cheering on the 49ers. And Mark is telling me I have to shave my head with him when my sister loses her hair. She’s going to shave it all off. She doesn’t care. She’s going to rock that look. She’s so strong. Mark jokes he’ll shave my head first, then decide it’s good enough that at least one of us did it and not follow through with his half of the promise. And I’m the one with long hair.
IT’S A TIE! Good job to my Niners. They’ve tied to the game with a field goal and we go into overtime. We still got this.
“I’m going to be OK.” She says. “I can’t explain it but I really feel like everything is going to be alright.”
She’s sharing some of the same feelings I felt the other night when I prayed.
And hiding my tears… Kyle Williams fumbles the ball.
“I CAN’T TAKE THIS!!! I NEED TO GO OUTSIDE!” She’s too invested in the game. “I’m going to find a Dr. Pepper.”
It’s just me and Mark, on the edge of our seats and just like that… Game Giants.
And as we make our way through the most depressing scene of a bar full of San Francisco fans all thoroughly bummed out… I see my sister outside. Laughing. She’s laughing at a fist fight about to break out over the game’s outcome. Really? Over a ball game? Like they were the ones on that field? When people actually suffer from real problems. When my sister is here with me, well knowing she has cancer, and not even letting anything get her down. And I remembered the other night, thinking that it would be awesome if they made it to the Superbowl, however if I had to pick between my football team and my sister, I am picking my sister.
Just hearing it from her, “I really feel this is NOT going to be how I go. It’s just the next adventure and something I have to go through.”
It’s calmed my nerves. I’m still thinking of her, and I still think of the growth of cells on her spinal chord. And I think of how tough it’s going to be. And how she’s going to come stay with me after the first chemo treatment. An excuse to eat Mitchell’s Ice Cream all day.
But in the end I reflect on all the great things in my life now. I’m sitting here roof top looking out on my beautiful city. What a beautiful day, I’ve got a beautiful view of the bridge. And even though my guilt free excuse of nachos and beer went with the 49ers… I realize baseball season is right around the corner. I can’t wait to take her to the ballpark when she starts feeling better. I can almost taste the garlic fries now. And I thank god I’m alive. And for the time I’ve had with my sister. The memories we’ve made. And the memories that still are to come.
Hey Cancer. You apparently do not know my sister. Because you don’t stand a chance.