Things hold very little hope for getting better.
This is a truth that I seem unable to hold in my head for very long. I keep thinking that I understand it, that I’ve accepted it. Soon the “understanding it” subsides. I experience some kind of convenient amnesia and go back to not really getting it, not being able to accept the grim reality my dad faces, and us along with him.
There’s a possibility that I’m in some stage of denial, but that sounds so cliché I have a hard time thinking it could be real. And yet all of a sudden something pops for no particular reason and it all floods the tubes at once. My boat begins to sink in powerlessness and sadness, holding all at once the emotions I’d kept at bay without even trying.
I’m starting to realize I may not be equipped to handle this on my own.
While I’ve never received any counseling past the pre-marital counseling my husband and I did before our wedding (and does that really count? I’m not sure), I’m not at all opposed to it. I have a feeling there are coping strategies that could be helpful when dealing with loss and grief. For a while now, my reaction to things seems to either go from an emotional flat-line to all feelings at once as if I’m trying to drink from a proverbial fire hose. There ought to be some middle ground in this, some balanced space of holding the possibility of permanent separation alongside an appreciation of the time we all still have together.
Ought to, schm-ought to. The bare truth is that my dad’s not getting better, and there’s a very real possibility — a very strong probability — that he’s going to leave us. See? Even now I can’t speak the harsh truth because it’s too much to admit. It’s too big, too scary, too terrible. It’s something I only admit in the dark, when no one else is listening, when I can’t convince my brain to focus on anything else. Is this what it’s like for everyone? Would it make me feel better or worse to know it isn’t like this for other people?
Does it make it worse that I’m here to witness the slow ebbing away of him? Or would it be worse to experience the jarring juxtaposition of him healthy one visit, and then a few months later discover him weak, thin and slow? Who freaking cares which is worse? This is what the situation is. This is the one I’m a part of, and contrasting it with anything else doesn’t make it any less or any more. It just is.
But it isn’t just. It isn’t fair. It isn’t right.
(I’ll have more on that idea soon, on the shitty deal and non-nepotism of God instead of playing favorites. That’s good news if you’re the one on the outs, but it’s a lot harder to bear if you’ve been the diligent, dedicated son all these years and not the prodigal. A little party on your behalf would be nice, a little cut to the front of the line, so to speak, a little preferential treatment.)
For now, the irritating pendulum swings between being numb and being overcome, with a possibly unhealthy emphasis on numbness, are in my line of sight, and I figure I should try to have some idea of how to handle what may come. Even if I don’t really want to know what’s going to come. Even if I am dreading it even as I approach the subject with robotic matter-of-factness. That right there should be my indicator of a need for facing the thing head on, but I can really only look at it with my peripheral vision as I charge ahead, busily avoiding people and topics that could lead to an uncorking of the anger, fear and sorrow that licks at my heels.
Have I mentioned cancer sucks?
If you’ve got resources that have helped you through grief or loss, don’t keep ’em to yourself. I don’t really know where to start, and could use some recommendations.