A member of my family is currently battling cancer at the moment and unfortunately, they are terminal. I have been lucky enough not to have had to deal with watching someone battle this awful disease before. Facing the reality, I can tell you, I never want to see it try to take anyone else.
I’ve dealt with deaths in the family before, but this is something else. Watching someone being taken away slowly and painfully is stuff that nightmares are made of. I have been trying to deal with this by pretending that this family member isn’t terminal, convincing myself they will beat it and get better, that they’ll still be here in 20 years and this will be a distant memory.
Facing the reality
Now they are starting to deteriorate. I am facing the reality that this person will no longer be with us in the near future. It is something that I can’t put into words. Every time the phone rings, I feel my stomach do somersaults and feel a tightness in my chest, wondering whether this is going to be the news that I never want to receive. Every time I visit them, I wonder whether it will be the last time I get to see them, hug them and show them that I love them.
I have begun to fear life/death due to this experience. I’m terrified of anyone close to me ever getting ill in the future. I know I can’t live life fearing death. It’s something none of us can avoid. But watching someone die almost makes you wish you weren’t a part of this world. I need to shake this fear off and take each day as it comes. After all, I am a part of this world. Unfortunately, shit happens.
How much we all care
I’m wondering how this must feel for the person dealing with this horrendous illness. Hoping, more than anything, that they know how much they are loved and how much we all care about them. I don’t want them to leave this world without knowing how much joy and fun they have brought us, and without knowing how loved they are.
This has made me reflect on many different aspects of my life. It has made me want to reach out to so many different people, to tell them how much I appreciate, love and care about them. Life can be so short and so brutal, but it is also beautiful and magical all at the same time. In so many ways cancer has brought me so much closer to this person than I have ever been before. It’s made me realise just how much of a strong bond I have with them. I’m grateful for that. I may not have ever known how much magic this person could bring to my life, in so many different ways that no one else possibly could, without this illness.
Scared it might swallow me whole
I feel terribly selfish for how I feel towards this situation a lot of the time. I’m worried that it is going to cause me to relapse again, when I am just feeling like I am beginning to win my battle with depression. I have built a dam to keep the depression contained, but the scaffolding is still up and it is still under construction; it isn’t strong enough to handle a storm yet. Terrified that the wall is going to come crumbling down soon, I fear that it will overwhelm me beyond anything I have ever known. I am scared it might swallow me whole.
It won’t be goodbye forever
I have to fight these thoughts constantly, every day, facing the reality. Death is a part of life, and if I do relapse, it is another bump in the road. Life isn’t linear, and pain is temporary. When the time comes for my family member to bid us goodbye for now, I hope I have the strength in me to keep my head above the waves and that I can find a way to make peace with it.
I hope they know I love them for everything they are. I feel so lucky for having them in my life and I hope they know that, and that it won’t be goodbye forever, just goodbye for now.
Reproduced with permission, originally posted here