How life can knock you down and how to get back up
I hope you’ll forgive me while I lament a little. I’ve just climbed out of the roughest 4 weeks I’ve had in my life. They have caused me to look within myself and want to change. It’s made me rethink what it is I’m doing out here in this great big world and whether I’m doing it well enough. And since this post promises to strip away the bull crap and leave me naked before you (GROSS!), I’ll admit that these weeks have left me more than a little depressed.
Friendships have always been difficult for me.
Truth is, I’m not good at them. Maybe it’s because I’ve been burned so much, by so many, and always felt that the work involved wasn’t worth it. Back in 2004, my soon to be wife and I moved into a great neighborhood, met our next door neighbors and instantly became friends with the whole family. Over the course of our 5 years there, my wife became best friends with Sandi, the head of this great family. She helped my wife, while I frantically drove home from work, when her water broke all over our bathroom floor. She called at 2am early one morning to let us know she heard water running and thought it was flooding our basement. (It was) She was up with us until 4am that night helping to clean it up. She became a part of our family and .. my friend.
Sisters always have that special bond – no matter the age differences.
My wife and her sister, Lacy, are 8 years apart. Lacy was diagnosed at a young age with mental illness and it isn’t fair that she has had to deal with that. She always had trouble understanding the importance of taking care of yourself. She has always had health problems, partly due to the amount of medications she’s taken over the years, her weight, her poor diet and her heavy smoking. Given how hard life had always been for her, it was great to see that over the past year, things were on the upswing and she was even planning on getting married by years end.
My world came crashing down.
Several months ago, Sandi was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Cancer is a horrible, horrible disease. In the beginning of July, after chemotherapy and surgeries, they found out that the cancer in her cervix was gone, but it had spread to her bones, lungs and kidneys. On the morning of July 23rd, Sandi’s battle with cancer was lost. She was 46.
One week later, on July 30th, while I was coming back from the doctor’s office, after discovering I had bronchitis, we found out that my wife’s sister, Lacy, was in cardiac arrest. A blood clot had gotten into her heart. Within a few minutes of receiving the call, we received another one. Lacy had died. She was 27.
Life is too damn short.
Lacy looked up at the doctor, during her last minute on this earth, and said “I need more oxygen!”. Did she realize what was happening? What did those last few minutes feel like? Was there pain? I can remember watching Sandi, during her last few days, continue to fight to stay alive. Who wouldn’t? Nobody wants to die. What ripped my heart out was watching her fight, trying to stay strong for her kids and for everyone visiting, but also filled with the understanding that her body was failing. If someday, I’m lying there and going through that same paradox, WHAT WILL THAT FIGHT BE LIKE? It was a question I could not remove from my mind and even now, weeks later, I still can’t get rid of it. It’s squashed me to the size of a bug and when I look out at the world these days, it all seems so damn BIG. I have trouble catching my breath from staring at the sheer size of it.
It’s time to heal.
I know it. Time heals all wounds, they say. I’ll move on and be okay. The irony of all of this is that during the times when the poop was hitting the fan, my friends rallied to the cause. My friends. Those people I don’t call like I should. Those I don’t visit like I need to. Those people I don’t sacrifice enough of myself to. But they came. They made us laugh. They watched the kids. They made us dinner. They just listened when my wife and I needed it. Thank you to my friends. (and my family) I’ve come to understand, now, that the work involved is worth it and I will do better – I promise.
Most of you reading this never knew Lacy or Sandi, but you’ve probably experienced your own kind of loss. No matter the type of loss you’ve suffered, whether it was sudden or slow, we end up the same, don’t we? We cry, we ask out loud “WHY?”, we mourn, we miss, but we will always love. Always.