Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Just Another Cancer Story

When I wrote the last blog post, I did not know that the next entry I’d be writing would talk about how much and in what ways I’ve been grieving the loss of my father. I didn’t know that the time between that blog entry and his death would be measured by a mere two days. Two days. I thought we had more time. Isn’t that always the heart of regret: how little quality time we have, and what we end up doing with it?

Every morning I open up my journal to write. I use a laminated copy of Dad’s obituary as a bookmark. The funeral home gave us a few of them after the service. I’ve scanned it so I can make more bookmarks when this one becomes too worn at the edges.

Next week, I’ll be returning to Mifflintown for the first time since Mom started her new life without Dad. My sister and I are trying to sell the house and the land, cull her and Dad’s belongings, help her move closer to my sister, who will be able to take care of her. I’ll do as much as I can, and then I’ll try to do even more because the pain and guilt I have from living so far away needs to be relieved somehow, even if for only a couple of weeks. But I remind myself that I have my own children to take care of, and that’s what Dad would have wanted me to do before anything else.

My children are the reason I’m having my ovaries removed next month. Being a BRCA-2 gene carrier, I have a much higher risk of developing ovarian cancer, and there aren’t reliable screening methods for it. This surgery is just the latest, and it’s also the least of which I’ve been concerned. If there’s a chance to be given more time, I’m taking it. The absence of my ovaries I will not regret.

There is so much I regret about Dad’s passing—why didn’t I make him get those tests and scans done earlier? Why did I let him go home from the hospital after the first time he went in? Why didn’t I take him back to the hospital sooner? Why did I make the decision to start the morphine when the doctor took me alone into the oversized sterilized conference room to tell me that Dad was actively dying, his kidneys and liver failing, his lungs full of blood clots, his ribs almost completely broken from the cancer eating at them? I know. I had to. I didn’t want to regret making him suffer.

Now, I don’t want to regret anymore. No more wasting time. Time to go home, say goodbye to that home, and help Mom create her new normal. I want to do all the things I know Dad would have regretted not getting to do, like seeing Chloe, Mylo, and Moxie grow up, laughing as much as possible, and helping Mom find the always elusive happiness, still.

I think of Dad, myself, my friends, and I think, “it’s never just a cancer story.” It’s a story about where the time goes and where it takes us along with it.