It’s coming to that time of year I hate. The holidays are over. We are in our bleak winter inversion days. It’s cold and dark and seems like there is no end to winter in sight. And it is almost February. I HATE February. My biggest hope this year is that we can make it through February without anyone dying. (Knock on wood.) This year will mark the 2 year anniversary of my dad’s death and one year since my grandfather died. (Oh and my 45th birthday.)
I don’t want this to be a doom and gloom post. Especially with how great a tribute my last post was to so many brave people that have fought the battle of GBM. So I want to focus on some of the things that I have learned since my dad’s diagnosis in 2012.
* Life isn’t fair. GBM is the shittiest most horrible thing I have ever experienced. My dad was the most kind loving person I have ever known. He didn’t deserve to die the way he did. (No one does.) But things happen for a reason. We can be mad at God and the world for having a loved one go through this. But there is a reason. You just have to find it. It took me a year and a half to figure it out. But once I did it put a little more perspective on the whole situation for me.
* Life goes on. No matter how dark and heavy those months were after my dad’s death it did get better. I didn’t think it ever would. But slowly it didn’t hurt so much. I could breath again. I didn’t cry every time I was alone in the shower or the car. I laughed. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t stop missing him. I still think about him at least 10 times a day. But the sharpness of it is gone.
* Family is everything. I take each day with them as a blessing. I tell them I love constantly. They probably get sick of it. I don’t call my mom every day like I did the first year after dad died. But I do talk to her at least 3 times a week. It has never been like that between us until dad got sick. I love our relationship now. She has always been a good mom. (Although in my teenage years you would have never heard me say that.) But now she is my friend too.
* We can “What if” and “Coulda, woulda, shoulda” our experience forever and it will never change the way it all happened. You have to let it go. This is one of the hardest things for me. Did we make the right decisions? Should we have tried the Avastin? Should we have given him more pain medication? Would it have made a difference if his idiot doctor had diagnosed him sooner? None of that matters now. It can’t be changed. I just have to believe that we did the right things and stop beating myself up about it. Once I did that my grieving process seemed to move forward.
* My mom’s philosophy is right. There is a time to grieve and then after awhile you are just feeling sorry for yourself. Not everyone grieves the same way, or in the same time frame. But there is a point that you just have to be done. Whether that is 1 month or 1 year it does have to end. This is cliche, but we all know our loved ones would never want us sitting around feeling sad and stopping our life and happiness because they died. I know my dad wouldn’t. I know I wouldn’t.
* Therapy is wonderful. People going through this always ask me what helped me the most after my dad died. A grief counselor. I wish I had gotten one sooner. Probably even before he died. That was my first big step out of that dark hole.
The day I left to go help my mom that terrible awful week before my dad died (which is actually 2 years from today) I wrote this on my husband and my bathroom mirror. It was the first time we had really been apart for 5 years. I was leaving into the unknown. I was scared. It’s still on our mirror 2 years later. It reminds me how weak I thought I was but how strong I really am.
The biggest thing I learned from all of this is no matter how many times you think you can’t go another day, hour, minute, second, you really can.