This was our 4th Memorial Day without my dad. It is still hard to comprehend that it has been that long.
These past few weeks have been hectic at our house with some big milestones. My son graduated from high school and my daughter was baptized. I remember one of my first thoughts after dad was diagnosed was that he was going to miss these specific events. The few weeks leading up to all this were hard. I would cry every time I thought about it. The graduation didn’t end up being as hard as the baptism. My dad would have been the one to perform my daughter’s baptism. Instead my brother did. Which was wonderful. We (My brother, Rachel and I) had a little melt down cry in the hall right before he did the baptism. But it turned out beautifully. My dad was there, we could feel the peace surrounding us.
When they posed for these pictures my mom said “Leave room for grandpa.”
We’ve been helping my mom clean out her house. It’s amazing what you can accumulate in 45 years of marriage. I found one of my dad’s journals he kept when I was 10-15 yrs old. I’m not all the way through it yet but it is comforting to be reading his words.
Thank you all for your kind emails and comments. I read them all and I apologize if I don’t respond immediately. I do pray for you and hope you all have peace in your experiences.
I can’t believe this was our 3rd Memorial Day without my dad. Memorial Day in our family has always been a big event. A lot of cemetery visiting, picnics and pictures. Yes, my family is one of those that take group pictures around headstones and all over the cemetery. In my teenage years (when I knew every thing) I thought it was pretty creepy and tried to stay out of those pictures. Now I understand. It’s about family. It’s about kids running around in the grass. It’s about my daughter sitting on my dad’s headstone and telling me how much she loves grandpa. It’s about hugs from cousins and aunts and uncles you haven’t seen all year.
I hate the fact that that headstone even has to exist. But I do appreciate the bond that was created with my mom and my siblings because of my dad’s cancer.
My mom is doing well. She is still serving a mission for the LDS church. She has extended her time and will stay out an extra year. She is always busy and doing fun things with the other sister missionaries. She is able to come up and visit us which is nice. I am glad she wasn’t called to serve farther away.
Thank you to everyone that emails me and sends me positive comments. I apologize if I haven’t gotten back to you yet. I will. Things have been hectic this past month or two. I pray for each of you and hope that you have peace and comfort.
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.
This is a heart wrenching situation and I don’t know how I feel about it. You can read the full story here. Short and condensed version of this is she has been diagnosed with GBM and has moved to Oregon to be able to legally end her life on her terms, when she wants to. It is called the Death with Dignity Act. It is only legal in 4 other states besides Oregon (Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico.) I’ve never heard of it before.
I’ve seen the end stages of GBM. I watched as it robbed my father of himself. I watched him die for 9 days. If it were me I think I would want to go on my own terms. I would want to spare my family the heartache of seeing me decline, having to take care of me for weeks and weeks before I finally died. But I strongly believe everything happens the way and when it does for a reason. If I hadn’t had those 9 days with my mom and sister I don’t think we would have grown so close and formed such a strong bond, one we didn’t have before. I wouldn’t have had the time to take care of my dad and give to him after so many years of him taking care of me. It would have deprived so many people the chance to do service for our family.
Service. Kind of a stupid concept when I first heard this idea from my best friend Donna. It was during one of those horrible 9 days that I asked her why we had to wait so long. Why didn’t God just take him now? What was the point? She said that this whole experience my dad was going through wasn’t just about him. It was about my family. It was about all the friends and family that were helping one way or another. I was mad. Why did my dad’s disease and dying have to be used as something to make other people feel better about themselves? Why did God choose for MY dad to get brain cancer? What did I do so wrong in my life that I needed to learn a stupid lesson like service THIS way?
Then I thought about it some more. My father was the most kind giving person I have ever known in my life. I’m not just saying that because he was my father. He seriously had no ill feelings towards anyone. Never said anything negative about a person. He would do anything for anyone pretty much no questions asked. My dad always wanted to help people feel better about themselves. He would have wanted to give them opportunities to serve the Lord. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have chosen getting brain cancer and dying as his preferred way to do it, but it is what it is (as he would say).
I found this quote here.
As you devote yourself to serving others, you will draw closer to Heavenly Father. Your heart will be filled with love. You will learn that service and sacrifice are ways to overcome selfishness. You will enjoy happiness that comes only from giving service to God and others. Your capacities will increase, and you will be an instrument in God’s hands to bless the lives of His children.
So in my father’s case I know he wouldn’t have chosen this option to end his fight with GBM. I think that Brittany Maynard is a strong inspiring woman. Her going public with this makes me admire her even more. I have read the comments on different articles about her that have been so cruel and uncalled for. Her intentions are pure. She loves her family. She wants to spare them from the way this all ends. She wants control. If you have read my blog even once you know how I feel about control. So I wish her and her family peace and comfort in the days to come.
I was saddened today to hear the news that Dean Bullock passed away early this morning. I’ve posted about Dean here. He did amazing things after he was diagnosed with GBM. One of them being running the Ironman in Kona last October. I’ve never met him or his family but know how they are feeling today and wish them peace and comfort. Please keep them in your prayers today.