Isn’t it funny (or maybe ironic…?) how things come together sometimes? I looked at the calendar last night and realized something: It’s been almost 10 years since you were diagnosed with cancer. Ten years. An entire decade. Honestly, I was a bit taken aback by this realization. How could it be 10 years? It actually seems like 10 days. But then, there are other times when it seems like 100 years, which is maybe why it all leaves me with a very unsettled feeling. The symptoms started out innocently enough — a few nosebleeds here, a few nosebleeds there. It was the fall. you thought simple allergies were the culprit. If only life — if only anything, really — could be that simple, right?
So what’s behind all this cancer talk, really? Besides the startling 10-year anniversary? I caught the annual Stand Up 2 Cancer telethon last week. Truth be told, I set my DVR to see Taylor Swift, who debuted her new song, “Ronan.” She wrote the song after reading Rockstar Ronan, Maya Thompson’s honest, raw and heartfelt blog chronicling her four-year-old son’s battle with cancer and her grief journey following his death last year. Now, I expected this song to hit me like a ton of bricks, but I wasn’t expecting it to knock the wind right out of my sails. The entire house was quiet — eerily quiet — as I settled in to watch. Everyone had already gone to bed; looking back now, maybe that was a good thing. As I watched the performance, I could feel the little droplets of tears begin to well up in my eyes. It wasn’t blubbering exactly, but it was a lot more than I was used to? Did I ever tell you that I managed to hold back the tears at your memorial service? Not too sure how I managed that, but I did. But now? On that night. In the living room. With the lights dim and the glow of the television. It all got to me — the melody of the song, the lyrics, Maya’s story of losing a loved one and feeling like a huge piece of you died with them — and I cried a bit for you. Or, rather, I guess, for me. I cried because, well, a part of me was jealous of those who lose loved ones to cancer. I know that sounds incredibly odd. Let me explain.
For nearly a decade, I’ve wished that it was the cancer — not your own hand — that killed you. I wish there was a cancer I could blame. I wish there was something — anything — other than you that I could look at and say, “You did this. You killed my father.” Maybe it would make things a bit more bearable. Maybe it would give e some comfort to know that you, for whatever reason, didn’t actually want to leave, that you would have done everything in your power to stay with your family if you could. Maybe I wouldn’t have this lingering anger following me around like a shadow. But, sadly, I can’t. Because, really, if I’m being honest, there’s no one else to blame. And, that fact just kills me. It’s killed me for the last 10 years. I often wonder if it will kill me for the next 10 or 20 or even 30 years.
When it comes to the Grief Club, I’ve always felt like I’ve never quite belonged anywhere. I’ve sort of been in grief limbo. I don’t really identify with those who have lost loved ones to cancer because, although you had cancer, that’s not really how you died. And, I’ve never quite felt a sense of belonging with suicide survivors because, had you not gotten cancer, you probably wouldn’t have committed suicide. Do you see the vicious cycle here, Father? So where exactly do I belong? Or do I even belong anywhere at all?
As we get closer to the time of year when you got sick, I so wish I could talk to you. To hear your voice. To hear that fatherly advice you were always so quick to give. To just tell you what’s been going on in my life. Why? Because so much has been going on in my life — heck, 10 years of happenings. I wish you could see me now and see all I’ve done since you died — graduate college, get my first job and discover my passion for blogging. There’s so much that has happened, and there’s even more that you didn’t see.
So, Father? Like Taylor’s song says, “You were my best 21 years.” I miss you every single day, and I hope you know just how much I love you…and will always love you.
[Photos via We Heart It]