Sometimes you have to take a step back from everything you’re doing and take a long, hard look at the way you live your life.
Sometimes this is the result of something amazing happening; one of those instinctual OH MY GOSH I AM SO LUCKY moments that fills our hearts with pure joy and gratitude. I had one of those moments recently when I found out that my breast lump was just a harmless cyst…
I had a different kind of one of those moments, those life-changing, what is happening?! moments, two weeks ago.
I found out that someone I love has cancer.
It’s not a treatable, curable, this will be hard but it will all be okay cancer.
This person that I love, they are going to die.
And I don’t know how long we have left with them, because in their complete and utter acceptance of their fate, they’ve refused any additional testing, any treatment – they don’t even want to talk about it.
Where does that leave me? The rest of us?
It leaves us aimless and wandering, not knowing what to do, how to comfort, how to prepare. It leaves us helpless.
It’s all I can think about, yet the day-to-day tasks of life, however insignificant, must continue. I have a family that needs my love and attention, I have blog posts due, I have dogs and cats to feed, I have laundry to wash, dry, fold and put away, I have a checkbook to balance and summer vacations to plan.
What I really want to do is crawl under my bed and hide and pretend that this isn’t happening, that I don’t have to prepare to say goodbye to someone whom I’ve loved my entire life.
Whenever tragedy strikes, which seems to be cruelly too often in my family, I face the same struggle: do I give into the grief and let everything fall to the wayside, or do I wake up each morning and continue to live my ordinary life?
I’ve been doing the latter. I’ve gone on a trip to Mexico City, pushing all thoughts of my dying loved one from my mind. I’ve written blog posts, tweeted with my friends, cooked dinner and cleaned the house as though everything is the same.
But it’s not. I can’t concentrate. I sit at the laptop, like I am right now, trying to write a blog post and all the while, a little voice whispers in my ear, “She is dying.”
Yesterday it overcame me and I found myself in bed at noon with a book. I had obligations to fulfill, I had laundry that needed putting away, and I had dinner to make…and I didn’t do any of it. I laid in bed and found escape in a book.
And it was exactly what I needed. A momentary reprieve from the world, from work, household chores, thinking about the fate of my loved one – from everything.
I think there’s a big difference between allowing the grief to swallow you whole and recognizing when you’ve had enough and need a moment, however long, to recognize and process your feelings.
When we’re facing sadness and despair, I have found that the best thing to do is continue living life. As much as I wanted to crawl under my bed and cry a thousand tears, it would accomplish nothing and I would become even more lost.
I am saving my grief for when my loved one is truly gone, and until then, I am doing the same thing that they are doing.
I am living my life.