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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Topics around Death

Driving to school with Tank in the middle. 

Tank LOVES to cuddle!

Stuey has been so great about throwing balls for Tank!
As of late, Stuey has had a strong preoccupation with a fear of me dying. He will say things like, "You won't die, mamma, will you?" And when I say "yes, everyone dies, Stuey" he disagrees with me. He says things such as "Because I don't want you to die, you won't.". He can get quite emotional about it and stubborn; he crinkles his eyebrows and pouts his mouth.  He is determinted to  will it to NOT happen. On some level he really believes that if he cares about it enough, it won't happen.

Stuey also talks about how we will all see eachother in heaven, alongside our dogs and other people who have died. He has great descriptions about heaven, which I need to write down as he says things, as they often make me laugh, not because they are funny but because it is so heartfelt and innocent.

 Last year was the 20th anniversary of my fathers death from cancer. He died at our family home here in Kodiak with my family alongside him when I was 16. Being with him for his last breaths shaped how I view death--not as something to be afraid of but a process to be honored and respected.

Grief is a funny thing, as there are times when I think I should be sad or cry about my fathers death, but I don't.  Last summer was an example,  the 20th anniversary of his passing, I recognized the day but wasn't engulfed in sadness and didn't do anything particularly different on that day. Perhaps I felt a bit guilty about this.

 At other times the sudden onset of memories of his illness and death surprise me.  Music and certain scents will do this-trigger emotions. (My dad became sick with cancer when I was 16, he went through several months of chemotherapy in San Diego. He died 5 months later at home in Kodiak.)

This happened recently during a conversation with an acquaintance.  I learned that my friends sister was undergoing intense chemotherapy regimen at the same hospital that my dad did his chemotherapy at 20 years ago. As I realized this commonality of the treatment hospital, her words about her sister temporarily faded; my mind was brought to my dads hospital room, the view of the golf course from outside his windows which seemed so ironic even at the young age of 16.  People outside playing golf while men and women underwent such rigorous chemotherapy treatments inside.

 The potent memories of walking into his hospital and seeing my dad hooked up to so many machines and so incredibly sick flooded my mind. I remember his smile, wanting to be strong for us, but I could tell he felt so horrible and tired.

There was a waiting area in the front where I think we must have spent a lot of time because i remember lots of time sitting in the chairs in a large foyer area.  That feeling of helplessness is something which stays inside my cells on some level. Not having any control of what the treatment or day would bring. Not really knowing what shape dad would be in when we walked into visit.

Before I knew it, and before I could prevent it, during my conversation with this acquaintance,   tears began to flood my eyes and I tried so hard to choke them back.  All I could say was "I am so sorry. I know how hard it is". There are very few times when you say, "I know how hard this is" and you really, really, 100% mean it. This was one of those moments.

I know how hard it is to watch someone you love get so ill and sick and not be able to do anything about it. I know what it feels like to walk through the doors of the same hospital she has walked through and be transported to a world of illness, blood counts, medical reports, waiting. The heart ache of watching someone you love go through chemotherapy is something which always remains part of me.

When Stuey cries about being sad about me some day dying, I tell him, "Stuey, I am always, always without you. Even if I died, I would still be with you and part of you." He quiets when I tell him this. I don't think he fully understands it, but it quiets his angst for some time. I can say this with such confidence, as death doesn't take someone away from you. My dad is with me everyday in who I am, and who my children are and for  that I am grateful.


1 comment:

My Little Family: said...

I remember when your dad passed too. He was a well liked man. I came along when he first got sick so I didn't have the opportunity to know him but I saw how his illness impacted the folks around him. It was a great loss to you, your family, and the community Zoya.