Sunday, March 18, 2018

How are you doing?

A close friend told me, "Whatever feelings you are having are yours. Own them. Sad, pissed, whatever you have. No one can tell you how to feel."

I clearly can't even tell myself. At moments I feel so sad that I'm certain my heart is going to crumble into tiny pieces inside of me. And sometimes I'm so angry, fire rages from my mouth. Other times I feel guilty. It's just not fair. Scared. Confused. Helpless. And every now and then I have a sense of peace and understanding and everything is okay.

Isn't this supposed to come as a process? Aren't I supposed to experience levels of this stuff? Why is it instead a tornado? Why do I have a shit storm of emotions in my head and heart every second!? This is just so fucked up. I cried to Jamie last night, "Don't you feel like this is so fucked up? Aren't you angry or scared!?" He doesn't. He isn't. And selfishly, that feels terrible too. He just wants it to be over. He wants to close his eyes and open them with no pain. If that didn't just break your heart in half, you are not human. I want him to be mad and stomp his feet! I have wanted him to be mad and stomp his feet for the last 2 years! REFUSE to let cancer destroy you!

I guess that level of aggression would have changed nothing.

Jamie and I didn't develop a strong relationship until cancer entered our life. Isn't that sad? Doesn't that suck? I just wasn't interested in him and mostly because he wasn't interested in me. I think I felt like, well if he doesn't care, why should I?
We were very different. A five year age gap always left us at awkward stages in life where he definitely didn't want his annoying bratty sister around and then I didn't want my older bossy brother around. I am a wanderer, a dreamer...always on the move, always driving for more more more. Jamie is a settler, a worker...always grasping for stability and security.

I get a little angry with him. He put a lot of 'life struggle' blame on our family or our upbringing. That's always frustrated me because I'm like, we had the same upbringing! Yeah, it wasn't ideal, we had struggles. Dad was abusive. Mom had to work a lot. But you made choices. From a boy to a man, you made your choices, I made mine. And while often it seemed like he was envious of mine, in the end, now...I'm partially envious of his.

It took Jamie a long time to find his place in life. And maybe he never quite found it either. But he brought April, Alyssa, and Autumn into our lives. And that's pretty special. He made a family. Which ironically, enjoying my sweet little niece has helped me to realize that I want a family too.

He always acted like he wanted so much more or to do so much more. But he was also quite content with where he was and what he had. I wonder if in his heart he was truly happy. Naturally a pessimist, I think he tried.
Back in December when I returned to visit, while in the hospital, we made a list together. Sort of a bucket list but more just random silly dreams. One of those was to go to Hawaii with me. He's always wanted to go to Hawaii and of course for me, Ironman. How perfect if we could all go together? A final celebration of life, goals, and dreams. He was so excited. Another was to drive a race car. I actually got that set up for him but it's not until August. He was pumped! "No way!? That's so freaking cool!" What a shitty email I have to send canceling it.
Pain runs deep for all the things he doesn't get to do. For all the imaginary or not "things" on his list.

I'm feeling pain from others too. His wife. My God how terribly hard for April. She lost her mother to cancer. How unfair is that? You're going to take her mother AND husband!? His daughters. Alyssa, 16 years old, this will change her entire world. And Autumn will never feel how much Jamie loved her. Only through our memories and pictures.
My mom. How terrible to have to bury your son. My mother internalizes everything; how will she come out on the other side of this? Who will she be? My dad, who might still be in denial. Friends. Family. We are all feeling the loss. And I carry the weight of everyone's pain. As an empathic, I carry their guilt and despair with my own. Fortunately I also share their relief, peace, and understanding.

And I'm angry that I left. I had a feeling and I rejected it. And now I'm facing an expensive ass plane ticket (AGAIN) and great travel time. So I'm angry. And I feel guilty for feeling angry. And I feel selfish for feeling guilty. And I cry. And I scream at things for no reason. And I feel like everything is falling down around me and I'm using <what's the opposite of GLUE!?> to keep it together.

So that's how I'm doing.
Sometimes I have to just get things out, so I appreciate you if you're reading this. If you care.
I'm very grateful for your thoughts and prayers, love and support you have given me and my family over these last two years. I'm headed back to the states this week and hopefully make it in time.

Jamie has been battling stage 4 melanoma since November 2015. He has had 4 surgeries, 2 rounds of radiation, chemo pills, immunotherapy, and 4 blood transfusions. Currently the cancer is in his liver, stomach, and lungs. He's at home with hospice care, lots of pain meds, and oxygen.
He's tired and ready to die.
He will leave behind a lot of people that love him very much and are terribly pained to say goodbye.

Jamie, I hope that your last moments are filled with happiness and joy and you are satisfied with the life you lived. I hope your airways are free, your body feels relaxed and comfortable, and your heart is cushioned with peace. I hope you know that for everything you are, exactly who you have become, we are all so proud of you and will live a better life having had you in it. I hope when you open your eyes, the pain will be gone and you find yourself surrounded by paradise.

Don't forget to come to Italy and let me know how it is ;) ;) I love you brother.

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