This weekend, my sisters commented that they wish that they were ten years younger, and I laughed because I wished that I was ten years older. See, I love that I am getting older and I love that my kids are getting older, and five years ago, I would have wished that I was twenty again, but I am content where I am in life. I love that we have an amazingly big family and I love my nieces and my nephews as much as I love my own kids. I love my career and I love that when my kids get older, I can focus more on my career and being successful. I love that my kids are getting older and I welcome high school and college graduations. I can’t wait for their marriages and their having children. In my mind, the best is yet to come.
My mother says that sometimes she wonders where the years went but my mom has lived a wonderful life despite the hard times. She and my dad had seven children and while my dad died when the oldest was 20, my mother now has 19 grandchildren and a lot of love around her. She has kids and grandkids that would do anything for her and she is so lucky. True, my mother was a homemaker all her life but she has never felt that she has missed out anything. She has watched five children get married and has had the opportunity to love her 19 grandchildren. She has watched her children’s successes and their failures and she has watched their moments of happiness and their moments of sadness. She watched her children grow up to be competent and decent adults and that is the wish of every parent. She has had disappointments, losses, and heartaches but she doesn’t regret a moment of her life.
Two and half years ago, I received my diagnoses of rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia and I thought I was handed a death sentence. Instead, my life changed and I got stronger and wiser. One day, I woke up and realized I was so much older. I also remember the loneliness I felt when I was first diagnosed and how alone I felt in my own body. I look at my brother fighting for his life because of cancer and I wish that I could somehow ease the loneliness he feels inside of body and I can’t. Being an amazingly large bunch, he is never alone. Everyday we visit him and we show him how much we love him and how much we support him and I hope that helps him to feel less lonely in his own body. I also hope that it gives him the courage to fight and to win this battle.
I know that grieving is a process because I, too, have been through the grieving process. While every diagnosis brings with it a period of grief, eventually we except the cards we have been dealt. Grieving is normal when we experience loss and we have handed a chronic or terminal condition, we realize that every aspect of our life is affected including our relationships. What we don’t realize is that those that love us experience grief too. That grief includes denial, anger, bargaining, depression and sadness, and finally acceptance. Grieving teaches us how to cope.
The problem with cancer is that we have to discuss death and while doctors are willing to tell us that cancers can be terminal, they cannot tell us how to talk to each other. This is a topic that we have all avoided and it is one we are not ready to talk about. My younger sister (a year younger than me) is a cancer survivor – Hodgkin’s Disease- two years in remission. She says that she has seen cancer patients that they were told that there was no hope and that they would die walk away many months later as if cancer never came in their lives. She does not want to the details of my brother’s diagnosis or treatment plan. She knows that remission is always a possibility. Cancer changed her as it changes the rest of us daily.
My brother is getting stronger by the day and he may be having a second surgery in about a month but he needs to go into rehab so that he can get stronger and go back to breathing on his own, talking, walking and eating. He currently has a trache in his throat and because he was extremely sick prior to the first surgery, it has taken a lot of him to recover. What he has, however, is a lot of people rooting for him to get into remission and I really hope that helps him in the days, weeks, and months ahead. In my eyes, my brother is so much stronger because of how much love he has around him. That is something cancer cannot take away from us.