As I was walking into work today, it dawned on me that my life was very different around this time last year. My family and I were dealing with something that no one could've predicted. I immediately welled up with tears just thinking about it. My brain likes to do that to me sometimes.............think of something terrible and make me cry in public. It's SUPER fun. It also makes me look like a crazy person. But sometimes..............my face leaks.
This may sound odd, but I've never experienced death in a real way. I was either too young when it happened, or I wasn't close enough to the person for it to affect me in an extreme way. I'm lucky. All of my grandparents are still alive, and I haven't even really experienced the death of a childhood pet. Pug is 14 and still going. I realize I just discussed the mortality of my grandparents and my dog in the same sentence, which is probably weird, but you get the point. I mean, I do love that dog quite a bit though............
Look at that face!!!!!!!
So back to why I started crying right before I walked into my office. Thank God I was the first one there so I had time to compose myself. I'm such a big baby. I cry at Disney movies....................like, pretty much every Disney movie.................
I apologize if this post gets a little too serious and/or emotional for you, but this is what's on my mind today. Plus, it's my freaking blog. I do what I want. (But for real, I won't be so serious next time. Don't hate me!!!)
About a year ago
Mom texted me, my younger sister, and my older brother, telling us that there was something really important her and Dad needed to talk to us about. It had to happen and it had to happen that night. HUGE red flag. We don't really do "family meetings."
Well this can't be good..........
My sister and I had rehearsal for a musical that night, so we were completely distracted the entire time, dreading whatever it was that we were going to be informed of later.
Let me tell you...............there's nothing quite like having to sing and jump rope at the same time (we were doing Legally Blonde and I was the "fitness queen," Brooke Wyndham), let alone sing and jump rope while you're completely distracted. You know how many times I ended up whipping myself with that thing? I literally had lashes on my back...........from my own damn jump rope.
We meet at my parents' house that night -- Mom and Dad are waiting for us. Mom immediately hands me a glass of wine. It wasn't a question. She apparently knew I would need it.
Oh hell, this must be REALLY bad.
I was frantically trying to figure out what it might be so I could brace myself.
Were they getting a divorce? Was one of my grandparents sick? Did Pug die???!!!
Oh, just kidding. Hi Pug (he was sniffing my pant leg at the time).
I don't remember exactly what was said, but it went something like this:
Mom: "Your dad has something to tell you."
Dad: "I recently participated in a fitness test, and had a chest X-ray taken in the process. They saw something that they wanted to look into. It turns out that I have something called a Thymoma, which is a very rare tumor."
(I heard tumor and I started drinking my wine faster.)
Dad: "It's a form of cancer, and because of the size of the tumor, it's past stage one............................"
I don't remember much of what was said at this point, because I felt like I was drowning. I refilled my wine glass, drank most of it, then refilled it again. Trying really hard to fight back the tears, which I failed miserably at, I probed for more information and what the next steps would be. I think I asked something about treatment options and what the survival rate was. Due to the nerf ball sized tumor attempting to crush one of his lungs, the surgery needed to remove it did not guarantee that all of the cancer would be removed. They wouldn't know what they were dealing with until they got in there. And even if they were able to remove it, the recurrence rate was something like 50%.
How do you respond to something like that? My dad is one of the most important people in my life. He's young, he's always been healthy, he's a family physician whose patients adore him, he's an amazing dad, and he has one of the most amazing souls I've ever known. For real? That guy gets a rare tumor? A tumor that is about as rare as getting struck by lightning? COME ON!!!!!!
Things moved incredibly fast. Before we knew it he was scheduled for surgery, and they were going to be cracking his chest open in order to remove the tumor. I know he was scared, but I'm still amazed at how strong he was leading up to the surgery. He was strong because he felt he had to be...........for us..........his family who couldn't imagine a life without him.
The day of his surgery was the most nervous I've ever been for anything in my entire life. Mom was at the hospital waiting, and the rest of us were trying everything we could to distract ourselves until we had an update. And this was a long surgery. I was a long-term sub at my sister's high school at the time, so she would come in and visit me most days. That day she came in and sat in silence by my desk. I wish I could've offered her more comfort, but I'm the more emotional of the two, and at that moment I was no stronger than she was. In fact, she was probably stronger.
We finally heard from Mom. The surgery had gone extremely well and the surgeon was fairly certain he had been able to remove the entire tumor. I didn't know whether to yell, cry, dance, flip the desk, or all of the above.
I definitely cried -- because I'm a giant baby.
It seemed as though everything was going to be okay, but what a freaking roller coaster.......................
Dad left the hospital earlier than expected, and was walking 4-5 miles with me within about a week or so of being home. We're not talking just leisurely walking..........we're talking like a 4-5 mph pace. Freaking serious power walking. He wore me out and I'm half his age. Plus, I didn't just undergo an insanely invasive surgery where they removed a freaking nerf football sized tumor from my body. The man is insane.
I do miss those walks though....................I happened to be living in the area when all of this was happening, so we would walk most days of the week. Even though I was out of breath for most of it, we had hours upon hours of conversation. We talked about anything and everything. It was really special.
The next thing was prepping for radiation. He was supposed to have about 5 weeks of radiation treatment. He even got marked for where the radiation would be focused, but after a checkup it turned out that he wasn't going to need any radiation after all. It didn't seem real.
Within a few months time, everything went from a scenario where it was quite possible that my dad would not make it, to him being seemingly back to normal. It was a blur of emotion, and until my brain forced me to remember those emotions this morning, it almost seemed like it had never happened. I've been randomly tearing up off and on all day, which has been a little frustrating, but at the same time I'm grateful for the reminder.
It shouldn't take a rare, cancerous tumor to remind us................but time is fleeting, and we only get so much of that time with the people we love. Even though my eyes are kind of puffy, and my makeup has undoubtedly been messed up, I don't care. I needed the reminder, even if it did cause my face to leak. It's so easy to get caught up in what we're doing that we lose sight of the important things.
Thanks for listening. Now go and love on your people dammit!!!!!
Me and my awesome dad
I'm an "adult," or so I've been told. I do "adult" things, I have an "adult" job, I pay bills, and I drink bourbon and wine. I have great friends and family, an amazing husband, and generally a pretty good life. I have achieved many things, yet so little at the same time. I'm in my 30s, yet I feel more clueless than when I graduated college. This is how I "adult."