My dad had another MRI yesterday and has his regular check-in with the doctor this afternoon. In black and white that looks so much less ominous than it feels.
I spend a lot of time crying when no one is looking. Everyone in my family is outwardly (and probably inwardly) managing this so differently that I feel as though I’m grieving five different ways all at once. We’re all grieving for loss, yes, even though it feels like we technically shouldn’t be grieving yet because we haven’t had The Loss.
I see my mother flying like a trapped bird into every wall and window except the open door right in front of her. I see my sister brandishing her essential oils and conspiracy theories. I see my other sister quivering into immobility. I see my dad disintegrating. I see my wife on eggshells, navigating me and the terrible reminder of her own losses. I don’t know how to manage it all.
And it isn’t stopping. It’s only magnifying. My scatter-brained mother forgot to refill my father’s chemo a week ago prompting her to identify a dozen ways in which he was “better.” One sister surged forward proclaiming that obviously there’s another solution to this cancer besides chemo. The other sister tolled the bell of doom, “doesn’t everyone think dad’s just tapping out?”
Maybe. Maybe he made a decision. It wouldn’t be the first time he and my mom have decided to wait on some big news in order to “protect you girls.” I haven’t seen any real improvements from Cancer Dad to Regular Dad. His balance is still shaky, his jokes make no sense, he’s slow as molasses, he doesn’t talk much, he fumbles. It hurts so, so much.
It’s not a competition to see who’s handling it better but I wish we were all handling it differently. I wish we weren’t handling it at all.