if you haven’t, you can’t possibly imagine it–

In the past not-even-a-year, four friends of mine have either gone through losing a parent to cancer, or are going through a parent with cancer.  Seriously?  I mean, really, cancer?  Could you not touch my friends and my friends’ families?  That would be fantastic.

I don’t mean this in a crass way, but I love talking to and helping people who are going through dealing with such things – though I would never, ever wish this on anyone.  At the time of my dad’s decline because of his liver-and-lymph cancer(s), I was pretty much alone.  I don’t mean in the sense of not having friends or family for support, but in the sense that nobody close to me had ever gone through this at my age or around my age before.  The last half of my senior year of high school was wrought with tears and a horrible sense of loneliness that I couldn’t shake, no matter how much I cried on Joseph about it, no matter how much I tried to not think about it and tried to have fun.  All of my cousins have their healthy parents – and I wish no less for them, of course! – and my sister was going through this with my mom and I, and she has a family of her own, too, so it wasn’t like I was going through this with someone my age.

And honestly, I’m glad I don’t have siblings my age.  I don’t think I would have handled it well with them, and that’s just me, personally.  I don’t want to imply it would be the same for all siblings close in age.

And so, when I talk to those who have gone through similar things, it makes me feel good that they can come to me for support from someone who has been through it.  Even if I don’t know what to say (and believe me, I don’t – I’m so socially awkward, even if I come across as not sometimes; I’m just a mistress of disguise, I guess), I can share my experience with them and talk about it with them.  I found a quote on tumblr the other day that was “If you have ever lost someone very important to you, then you already know how it feels; and if you haven’t, you cannot possibly imagine it,” and god, that’s so true.  I think you can hypothesize about how it would feel if you were in that position, and I think you can have sympathy of course, but it’s such a profound thing that it really almost forms a bond between two people who have gone through it.

I was talking to one of my former professors, whose mother recently died of pancreatic cancer (and who had been diagnosed the semester I took her class) and we talked about how, when people say they’re sorry, they mean well but it’s just not what we want to hear; that’s not why we tell our story.  She went on to grasp my hand and say, “We’re sisters in this.”  Tying in with the quote above, I really think she’s right – it’s not a club you want to be in, or anything cool, but it’s something that links those of us who have experienced such soul-wrenching loss.

The other night I had a breakdown, which you can experience if you wish here, and I think the combination of me not having cried that deeply about him recently, stress of school and the milestone of graduation approaching, and just life in general brought it on.  I really thought I wouldn’t be able to stop crying.  It gets easier, sure, but I think I’ve just grown numb to it instead of letting it truly affect me, and all the emotions I’d shoved aside in favor of “being stoic” (which is stupid, in my opinion – just cry if you want) came to the surface and boiled over, and I cried for an indeterminable amount of time before I fell into an uneasy and not-long-enough sleep.

Anyway, I kind of digressed… but going through this helps me help people; yet, it’s a double-edged sword, because when I talk about my story and listen to people tell their story or vent or whatever, it takes me back to that time.  I’ve turned back into the scared 18-year-old I was before college and during the beginning of college, spending time away from home so I wouldn’t have to face it yet wanting to savor each conversation I had with my father and each night we spent watching the Food Network – of course, I am not this person anymore.  Time has made me a still-depressed but better-at-handling-it person, and a more confident young woman.  Grief closes up my throat and sometimes it’s hard for me to talk, but I will.  Anytime, I will be here, because having been through that ‘alone’ (again, because no friends of mine had been through that exactly, not for lack of bodies/people to sympathize) sucked.

It’s a loss which has affected me in ways I’ve felt and in ways I can’t even begin to imagine yet and while I don’t want it to necessarily define me, it’s something that defines my life as an adult.  Everything takes on a new meaning now.  But to those struggling with similar situations, you have a friend and an ear (or eyes, depending on your mode of contact) in me.  We’re all brothers and sisters in this, after all.


2 thoughts on “if you haven’t, you can’t possibly imagine it–

  1. WOW! You hit the nail on the head girl. Those are my thoughts so often.

    I was 30 when my dad passed, but I was the first of all my friends. The only experience I had was older friends loss – they handled it so gracefully, seemed to “get-over” and “move-on”. So that is what I did. Then I had the same experience you had with the “breakdown” a few years later – when a dear friend of mine fathers died and I lost yet another important man in my life. The girls thought I had lost my mind, Donald tried to help but he still has his parents, he couldn’t understand. It was crazy but at the same time refreshing. I needed it. I was mad, angry, sad – pissed that my Daddy was gone. Mad that my friend lost her father. The after effect was renewing for me though. (don’t get me wrong, I still cry and miss him like crazy) The next day I spent with my friend and her family, not knowing what to say but knowing just by being there with her, with someone who understood, would give comfort to her and also to me.
    On April 6, Ruthee would have been 9. On April 11, Daddy would have been 81. I lost them both in 2002, joined 2 “clubs” that I would never wish on anyone, but when I get the chance to “share” or just be there for someone who is going through it, I am grateful that I am able to try and help or at least let them know that they are not “alone”. Hi, my name is Tanya, I am in this club, yes IT SUCKS!

    Thanks for sharing this with us, reminding us that we are not alone.

    • Hey, Tanya! Sorry I’m replying so late…but thank you so, so, so much for your comment.

      I cannot possibly imagine what it is like to lose a child; I can see it being similar to yet so different than losing a parent, but that kind of loss stays with a person forever.

      I haven’t realized how numb I’ve been to this all until the other day, when I just lost it. And this weekend, I’ve had moments on and off of just breaking down. And I’ve gotten angry and sad and angry again and sad most of all, but I’m with you – I think it’s good to FEEL things, instead of just bottling it up or becoming numb to it. I think being numb to something is the worst thing someone can be, just because I mean, it’s human to feel things. But sometimes it happens, and it sucks.

      I’m glad I have met you and glad that neither of us are alone in this!

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