Our Battle with Cancer. Chapter 7.

Here’s a brief lowdown of what’s been happening since my last post.

It doesn’t look good. Dad’s cancer is advancing too rapidly. The doctors showed me his x-ray results on the day he was confined (2 weeks ago), and the x-ray results from yesterday. The difference is staggering. As of yesterday, only a third of his left lung remained visible. The rest is filled with a growing tumor, and fluid that’s been accumulating as a combined result of his emphysema and his tumor.

Doctor told us yesterday that it’s unlikely that dad can go home anymore. He needs to be under constant medical supervision now.

So it’s really only a matter of time. The doctor’s guestimate — 3 months left.

A friend told me that there are stages, and there are signs when it’s time to prepare yourself for the worst.

The first is the doctor’s prognosis. And the same doctor discussing with us the need for one of us to sign a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) form soon.

The second is dad asking mom yesterday to “let him go” because he’s already having such a difficult time. And mom breaking down throughout the day in front of us, for the first time since this all began.

The third… well, I guess if you choose not to ignore the facts and confront the possibility.. then a part of you also knows when it’s time to start letting go, and giving him permission to let go if he’s ready for it already.

The fact that I can write this post without feeling a lump in my throat is something I’m grateful for.

There’s nothing on earth that can prepare anyone for news like this. It’s nothing short of a massive emotional roller coaster ride.

In the midst of all of this, I am supremely grateful for the brief moments in time when I actually feel a sense of normalness.

Spending time with people who are not part of the family crisis to talk about more bite-sized problems are a blessing.

Immersing in a specific goal-oriented task which has an end in mind reminds me that life goes on, and that when everything blows over, there’s something to fall back on that resembles more of the life I used to know.

I suppose I’ve taken the term “walking in a daze” for granted too many times in the past. For now, I seem to find myself doing just that more often than ever. I often feel like a machine that’s just programmed to keep doing things, one after another. It’s like being in auto-pilot. And guess what — walking in a daze as if on auto-pilot is a blessed relief and a wonderful reprieve from the emotional onslaught that comes with going back to reality.

My blog has become my best friend, for in here, I can rant and write anything I want, say what I want to say without fearing anyone being too taken aback; or feeling awkward for lack of something comforting to say. There’s no guilt for causing someone else to have a miserable day. No need to edit and filter the real emotions that courses through my body.

Although I have never really been close to my dad, he’s still my dad. In spite of all the problems we had growing up; and all the problems we had to face as adults because of my dad — at the end of it all, he’s still my dad. I will always love him, and will always want him to be a part of my life in whatever way.

I suppose now that the inevitable is closer than it’s been — unwanted thoughts creep into my mind every now and then.

I was holding a lighter in my hands the other day that reminded me of dad’s persistence in lighting a cigarette even while he was already in the hospital – and it brought a lump to my throat.

All our family get togethers on birthdays and special occasions… well, a day will come when we’ll be one family member less. In the family, dad has always been the grumpy one. Whenever we’d all yap away for hours talking about everything and nothing, he would be the only one sitting on the table with us without really listening and participating. We’d always tease him about it… but I guess we never really minded that he was the way he was. I knew that even if he wasn’t really being very cooperative, he would nonetheless sometimes spend time just gazing at his family all together for that one moment, and feeling that everything is right in the world.

I was writing out a check last night to pay for some bills… and even that hideous check book that was the cause of many fights we’ve had… now brings a tug in my heart.

I can imagine life without dad. But it would admittedly be a life that doesn’t quite feel right anymore.

If it’s already breaking my heart, I can’t imagine how torn and crushed my mom’s heart with all of this. I’ve never known a couple who were and are as close as they are. For the 40 or so years they’ve been married, they’ve always been together. Done everything together. Gone everywhere together. Slept together night after night.

They fought like cats and dogs every single day. And yet their lives are only ever complete when they’re together.

Times like these, “think positive” is just not possible. Thinking positive gives you nothing but false hopes… which helps no one. More than anything, our role now as his family is to make sure that when he goes, he is ready, he has no baggage left that will keep him tied to this life, and that he has peace in his heart.

I believe in everlasting life. And so I will do whatever I can to make sure he gets there.

It hurts letting him go, but it hurts even more seeing him suffer so.

If there’s anything else I’m grateful for… it’s that God is giving us this time to reconcile, to put things to rest as a family, and to just be together at this one time where we all need to stand strong for dad.

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A Stormy Heart

Something is happening in my life which, depending on the outcome, I know will potentially and irrevocably change my life forever. Whether it’s in a good way or in a bad way, only time will tell. But right now, I’m at the cusp of this big possible change.

It’s a dark, scary and stormy place to be. I knew rationally that it was bound to happen sooner or later, I just wasn’t prepared for this to happen at this point in time. But then…. there’s no such thing as good timing when it comes to bad news, is there?

Whatever the outcome, I can’t afford to lose control and fall apart. Some people have the luxury of being able to be weak, depressed, sad and in despair for periods at a time. I don’t have that luxury. The pillar of strength cannot fall apart, because the rest draw their own strength from this pillar.

It’s both a blessing and a curse.

On Serenity and Reacquainting with Old Friends

Serenity

When all the world aspires to be great, to be remembered, to be significant and not drown in mediocrity, here I am in my early thirties with my entire life before me, wanting nothing more than to quietly and peacefully fade away into the serenity that seems to be eluding me for most of my life.

To say that my life so far has been very eventful is an understatement. Ever since I was a young child, my very first memory has been one of adversity. A shallow adversity on hindsight, but adversity no less.

I used to envy friends who seemed to have the perfect life. And by perfect, I only meant that they had the freedom to live their life the way they wanted to, of course with it the consequences of mistakes they’ve made (hopefully not irreparable mistakes).

As a married adult with a full-time career in a job that gives me more problems lately than assurances, I’ve been desperate to find my own quiet little corner of serenity and temporary reprieve.

To be realistic and honest about it, there’s no physical place where I can easily find it now.

My desk in the office is hardly one that lends privacy, for right beside my desk is the all-in-one multifunctional photocopier (courtesy of Canon).

I could go down to the smoking promenade area (a fancy way of saying the entrance of our building), but that’s hardly peaceful nor quiet, not when every now and then there are mobs of people rallying and angrily demanding to remove oil price hikes.

Going home could be a reprieve, but not all the time. When one is married, total and complete privacy and time for rest and recuperation (especially for a wife) is a rarity, if at all.

While I’d love to go out with my best girl friends for a cocktail or two to enjoy a quiet, slow and steady night – sometimes I avoid these because I simply don’t want to talk nor remember the things that I would normally prattle on about to those I trust.

A reprieve, an escape — is the hardest thing to find for a lifestyle like mine.

But lately, I’ve rediscovered and gotten reacquainted with an old friend.

It seems this has been my unexpected reprieve. While I’ve tons of other things to possibly occupy myself with to “escape” that are far more flattering to my overblown intellectual ego, I nonetheless do proudly declare that these old friends of mine have been the only thing that have gotten me through many nights when temporary escape from real life and the real world was all I needed.

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It’s been awhile since I’ve indulged in the guilty pleasure of chick lit.

I discovered Judith McNaught when I was still in High School. I spent many nights laughing and crying, staying up til the wee hours of the morning with just a flashlight hidden under my blankets to finish reading these books.

Among all romance book writers, I’ve always had a partiality to my old friend Judith. Unlike other romance books (especially those featuring a couple in the throes of passion, with the lady dressed with almost no clothes on), Judith’s characters have always had depth, enough to make me really feel what her characters feel. So when they cry, I feel teary-eyed myself. When they’re happy, I feel happy too.

But more than this, I think I escape to my old friends because voraciously reading them gives me the temporary illusion of the promise of happily ever afters. I surmise many other avid female readers of romance books feel the same.  It was the escape into a temporary make-believe world when after all the scars and pains, every heroine would find her own paradise and piece of heaven.

I’m no longer naive enough to believe in happily ever afters. Not in the way romance book and fairy tales paint them.

But just being able to escape for a few hours and revel in the story of a fictional character who finds her own serenity… is my serenity.