The past week has been an incredibly difficult one for my family, especially my mother. Last Sunday (April 18th) I happened to call my mother as she was pulling into the emergency room with my (step) dad*. A few weeks ago, about a month, Paul was diagnosed with the return of his non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He'd first battled the cancer 10 years ago, shortly after he and my mother met. Last Sunday, he was experiencing crippling abdominal pain and so to the ER my family went. Hubs and I stopped to pick up my (step) sister** thinking we'd be home soon after visiting while Paul was treated for pain relating to his recent chemotherapy.
Well, we were wrong. An hour and a CT scan later, we were on our way up to the ICU where he was being admitted in order to have emergency surgery for a perforated intestine. I'll spare you the details of what happened, but it was all an unforeseeable complication to the chemo he'd had on Wednesday. We were waiting for his blood to thicken up (yet another complication of something) and then he'd go in to have the perforation removed and closed.
Well, wrong again. He had fluid around his lungs, and because we were at a smaller hospital they had no thoracic surgeon so we were being transferred to a bigger, nearby hospital with a surgeon who had more knowledge. Upon arrival at new hospital, we met all involved and sent Paul off with our wishes and love. A couple hours later, the surgeon returned to tell us that all had gone well, and she was happy with the results.
Over the next few days, he struggled and fought. He got better and he got worse. He got better, and then, once more, he got worse. On Thursday, we lost him. Over the last week, as this saga has played out, I've checked my Facebook, read message boards, and checked my twitter. I've spent most of my time refraining from posting anything, unless asking for thoughts of support for my family. As I read friend's postings and watch others continue on with their lives, I can't help but wonder how they can do it? Don't they know? We lost a father, a husband, a brother, an uncle. How can anyone continue on with a normal life when something this horrible has happened to anyone?
Well, the short answer is, because it's all we can do. Just as my family is now trying to turn the corner and leave their grief behind them on the last street, so another family is experiencing the pain of loss. And yet, I will move on with my life, I will return to school in a couple days and resume teaching my students, my husband will return to work. My mother will console herself with her dog and her garden, my sisters will lean on their families for support, we will all live our lives and ignore others' grief, because, for anyone to bear someone else's burden of grief is too much to bear. We can only bear our own, and even then for just a short time.
Save us a spot behind home plate, Paulie.
*I have a biological father whom I have a shaky relationship with. Neither my mother or my (step) dad like the word step, and I loved Paul with all my heart, I always thought of him as "Dad".