2013 July 26
RELIEF & HEARTACHE
Having spent the time between 22 February and 24 July, around the Pittsburgh area, in order to be near my Dad, as we all came to grips with his cancer diagnosis, I found it both a relief and a heartache to get back on the road again. The relief came in the idea of once again being mobile, seeing new places and meeting new people. There was also relief in the tension between Raymond and me, which develops every time we are back in our former home front. The heartbreak came in the good byes. As much as I have said that my family is easier to love when there is mileage between them and me, it still tears me up when I leave them.
The first time, in December 2011, it was difficult to say those good byes because Christmas was coming, and because I wasn't sure when any of us would see each other again. Although, I was pretty sure, it would only be when I ventured back into the hometown, since most of my family seem to lack the travel gene that makes me tick. That first Christmas, on the road, was difficult for me. I cried a lot, especially on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. But, I got through it and I got stronger. After all, it was MY idea to travel.
Christmas 2012, lacked tears of any kind. We were steps from the Atlantic Ocean at Edisto Beach, SC, had traveled many miles over the course of a year, and I had spent about ten days visiting with my family around my Dad's birthday in September. I chatted with the family on Christmas Day, as I had throughout the year. I was settling into a rhythm with them that seemed natural and worked. I was comfortable with how things were working out and how our relationship(s) were evolving.
While in Fort Pickens, FL, on Valentine's Day, I called to wish my Daddy a Happy Valentine's Day. That was when things changed.
My brother, Vinny, told me Daddy had been sick for several days, but was refusing to go to the hospital. Eventually, he did go, and as part of his admission work up, they did a chest x-ray. He had emergency surgery for a bowel obstructing hernia. THEN they told my brother that the chest x-ray showed a mass. The mass turned out to be stage 4 lung cancer.
On February 20, we left Fort Pickens, headed back to Pittsburgh.
Several weeks ago, my Dad asked me, "Why are you still here?" My knee-jerk reaction was to be offended. Then my niece, Jen, who is often wise beyond her years, suggested that perhaps that was Daddy's way of asking why I wasn't traveling and living my life as I had planned. In thinking about it, I've decided that perhaps Jen was correct.
Before we left Pittsburgh, I told Daddy that I would see him on our way back through Pittsburgh in September. He looked startled. I explained that we needed to be back in late September for a biopsy and a round of doctor's appointments, for me, NOT him. He relaxed some with that information.
I'm trying to adjust to the fact that although he has stage 4 cancer, he: 1)doesn't want me hovering, 2)prefers the idea of sitting on the couch watching TV, to the idea of traveling, even in the short term, 3)stage 4 lung cancer is quite different from stage 4 cancer of some other types, 4)just perhaps, it is easier for my Dad to love me when there is space between us, 5)none of us, not one, knows the day God will call us home.
That number 5 is the same today, as it was last February, or at anytime before or since, so I just need to remember who is in charge, knowing that He has it all under control, no matter where I am.