Archive of ‘illness’ category

I love you, Dad.

Life begins with a promise. It is promised, when you are born, that one day you will die. You might spend 20 minutes on Earth, or revolve around the sun 60 years, or tomorrow, or 3 weeks from now. I guess in order to keep living, we pretend this isn’t true, like when you’re rereading a great book and try not to think about the ending you know is coming, so it won’t spoil the journey. There feels like there is always another tomorrow, and one after that, and the one after that…on and on unto the end of your imagination.

I became aware I was a mortal at a very young age. I was diagnosed with a genetic condition which predisposes me to tumors when I was 3 (that’s when I first remember it being explained to me). I became aware that tomorrow wasn’t promised. That there was only one promise the planet had yet to keep; that I would die. That we would all die. The first promise, my birth, had been fulfilled, and every moment was a gift. I lived every day after that with the intention of filling every second of existence with an infinite infinity of moments, memories, love.

It was easy. It was impossible. I failed. I succeed. I tried, though, and that’s the most important part. I try.

I tell my parents I love them, and hug and kiss them every night. I say goodnight, as though this might be the end of the Earth’s promise. That the tomorrow which is just dreams away might not be waiting for me. That tomorrow might move on without one of us. I’ve never told them that when I said “goodnight” and “je t’aime”, I was really whispering in my heart “goodbye”. I never wished to say a last goodbye.

So I am not wishing my father goodnight. Or goodbye. I am whispering to him with every breath we breathe together in our existence that I love him. And those are the words that have always meant everything and encompassed all.

I can’t even bring myself to type the word. That word. The word that is so final, so absolute, that once I type it, I won’t be able to see from the tears that roll down my chin. I’m not ready for a salt-stained keyboard. So I won’t. My father is taking a journey, a journey to a somewhere, a somewhere neither of us understands. He has stage 4 lymphoma. 2 weeks ago he was flummoxing me at Scrabble with his funny made-up words, eating dinner together, teasing me about how much onions I put in everything, walking, buying groceries, reading, snuggling with me. He was doing the ordinary things that make every moment extraordinary, and make up our infinity. He also went profoundly deaf, a side effect of the chemo. So we were also playing like the worst, most hysterical version of “Telephone” the planet has ever seen. So much was lost in translation, in deafness, but the love was not. Last week, we think he blacked out or his heart stopped, causing him to have a car crash (no one was hurt. not even him.). He went to ER, where he seemed alright, if a little confused and “odd”. But something as “off”. They admitted him, and he went downhill so quickly. He got a pacemaker, to combat the effects of the chemo, which were finally rearing their ugly head. After the surgery, he was very tired. A kind of tired which frightened me. Dad would wake up for a few minutes, maybe eat a little something, smile at me or say a little something, and then sleep again. Today he did that less. He is slowly walking away from me and I cannot catch up.

I’ve spent the past few days bawling at inopportune times, and wetting my dad’s pillow with tears (sorry-not-sorry). I need to make these moments even more infinitely infinite than they always have been. Because I need to store them in my heart.

I do not know how much time he has left with us. I never have. It is an unknowable thing, and we are blessed with this ignorance. Because the knowing would break us. It is breaking me. Cancer is terrifying because it makes you see the final promise looming ever-nearer.

He once told me he never imagined having children, but that he couldn’t imagine his life without me. <3

There is never enough time to be with the ones you love. A thousand lifetimes and the last “I love you’s” would still break my soul. I am so grateful for being a part of my Dad’s incredible journey on Earth.

And feel deep gratitude and love for all possible moments we’ve shared together, past, present and future <3.


Ancient Brain

I’ve never let the pain get in my way. Or the wheels. (Sometimes I feel like a spider, a girl with 2 arms, 2 legs, and 4 wheels equals 8 limbs. Have you seen Monsters Inc? I ‘roll’ by my self like freakin’ Mr. Waternoose.) I do amazing things, and they’re almost bright enough to hide the pain of living, even from me. 

I have been so busy, I actually don’t have time to be sick. Illness is a major inconvenience! Who needs pill breaks and resting and insomnia? I don’t let anything stand between me and living fully, especially not being sick, but it requires a re-evaluation of life, changing the definition to suit your needs. Exchange the cloak of pain for a smile, and put the tension in your back pocket for a time. But like every magic tricks or slight of hand, the reality behind the make-believe can’t be hidden from the magician. 

I can’t figure out the best way to list all the amazing things I’ve been up to without sounding really conceited and irritating. And I can’t figure out a way of talking about the bone pain without feeling like I’m hosting a whiney pity party. Which is why I am writing all this bizarre preamble. I guess. I don’t know. Sometime my fingers take my brain for a walk.

Um…I actually started writing this post because I wanted to talk about the Greek and Roman studies class I was taking at UVIC. See….you can never trust your fingers, because they take you places that your terribly logcial mind would not. Without further ado…I’m auditing a class at UVIC (my 3rd so far!), called ‘Jews and Christians’, which is every bit as rich in primary sources and apocryphal books of the bible(s) as I was hoping! I’ve also been studying latin for the past 1.5 years, and it’s marvellous! I only wish I’d learned it before tackling French and Spanish, and Biology (and music! and literature!), because so many of these words and terms have latin roots. Although the meaning of words have changed sometime during their multi-millennia trek from Latin to English, knowing the root of words help to understand their meaning. Can’t wait to start reading Juvenal’s satires & songs of Horace, but I’m definitely not there yet. 

The teacher of both these classes has the sort of passion for his subject that I was starting to believe was impossible with adults ;). We met Dr. Rowe at a thrift store and started chatting in line about Lyme disease. I learned that he was a professor of Greek and Roman studies at UVIC, and when he asked if I wanted to audit some classes, I was so surprised, and excited. My love of Roman and Greek mythology started at an early age, when a family friend & librarian gave me children’s version of Greek Mythology, ‘In the Morning of the World’. When I grew a bit taller and could reach the top shelves of the library, I found Robert Graves’ Greek Mythology tomes, which are a beautiful rendering of a culture’s complicated myths. I’d wanted to learn more about Greek & Roman philosophy, history, and religion at university, but I never dreamed I’d be able to handle the coursework, or keep up with note taking, or even make it classes. 

Sometimes you can surprise yourself. 

I type (almost) as quickly as someone can speak and am learning to tolerate my robot ‘Bruce’ reading and butchering ancient sources (“Kay-zar” is one of my favorites, for Caesar. Oh Bruce-y.) 

For whatever reason, I can ‘learn’ Latin in the way I just can’t learn any other subject, with the exceptions of Music and Spanish (a different part of my brain? who know!? who cares!!). I still struggle with severe short-term memory impairment, which makes it fun when I know no ones name, or if they know me. So my secret is you treat everyone with kinds and with an open heart, and figure out from their facial cues whether or not they know you. It’s hard for me to think of answers abstractly to Latin grammar questions (I hate & spurn grammar. Could you tell?), but if someone asks me a question and I don’t think about the answer, it is there, waiting for me to express it. I love translating Latin…it feels the same as working out an advanced Suduko puzzle.; you solve little pieces and get a glimmer of how it all goes together, and then all at once you’ve solved the meaning of the sentence, filled in all the numbers. 
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