Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Simply Raw

Long ago I started this blog in an effort to be more real and vulnerable. It was meant to be a place to share the real me. So, in the midst of a very difficult time, I write. I don't know why but tonight just seems to be harder. And I am just tired. So here it is: Simply Raw.

As dad shared the news 2 weeks ago that there were no more treatments my world shattered. The hope we had all been holding to for him to get well was gone. Nothing can ever prepare you for that kind of news. There're no words to describe the knife cutting pain that that news brings. 

The past two weeks are a bit of a blur. I took a couple of days off of work to spend with dad. I was back to work Monday. I haven't told too many people at work about dad's health. But the ones that do know have been incredible. The family that I work for has been incredibly supportive. The guys in my department are so encouraging. My buddy Ms. Dianne that likes to pick on me (all in fun) has been absolutely supportive and asks often. But overall, I go to work and out on this fake smile and pretend like nothing is wrong. I sit down at my desk and just try to focus on work. But overtime the phone rings I have this sinking feeling that it's going to be the call that I am dreading. I look up and see a photo of dad above my desk and sometimes I have to fight back the flood of emotions and tears. 

I'm tired. I don't sleep well. I can't fall asleep easily and I can't stay asleep when I finally do fall asleep. I close my eyes and my mind drifts to what dad is going through. I think of the memories that I have with him. How he taught me to ride a bike and throw a ball. How he taught me how to swim. The times we went camping. The day and weekend trips we took. The movies we saw. How we used to sit and watch Lost together and drink a cold beer. The time he took me out onto the roof of his old house before he moved and we talked about life. I think of how he helped me get my first job so I could buy a gold watch in high school. I think of the college visits and the times he visited with me in West Chester. I think to how proud he is with how I handled leaving my life in Kenya. I think of how he was always there for me when I needed him the most. 

I'm tired. I come home and have no motivation to do anything. The hurt is real and it's deep. I'd give anything to make it go away. I'd give anything for dad to be well. There is so much left that I want him around for. I think of all that he won't see. I think of Star Wars in December. For the first time in nearly 20 years I will see it in theaters without him. I think of my future wedding that he won't be at. I think of how he will never meet my future children. I think of how he will never see if I end up in another country again. I think of how I won't be able to call him for advice or just to catch up. I will never look at photos of his trips again nor will I show him mine. 

I'm tired of pretending. I'm tired of pretending that nothing is wrong when inside my heart is shattered into a million pieces. I'm tired of trying to avoid the subject as often as possible for fear that I won't be able to hold it all together. Speaking of, I'm tired of having to hold it all together when I just want to collapse most of the time. 

I'm tired of not being me. I hate being in crowds. I ran powerpoint at church last Sunday and ran out as fast as I could. I filmed a marriage seminar this past weekend at church and snuck out as soon as it was over. I just didn't feel like talking to anyone. I just want to feel like myself again. The guy that can hang out in a crowd of people and enjoy himself. Instead, All I can do now is look for the nearest except route. 

I can't do this. I don't know how to do this. BUT, as I wrote in my last blog, I continue to cling to any shred of hope that I can find. It all feels so hopeless right now. But I know that there is hope. I know that. But, damn...right now...I'm struggling to find it. I know that the next season is going to continue to be difficult. The Holidays are going to suck this year. There are some really dar and heavy times in the very near future. But I also know that, eventually, I will have a blog to write on overcoming this. A blog that highlights the hope that carried me through. Until then...

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What is hope?

Where to start? I don't know how to write this. I don't want to write this. Yet I feel that I need to write this. I don't know why, but I just need to.

Last year dad used the word that no one wants to hear: cancer. It was hard to hear that word. But there was hope. One quick out patient surgery and he would be okay. That surgery ended up being far more invasive and took about 16 hours. But there was hope. 

Dad was on the mend. He went on vacation then back for a check up. He hasn't left since. But still, there was hope. Chemotherapy was started and there was hope for a recovery. In time the neck brace he wore came off. He was taken off of the oxygen and he could breath on his own. Complications from the first surgery got better. He got out of bed and could stand for a short time. He even managed a few steps as he learned to use his legs again. Hope was growing. Then things turned again as the cancer spread. But there were more treatments to be done. There was hope. 

This summer saw a long period of Chemotherapy. It was hopeful. He got sick a few times but there was hope. The chemo ended last week and then came the words that no one wanted to hear but we all, in a way, knew were coming. 

The first text was short. “Worst news possible”, followed by a “will call later”. That call came around 3pm last Wednesday. I got up from my desk at work and sat in a corner as hidden as I could be as my dad told me how the cancer was spreading too fast and there was nothing more that could be done; he has about 2 months left to live. My eyes filled with tears. I didn't know what to say. How do you respond to that? All that I could manage to say was “dad, I'm so sorry”. We hung up and I sat there for what felt like hours. Paralyzed and unable to move. My head in my hands and tears hitting the floor. 
Where was the hope? 

I took a few days off of work. I spent a day on my own as I began to process. Then I spent the weekend with dad and at his place cleaning it out. 

Over the past week I've been overwhelmed with the thought of loss. Sitting on the floor of his house looking at photos I realized I will never sit there with him again. I sat in his car and knew I'd never drive with him again. Star Wars comes out in December-a franchise that I've seen all of in the theaters with him. This one I'll see alone as a tradition ends. Then I thought of bigger things. He'll never see me get married. He won't hold the grandchildren I would one day give him. He'll never read the book I want to write…So many experiences that I always imagined him being a part of were immediately gone. Hope seemed shattered. 

Where is the hope?

A friend sent me a text with the verse Romans 15:13. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in HOPE.” 

That damned word: hope. Just how do you feel hope when the world around you feels hopeless

But it is there. That hope is an ever present hope. Hope is more than some word that Christians made up to comfort one another. That hope is alive. That hope is precious. That hope is something that cannot be taken away by anyone or any circumstance. But that hope is something that must be sought. 

I've found hope in knowing that I will be with him again one day. I've found hope in knowing that the reason the loss is so great is because of a great relationship with dad; the pain of loss means that there is something beautiful being lost. I've found hope because while he may never hold my future children, the lessons that he has taught me are lessons I will one day teach them. I've found hope in knowing that as long as I live, a piece of him lives on - he's shaped me into the man that I am today. 

I found hope because the alternative sucks.  I don't want to go through these next few months without hope. So I'll keep looking. And I will cling so tightly to every single shred of hope that I can find. I will desperately hold to the Hope of the world, Jesus. The One that has defeated death. And because of that HOPE, I will get through this season. The hope will not make it easy or take away the pain. But it does, and will continue, to make it bearable.