It's not what you think. At least probably not. I have an uncle with cancer. The C word is what my Dad calls it. Cancer, I mean. When he first started calling it that I thought it was a little too, I dunno, rough, not gentle enough, sumthin. It felt a tiny bit like a sniff of ammonia from too close. Jussssssss made me wince a little smidgey. But now I think it's better than hearing the word itself nineteen times when you're having a conversation about it. It's bad enough knowing it's there, in his body. My uncle's. Started in his esophagus. They chemo-d and radiated it out of there. Drip, drip, drip. Zzzzzzzzzzz. Gone. It was eight weeks during which the world stopped but yet kept moving. Maybe it didn't go away. Maybe it just picked up house and moved. Showed up in his lungs and liver. So now he's having treatments a-g-a-i-n.
Meanwhile, a dear friend of mine whom I have never met, is mourning because her dear friend passed away of leukemia today. I guess that's The "L" word. I didn't know the lady that passed away but I have mourned and cried this morning for my friend's loss and for the loss of a life from a disease like The "L" word or The "C" word that does what it does to a person and their family and friends for sometimes lonnnnnng periods of time.
For the eight weeks that my uncle went through his first round of treatment, knowing what I went through, I was effectively at the bottom of the barrel. Above me there's my Mama (his sister), my Grandmother (his mother), my cousins (his children), and my Aunt (his wife). What were they going through? Then there's HIM. What was he dealing with? I can't wrap my head around it. I don't know how he sat still. I don't know how he thought a complete thought. Spoke a complete sentence. Kept from screaming. How did he sleep?
When my handsome husband's Daddy died seven years ago, I know how much I grieved. He was my Daddy for nineteen years. What in the world was he dealing with? How could he possibly think? Work? Smile? Laugh? He didn't laugh much. It took a long time. How do you read to your kids when you miss your father with every single cell in your body?
My dear friend (whom I've never met) is trying to take care of her elderly parents, far away from her own home, while she's mourning the death of her dear dear friend. How can she concentrate?
I know the real answer to any of these questions. It's the same answer I would give if anyone asked me. "Well, you do what you have to do." "Well, you just do it." "When you have responsibilities you just get it done. Sometimes you don't even remember doing it, but you do." "Oh, people heal." "Oh, time heals all wounds."
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think sometimes you ought to get a free "Crumble In a Lumpy Heap" card. . . . or a "Can't Function Today" card . . . Why can't we go away and mourn? Shut down for a little while? People used to do that. A year. Longer in some cultures, shorter in some, but a block of TIME, nonetheless, carved out for mourning. The "M" word.