I just finished watching the Farrah Fawcett special on Barbara Walters. Well, actually, I quit watching it half way through.
I was bawling! Ugh!
For those of you who don’t know me, here is some quick background.
First my Grandmother was given the diagnosis of Lung Cancer. She fought and won. At 76 years old she is as healthy as a woman half her age and one of my closest friends.
After Gram beat cancer, I watched my step brother fight for his life to beat Leukemia. He was only 18 when he was diagnosed and the three years of chemo that he was forced to endure, did put him into remission but ravaged his body. He has aged far beyond his years. He will never be able to enjoy being a young man again. And for the rest of his life he will have to endure exceedingly painful tests of his bone marrow.
While my step brother was battling his cancer, another family member was hit with it. My step dad, Jim. Over the next two and a half long and painful years, I him slowly die from lung cancer that spread to his liver, brain and spine and then throughout his body. It was horribly painful and I feel that he lost his drive to fight. Watching his illness and subsequent death will be with me always. He is the reason my son bears the name James.
I do feel that if you have not been through cancer, or watched a family member go through it, you just don’t know. I didn’t know before I went through it. And to be honest, it wasn’t until I was there, by Jim’s side watching him fight, watching him die, that I truly got it. I hadn’t grasped it before.
Watching my loved ones battle for their lives robbed me of a certain sense of security. It developed a fear in me that I cannot shake. Death has become by far my biggest fear. I think about it every day. Not just the death of myself, but of all of my loved ones.
Jim smoked up until the day before he died. I sat there next to him. He in his wheelchair, me on a park bench. We sat outside of the Hospice Care Facility that he was a resident for his last 20 days among the living. We both chain smoked while talking. Looking back it was not my finest moment. But that was how it was.
Then he died and I continued to smoke. It wasn’t until much later that I had the power to quit. It is a very addictive drug. But combined with my new found fear of death and losing the people I love, and a growing disapproval of smoking, I became hell on wheels. I am up front and willing to admit that I am the WORST reformed smoker, EVER, EVER, EVER.
However, my husband continued to smoke. This to me, in my mind, whether right or wrong, was unforgivable. And I was on a mission. I had to get him to quit. And my ability to do that, looking back, wasn’t so great. And of course I went about it the only way I knew how. By reminding him every day. By yelling and pointing fingers (even though I had just become a non smoker myself) and claiming he couldn’t possibly love me or our family if he refused to quit. Now I already know what you are thinking, but in my mind this all made perfect sense. Really. Sadly for him, I didn’t see the error of my ways until he had finally quit and has already suffered through two years of nagging and constant pressure from me. Love has many faces, right? J
My view of life has changed. I walk around fearful. I don’t know how to be anyone other than this. I hate it but I live with it. Watching Farrah Fawcett’s love of 29 years, Ryan O’Neal, talk about her final days and what she had gone through just hit far too close to home for me. Maybe I want to avoid it. Maybe I want to pretend it doesn’t exist. Is that bad? I just think it is survival. Survival of my sanity.