I’ve been fortunate in my life not to have dealt with loss. I’m 31 years old and I’d say I’ve been lucky to have avoided the heartache of losing someone really close to me. Sure people have died, but nobody that impacted my life on a regular basis. I’ve lost all my grandparents, but for one reason or another the impact of the loss was diminished in some way. First my Mom’s mother died and I was too young to really understand the impact of the loss. Years later my Dad’s father died and it was sudden. We had long lived a great distance apart so that diminished the effect it had on me, as while I loved my Grandpa, I just wasn’t old enough to appreciate him and how similar he and I were because we used to only see each other once or twice a year. Next my Mom’s Father passed and we were estranged from him at the time. He had started living with another woman after my Grandma passed and she didn’t really want anything to do with his family. So when he passed we had essentially seen him once over the span of 10 years, which also coincided with our family move to Paris. When my Dad’s mother passed away it was sudden, but she was 80 so she had lived a pretty full life to that point. We saw her on a semi regular basis and were there when she passed, so I’d say this was the closest loss I’ve had to this point in my life.
That changed yesterday. My wife Corina’s mother Marlene passed away. She had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer 4 months ago and unfortunately lost her battle yesterday on a sunny Fall morning. She had been sick for probably 2 years, her troubles seemingly starting with a gallbladder issue and progressing from there. This was actually a second round with Cancer, as she actually had beat ovarian Cancer back in the 70s after having her 4th child, my wife Corina. I think we were all amazed with the speed with which things happened. It was like Cancer came back and decided it wasn’t messing about this time. It started with the lungs, then spots on her spine, then into the bones. They tried chemotherapy but it only seemed to make things spread faster. They tried radiation, but by that time things were too far gone. The original prognosis for terminal lung cancer was 2 years, but with how fast things progressed 4 months was all we got. I think everyone thought we’d get another Christmas with Marlene, but instead we didn’t even make it to Thanksgiving.
I will readily admit that I haven’t been the greatest husband through all of this. I found that I was pretty poorly equipped to deal with a “long term” illness in the family. I just didn’t know how to cope with things. To this point the loss that was my closest experience was the passing of my childhood dog Pudge, so I didn’t have much to draw on when relating to what was going on. The thing I remember about Pudge was the idea that my parents said she’d have to be put down in a couple months, as she was 15 years old and having problems with a variety of things. The part I related was how when someone says a couple months you cling to that. You figure those couple months will never elapse, so when the day comes finally you’re crushed because you always thought you’d have a few more months. I found that since I hadn’t had much personal experience dealing with a prolonged illness I wasn’t prepared for the marathon of ups and downs that we got to experience over the last few months.
I found that Corina and I dealt with this whole process differently. As much as I typically live and share my life publicly through Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare, I am a pretty private person. I think like anyone I cherry pick what I share with the world and what I don’t. Talking about the health of my Mother-In-Law wasn’t something I shared with a lot of people. I probably told maybe 4 or 5 people during the whole time this was happening. I’d readily talk about it if a person already knew, but I rarely brought it up on my own. I would typically want to spend time with people who didn’t know, so I could leave those worries at home when I went out. Corina was the total opposite, essentially closing herself off publicly and surrounding herself with people who did know what was going on and could offer support.
Going through something like this I’ve discovered how many great people around Corina and I genuinely do care about us. Be it longtime friends, family or people we’ve only known for a short time the outpouring of support has been amazing. I just can’t thank everyone enough for your kindness. We still have some difficult road ahead of us, but it is really nice knowing we have people around us who do care.