This Is Sorrow
“My dad has cancer.” Those words are terrifying. Confusing. They frighten you when said aloud.
“My dad died.” Those words are devastating. Crushing. They level you when said aloud.
I never thought I’d utter any of those words at this point in my life. It’s as though speaking them means I’m auto-enrolled in a club that I don’t want to be in. I have no experience with cancer. None. I know from a distance that cancer has been in my family but it has never directly affected me. What I know now of cancer is that it stole my father’s life three days after he was diagnosed. Cancer overtook him from his lungs to kidneys to liver to lymph nodes to bones. He had a pelvic tumor that had eaten its way through the bone. His body was overrun. He had no idea and neither did his doctors.
Dad was suffering in the months prior to his death, that we know. He had symptoms relative to things going on with his heart but he had no specific pain that would lead to questioning of cancer. Out of multiple tests he’d been having over the course of months to figure out why he didn’t feel well, nobody saw this. Not a nurse, not a doctor, not a surgeon. Nobody. While I made it to Atlanta in time to be with him, I never did have another lucid conversation with him. I watched his organs shut down and I saw the life escape from his lungs and I will never be the same.
I can say with actuality that only god knows when, how and why this happened the way it did. Death is a radical, extraordinary, harrowing truth of life and when it happens so suddenly, it feels really unjust. I can draw only on the strength of my faith in god’s perfectly timed and beautifully planned will yet I am sad and my heart is broken.
Today, there is no music to sing; there is no recipe to share. There is no laughter and there is no glee. Today, there is despair. Today, there is silence. Deafening silence. Silence for the words I cannot find and silence for the gravity of this farewell. Silence for the pain that aches down to my bones. Silence for my father’s voice that I’ll never again hear.
This today? This is sorrow.
The only way I know how to heartily honor my dad is to take the blindsiding nature of his death and learn from it. Learn to let go. Learn to compromise. Learn what actually matters. Learn when to speak and when to be silent. Learn how to love; myself and others. Learn to speak with kindness. Learn to have patience. Learn when to back down. Learn how to be a real friend. Learn to dissolve anger. Learn to forgive. Learn to appreciate simplicity. Learn that money will always work out. Learn to eat that third cookie without guilt. Learn to give selflessly. Learn not to fear. Learn to have hope. Learn to be grateful. Learn to believe in myself. Learn to have perspective. Learn to let people in. Learn to be a good steward of my body. Learn to find balance. Learn to be honest. Learn to trust the right people. Learn to listen to my gut. Learn to be free. Learn not to compare. Learn to be humble. Learn to live. For now? Learn to move forward.