Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Kathleen and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

Any parent reading this will be familiar with the title. If you don't have kids, might I suggest picking it up...it really sums up a shit day nicely.

The day started off well enough; in bed with a hot cup of coffee and my iPad. I open my email to find a note from my aunt. In it she tells me what a great time she had the other day and how much she loves spending time with me. This makes my heart ache. For those who don't know, my godmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer the day of my surgery. She wouldn't allow anyone to tell me so that I could focus only on my own healing. When I finally was told weeks later, it was like a knife in my chest and I struggled to breathe. She has always and continues to be everything to me and the thought of her suffering breaks me to my core.

Later in the day I decide to work on one of the exercises given to me by my writing coach. She asked me what I feared the most. My answer was simple; I feared not being alive to watch Sean become a man. She suggested I think of every milestone in one's life and write a letter to be given to him on that day. So when he graduated college, I would be there. When he gets married, I'll be there. When he has his first child, in some small way I can still be a part of the experience. As I sat to write these letters to my son the tears began to flow and the pain in my heart became unbearable. I am not ready to leave him. He is not prepared for life without me. Who would I even give these letters to? Joe fell silent when I mentioned it to him; he refuses to let his mind go there. I'll give them to my sister; she'll know what to do.

I need a break from cancer so I head out to run some mindless errands. Coming out of Whole Foods, I pass two women smoking and suddenly I am filled with a rage that makes my body shake. It's as if all of the anger and fear and hatred I feel towards cancer is directed at them and I want to hurt them...badly. For the first time I actually thought to myself, "Why me?" Why me and why not them? Not saying I've lived the cleanest of lives. One doesn't hang out at The Newkirk Pub until 5:00 AM because they love playing darts so much. But I basically kept myself in shape and stayed relatively healthy. How is it that I got cancer and Keith Richards is sill kickin' it? Then I think about the kids I see at Sloan and I feel like a jerk for complaining. What did any of us do? Yes, there are some cancers that are brought on by certain behaviors. But mostly you're just a member of the unlucky gene pool. I hope Keith realizes how fortunate he is.

So as I wrap up the day, back in bed with my iPad and a hot beverage, I am filled with a sense of gratitude. I'm glad I broke down because it's real ( did I really wish cancer upon 2 unsuspecting people?? Not good, Emmets). I learned that it's ok to be pissed off. This sucks and it's healthier to admit that than pretend that everything is just wonderful. I'm grateful to have another day with my family and I hope for many, many more. Mostly I'm glad I started on those letters. Even if I live to see Sean reach all of those milestones I'm still going to give them to him. He will know that in my darkest hours he was always on my mind.


  1. I totally hear ya! Been there done that, bought the T-shirt. It's OK; what you're feeling is perfectly normal. I'd like to shake people who are obese and smoke. It's all part of the grieving process. Just know you are not alone.

  2. Thanks, Tami. I hope it was an amazing t-shirt!