On dying

I am faced, once again with an evil monster. A monster that eats people alive from the inside out. A monster that robs it’s victims of their dignity and causes destruction in the lives of not only it’s victim but those closest to them. It’s name?

Cancer

I met my stepfather when I was 18. He and my birth mother found me, after searching for years. A rugged, tough ,yet tender Irishman from The Bronx, who loved the mountains, working with his hands and most of all his family.

A man of few words, when he did speak you listened carefully.

He was diagnosed with colon cancer just three short months ago. Prior to visiting the dr, he showed no signs of illness. Two rounds of chemo later, he now lies in hospice, given days, if not hours to live.

As I lay here reminiscing over years spent fishing with his grandson,laughter around the dinner table at Christmas, playing pool together, I smile. Yet at the same time I realize our family will never be the same without Pop.

I am in the process of loss once again as he and my adopted father are both transitioning from this life to the next my head is spinning. I want to be there, by their sides but don’t have the ability to just pick up and go. I must work in order to provide for my little family.

Loss has been a constant companion over the past few years. I feel almost numb to it all at this point. Old memories of my mothers cancer battle are surfacing once again, as this all too familiar feeling hits me. It’s surreal. What is left to hold on to?

And then love. Like some powerful outside force, it floods me, it comforts me.

My mother has been with pops for 47 years, her best friend, her rock. They have been inseparable. And now, her new journey is about to begin. I hurt for her.

My 91 year old father has been hanging on after given only months to live, two years ago, the reason? He must take care of his ailing wife. “She needs me, I can’t go yet”. The power of the human spirit amazes me. The love, something I can only dream of experiencing some day.

These elders, our teachers. They pass along to us wisdom for our own journeys, and valuable lessons, revealing to us, that in the end it all comes down to love.

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