I recently wrote several letters that will remain unread. I wrote them for each of the people I love in my life. They were not written to ever be read. They were written because there are certain things I could never say to them but things that I needed to let out.
Writing the letters allowed me to see how much these people really love me and care for me. The letters allowed me to step out of auto pilot for a while. I have been so absorbed in this grief that I rarely stop to think of memories and love shared with anyone but John.
As some reading this already know my beautiful mum has terminal cancer. When John was alive her diagnosis changed my world. I became so fixed on and devoted to finding cures and helping her fight through it. I had the strength to do this because I had the support and love from John with me.
Every doctor’s appointment, chemotherapy session, radiation treatment and countless visits seeking alternative therapies. We did as a family and a team. Every appointment, almost every day for the most part of 6 months we did together.
I’ll never forget the first chemotherapy treatment she received. John and I sat opposite my mum lying in her hospital bed, as tubes filled with horrid chemicals entered her body. I clenched his hand so tightly and tried to hide my tears from her. Without words he looked at me and I felt at ease, because he was there. He would always be there and together we could get through anything.
After John passed away, mum received more radiation treatment and was told two months later she was in remission. Her original diagnosis had been 6 to 8 weeks without treatment or 6 months with treatment. So far she has battled and survived almost a year and a half since her first diagnosis. Oncologists are shocked, saying that they have never seen someone with her particular cancer make it past a year.
I am grateful for the time I’ve been given to share with her. But I have also been wasting it. The grief with loosing John consumes me. There is nothing I want more than to focus on the present and make the most of the time mum has left. I know more than most how valuable memories are and I wish so much I could move out of this fog to enjoy life with her.
Grief has me living life on autopilot.
The worst part is I know what’s instore, and I still cannot move forward from the thoughts of John that consume my mind.
Last night was the first time since John passed away that the reality of her cancer hit me.
The first time in almost 8 months that I cried and grieved for her life.
The first time that I have really paused and thought about it since losing John.
For anyone who knows cancer, remission is just a word. To me it’s a joke really, remission can last a week, a month or years. There is no way of telling and the stress and anxiety of not knowing is horrible.
There is nothing pleasant about cancer it is a nightmare from beginning to end. Every aspect of it, there is no good news even when there is good news. It’s still a death sentence.
Blinded with grief the last 8 months, I stopped grieving for her. I no longer had the energy to help her or be there for her like I had been before and I know that will be a regret and a huge what if.
In the letter I wrote to her I reminisced on beautiful memories from my childhood. I thought about her and everything she has done for me. I thought about how she has not left my side since johns passing and she has fought like hell to make sure I am ok before she passes away. I know she is heartbroken and scared for me and truthfully I am scared for myself. What will happen when she is gone? How will I cope without her love and support? She has held me up the last 8 months and pushed me along without me even realising.
When the time comes that she needs to begin chemotherapy again there will be no hand for me to squeeze tightly other than hers. There will be no one there to help me hide my tears. There will be no one there to look at me and allow me to feel at ease.
I will be alone.
Alone in watching her slip away.
Alone when she has gone.
It won’t matter that I will have people around me who care, I will still feel alone because in reality I will be alone. It will be the same theme with the ones who stood by me when John passed. After a few weeks people move on and leave you alone again.
Feeling alone now will increase tenfold, and being alone is my biggest fear, my darkest thought.
All I can do is to try to befriend being alone.
Being with me, myself and I.
At the end of the day I am all I have.
Knowing grief now, I do know what to expect when her time comes. But I will never be prepared for it.
All grief stings differently.
I will fight my mind to live in the moment with her, fight to create lasting beautiful memories with her. Fight to help her again like she has helped me, and pray that her fight doesn’t finish just as mine begins.
Only time will tell, and time is never on your side.
2 thoughts on “Alone On Autopilot”
My husband died of cancer. I vividly remember watching the first drop of chemo run down the tubing into his picc line. I also had tears running down my face that day. I hope your mom stays in remission a long time. Perhaps she will be one of the lucky ones. Someone has to be responsible for the slim percentage numbers of survivors, why not her?
I pray that she is, thank you Gabriele xx