Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Three Words

I confess I never gave much thought to my parents mortality. Why would I? At 25 years old I took for granted that my family would be around forever. "My parents are invincible" I would think to myself. In my mind, I'd be well into my 40s or 50s before I gave much thought to my parents being "old".

Until one afternoon in September when I received a text that simply said "can you come home right now?" My stomach dropped. I didn't need to go home to know what I was about to hear. I've never believed in intuition as much as I do now. Because my stomach was heavy all day, as though it knew something bad was going to happen.

I fled the office and got in my car in what seemed like seconds. That drive was both incredibly long and incredibly quick. As soon as I walked in the door, one look at my parents' faces confirmed my fears. It felt like someone knocked the wind out of me.

Mom: "You know, Melissa..."

Me: "Don't. Say. It."

The three words that would change my life forever.

Dad: "I have cancer."

In one afternoon, our lives changed entirely. In one sentence, my entire future flashed before my eyes. In one moment, my heart broke.

Bad things don't happen to our family. This isn't supposed to happen. This isn't fair. Why him? These are all things I've been cycling through in my brain for the past few months. My dad is my everything. In the past few years, we've gotten closer, gotten along better - I guess that's what being an adult is. Learning to appreciate your parents. Which is why this is so unfair. I feel like I'm just getting to know him as a person and not just my dad, and now there's a chance that could get ripped away from me.

Nothing was more terrifying and anxiety ridden than those few weeks in October when we still had no answers. I don't think I've ever cried so much in my entire life. I'd cycle through being sad, being mad, being guilty... Guilty because "who am I to be so upset? I'm not the one who has cancer. Imagine how bad it must be for him. You have no right to be upset".

The first couple weeks after the diagnosis, I drank myself to sleep almost every night. Glass of wine after glass of wine. I lived in a haze; somewhere between reality and a world in my head where everything was rainbows and butterflies. Not helpful in the long run and not what my dad would want. So I got help.

I sought out a social worker at CancerCare Manitoba as soon as possible. I knew I wouldn't get through this alone. And she said to write if that's what helped. And it has taken me a long time to be ready to write about this.

Originally, we were working under the assumption that he'd have maybe a year. And all he wanted was for us to continue on with our lives as normal, and try to be as positive as possible. He said he'd fight. Which made me cry even harder.

But as the weeks wore on, doctors gave better news. A few years at least. How morbid that we consider that good news? But we practically clicked our heels.

I spend infinitely more time with my family. Whether that's in person or on the phone. Sometimes I think my parents are sick of how much I'm around but I can't help it. I feel the need to be there all the time now.

Almost instantly, my outlook on life did a 180. Marriage? I want it now. I want my dad to be there. Babies? I want them. I want my parents to be grandparents and I want to raise a family as well as my parents raised us.

So today I confess that life is bitch. She'll hit you like a cement truck head on doing 100 miles an hour. Cancer doesn't discriminate. Cancer doesn't care who you are. Cancer doesn't care about your age, or race, or family, or gender. Cancer sucks.

Fuck Cancer.