Path of No Resistance


I wish I had the strength to open her letter.  It’s not a physical thing, but my emotions get so far out of check about certain people and events that I have done my best to hide from them.  And now I carry this note with me wherever I go.  The joys of email that is synced to my phone and tablet.  There is only so fast you can run from something that is sitting within your grasp.

It’s been two years since I’ve spoken with her.  And that conversation didn’t go well.  It was after my daughter had died and neither of us knew what to do for each other.  So silence became the path of no resistance.  Never far from my thoughts, but distance was what we both needed.  We shared some of the same reasons and on some level knew there was pain that couldn’t be avoided for either of us.

Friends are funny things.  They can be thousands of miles away and yet right next to you all at the same time.  I ran so quickly to Boston that I didn’t leave a forwarding address.  And I didn’t try to involve others in what has become a futile attempt at life.

When  you wind down a business most people try to do it quickly and with little fanfare.  I’ve been applying that same theory to my own life.  Just a notice my parents will eventually send out letting people know the cancer did it’s job.

Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder, it hardens it.

Even while I’m typing this all I need to do is switch over the window and there it will be, sitting in the folder with her name and a number behind it.  Some days it would blink throughout the day with updates and replies, other days silent but always a welcome diversion to whatever was happening.

Last week when it light up all I felt was panic.  Pain and anxiety, worry that something had happened to her family or someone else where she felt the need to inform me.  It took most of the day to fight off those feelings.  To hold back every desire to just click here.

If this had been a piece of paper, I could have put it in a drawer.  Waited for a time when I could emotionally handle the words.

I love the feeling of having just finished a run and the sweat is dripping so rapidly my socks are starting to cling to my feet.  Water stinging my eyes and my knees are burning from the miles of pavement left behind.  This I can’t move fast enough from.

Hopefully soon I’ll be ready to read even the couple of sentences this might contain.  I don’t know, maybe during a therapy session in case I just let my feelings for the past overcome the wall I have built in my present.

I do miss my friend.  Staying silent was the last act I could think of to let any of them live without fear.  Only now I fear a silly letter.


The Light and Shade of Things


The levels haven’t gotten better.  Some days are filled with such pain I can’t explain it other than to say “you have to have been there”?  But in the past I would have done anything possible to make sure no one ever knew how this feels.  The physical stuff I learned to deal with years ago.  Sports taught me how to cover up minor stuff, being an asshole taught me how to cover up the rest.

Some days I pray that the cancer will just win and a nap turns into something permanent.  Guilt gets a large opening on those days.  The lose of control over my life isn’t who I am.  Long ago I accepted the narcissistic qualities of who I am.

Now I need lots of help to get through the days.  Some of it for little things you don’t even consider.  Every now and then not being able to get a glass of water?  The hallway is just too long.  I’m not used to having to sit on the floor to just let my body catch up with my drive.

Watching the sun rise through the window is still a wonder.  And some days I consider it to be a gift.  Even if the sky if covered in grey and the guy next door is entering week two of concrete removal from his driveway, I try to hope.  One more chance to get things right.

And then it creeps back…

The darkness that makes me think of those old cartoons where the character has a cloud dripping on their head.  Even when the umbrella is open, the water still soaks them through.  The waters on the inside?  Guess that is some reference to inner turmoil?

Hope left the building some time ago.  Parts of my life that were funny, aren’t.  The doctors have told me that with so many things that occurred in my personal life in such a short period of time, my brain just isn’t wired the same anymore.  It goes far beyond a defense mechanism, my emotions have just stopped.

Could be protecting others?  Might be protecting myself?  When you close the circle around yourself it hopefully falls into a little of both.  Mostly I think it is protecting others because I still have such emotional response to certain people.  I keep grasping for the light and only come up with

I feel like I let them down.  Even with the cancer?  But you can’t control that one!  Stop acting like an idiot!

See the battle isn’t as easy as some people think.  You can’t just will your way out of a mental state.  You can delay it.  Push it off.  But it always comes back.  This change in myself isn’t one I like.

The darkness will win someday.  The sun won’t come up and that damn jackhammer will be silent to me.  I’m only wondering if the pain goes away as well?



Enough? Maybe…


On those days when I am ready to write I let myself try to tackle some issue rolling around my life.  Then I see the prompt and I feel a shift.  Most days it is some memory that springs up or an emotional response to the words I read.  Yesterday I wanted to say so many things about the prompt “Apology”, but knew better than to start down that path.  That journey is something I have been trying a avoid lately.  As much as I try, some emotions are never going to be controllable.

Over the weekend I was trapped in a conversation about how I was handling things.  But rather than feel like I was doing the right thing or even if I knew something wasn’t working out, by the end I felt like a failure.  The people around me were talking down to me not with me or even at me.

Recently I have stepped up the therapy sessions because I have needed to work some things out.  My emotional responses have been coming faster than I recognize.  Simple flashes are bringing me great pain.  Sometimes you can hide that behind random issues connected to the cancer.  But other times it’s more than that.

My grandfather taught me a powerful lesson.  Sometimes you have to put aside everything you are feeling because you need to help another.  What he didn’t say was that in the quiet hours he was downing so much alcohol to numb himself that it eventually killed him.

I don’t drink, so that isn’t my issue.  He is also the very reason why I don’t.  It’s an easy relief that only hides today’s issue.

But I spent so much time trying to help my ex deal with her life that I completely ignored that I needed to help myself.  I adopted her manner of walking away from emotions and now I can’t find my way back.

Sunday I couldn’t take anymore and just went to my bedroom.  Sat in a chair and tried to read but all I could do was choke back every shake and tear.  It was like being a water balloon with a needle rubbing it’s surface.  Little beads of moisture but no explosion.

I need the explosion or I’m running he risk of no longer feeling anything.  At least outwardly which only means that the very people who started this will never know how badly things hurt.

A long time ago I held things back and by the time I let loose, I truly let loose.  Went swinging at anyone in the room regardless of their involvement.  That was 22 years ago and I still can’t be in a room  with some of them because of my embarrassment.

There is plenty of fear that goes with the cancer stuff.  Even the bravest have moments of self doubt and worry.  I’ve done my best, I’m just learning that for some it will never be enough.  [an irony not lost when I used to tell others that the only thing I ever needed was them coming home.and being themselves.]

If my daughter were around I would just hug her and tell her she was my bright light.  Then we’d go eat ice cream!

I wish it were still that simple.

Sisyphus on Roller Skates

Evasive Action


I haven’t written for days and the thoughts in my head are so scrambled that I really don’t know where to begin my tale.  There’s obviously a beginning.  And I’d be the first to acknowledge that I would skip a few of the details that came before that since I am still hiding them from myself along with anyone else.  Some conversations just can’t pass my lips without darkening the skies for others.

Last week I couldn’t stop thinking about my daughter.  Two years have slipped by and I still have so many questions that just aren’t going to ever be satisfied.  Everyone around me kept asking if I was okay, and I just told them I was tired from a switch in medication.  It wasn’t like I spent my days like a zombie, life does continue just without any color or sound.  But my lie was going to come out and effect those around me just when they thought maybe we had gotten through the worst of it.

The saga of last Thursday is simple.  Don’t ask for even the simplest of help and everything is going to spin off axis very quickly.  Some thoughts take on such huge weight emotionally, they smash anything else.

Sisyphus on roller-skates pushing a flaming piece of lava uphill?

The trigger was simple, a stupid commercial on television.  It led to me wondering if the ex was doing okay on that day.  (to think otherwise means losing some of my humanity, and that isn’t an option.)  Since I was already in pins and needles, it didn’t take much more.  My own family didn’t mention a thing.  It was as if they wanted to forget what to me is the worst thing possible.

So by dinner I was so consumed with anger and fear that I knew it was time to get to the doctor.  Not a panic attack, those are easy to control.  I know those signs all too well.  But I couldn’t stop shaking and my inner demon was whispering nasty thoughts.

The biggest lie of my life has been that I can handle this without help.

Most times it is just something that passes as quickly as it enters my mind.  A flash of memory, some song or picture, little things that bring a moment of melancholy.

Thursday was different.

While for some people this sounds like whining, for me it is the single biggest survival technique I know.  It was hard to admit when someone used this information against me and everyone expected that I would do nothing in return.  Instead I put on my Edmond Dantes mask and went full revenge.  Some things can’t be overlooked.

Yesterday I heard so many people make fun of Rhonda Rousey for admitting that losing a fight put her in such an emotionally low place that she thought about ending her life.  They thought it was stupid that a sport could do that to someone.  It was horrible to hear people tear down someone for being honest about weakness.

A few days had passed since I ran for help as quickly as I could.  The gentle reminders from the family I stay with in Boston that they would have talked all day if that was what I needed.  The one friend I have made this past year basically just giving me a hug and whispering that she’d sit in the chair if that was okay.

Some lies can remain buried forever.  They only slowly destroy.

My lie didn’t want to wait.  I have a serious weakness and always will.  It can be easily exploited.  I guess that protecting my daughter never ends…

Worse Case/ Best Case

Worst Case Scenario

In a very dark corner of my mind lives this concern.  It jumps to the forefront on my mind on plenty of weekends because of the additional people surrounding me.  During the week, they are in school and have different lives.  But come Friday night a completely differing set of fears enter.

When the doctor’s gave me that lovely time frame of less than a year I sat down and asked how people felt about my being at home rather than in some hospital or hospice situation.  There will be time enough for that later, even now there are pop-up overnight stays!  We are all scared of those final moments and to a person want to delay these conversations.

They linger for longer than the words spoken.  The emotions that go with being friends or family, however we are describing ourselves that day, run very deep.  For years it was my spot to mow the lawn or fix some broken shelf.  The tables turned and now they do their best to stem the flow of time.

The worst thing that could happen is that at some point my niece walks in with a smile on her face and some great event in her life she wants to share.  Only she finds me not able to reply.  She’ll sit quietly wondering if I’m just in that deep a sleep, but something will make her try to wake me in some manner.  And it won’t work.

In my fears of not being able to protect people, which is my biggest problem no matter the situation, failing to protect that situation from happening worries me the most.  It isn’t the worst thing imaginable, I’ve already faced that with my daughter, truly horrible stuff.  But later, when we are going to sit down and watch The Martian, I’d like to just laugh with them rather than wonder if only my “spirit” will still be in the room.

At the same time the best thing that could happen to me happens every Saturday afternoon.  Five people sitting in a room, sometimes there is an additional teenager or two running around; but mainly this core five.  We’ll SKYPE my nephew so he can put on his weekly review of his 7 year old’s perspective.  Play a game or watch a movie, just simple stuff.  For a few hours life is about as normal as Mayberry.

By dinner time I’m usually needing some rest.  So while people cook, actually cook food, I’ll take a snooze and hope that the best part of my day doesn’t become the worst part of theirs.

Wednesday’s with Me…

There are lots of things that Cancer does to you.  Let’s not pander and overlook the obvious physical toll it takes.  Not only does the hair do odd things but even the toughest of people are at times reduced to needing help just to get out of a chair.  We see that part all the time.  The part most people are afraid of is the emotional side-effects.  Ones felt by themselves that they try to hid from others, while those same people are trying their best to act as if life is normal.

Most days I can keep the emotions in my little box, along with Shroedinger’s Cat.  Are they alive or are they dead?  But when the box does get a little peek of light, we end up with a more perverse version of Pandora’s little surprise.

Today I have been running from the feelings that would drive me to put a gun in my mouth and pull the trigger.  Those are ugly thoughts.  Ones that scare everyone around me because they know for me to even admit them means they have been rolling around for longer than my words now hanging in the air.

What happened today?  I don’t know.  There’s no trigger in my past that has my memories flooding back.  No birthdays, anniversaries, or even some flashback to an event I may have once attended.  But it has a grip on me that is so tight that I needed to write about it.  These are the conversations that upset people around me and only drive my own guilt deeper inward.  Rational versus irrational, pure emotions or pure logic; one always wins.

I’m finding that as I make these lists of things I wish to do, some require my reaching out to people.  But logic takes over and makes me question if this is about me or for them?  Would I be doing the right thing in talking to people about my death or letting them read about it at some point in the future?  Deeper and deeper into myself is the result of that particular question.

I haven’t been able to answer for my therapist a very simple question.  Why haven’t I spoken with anyone?  Even the people who know about me being sick don’t know the extent of where I currently find myself.

While the doctors tell me that the time to do something is now, my brain wants to do an end-run and find excuses for waiting.  I’m running out of excuses and running out of time.  Sooner or later getting my thoughts out is going to get harder and harder than it already is.  The confusion that at times clouds my mind will get worse.  And I’ll not only not recognize my thoughts but possibly some of the people in them and unfortunately those in the room.

Self-imposed isolation is not a good thing.  I always saw those signs in someone else and worried daily about her ability to control them.  Hiding when doing something was always the better task.  But I got to a point where I knew I couldn’t change those things, only be there if she was ever ready to talk.  She never was…

For the last year I’ve tried to talk about how it feels to lose a daughter, her mother leaving and now my own life.  I still don’t know how.  All this progress I’ve made with anger is nothing compared to the need to progress with the one thing that matters most, admitting that the people in my life matter.  Not just as memories but as an active part of my life.

I’ve seen too much death lately.  Experienced it in ways that I shouldn’t, ways that make me send a package to someone telling them that this scarf is to remind them of a warm hug that I just can’t deliver.  My only thoughts being how much they mean to me without being able to tell them directly.

I know the words, understand their meaning, but yet I can’t seem to apply them to myself.  I haven’t reached the point where I believe I deserve them.  And it’s very likely I never will…

My Box

<a href=””>Safety First</a>

Once in a while I need to remind myself I’m not failing.  There are days when something just happen because my body just isn’t up for the adventure, but there are times when things work out to some degree.

Saturday was one of those days when I quite honestly have considered speeding up the process of death.  I felt like a huge failure and it seemed like such a simple thing beforehand that when I faltered, my emotions just got the better of me.

I hold certain things connected to my daughter sacred.  Not on the level of a religious experience, but short of an earthquake shuttering the Northeastern portion of the United States; I was supposed to make my own pilgrimage.  And it had to happen on the 19th!

I know that there aren’t going to be many more opportunities for me to visit my daughter’s grave site.  Winter might make it just impossible to drive the distance and the rest is in the hands of the doctors and my ability to keep it together.

My hands were shaking when I woke up.  The shaking was the reason I woke up in the first place.  Not from a bad dream, not from nerves, but my body was just having one of the episodes where it was not going to agree with what my heart wanted to accomplish.

Some days are like that.  I just wished it hadn’t been this day!

My ride was worried that I would try to go anyway.  That my stubborn need to do the right thing was going to force me into a bad decision.  Kathy just sat there and tried her best to talk to me.  It wasn’t working, and I wanted it to.  Or did I?

There are days when contemplating the overuse of medication has entered my mind.  I’m told that it natural given my circumstances.  But then I started to think about how I was going to take what had been a good memory and I was possibly erasing that for selfish reasons.  Fear enters then.

It was a worse feeling than I had allowed myself in quite some time.  You can always leave a place you feel unsafe, but you can’t escape your thoughts.  They follow you no matter what.  Push them away and eventually they are going to grab onto you and ensure that you don’t feel safe.  That was how Saturday went.

Sitting on a couch, surrounded by people who absolutely love and try to understand me; I felt alone and trapped.  Two days later and I’m still upset with myself for not trying, but I know that it could have ended badly.  This isn’t pushing myself to go that extra lap around a track, we’re talking about keeling over at a grave.

I can see the headline in my mind “Man expires while trying to celebrate life.”  Anyone think that the Boston Globe would run that?  More like a New York Daily News kind of headline.  [yes, a small dig at the silliness of their editorial choices.]

There are so very many things that Kathy and her family can protect me from, just not this.  I can’t run away from the very people I ran to when I got sick.  I wasn’t able to look at my own home the same after everything that had been lost.  Where am I going to go?

For me, failing my daughter is about the worst thing I can think of.  The punishment that goes on in my own head, or maybe my heart, is unbearable.  If follows me into every brightly lit room and every dark corner.

I never thought I would hear words worse than being told “I’m sorry, we lost her.”  I was wrong.  There is something so much worse, something that continues to destroy me daily –

I’m so sorry Abigail.