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?




Funny Little Icon

I must have forgotten that it was even still on my phone.  A silly addition my mother had suggested and since it didn’t take any space and definitely wasn’t worth arguing about, I installed it.  Some chat program that would allow me to remain relatively anonymous and yet be able to reach out when the need arose.  Leave out the things and only talk about the present.  Here and now was all that mattered and if something slipped out, well I could take it from there.

Assuming anyone was on the other end of the line…

While retreating from the world, I had closed it down.  The program and me.  So it really was a surprise when this afternoon it dinged and let me know there was a message.  It had my username, so it wasn’t a fat-finger typed letter that accidentally ended up in my hands.

I can’t recall when it last notified me that someone was trying to reach me.  The profile I set up wasn’t great.  Truly, I didn’t want to follow through and hoped that if you leave enough “code words” for damaged or I’m here because someone forced me, the icon on my screen would never light up.

One time, in some fit of either loneliness or just longing I had talked to a few people.  It didn’t last long, silence on my end can push away anyone who even needed the same thing I was supposed to open myself up for.  Just another voice to sometimes drown out the other voices that made me feel lonely in the first place.

When I lived away from all my family, it had been a choice.  I needed time.  I certainly needed to find me again.  My parents told me later they hated the idea of the limits I placed, but they knew I had to do it.  Forcing me to act differently wouldn’t have solved anything.

But now this icon still flashes on my phone.  This person was brave enough to place a photo for their avatar.  Mine is just a sports icon.  There’s a way to look up other information without someone knowing.  But that feels like an invasion to me.  Hiding behind a screen is one thing, tricking someone is something completely different.

Why can’t I just read their message?  My profile is very clear about having a terminal illness and that I wasn’t going to make the best choice for someone looking for anything long-term.  No dating here, but it didn’t stop me from talking up my dog or like of baseball.  [There are details I left out because I didn’t need someone actually finding out who I was in the real world unless I chose that!]

Curiosity has the better of me.  I could ignore it.  But some part of me sees it like a tap on the shoulder asking a question.  I’m not the type of person to turn away.  I’m the guy who has no issue holding the door while the entire crowd ushers themselves in while nodding or thanking me.  [my parents did a good job with the manners aspect.]

Maybe just a quick look?  Could be just a simple hello?  A person in the same overall situation needing their voice heard?  Lots of good reasons I can think of for this flashing icon.

The only bad one is if I can be what they need or if I’ve tricked myself into thinking there’s nothing for me to offer anymore…

A Quaint Curve

Mad Libs



Last week the depression won.  The battle was over before I got into the car and started driving and almost ended with me doing something that would have been an article in the paper.  Sometimes the voices are louder than reason and once in a while they just can’t be quieted.

Getting the anger out of my life has taken work.  Hard work that needs constant care, upkeep, and a very public acknowledgement that it creeps up from beneath the surface.  It’s been suggested that writing a book about my journey would be helpful to others since the topic is usually case studies or medical journals.  Why is that?

Men rarely talk about pain in real terms.

Do you know why History Books were big sellers in the late 2000’s?  They shifted form being academic works and began to tell stories.  Not cold facts, but anecdotes filled with humor to get information across.  Make something accessible and people will flock to it.

Sitting behind a catchers mask, watching a curve ball come at you for the first time is an experience.  The gentle arc it makes catches you by surprise.  Much different from the batter who sees it from a different angle.  You need to train yourself to not jump to the left or right to line up with the ball that is coming right back to where you started.  ((I could tell you about the physics of rotational effects in regards to the seams presenting an optical illusion, but that just is boring and not as romantic.)

With work things, people have always been comfortable letting me be a little abrasive about getting things handled.  Not rude or abusive, they just know I have no issue with being the hard-ass in the room.  Anger doesn’t enter the equation unless I’m dealing with Comcast, then all bets are off!

This anger is a poison.  A chronic condition that springs up at times I don’t really need it.  And when you are feeling low and alone, it is the worst time for it to show up.  A small bump turns into a pothole that swallows the car.

Getting angry about people seemingly forgetting about my kid was necessary.  What should have been done was opening my mouth to say something about it.  Instead the silence rang in my hears like leaving a concert having sat next to the speakers.  It drowned out my only hope for that day.  Just a smile while talking about it for a few minutes.

Those gentles bends in the road that led back home looked more like hard turns.  With each passing light my urge to take the wrong one kept getting stronger.  I don’t really know why I didn’t in the end.  Home was where I sat in the car, listening to the car tick down as the power was cut.  Going inside and handing off the keys and asking they not be returned was the smartest thing I did.

Letting the anger tag-team with the depression was maybe the dumbest?


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…

Razor’s Edge of Sanity

<a href=””>I Can’t Stay Mad at You</a>

Can I try to be honest about this?  After having so many people walk in and out of my room over the past 24 hours, I’m exhausted.  The only person who isn’t smiling is me and everyone keeps asking why.  I got lucky this time, after all the build up to the potential outcomes for this round of surgery; things are bad but not ugly.

The surgeon finished with me, the scraping of my left arm for tissue, tendon, and a bit of bone to clear out yet some more cancerous garbage.  I’m to keep everything else in the places where my genetics first arranged them.  In short, still have the arm!  But the next time I can’t help wonder if I’m going to be that lucky.  And really, how many more times am I going to be able to add a little more time to the calendar.

When Kathy and her family agreed to help out there was one condition, I keep trying to find a solution.  Sounds simple?  It’s not.  There are days when I truly wish things sped up.  Selfish beyond comprehension?  Maybe?  I’m not really sure when you know that others, even when willing to give everything of themselves, are being saddened with my contribution.  This particular family and I have been down this road before and I am honored and petrified to think we are walking down that same path.  Before it was only a few weeks watching someone decline, this is much longer.

We all agreed that if I had stayed in Maryland, I would have done this by myself.  I wouldn’t have involved others.  Still carrying that guilt about needing them during the daughter issue, I would have stayed silent until someone read about it in the paper “Crazed Border Collie eats Owner!”

There is plenty of sick, childish humor I can find in all of this.  Most times I’m smart enough to know to keep my mouth shut as well.  Because I don’t want to be defined by the cancer or solely by the events regarding my daughter or even her mother’s leaving.  I’m more than those events.  While the cancer has a hold on me at present and it’s grip is definitely stronger than I would like, it can’t be me.

I love baseball, playing the piano [even when I keep headphones on to hid my mistakes], and while most people who knew me might shake their heads in confusion, I have a huge soft spot for kids.  Those things are worth wearing the label for, big letters across my chest.  And since work still sends me projects to complete, I must still have some of that?

There’s always going to be a part of me that is said about those other things, you don’t ever get over the loss of a child.  I keep reminding myself of that when dealing with my mother.

Any person who has dealt with these life-altering events understands that they can absolutely drag you down.  So much deeper into a world that you never knew, that depression being ugly and at times all-encompassing.  It’s taken lots of therapy, some interesting pharmaceuticals [chemo/anti-depressants/ other odds and ends], and running away to get me closer to who I want to be.  I’m still universes away.

There are few days when I don’t think about one or two people back in Maryland and if I did the right thing.  For any of us.  I’ll probably never know the answer.  You learn to live with that…

The doctors and nurses, Kathy and her brood, even the interaction I allow my family isn’t going to fix this.  Dying is hard.  I wish there were better, stronger words I could share, but I don’t have them.  I just know that I hope there comes a time when I’m strong enough to understand how to handle this better.  That goal of being a better person for my daughter certainly took a strange turn!

I don’t think I did the right thing by just cutting other people out.  My grief just told me they needed a break from me, I just didn’t realize how hard it would be to reach out now that I could use someone to talk to.

Still working on that forgiving myself thing.


Deep Cut or Complete Cut?

<a href=””>A Tale of Two Cities</a>

It always starts out as something simple.  This time it was a bump on my left arm that we honestly were treating like a clot.  Too bad it kept pushing on my muscles and after two weeks we finally decided to run those stupid tests I long ago stopped worrying about.  You get diagnosed with cancer once, you rarely think about the continued new locations it might show up.  I’ve been doing this round for a year plus and nothing surprises me anymore.

Monday comes the bigger decision, how much do we take out?  Just the tumor itself and maybe some surrounding tissue?  Or are we going to find something worse while I’m laying there listening to them talk about my options?  The best case for any of this is losing some feeling and definitely some range of motion.  Where do I draw the line?

One of the last things that still gives me hope is the feeling of a hug.  There’s nothing stopping someone from giving me one, but I wonder how much effort it will take to return that simple gesture.

Years ago I had some muscle cleaned up from my right arm.  It was a combination of old baseball injury and a cyst that was easy to repair.  Walked out the same day with a sling and was dumb enough to drive myself home.  Those were the early days of my relationship with the ex and I still needed to figure all of that out, leaning on her might have been too much.  Her showing up with a plant later was definitely a surprise since I didn’t tell her I was home at the time.

But that was simple.  I’ve had sports injuries over my years, this is different.  When I have to think about it attached to bone you enter a new level of concern.  Yep, and no I will not let them take any portion of my arm beyond some muscle/tendon/fatty tissue!

I realize this isn’t the prompt, but I write enough about bouncing between Boston and Annapolis.  Running away from one life in Maryland and being completely scared of the life I have in Boston.  I came here to get help, and I’m getting it but sometimes I forget the cost to myself.  And others…

Can I add some level of stupid now?  I’ve become attached to my left arm?  Sorry, needed to do that, even I grimaced!

Hopefully the family I live with will understand why some hug might be too long.  And yes, I’m going to be completely trapped in a world were the only thing that matters was holding my daughter.  Can’t be helped, times like this I need those thoughts to get me through.  They are powerful, they have  a strong ability to ground my emotions, even when they sometimes get too strong.

Those hugs and maybe some time with a piano will be my afternoon.  I don’t want to squander the opportunity.

Guest Writer

My uncle can’t write to anyone today, he fell ill last night.  He was just sitting in a chair and when I came back he was on the floor.  My Gram tells me he’ll be okay but no one will let me see him.  I get to sit in the waiting room and have a nurse check on me.  Being young doesn’t mean I don’t understand!  They keep telling me something might happen.  Last night it did.  Why keep telling me to prepare for something and make me sit in the corner?

I know he writes in this most days, Dad tells me he wants to reach out and this is the only way he knows.  They think I’m watching Netflix, but this is important.  Telling people he doesn’t know what he can’t tell us.  Hoping someone see this.  Even I know she doesn’t care about him anymore!!  What he doesn’t get is that I read this so I know anyway.  Maybe he needs a better password on his laptop?  I see his hurt everyday.  I want to help.  My Uncle just wants us happy, even if he’s not.  I keep praying that he gets better.  I want him to not be sick.  He says praying for that is selfish, but I don’t care.  I thought that was what prayer was for, asking for help for someone who needs it

He means more to my family than he knows.  We love him and need him to get better!!!!  Please pray for him.  Please let him be okay.

I’m going to go now.