Bailey is in the background for the moment. We got a call very early that Tom, CrisMarie’s brother was getting much worse and we needed to get to Portland. We got here late yesterday and have now spent most of today supporting the family in making the types of decisions no one wants to make.
Tom has been battling colon cancer for the better part of a year. He actually did amazingly well with the treatments and was sailing towards a very positive report. Right up until the last round. After that last round he just never got his strength back. Before too long he wasn’t just battling cancer but pneumonia. Now after many nights in the hospital, a brief spell at home and another collapse, the doctor’s are not really sure what is happening. They are fighting on many fronts and nothing seems to be working. Today the talk was more about passing in a peaceful supportive way.
That conversation happened at 11AM and the room of friends and family cleared – all thinking very different things about what would be best. I do think we all agreed we wanted whatever was best for Tom, Jan and the boys. But I don’t think anyone was really ready to figure that out by talking about death. We all wanted to do something – thus the empty room shortly after the doctor left.
I don’t pretend to know what is right. I know this is very hard. Going into the room with Tom, it’s clear he is still wanting every chance to beat this thing and whatever comes at him next. It’s also clear he is very exhausted, confused and uncertain how he got to this point and what really he can do about.
Jan is a fighter and also doing an amazing job of handling family, friends and dealing openly with her two teenage sons. The boys were pretty stoic this morning and now both are in and out tears while coming to terms with the real possibility their father might be dying.
Myself I don’t know how to answer his questions about how did I get through it, how did I live. I wish I had an answer – why me, why does one get better and someone else doesn’t. I know it’s not about the number of good things I’ve done. That much I know for sure. It is not that some deserve to live and others don’t.
I do wonder though if there isn’t something about being open to living or dying or at least open to feeling everything related to living or dying. Just being willing to go to either place. I know it helped me to talk about my fears, my desire to quit and my anger that I even had to think about that. I know talking about those raw emotions ripping through me helped. Talking about the wild and crazy cancer process – the desire to live, the desire to die, the fear, the anger. Those type of conversations helped me. I’m not sure if that would help Tom. He seems more caught in fighting.
So I sit here away from the family for a while. Writing in this blog about the things I would want to be talking about with all of them. But that’s not the way of this family. They have their own way of dealing with this crazy cancer process. I respect that.
Tonight I’ll be staying with my friend also battling cancer. She riddled with tumors and has been for a long time. Usually we laugh about the crazy cancer process. It’s odd being in this world. Far away from Bailey. Yet just as immediate and uncertain. I am really no more prepared for this than I am for having a puppy.
Yet life isn’t about being prepared it’s all about being present. Staying present even when it hurts. So I’ll finish and head back to the family room. I don’t know if I’m here to support Tom dying or not. I just know I am open to whatever choice he makes.