The grieving process is a strange son of a bitch and I am often caught off guard by it. Especially since my husband, with whom I assume I am going through this process for, is you know, ALIVE. Often times I catch myself completely off guard as I go through whatever the hell the process is, because it’s not something I’ve ever seen happen to anyone before and also, the dude is alive.
But grieving is the name they have for this process and I’ll admit we’re all just be bopping down that trail whether we want to or not. For what seems like an eternity, I have been operating in the stage of acceptance. I just fast forwarded right past that bargaining stage, staying to linger on the anger part while taking the isolation a bit to the extreme. I did all the stages! That means I’m done, right? RIGHT?
Meanwhile, we’re talking about fears, consoling each other with how much this sucks. Crying per usual. There’s something annoying gnawing on my leg. What is that?
Where the fuck did that go and how do we get that back?
I am well aware everyone else feels the same way. After all, we tell them again and again that there is no hope. This is only because we ourselves have been told the same thing. In fact, the version everyone else is getting is actually full of more hope than the version we are experiencing.
Here we are, arriving to some doctor appointment with a cup full of juice. It’s overflowing and we’re walking in on our tip toes every so carefully trying to avoid the inevitable upset.
The doctor calls with the biology results. We trip. A little spills out of the cup.
I sit in the consult room as the surgeon who just performed a lymph node dissection explains that it was especially bad. More spills from the cup.
Jake starts immunotherapy. The juice stays level.
His PET scan reveals the cancer has spread. Another trip. And a large portion of what’s left disappears.
We meet with palliative care and someone just walks up and slaps that cup of juice straight out from our hand with the juice spilling everywhere.
Now we’re just cleaning that mess up, staring at that big ol’ empty cup wondering how we will ever get anymore.
Every appointment depletes whatever faith and hope we’ve ever had. There are the big bench markers that are obvious, like the scans, the big news appointments that we share with everyone. But underneath those are the hundreds of mundane appointments that, to the outside eye, seem pretty uneventful. The truth is, every single appointment, no matter how usual it is, provides some reason to let that hope slip further and further away. Sitting in a stuffy exam room as the doctor mutters, “it shouldn’t be that way” or “that doesn’t make sense, it shouldn’t hurt there” rarely leaves anyone full of hope. I can’t remember the last appointment we’ve ever had that involved anything remotely optimistic. Not sense the time I met Jake’s cardiologist, a year ago, when I got to tearfully thank her as she told me his operation was a success and he should be able to live like a 31-year-old.
It’s exhausting to exercise hope when it’s constantly being knocked from your hand. And at some point the truth is sitting in front of you and that little glimmering light of hope seems like it’s at the top of Mt. Everest. And truth be told, I’ve never understood why anyone would try and climb that mountain.