Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Truth About Me Part IV

With the first wall around my heart successfully built after deciding to close out friends, old & new, it was time to start construction on the second wall. This would come all too easily in 2001 when my dad died suddenly from pancreatic cancer.

I say "suddenly" because from the time of diagnosis to the time of death was nine days. Something had been terribly wrong with my dad's health for months but having that "pull yourself up from your bootstraps and shove on" mentality, Dad wasn't in all that of a rush to find out what it was. The cancer would have gotten him anyway. Pancreatic cancer is a losing battle. It's as painfully simple as that. I don't know if the extra time of knowing would have done any good. It would have just caused people to fuss over him and being fussed over was not something Dad was terribly interested in.

I handled my dad's death like a pro. Spoke clearly at his memorial without so much as a quiver and pulled my own self up by the bootstraps and shoved on! The acorn doesn't fall far from the tree, ya know.

I came to understand that their are five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Denial I could totally relate to seeing that is was pretty dang close to daydreaming and, since I consider myself a professional daydreamer, I jumped right in.

Being the impatient person that I am, I had no time for the three stages in the middle so I jumped ahead to acceptance. I saw no reason to even consider the other three since acceptance was where I was going to end up anyway, why not just get there sooner rather than later, right?

I had a simple plan: Anytime I felt myself even coming close to the other three or, heck, any kind of emotion resembling grief in any way, I would jump right back to denial since I was so good at it anyway. Besides, pretending is fun & easy. Why not do it in place of actually working through your emotions and heal from your grief? Phffftttthhh!!!!

Remember the movie Finding Nemo? Of course you do, it wasn't that long ago! Anyway, there's this scene where Dory and Marlin, after getting directions from the school of fish, are supposed to swim through the trench, not over it. Marlin decides that swimming through the trench looks dark and foreboding. He's scared to go through the trench (we all are). So he decides to do what looks easiest and that is, swim over it. Well, it turns out that swimming over it wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Sure, it started out fun but Dory and Marlin end up in worse trouble, more painful trouble, than they ever imagined. Trouble that nearly cost them dearly. Take it from me, you need to swim through the trench!

Oh, for heaven's sake! The jellyfish! Remember? The jellyfish, people! Remember? Dory almost died! It was not that long ago!

Anyway, back to my simple plan. The problem with it was that it was nearly impossible to NOT come close to those other emotions whenever I was around my brothers. I didn't want to avoid them, especially at this difficult time but I absolutely, positively, for my own "safety" (there's that word again) could NOT speak to them about the death of our dad. Do you know that NOT ONCE did I call my brothers afterwards and ask them how they were doing? Not once.

What? No nomination for Sister of the Year? Come on!

I just couldn't do it. I could not take on the pain and sorrow of my brothers'. Not for even one small phone call. I couldn't deal with my own. How could I deal with theirs? The truth of the matter is, when we help to carry each others burdens, we end up with less of our own to carry. I didn't know that at the time, and thus went up the second wall around my heart closing out my family.

As long as I kept my family at bay, I could continue mistakenly believing that I had accepted my dad's death and shove any emotions proving otherwise deeper down into my soul. And now that I had successfully barricaded my friends and my family from my heart, there was only one more person to go...

To be continued...


LizC said...

Funny that I just sat and watched Finding Nemo with my son, and then came and read this post on your blog. I even told my older son (20) that that movie is one of the best movies ever! I have a post about a part that I relate to on one of my blogs. I appreciate your honesty about all this stuff you're sharing and I have you bookmarked to keep up on the story! Take Care - Liz

Laurel said...

The death of a parent is so difficult. I always say that no matter how old I get, I never would be ready. And while faith helps (Helps?! How do people get through death without it?!) it doesn't replace the hole that is left in his absence. I still miss my dad and I can not wait until I get to see him again.

I really appreciate your honesty.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your post. My daughter read it and emailed me to come over here and read it.

My mother passed away in March and the scenario was much like your dads. Sick for a long while and died 8 days after being diganosed with brain cancer.

The part she thought I might find comforting is the part of how you didn't want to talk to your brothers.

My brothers (I have no sisters) have not called me since my mothers death. This has really bothered me. Bad.

So I'm thinking now, maybe this is the reason. Not another rejection feeling. Ha, yes I read on to that post and can relate to that one too. :)

Sorry for such a long post. I was going to email you but I couldn't get it to here I am blabbing for all to see. :)

I will be sure to come back and read your continuing story. Thanks so much! :)

Cheryl said...

Hi, stumlbed over here from Crystal's blog - I lost my Mom to Pancreatic Cancer this past February, she fought for 7 months.

Jen said...

Thank you for sharing your heart and soul with all of us. I'm going to do a little soul searching now on my trauma.