My coworker passed away tonight. News travels fast and, it seems, bad news spreads especially quickly. It will be a sad group that arrives at the office on Monday. Fortunately, I am off that day. This sort of news and how people will mourn can catapult me into darkness. Tuesday won’t be much better but at least the initial shock will have worn off. Those first raw conversations will have been replaced by numbness as people reflect on how brutal cancer is.
It is brutal, it is arbitrary, and it is shattering. Life turns upside down in one fraction of a second. You hear the words and everything drops away around you. I vividly recall when Kevin got his diagnosis. We went to the hospital for a pain in his back. He left 12 hours later with a death sentence. But that moment when the doctor came and sat with us to tell us what the pain truly was, I remember so well. His words, cancer, advanced cancer, stage 3 at minimum. That moment in time felt both long and short, the time and place we were in seemed to stand still. Everything fell away in that one moment of time. The noise and the chaos of the hospital, we didn’t hear it. We just looked at each other. The shock of the moment created a connection through pain. There is no thought, just pure anguish.
We went home, we were far different people than left that house 12 hours earlier. Prepared to fight, scared beyond words. And so it began for us. It ended, just as it did for my coworker and her family today. Heartbreak, desolation and despair. Dark days and darker nights. Here I am two years down the road and I still find that the darkness can press against me. You never stop loving, you don’t.
That’s what I woke up to in the middle of the night. Two thirty in the morning and an intense pounding pain in my head woke me up. It was one of those headaches, if you’ve ever had a severe headache, where I could hear the blood rushing through my veins, hear and feel my heart beat. It hurt more to lie down than it did to sit up. Sit up in the dark because the light hurt my eyes too much.
I haven’t had a migraine for a long time now. I suffered with them before in the past, but literally when Kevin got sick, most of my ailments went away. It was like I didn’t have time for them anymore. A lot of things happened when Kevin was diagnosed. Shock does crazy things to people, for me, I literally went through menopause. Not long and drawn out for me, nope, I was done completely as of that moment in June of 2014 when we heard the words “you’ve got advanced cancer”. Last night’s migraine was a surprise to me, I thought that they’d been banished forever too, but evidently I got that wrong. Fortunately I had my meds, although expired, I’d kept them and ended up taking three doses before I settled the thing down.
I’m not really surprised by the migraine, things have been building up as I get closer to the one year anniversary of Kevin’s death. I find that I am crying almost every day, small things set me off. I’ve got no interest in going out or doing anything. It’s even a push to sit down here and write out my thoughts. I’m not eating great, not sleeping well; all of these things are likely contributors to the migraine. I imagine myself right now as a plane that is trying to land but bouncing from wheel to wheel, precariously off balance. I don’t have confidence that I can land without some sort of damage. That’s how I feel, off balance, out of control.
There’s no magic answer or proven coping techniques that I can use to get through this. I have great family and friends all around me, but I am afraid that for these next couple of weeks we are in parallel but separate worlds. I know that they are there, but I am in a different space altogether. I am back in the world of loss and sorrow, flying through a mist made of tears. Not a journey I’d wish on anyone.