Last Thursday, April 24th, was a really bad day. Everything seemed to go wrong. I knew it was an anniversary earlier in the week but I had forgotten until a couple days after it was over.
I never realized how much anniversaries can effect us. For years during the fall, Greg would have a few dark days and after looking at the calendar, he would realize that it was around the time that both of his parents had died (on different days and years in September).
Back in mid-March of last year, we first heard that Greg might have cancer. When we got home from the hospital and after Greg was asleep, I remember falling to the floor at the bottom of our stairs, crying so hard I almost threw up because I knew that he was dying. I just knew. I felt horrible for not being more positive about our chances but on that day, I was already starting to grieve the loss of my Greg. Before we even knew for sure, I was grieving.
Then came April 24th. It was the day Greg’s oncologist told us that his treatment hadn’t helped and there was nothing more that we could do. It was the day that we gave up on fighting to heal his body. We succumbed to the cancer. There was a small discussion of traveling to the ends of the earth to try and fight this thing to the death. But we had no more fight in us. It had been such an exhausting two months and we were both on the brink of just breaking by the weight of it all. When Toby said those words, all we could do was exhale. Greg was the first to speak. I don’t remember exactly what he said but it was something like, “Okay. I guess we knew this was coming. I should probably start planning now.” It was a relief. I can’t believe I felt that. I didn’t want to feel like we were giving up but any more of life in this out-of-control, free-fall and I felt like our family would be crushed. Just totally break, lose it and never recover – just like Greg’s poor, defeated body. It was different than death. In death there is peace. There was no peace in this battle.
It’s hard for me to talk about cancer and quite honestly, easier to talk about death. I know that there are a lot of people that have had or are facing cancer and fighting it successfully. But to us and our experience, success isn’t the case. To me and my family, cancer equals death. And even the treatments we tried seemed to do more harm than good. And that’s another reason that we were relieved to stop the suffering we seemed to be inflicting on Greg.
The month of May has always been a sunny, happy time for me. It’s May Day, Mother’s Day, it’s Angie and Brynn’s birthdays :), it’s the end of the school year, it’s lilacs and green grass and parks and bikes and sun. But it’s also now death. I don’t want this time of year to become our ‘dark days’.
Last year, after April 24th, that grieving continued – for all of us. But I think that’s also when the healing started. We had Greg’s party, which was full of love, so much that I can’t even put it into words. We continued to have family, friends and neighbors stop by and help us out.
But now, we had nowhere we needed to be. No appointments. No hospitals. No waiting rooms. Just home. Just together. Just enjoying what there was left of him, focusing on loving him and the life he had left in him. And I think that’s something to celebrate; the opposite of dark days. Because even though we were all grieving and mourning his eminent death, there was something so beautiful in the way we lived the month of May. Even Greg was able to experience some peace and healing for himself….not a definition of dark, but of light.