48 days

I spent a day back in March sitting in MD Anderson down in Houston. I was with the one who holds my heart waiting for the doctors to interpret VG’s PET scan. I never saw it but she told me how it was filled with the bright spots from liver to spine that revealed the tumors.

I sat and drew, listened as people walked by, watching their strength, hearing their resolve “we’ll get through this” “you’ll beat this thing” “next year we’ll be in Florida” and I believe many of them do, through the strength and support of family, friends and faith.

I was alone in the waiting area, windows overlooking the medical center were behind me and people would walk up with a son, a daughter, a spouse point out of the window and say “thats where your daddy will be” or “your room will be right on the top floor there”

The same people would walk one way down the hall, escorting a loved one with an iv stand. They’d be strong and chatty and optimistic. Pulling luggage filled with test results and medical images. A few would walk back alone, you could see the exhaustion in their bodies, each step a labor, privately fearful, privately worried, carrying the weight of care on their shoulders and backs. Small sniffles fighting back total collapse, these are the caregivers.

The medical system can do wonders, its true, but this hospital doesn’t produce quick cures, it helps in the fight but only the families fight the fight.

And sometimes they can’t win.

No matter what is tried, how much energy and blood they donate, sometimes cancer wins.

The cruel thing about that is, its not a quick win. It takes time.

I think this is the hardest part. The family care network pushes so hard, stretches so far, risks jobs, health, well-being during the treatment stage that its hard to keep going after those words from the doctors. Yet they do. In the 48 days since that afternoon, VG’s family found more energy, more time, more compassion, maybe more love.

These days VG seems happy when I see him on weekends. He asks about his OU team, lights up when the stock market makes a jump, still wonders about drilling oil wells on family lands, and dreams about those big pieces of wood from Trinidad that he’s stored. He’s got ideas and he talks them over with friends and family who are on this side of the veil and those on the other side too.

Giving care, knowing the win won’t keep your loved one with you, its the hardest thing in life I think. Helping them hold on to just a tiny bit more dignity, respecting their words, standing up for their rights, knowing that the loss is near, i think its the greatest gift we can give to the ones we love.

You may know someone who has been pushed to the front line of caregiving. If you do, take some time and look after them. Listen to them, cry with them, stand behind them. It’s their loss, not ours, our time will come, but know that what you give, you’ll get back.

Look after each other today. Be gentle with those around you, you can’t tell who’s giving care, but they need you right now.

2 Responses to “48 days”

  1. Ljm says:

    Your memory of that day is so vivid. Thank you for remembering special things about VG. This was very touching.

  2. Lynda says:

    LJM sent me the links to this last weekend. I am sitting here with tears streaming down my cheeks. I am in the rocking chair at least once a day and thinking of that wonderful man, my beloved uncle. He must be the one that taught me to value all life, no matter how small. He certainly added so many wonderful memories for me to cherish during quiet times.

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