Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Year Ago Today

A year ago today, actress Farrah Fawcett lost her valiant fight against cancer. 

I remember hearing the news last summer so very clearly. My Mum was in hospital weeks after her own diagnosis. My new normal at that time involved spending all my waking hours in the stuffy, air conditioned hospital room keeping Mum company, dealing with the seemingly endless parade of doctors, nurses & experts, and struggling with every last fibre of my inner strength to keep my emotions in check. Like many people with an ill loved one, I could not let my Mum see me the least bit upset or stressed. Our endeavours were all about healing, getting better, going home.

Remaining positive despite everything. 

Last year when Farrah died, it was such a surreal experience. When actors, athletes, politicians - the famous - pass away, it feels like we are mourning someone we know. Strangely. Absurdly. Farrah's story was on the news continually that day at least until Michael Jackson died unexpectedly the next. But it was Farrah that touched me in a way that Michael didn't. Farrah had cancer. My Mum had cancer. Farrah was not defined by her diagnosis - neither was my Mum. Both beautiful, both fighters. Both with cancer now in the family. 

Is this why... whenever you hear of someone with cancer, it feels like you *know* them - even when you don't? You can understand the pain, fears & hopes that their family is enduring. The dignity & respect of those stricken, and how they just keep on fighting for themselves.... for us. What is it about cancer that makes us feel this way? 

I couldn't help but feel for Farrah's family today - I know how it feels when you're left behind. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Coping: Birds of a Feather

For the first couple months of missing Mum, I've unabashedly sought solace with friends in a similar situation. I didn't mean any slight to those I know who are fortunate to have two living parents - no, that wasn't my aim at all -  for a spell I just felt more comfortable and understood in the company of people who had walked this melancholy path previously to me. 

The bonds of common experience are wonderful gifts of healing. To discover that someone understands you fully even without uttering a single word or sentence is one of the most meaningful moments between friends. In so many circumstances, such shorthand just does not exist in life. When the worst happens, it can be difficult to properly explain how you're feeling, where you're coming from. 

I've been so fortunate to have three amazing women in my life who instinctively knew where I was coming from. I wish the situation were different for all of us - that we didn't have this sad milestone in common, created with the loss of our beautiful mothers. I wish. Oh, how I wish.

It's been three months and a few days since my Mum died, and I'm entering a new phase...the fourth month, almost a quarter of my first year gone. I can hardly believe it and find myself revisiting my filofax to confirm the true date. I'm starting to socially visit friends from outside this precious circle. I'm feeling like it's time. I'm ready. In my heart I know that I wouldn't have been even remotely ready for this next step if it hadn't been for the three truly amazing women who held my hand, comforted my tears and listened to me over and over again. My gratitude to you knows no bounds. You know who you are, my dear friends, and I'll never, ever forget your kindness, love & friendship.   xoxo

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Coping: The Pendulum Swings...

A few weeks ago it seemed all that I wanted to do was eat. It was almost like I was carb loading for some athletic pursuit. I couldn't get enough of all that comfy nosh -- sandwiches, fries, cookies....battered of the list.

Now, I've swung the other way... to not really wanting to eat all that much of anything. Sure, I have my moments but generally, I'm by-passing the cookies, the other half of the sandwich, anything previously held in high greasy-esteem.

A few weeks ago, I seemed to be attempting to fill an emptiness that I couldn't shake. Thing is, the emptiness is still here, at times it feels even more vast than it did a few weeks ago but eating non-stop doesn't seem to be the solution, it's no longer comforting. It doesn't solve anything, doesn't bring my Mum back. If anything, in the long run it just made me feel worse. It was just something to do for awhile I guess when everything seems so overwhelming and you'll seek solace in just about anything. 

No doubt the semi-starvation routine will up sticks and I'll return to my cozy comfort eating hideout at some point. The two bags of Chips Ahoy cookies in my cupboard have been starved for my attentions...