Would you want to circle the day on your calendar? The day you were going to die?
Would you hold the people you love close and count down the days? Or would you push your loved ones away knowing how much you have to lose?
Would you want it to end quickly or have time to get your affairs in order?
Would you want to know if you only had so long to live?
On our search for answers we’ve been given different timelines whether we really wanted them or not.
A recent visit with a doctor who told us he was honored to meet us sent chills down my spine. In his 25 years working with cancer patients, he’d never met someone like Joe diagnosed with his type of colon cancer who has lived as long as he has. Most patients barely make it a year with your type of signet ring cell cancer.
This was one prediction we’d never heard before and I saw the tears fill Joe’s eyes.
“No one has ever said that to me,” Joe told the doctor, “I guess I didn’t know how dyer the original diagnosis was.”
“Would you have wanted to know?” our doctor asked.
It was 3 years ago to the day that I first drove Joe to the ER to find out what was causing his stomach pain. I can’t believe this has been our life for 3 years. I can’t believe we’ve made it so far on one hand and lost so much on the other. When we were first told it was cancer this naieve 28 year old had no idea what was in store.
Yet, here we sit 3 years later and 3 days before Joe’s 31st birthday, back in the hospital, but still kicking.
We are approaching the end of the road. We are back in the hospital in my hometown. There aren’t many options left but to keep Joe’s pain under control and his mind at ease. He struggles to be around the baby when his stomach is in knots and his patience is wearing thin with what this thing called life has left him with. This was never the plan. We are suppose to have more time to do our research and make good decisions.
Is it time? Are we there? Words like hospice, end of life care and “do not resuscitate” twist my heart and ring in my ears.
Are we really there?
How long will it take? Will it hurt? Will he make to my brother’s wedding in 3 weeks? Can he travel home? Do we stay at my parents? I’m angry. I’m not ready.
I’m mad at Joe, “Get up!” I want to yell at him as he lays in bed, “Get up, let’s go home, let’s get back to our life!” I’m not ready to lose you.
I hate everyone. Everyone who tries to comfort me or hold me close. I want to scream. I drove to the church but couldn’t go in. I sat in the car and stared into the tiny windows and assumed God could hear me.
“I’m not ready, I’m not ready, I’m not ready.”I sobbed.
My heart is split in two as I worry about my 9 month old daughter feeling abandoned by her mother as I sit in the hospital with her daddy.
I need more time. I wish I knew what we should do. I want to go home but don’t know if Joe will ever be strong enough to get on an airplane. I want to go home but know we need help. The reality of all of this is too big to swallow.
“Live in the now,” Joe told me as I stressed over plans and arrangements.
“You’re missing the time we have,” he went on.
My heart wants to be here, be still, be brave. But my mind wants to know when. Maybe if I know, then it won’t hurt so bad. Maybe I can hide from all of this, if I only know when to run.
I want to mourn, cry, beg for advice but the only person I care to listen to is the one who will leave me.