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My Father

My father has cancer.

It’s a very odd thing to type, even a stranger thing for me to say.  On September 10th, he told me that he has prostate cancer, the same thing that claimed his father a few years back.  When I heard the news, I began to cry at my desk at work.  Then I laughed for being so emotional.  Then I was simply numb.  It’s stage 1 and was caught early, so chances are they he will be just fine except for side effects from the treatment.  That doesn’t change the fact that it frightens me.

It’s not a secret that I don’t exactly get along with my parents anymore.  I haven’t spoken to my mother since moving to Indiana and haven’t received any correspondence from her since last Christmas when she told me how worthless of a person I was.  My father has refrained from the low blows, but he’s always been that way.  He and I are a lot alike and have always gotten along, but since my mother’s wishes come before my own, he has been following her lead on making my life slightly uncomfortable.  We see each other once a month but rarely speak.

Cancer changes things.  It made him vulnerable in my eyes for the first time in my life.  It makes me come face to face with the fact that sooner or later, my parents will be gone from this world.  It makes me angry that my mother is still being so petty, holding on to anger and cutting me out of her life and the lives of my family members.  It makes me disappointed in myself for accepting that they are not part of my life and for not including them in it.  It makes me afraid.

I am one of the worst people in the world when it comes to dealing with anything related to death.  I never know what to say when someone has a loved one pass away.  I loathe funerals and would rather skip them and pay my respects in another way.  I don’t even want a funeral held for myself when I go; just cremate me and go about your business in private.  Since finding out he has cancer, I’m not too sure how I should be acting, feeling, or doing.  I feel lost.

I’ve spoken to a few people who have had parents battle cancer and who have lost their parents to it, but none of it really helped.  It’s either “don’t worry” or “it sucks.”  I’m not sure what I need to work through it and I’m not sure if I should even be allowing it to affect me as much as it is.  I’ve researched it online a bit and that helped temporarily, but there really is no easy fix when it comes to dealing with this sort of thing.  I guess all I can do it hope for the best.

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About Jamie C. Baker

“Long time no see. I only pray the caliber of your questions has improved.” - Kevin Smith

Posted on September 17, 2012, in Family and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Don’t feel bad for “allowing it to affect you”. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Who knows, maybe this is will help bring you and your parents closer together. I hope he recovers quickly.

  2. I’ve allegedly lost family members to cancer…but I’ve also had a few family members that had either scares or out right cancer and they are still around and kicking….

    seems to be they caught it early so he’ll likely be fine…certain aspects of his life will probably change…

    maybe the negative will be a positive and you and your other parent will get back to pleasant terms…

    In any case you’ve got my empathy…or something (((that comes off worded wrong…but I hate people who say “I’m sorry” in regards to those types of things that they have no control over…..therefore..I know how you feel…that’s all i can do I think :-P)))

  3. I’ve considered the thought, “In death we are all alone.”

    I don’t like to think that is true, but the more I think about it, the more I believe it is. We can have family or friends with us at our time, but they are not dying, we are, and we can’t talk to anyone who has died to ask questions…so I know when I am gone, they will go home, eventually they will laugh again, or wonder at a beautiful sunset, but where will I be? What will I be doing? Will I even exist in any way? So I do think we are all alone at that time in our lives.

    I also think there are other events in life, a few rare moments, not only death, where we are all alone within our minds because nobody can empathize or sympathize with us sufficiently because the emotion is unique to us and only we can process it correctly because it must be processed specifically to who we are as a unique individual and nobody else can do that for us.

    During these events, perhaps we feel something new that is also entirely unique and personal to us, something with personal history to it and perhaps emotions that have never been shared with another being. A feeling we have never felt before, and we have to gather all our resources and experiences and emotions that we’ve collected our entire lives to construct a way in which to file it within our mind, a way to analyze and process it. A way in which to handle it…specifically and uniquely for us.

    I wonder if it is like a baby who is experiencing hot, cold, light, dark, loud, soft, rough, smooth, happy, sad, glass, metal, ice, blankets…for the very first time…it only has what it has experienced yesterday as a resource to compare to today’s new feelings and emotions. Today she touches a warm blanket and compares that to an ice cold soda can from yesterday. Now she has a point of reference and anything between those two extremes is filed somewhere in the middle. Call it, “mental indexing” perhaps. Emotions are processed the same way, between a range of extremes, and ONLY the extremes and ONLY the indexing between those extremes that each of us has personally felt and experienced our entire lives can be used by us to process and measure and index new experiences, because we can not feel anyone else’s and they have never felt ours. That makes all experiences 100% our own, because we are the only ones that have the references and the extremes that we have filed away in our “mental index.”

    By the time we are adults, we have seen, touched, felt 99% of what there is. Our mental index is old and dusty and the cards are yellow around the edges from lack of use. Warm blankets and cold soda cans just aren’t as exciting as they used to be. Everything we experience now has either been indexed already or easily filed away as “mostly” like something else we’ve already experienced, so it was only “marginally new” to us and so the impact on our ability to process it and react to it was only “marginally” troublesome or alternatively, “marginally” exciting. It is easily processed, handled, and we can easily make decisions based on it.

    In fact, most of our life is spent trying to experience new things like we did almost every 60 seconds while we were a baby because our index is old and dusty. We skydive, visit far away places, eat strange foods, date new people, read different books, watch new shows, try writing with the wrong hand…whatever…So I think some of the hardest things to deal with when we are older is a new emotion or feeling that we have never felt before, especially one that we were not seeking out but was forced upon us instead, because we have no point of reference, no historical comparison, it is completely new to us and the brain works to wrap all that you are, all your life’s experiences and thoughts on the subject around it, to get a grip on it, to mentally index and file it somewhere in a way that you can understand it and work with it and make decisions based on it.

    So I think that these moments in our lives, when something traumatic happens, or is about to happen, that creates a new emotion or feeling or observation that we have nothing sufficient in our “index” to relate it to, and therefore nothing to measure or weigh it by and what it all means to us, it becomes a challenge to use what we DO have available in the index, which may not be that relevant, in order to quantify, process and index it where it needs to go so we can settle it within our own unique selves, within our own unique experiences, within our own unique index.

    And until that happens it is hard to know how to feel about it, it’s confusing, it’s tough to feel you are making good decisions…because your mind is still sifting through the dusty index cards of your life’s experiences looking for a good spot to file it.

    My $0.02.

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