A walk up struggle street

It think it’s hard to be out of control of your life. There are decision, and then there are things that just sort of happen. And I do believe a lot of that is just the straw you drew. You know when you’re a kid and you had to pick the longest straw in order to get to make the decision? It didn’t matter how much you thought about it or even really your guess…it was simply down to luck. The rest of it, was just making the most of the straw you drew.

Right now my straw is the middle one.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t stressed. I’m not stressed about how much I have on. I’m a busy person, I love that. I had a whole afternoon to myself and I spent it deciding on tattoos and flights to another country…and that’s why I should only have a limited amount of free time!

I’m stressed because of the things out of my control.

My thyroid results were good. I should be very happy with them. But they want to run extra tests. That’s fine, that’s normal. But I think there is never a point in which ‘we want to run extra tests to rule out cancer’ becomes an easy thing to digest. Not at 22. Not ever. Not when you know what that looks like in the long run. Not when you have for the past few years realised the same thing has been said to people who it has become a reality for. And it’s almost impossible to understand the uncontrollable concern that comes with living with a condition that can change so much of your life so quickly…and with very little warning.

I am completely at the mercy of what my body decided to do…

And that at times is incredibly difficult.

I think personally, I’ve come to terms with things like the idea that if it all goes wrong, I might not have a family. I’ve come to terms with many, many things to do with this condition. I’ve thought about quantity verse quality if it becomes a cancerous node. I’ve educated myself best I can and I’ve considered all options from best case to worst case scenario.

And you could say don’t worry until you need to…

But I think preparing yourself for every outcome is wise, because you never really do know.

For me it’s never about myself anymore. It’s about who I’m with, it’s about a future family, it’s about the other persons hopes and dreams for life. And the weight of that, when I have little control over the outcome, is terrifying.

 

In three months I will have no job.

I have absolutely no idea where I am headed next. I have so many ideas and dreams for life and zero idea how to make those happen in a short time frame.

I am terrified on so many different levels of life and the weight of that this week has definitely sunk well into my soul.

Perhaps I’m just a little bit worn down from several years of repetitive bad news. But it’s certainly made me appreciate the moments of sunshine.

There are these little moments, like when the day is sunny and I walk out of the office and it just fills my whole body with warmth. Or days when the sun is setting and I race down to the beach to catch the perfect photo and I feel my toes in the sand and the waves crashing and it just feels like home. Or the times on the mountain snowboarding when it’s just a beautiful day and I look down at how tiny it all seems from so high up. Or moments when I taste a really good coffee or a waiter is super helpful with food I can eat. Or times I just snuggle into my horse and breathe in that musty smell and I feel this little moment of utter peace. There are these moments in life I think I used to miss a lot of the time.

Before the dodgy teachers, before the broken relationships, before the health problems, before cancer got to people I love, before people died, before I missed out on sporting dreams…I don’t think I really understood how beautiful those moments were.

Sometimes I just sit somewhere in town and watch people walk past. Or I buy myself something as simple as a nice face wash. Those things remind me of the good parts, of the really nice parts.

It’s not all bad. And often the big scary things in life seem so big and so scary they take over those little moment of joy.

Jobless and cancer are two pretty scary concepts. And it’s about the only time I ever feel young and ill equipped…because I don’t know how to cope with those.

I’m sure it will work out. I’ll find a good job and the tests will come back as we expect; clear and providing certainty and hope.

But there is always, always in the back of my mind that little ‘well what if they don’t?’

And the worst part about is it is it’s not even just the product of an overactive mind coming up with things to worry about. They are real concerns and real possibilities.

That’s the scary part.

I want so much for life. I want to change so many things in other peoples lives. And I find standstill the most frustrating setting.

But like everything, it’s just a season. And seasons change. Each has it’s own negatives and its positives. I think, after awhile, you just kind of learn to accept that.

Even just learning to accept that sadness and hold on for the ride…that’s a pretty big lesson in itself.

But lately I’ve been taking a walk or two up struggle street.

And you know what, that’s actually ok too.

 

 

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When death comes knocking

I’m not quite sure how to start this blog, but I wanted to give people an insight into something not often discussed, but often mentioned: cancer and death. People read about it, people go through it, people talk about it. But it’s actually really hard to discus it and not many people talk about the journey, just about the ending.

So this is my open and honest view of how my journey through losing someone so far.

I have never really had to deal with death before. It’s a strange topic in New Zealand; we don’t really talk about it. When someone says something about death it’s almost immediately after the ‘oh no, I’m sorry to hear that’ that you change topic and continue on with a conversation where no one will have to deal with emotions.

Perhaps that’s why whenever I bring up the fact granddad has cancer, I follow it with a shrug. I mean, I don’t even want to deal with those emotions.

But it’s been a year since he was diagnosed and I feel it’s time I wrote about my experience so far with someone dying.

It’s a matter of life. It happens. We can all count on that fact. Death itself doesn’t concern me, nor is it hard for me to comprehend. When my nana died she was 100, and had been in a home for a year. One day she was awake, the next she was not. There was nothing painful about the death, she just left. We knew it was coming and I felt sad, but not really anything else. Just like one less wonderful person was on earth, but sure she was off doing great things in heaven.

But with granddad it took us all by surprise. He had prostate cancer which has now spread to his bones and doctors say it could be months. I don’t really think it matters what sort of cancer it is. Cancer is a bitch.

At first I was in a bit of shock, my reaction was pretty cold to the news and I thought, ‘oh well that’s life’. What an awful thing to think when you’re told your grandparent is dying. But that was how I processed it. Matter of fact and with no emotion. After a few months I moved onto feeling awkward about it. Because it is my grandparent, at times I feel like I can’t be as sad as someone who is loosing a parent or a sibling or a partner. So I battled with my sad I tried very hard to be strong about it.

Strength like that is sometimes the biggest weakness. And that’s how I ended up crying in a bar in front of my ex, who very unfortunately happened to start talking about grandparents. It hadn’t bothered me before, but that particular conversation lead me to actually feeling the emotion of loss.

He is dying. And in that moment I had to accept that.

But now I’m just onto denial. I don’t want to hear about how he can hardly walk, or the fact his muscles have wasted away. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I am terrified I will forget how he used to be. I pretend I’m going up north this long weekend for a holiday. ‘Oh I might be going up north’ I said to someone today. What the hell? I said to myself. You are going up North, and you’re going to see your grandfather who is sick. But processing that fact is difficult. I am aware as to why I am going up, but it was not until I was standing in the shower thinking about this blog post that it sunk in.

I’m going to see my very sick grandfather who is dying, and this could be the last time I see him.

I battle with my sad because I want to save it for when he is gone. It seems silly to be sad when someone is still around. But it’s the waiting for what you know will happen, and trying to make every moment left count. And cling onto every memory I have.

It is through tears I finish this post, but it is not so much sadness anymore, as it is acceptance.

I have always thought I would be ‘good’ with death. But I’d never had to experience losing someone like this, and that makes it easy to think you’ll be ok. I don’t think anyone is ever ok with losing someone in any capacity. I always looked at death like ‘one moment you are alive, the next you are not’ it was something that happened to people, it was a statement, an ending.

In fact death is a series of things. It is the roller coster of emotion, it is watching other people you love hurt because they too are losing someone, it is watching someone you love suffer, it is trying so hard to remember the good times, it is wanting to make the best of what you can, it is a long process, even if sudden, death never just ‘happens’ it is a long road which every person must walk.

Death hurts even the people who aren’t dying.

And that’s really hard to learn to understand.

But I know now, it’s ok to just be sad.