Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Truth Hurts and Cancer Can Suck It

My apologies in advance if this isn't very funny.  I can't always be funny.  Sometimes I don't even try, and this post is going to be one of them.

Besides which, those who know me best know that I tend to be the funniest when things are actually not funny at all in real life.  That whole finding the ability to laugh to get you though the hell life throws at you thing...

I have a unlighted, undecorated tree sitting in the wrong place in my house.  It's a gorgeous tree, and I hope to get to moving and adorning it tonight.  I do.  Honest.

It's just that Christmas trees are one of those things for me.  Those reminders.

I shared a picture of the tree on my Facebook page and people started asking where we'd purchased such a great tree.  Sadly, my answer is Costco.  Though we live in Colorado, the trees that you can go and cut down aren't really the kind of trees you associate with the holiday.  They look more like Charlie Brown trees.   We haven't done it since we moved here.  We did when we lived in Southern California, and if that's not irony for you, I'm not sure what is.

We didn't go to a Christmas tree lot either.  Mostly because I can't do it. I drive past them and the lump shows up in my throat and the tears well up in my eyes no matter how hard I try to force them back.

Christmas tree lots belong to my Dad.


When I was a kid, he volunteered time to work at them.  Helped other families pick the perfect tree, helped other people make memories.  Offered to take their pictures beside their trees.  Wrapped them, tied them to the cars and sent them on their way.  My Dad loved Christmas.

I would beg to come with him, and if it wasn't too cold, he'd let me tag along.   I'd have to hold the saw and pull the netting around the ends.  I loved hanging out with all the guys, listening to the crazy stories they told around the fire pit.  I'm sure it was cold, but I don't remember that.

I remember the twinkle in his eye when he was out there.

For many, many years, he didn't want a real tree.  In the fall of 2009, he was diagnosed with cancer and he rode to the ER in an ambulance Christmas morning.  All he wanted was to go home. He didn't want to be in a hospital on Christmas.  He promised himself that if he made it to the next one, he was getting a real tree.

He wanted a real tree, and he wanted us to come home.

We went home, and he got that real tree again.  2010.  It was his last Christmas.

We all knew it would be. I fought back tears the entire time I was taking the ornaments off that tree.  Sweeping up the needles seemed so cathartic.  This is what he wanted, and we'd given it to him.

When you're in a moment that you already know is bittersweet, it hurts just a bit more.

So, my perfect tree sits this year.

I will move it and put the lights on and decorate it.  I will.

I will swallow the lump in my throat and fight back the tears.  I will.

Damn you, cancer.

One of my favorite shows is Parenthood, and I fall in love with it a little bit more every week even if it also rips my heart out a little each time.  If you aren't watching this show, you should be.  The preview for next week's episode shows Christina fighting for her life in the ICU on Christmas.  I'm sure there are those who will say that the show is just doing it for ratings, that they are pandering to people's emotions about the holiday.

No.

There really are people fighting for their lives in hospitals on Christmas morning, and those of us who've been there know it.

Cancer, the evil bastard it is, doesn't care what the calendar says.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a tree to move.

25 comments:

  1. oh girl. I'm so sorry. We are going through a similar thing here. The tree is put up, with lights and nothing else. Big hugs to you. BIG hugs.

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  2. HUGS.
    My mom passed away UNexpedtedly last November. Most of us don't remember much about the holidays last year as we were still raw from the funeral and in shock.
    This year, however, as we are putting up Nana's old decorations in our own home, we find that we are all struggling greatly. Especially my kids as they were all VERY close to her (she lived next door to us for their entire lives).
    HUGS again.
    Also, my best friend was diagnosed with cancer about six weeks ago so I am 100% with you on the CANCER CAN SUCK IT train.

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  3. You got me on this one. Lost my dad a few years ago as well--he too, was in the hospital on Christmas for Leukemia. He survived a few more months but it was torture for him. Christmas has never been the same. Thanks or sharing this and making people aware that the holiday is not just about shopping and partying and everybody happily singing Christmas carols---there are so many others out there suffering in ways we cannot even begin to imagine. Sending you big hugs from here, too.

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  4. I hate cancer...so much. And I really do feel for you. We watched my father-in-law, who was very much like a dad to me, go through both lymphoma and leukemia within the same decade. He fought so damn hard. And in the end, he lost his life to an infection. Not cancer itself...but a raging infection because he had no immune system. You know how much I love Parenthood...it really is dead on.

    You are allowed to take your time...it's your heart we're talking about. It's devastating when we lose our parents. You are handling yourself beautifully. Just keep doing what you're doing. Big hugs, momma.

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  5. I'm so VERY sorry for your loss. You're right...there are just times when funny doesn't fit. This is definitely one of them. Hang in there honey. Wishing you strength during such a difficult time.

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  6. peace. it's hard at times to attain it. he would want you to move it and decorate it and take it down and sweep it up, that dad of yours. i'm glad you're gonna do it. i hope you can find sweetness in the rhythm of the true gift of Christmas which to me is just letting ourselves BE. oxox

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  7. Sending you love and (((hugs))) I miss my dad every day ... the holidays make it worse, but we decorate and celebrate and the kids love it. Doesn't mean I don't cry every day over it. Know that you bring great joy and laughter to my life and to many others!

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  8. *BIG HUGS*

    Losing a loved one around the holidays sucks like nothing else, especially if they were one who truly enjoyed this time of year and made it special for everyone else. :-(

    Wouldn't it be cool to start a "Cancer Can Suck It" campaign? Not sure what it would be or how it would come together, but just drawing awareness as well as sharing memories of all the special people who have lost their battles with cancer.

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    1. I've been thinking about it for a while...some way to pay it forward. Back when he was diagnosed, "cancer can suck it" kinda becamr my mantra. I have written a few posts about caregiving...if it helps one person, I'll be grateful. Thank you for this and all your support...I started the fb page today. xo

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  9. Thank you for speaking about your grief and sharing honestly. The holidays aren't always shiny and bright for everyone. Love to you and yours during this season, and always.

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  10. I love you, Kelly. This whole month is especially bitter for me with two birthday and Christmas then another anniversary I'd rather not be reminded of. I am with you in spirit and you know he is too <3 and lots and lots of hugs.

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  11. Hi Baby!! You are correct your dad loved Christmas. Not only did he work at the tree lot for many years. He also went all out to ensure belief by you and your brother. The first fun thing he did on Christmas Eve was to climb on the roof with tons of bells. The jumped up and down and ran across the roof until the 2 of you woke up and I had to tell you to back to sleep so the big guy on the roof with a sleigh and 8 reindeer could visit. In the morning you were all excited telling Pap and Grandma Doll and Uncle Dan about hearing Santa.
    The next year he brought home the flocking machine after you were in bed he went out and flocked the back yard and we decorated all the trees - Santa had come again.

    Then the next year he went over and borrowed Mr. Coffey's size 22 shoes. We had just built the fireplace and he put the shoes in the ashes and mark the path to the tree and all the gifts. He cut out little elf feet and placed them in the ashes as well.
    One year - the year of the Cabbage patch you kept saying you didn't want one then 2 days before Christmas you told me you had to see Santa again. Off to the mall we went - where you told Santa if he was real you'd get a Cabbage Patch doll. Thru divine intervention and thanks to Grandma Doll's clients there was a Cabbage Patch doll under the tree - that looked remarkably like you.
    The year you wanted a Kitten - dad went out at 10:00 that night to pick up the kitten. Grandma Dall stayed up all night holding the kitten so it wouldn't cry. When she heard you she placed the kitten you would name Holly in the prewrapped box.
    While there is sadness at the Holidays now because of the empty chairs - we have the memories of the good times and the joy your Dad, Grandmother's, Grandpa, Pap and Uncle Donnie brought to the special days.
    Yes Cancer Sucks, Heart Attacks Suck and Drunk Drivers Suck but try to remember the good times. Those we mourn want us to carry on and enjoy life. SO go ahead and cry and then get on with making memories for your children. I LOVE YOU, Mom

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  12. I love Parenthood. I fucking hate cancer. Our timelines are similar. My son was diagnosed in the spring of 2009 and died summer of 2010. Love and hugs to you, my friend.

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