18th August 2014
It’s 9 pm and my kids are in bed and so is their dad. He has work in the morning. I ponder the bills, the mess, my cup of tea. I try to write about anything else but nothing comes. Instead I think of the ugliness, the selfishness, the unfairness of cancer and death. This is my experience.
A few years ago I was at my pop’s funeral. I didn’t want to go but I had to obviously and it made me feel sick and childlike. I was far from a child. It was so hot I wanted to throw up from the heat. On this day I felt small. I didn’t feel small when my pop had said to me, just weeks before, that I should go yabbying with him because “you know I won’t be around for much longer Kailie”. That’s what he had said to me and yet it made me feel grand. I was doing something meaningful for him before his time was up. But Cancer, it makes you small and you sure as hell can’t do anything once it takes over.
I immediately recalled all the funerals I had been to and the one that always sticks in my mind is the one where I couldn’t go in. That was my other Pop’s funeral, my dad’s dad, and I was just a child. I cried at the door of the church and i could not go in. I didn’t get enough years with him. I have not been to a funeral where memories of all the previous ones do not come flooding back and that is a feeling I still cannot reconcile within myself. There has simply been too many.
I am not afraid to talk about death, or write this post, and it is not a taboo subject in our house. I am not even afraid of dying myself but I am afraid of how people cope with it and how it is talked about or not in our communities. I am uncomfortable with the ritual of a funeral. I have experienced way too many of them. None do enough justice to the person they farewell. None give me closure.
I am telling my story so that you can tell yours and people can talk about death in a healthy way. Death happens and the better we can deal with that as a society, maybe, just maybe the easier it will be. I believe that, apart from missing the person like uncontrollably crazily, that death is hard because it is unknown. Grief is incredibly unknown and in a way harder than death itself. The burden is not shared between the community like it should be, except at the inadequate funeral, and it sits like a weight on your shoulders for the rest of your life.
The Doctors had predicted it for him. 6 months to live. Like a sentence the judge gives you for speeding too many times. But this is a life sentence and you haven’t done anything wrong to receive it. My pop lived 2 weeks after being told this (from my memory and as such may not be accurate but grief skews with your sense of time).
For the record Cancer doesn’t know it’s your Pop.
But cancer visits again. Like a demon under the bed and it haunts me. And I am afraid for the sentence the Doctors might try to predict for my uncle. Peter. They haven’t yet.
I am surprised at the changes in him in such a short period of time. I am amazed at the strength and determination to live in the face of such a horrid, relentless, unimaginable disease. I am humbled by the generosity of strangers donating to my family and I am honored to have such a strong woman for an aunty, who selflessly takes care of him day in and day out on her own. I marvel at the bags of blood and concoctions of drugs that it takes to keep him alive and I am sad that all he wants to do is hold each of my babies but it is never the right time when we visit.
I am so confident in saying that he is not dying. I believe with every ounce of my being that he will beat this. I am optimistic and a little bit stupid at the same time. Stupid because I am selfish, selfish because I could not bare to lose another member of my family to cancer, or anything for that matter. But this is not my choice. There is no choice.
My aunty’s cat just got put to sleep tonight because he had cancer and it had spread to his lymph nodes, I don’t even like cats but fuck cancer can you just leave us alone PLEASE.
6th January 2015
The sentence is out, 4 weeks. Four fucking weeks it is a joke! After 7 months (roughly) of treatment, 7 months of hell and back but my brother writes “Every day is a gift cherish them to the end. There are 43,200 seconds in a day each moment is precious make them count!” It is optimistic in the face of anything but.
Luckily for us we have a big family and if we have anything it is each other. We will reach out to each other and use each other in this time of need. Though I am yet to speak to him, my uncle, I will make his every wish come true for every 43 thousand and 200 hundred seconds that he has left. WE ARE HERE FOR YOU!
Cancer you have not beat us yet and death you will not conquer our minds or spirit…The Saville’s!