Shadows of a Relationship

I seem to be observing how relationships bear the strain of this terminal state.  I watch as my husband’s children (blood and step) seem to be dealing with the final stages of this disease.

The oldest daughter just can’t seem to get enough of her father. She emails daily and she desires to hear her father’s voice. She is experiencing the grief and loss and she suffers so much from the thoughts of loosing her father to this cancer.

His oldest son also suffers, but he is avoiding his father. He puts his 1 1/2 year old daughter on the phone and lets her babble away. He is having a hard time talking to his dad about anything, even the weather. That is understandable. He isn’t avoiding his father because there is a problem between them, he is avoiding so that he isn’t reminded of how sick his father is.

The youngest daughter has been absent from my husband life until a week before Christmas. She wrote last in the fall of 2005, but he didn’t receive the letter until February of 2006. My husband replied to that letter and he informed her that he had cancer. Almost two years later, we receive a letter with picture of three little girls, my husband’s granddaughters. He has never seen these children. He was never informed of their coming. He was not informed of his daughter’s marriage until almost a year after the event.

The first letter was full of venom and hate coupled with self pity and revenge for things that my husband was not involved in. This last letter was totally different. It was a “perfect” picture with statements that were a little on the questionable side of things. In this letter, she wanted to let the past go and mend their relationship.

Even though this letter answered a prayer of his, he was reluctant to enter back into any kind of relationship with this daughter. He was afraid of the  pain that he knew he might have to bear should he allow her back into his daily life.

In her letter, a phone number and address was given. The first information in four years as to her wherabouts. My husband called his daughter to tell her that he had received her letter and just to talk to her. He said that it was like pulling teeth to get her to say anything to him. She didn’t sound excited or happy to hear his voice.

When he thought more about contacting his daughter, he became apprehensive. He remembered all of the painful things that were done to him. He knew that she was influenced by her mother.(who is mentally ill) but there was one incident that he just could not get past.

 His daughter and her boyfriend tried to run my husband and I over with a pick up truck while we were riding the motorcycle. My husband said that he still sees her mocking face in the window of the truck as they drove off.

He is afraid. Afraid that he doesn’t have the emotional stamina to deal with her unpredictible behavior. He is afraid his heart will be broken. He doesn’t want to love his granddaughers only to have to watch his daughter take them away when she becomes upset with something said of done. He is afraid that there will be harassment like we endured in the past…too many painful and difficult memories. He is afraid that his heart will be hurt more and he doesn’t have capacity for any more pain.

He knows that he still love this child, but he doesn’t trust this child. He doesn’t trust her to not bring chaos to our lives. He doesn’t trust her motivations or her unspoken agendas.

He speculated that her motivation for writing now was because she wanted to be included in any inheritance. I smiled a sick smile at the thought of an inheritance. We lost everything years ago. But, that would not be out of character for her to try to come back to the fold thinking that there may be something material to gain….

He doesn’t want to risk loosing the relationships he has with his other children. The pains of the past have alienated her from her half brother and sister and her stepbrother and sister in law…too much to risk to have everything blow up in his face.

He wrestled with the dilemma and debated with himself as to what to do. With a heavy heart, he wrote her a letter and told her that he was happy to hear that her life has settled down and that she is a mother. The little girls are lovely. He said that he loves her and always will, but he has nothing to offer her and he doesn’t have much time left on this earth. He wrote that he feels that it is safer for everyone to love her from a distance. He asked her to try and remember all of the good times that were had when she was younger. He wrote that he would rather her remember him as he looked when they last saw each other in the courtroom two and half years ago than how he looks now.

When he was finished writing the letter, he handed it to me and asked what I thought. I thought to myself how all of the current day “experts” on family and divorce would disagree with what he was doing. I thought how he was playing into the lies that her mother said about him. Things like he never loved her and that she was just a burden because of the support money. It would give credance to all of the lies her mother has always told her. But all of that doesn’t matter now. Time is running out. She waited too long to mend something that was so broken. He has nothing more to give.

In life, there are seasons and there are windows of time. If they pass, they are never regained. This window is closed. This life is ending. The season is mid winter and there is no promise of spring…I  feel pity for the child because so much was given and sacrificed to be able to stay in her life. With the sacrifice, was wounds and the wounds are too deep to mend. Not now, not in mid winter.

Dan Fogelberg’s song rings in my ears, so I decided to post it here. My husband and the artist share many things including their first names, so when the last scene of the video appears, it is hard for me…The song speaks to the heart of the matter. We will always see her as the face of a child.

Journey Into The Shadows Part 5

Above all else, we needed God. We were holding onto the 23 rd Psalm,     

                     “Yeah, though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow… 

     The meeting with our friends for prayer for my husband’s healing was held two days before the birth of my husband’s grandson. There were about 8 people around our dining room table, two men and six women. They were sincere and it was a comfort to have those that we knew well and some we didn’t know well to unite in prayer for the purpose of asking God for my husband’s life. I wish that I could say that there was a reassuring confidence that our prayers were heard and we were assured of my husband’s life to be spared, but I didn’t feel that. I felt that everyone understood that this was a fight and it would be a hard fight. Nonetheless, these good people were ambassadors of hope, God’s hope, and I will always be grateful for their support at that time. Even today, I know that if I need that kind of prayer, it is but a phone call away.

     I didn’t mention anything about the cemetery plots at the prayer meeting. The shock and frustration I felt would be a detraction from the purpose to why they gathered here. Even though I felt that this blow was almost as devastating as the diagnosis I wanted the focus to be on God and my husband.  I did mentioned it to a few close friends and they were as perplexed as I was. Sometimes, you just need to see the face of a friend when you tell them something like this. It is in their face that you can see if you are being silly or whether it is as bad as you feel that it is, and by their facial reaction, it was bad.

     I made the call to the children to keep them abreast of the “drug fever”; their father’s decision to not take any more chemo, and the prognosis. I could tell that they were trying to take all of this in, but it was really not registering. It was just a news bulletin. I knew that the reality just hadn’t hit them as yet.

     As with most cancer patients, in the mist of the shock of hearing that cancer is robbing you of life, you immediately turn your thoughts to your children. It is the realization that you will not be seeing the milestones of your children’s lives as well as the remaining milestones of your own life. As bad as it hurts, it is the loss of watching your children’s lives grow and develop like a new rose that stings so deeply. The feeling of injustice can not be helped at this time. It feels so unfair. When my husband was told of the diagnosis, his oldest daughter was weeks away from delivering her first child; my husband’s first grandson. In fact, my husband was receiving chemotherapy through a pump while she was in labor. He didn’t feel very well, but he wasn’t about to miss his grandson’s debut. It seemed surreal that the threat of death was in the same room as the beginning of life. I know that he was feeling grateful in between the waves of nausea to be able to see this very moment.

     Recently, we were told that a new grandchild is coming in the spring. I could see it in his face that he had mixed emotions. Normally, he says very little, but it is the furrow in his brow the gives it away. When he has that on his face, I know that he is processing something and he really doesn’t want to discuss it with me. That is when, right or wrong, I tell him that it does absolutely no good to keep it away from me. I already know what is on his mind. Then he looks at me and says, “OK, what am I thinking?” When he said it this time, I said, “ You have mixed feelings about this baby. You are happy that there is another grandchild coming, but you are afraid that you won’t be here to see it.”The tears began to roll down his face. He was feeling how unfair it was that he didn’t have the expectation of seeing this wonderful baby. How cruel it is to the grandchildren that they may not have any memories of him like the ones he has of his grandfather. He is only 53 years old and he should be able to see the birth of his grandchildren, He should be able to see them begin school, watch them play little league or soccer; and watch them walk down aisle to Pomp and Circumstance at their graduation.  That was the reason for his tears. It was joy in the midst of pain, a bittersweet moment of life.

     With each passing day, we could see his abdomen growing. He looked like he was pregnant, and in a sense, he was. It wasn’t life that was waiting to be born, but it was death encroaching on his life. And, the time was drawing near for delivery.

     I began to live on the Internet. I was researching this rare cancer, the treatments, the research facilities and anything that could bring hope to us. Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans on his 54th birthday. We had filled up the vehicles with fuel in anticipation of the shortages. We bought food with what we had left from his last check from work. We knew that this was a kind of devastation that would have lasting effects and it would reach up the Mississippi to where we lived. No one knew just how far reaching it would become.

     It was while I was online keeping up with the hurricane that I discovered a web site that informed me of a surgery that was pioneered for this kind of metestatic cancer. I had put PMP or psuedomyoxoma peritenia into the search bar. It took me to a site like nothing I had seen before. It was a message board where doctors posted inquiries about treatments for their patients. On this site, a doctor stated that he had a patient who had appendiceal cancer with metestatic PMP and he was asking if there was treatment other than chemotherapy for his patient. There was a response to the doctor’s question. It said that there was a surgery…..A SURGERY…..I stopped reading because I had almost fallen out of my chair. Our oncologist told us that there were no surgeries for this cancer. Right in front of my eyes was a doctor who said that there ways a surgery. I could not contain myself….There was surgery…..there was HOPE!!!!