Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Inside the Box

I’m distracted today. Tearful. Worried.
The book I just finished, that I wrote about at the end of last year, “Must You Go?” by Antonia Fraser about her life with husband Harold Pinter, ended with his death. From complications relating to esophagul cancer.
This was not an easy section of the book for me to read, and it was a surprise that this was the condition that ultimately ended Pinter’s life (despite his decades-long reliance on nicotine, to the tune of sixty cigarettes a day). It was not easy to read because this is the same cancer my Dad has been struggling with for the past nine months, and it is not at all easy to witness the suffering that comes with that, however stoically it is borne.
I’ve navigated this journey along with my family, and our support of each other has been tremendous. Friends have also helped immeasurably with easing the burden of the sadness I’ve felt since the diagnosis. One close friend in particular whose father has been battling a similar cancer for a number of years has been a huge help. This same friend also had to deal with the harsh reality of having her mother also suffering from cancer; her mother lost her life to the disease on Monday of this week.
I’m grieving for her mother, and also for my friend, as she has been as courageous in the face of her parents’ double illness as anyone could ever be. I hope I can be the type of daughter she has been to her parents in their time of need, to my own parents now.
My father has an important appointment today, too. That’s weighing on me. As Antonia Fraser so aptly described it in her book in dealing with her husband’s cancer and its stages, ‘the Great Fear’ is back.
I likened it to putting emotions in a box, in an email to a friend today. You box up the sadness, the suffering, the grief, and only draw it out when you have time, or when you can afford to go there. At other times you simply blank it out, maybe in order to continue with your daily life, to keep going.
I’ve tried all month to trace back my anxiousness, my restlessness, my inability to even start and finish a blog entry, and tie it up to a little bit of winter-blah-ness, but also to a nagging part of me that feels a bit defeated in this new year, one that doesn’t seem to vary much in its sameness from the last couple. They start off benignly enough, and then the challenges just crop up.
Steeling myself to deal with them bravely and sagely and to keep letting light in.

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