You always hear about how bad it is. But you don’t fully “get it” until it hits your circle.
It doesn’t matter the kind, stage, awareness ribbon color, or treatment options.
If cancer were a person, a physical being sitting right in front of me, I would probably think that Satan is in the flesh before my eyes.
Something I have learned recently: cancer does not care.
Cancer doesn’t give a shit if you are perfectly (otherwise) healthy, and happy. Cancer does not care that you have your whole life ahead of you. It does not matter to cancer that you have a family; a spouse and children who need you.
It swoops in at the most unexpected time. Whether your fight is years, months, or weeks. It’s still painstakingly devastating. It still ruins everything. Whether you survive or not. It is earth shattering. No. Matter. What.
Cancer doesn’t give a shit about you, your family, your life, and your body.
Harsh, isn’t it? That’s the reality. This disease kills millions and there’s still no cure. This disease makes it so our loved ones have to suffer the most extreme pain and discomfort imaginable. This disease makes it so that they have to be taken from us.
Maybe I shouldn’t be writing this post right now, but it’s therapy. My father in law passed away one week ago today of cancer. And I am heartbroken. It makes me even more heartbroken thinking about how my mother in law feels. I only knew him for a few years and I’m this devastated…I cannot imagine how she feels. But still, she presses on. Because that is her way. One of the most incredible people I have ever encountered, she is.
Steve was such a light in my life. I smile as I write this part. Thinking of those quirks about him that I so looked forward to when we’d be heading to their house for the weekend. He always cracked me up and the best part about that is he didn’t even have to try.
I see Steve and Miss Erin more times a year than I see my own parents (love you mom & dad; wish you lived closer), so over the years, I have established a strong, loving relationship with my in laws. Which I am so thankful for! Most people don’t truly love their in laws; I have been so blessed with my new family relationships through this marriage, I can’t even believe it (shoutout Smiths, Flynns, & Wades.)
There a couple things I noticed about who Steve is and his character in his last 2 or 3 weeks of life. (I knew these things about him ever since I knew him, but his true, vulnerable self showed more in his final weeks.)
He was laying on his literal death bed in so much pain from this terrible illness, yet he still asked me every day “How are your folks doing? Are your siblings enjoying school and Alabama? How’s your dad?” (Steve and my dad work for the same company.) And he didn’t just ask me that so we’d have something to talk about, because there were no problems with that. He asked me that because he genuinely cared for me and my family.
The week before Steve’s death I was sitting at his bedside, and my blood sugar (I’m a type 1 diabetic) plummeted. A nice 42 mg/dL (normal is 90-120.) I’m sitting there violently shaking, about to pass out, trying to act like nothing was wrong because I didn’t want to distract from his condition (which was much worse than mine), but he noticed I needed help. And he made me feel like it was okay to still worry about my health, even though he has enough to worry about with his (I felt so guilty.) I sat there while Brian brought me things to fix my low, and Steve kept asking how I felt. HOW I FELT. How insane is that. He is days from death and feels pain and discomfort that is unexplainable, yet he’s still asking me if I’m okay, how I’m feeling, and being genuinely concerned for me, even though I’d be fine in 30 minutes and he wouldn’t.
That’s the kind of man Steve is. (I say “is”, because even though he’s gone, he’s still a person to me. He’s still with us in some way. I will see him again when I go Home. He’s not gone forever. That’s why I don’t say “was.”)
He’s one of those people where silence is comfortable; when there’s silence, no one’s searching for what to talk about next. We had many bouts over the years of comfortable silence. We also had many stimulating conversations, many times about technology, “kids these days,” and how mermaids are real.
I’m laughing. He’s such a funny man.
He’d always rest his hands on the kitchen counter behind him, pop one hip, cross his leg behind him, and say “you’re not gonna BELIEVE it when I tell you this!” Tells a story (that’s not that funny or unbelievable; most of the time they were dorky or creepy) and then we’d always respond with “I can’t believe it!”
I can’t believe that last Christmas was our last one with him. All I got him was a belt.
He loved his wife so much. “Take care of your mom for me” was his only request when we asked what we could do in the coming days/months/years.
He loved his children (biological, step, in-lawed, and grand.)
He loved his truck and RV.
He loved thousand island dressing.
He loved dogs.
He loved to feed the deer in his backyard.
He hated the squirrels in the attic.
He hated video games.
He loved us.
I’m trying to remind myself of that when I’m missing him, and it brings me comfort. He really did. He didn’t show it in common, predictable ways, but he sure showed it.
The last thing he ever said to me was about 24 hours before his death. He could hardly speak, yet he mustered a “Hi, Audra” accompanied with a small, weak, 2 finger wave.
He is a simple man. Beige, grey, and black make up the majority of his wardrobe. But this man, though he is simple, is such a joy. His smile made me smile. I will forever miss his quirks, his weird stories, his mustache, his eBay purchases and HAM radio adventures.
But I am comforted to know that, though cancer took him from us now, cancer did not win. Because Steve gets to be with JESUS right now. That’s the ultimate gift, people! Steve was so ready to be reunited with his Maker. When I am sad, I try to remember how incredibly joyous it is that he is where he belongs. And that we WILL see him again. After all, this is our temporary home.
Steve doesn’t belong to us down here, he belongs to our Lord. And I thankful for that. I am rejoicing for Steve no longer being in pain. I am missing his presence, and I always will. I am grieving, our family is grieving, my sweet mother-in-law is so strong but deeply saddened and devastated. But it helps to know where Steve is.
I hope to share the amazing traits that Steve exhibited in his 56 years here. And I will carry his memory with me always.