I feel like cake batter...all mixed up. It's been a really emotional couple of weeks, or more, for me. Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed, tired, pitiful. Other times, I feel angry or just scared. Then, there are the times when I look at my beautiful life and precious family and remember how lucky and blessed I am. Kevin's brother, Tim, once told me that it's ok to be mad with God. He's big enough to take it. I remember that often. I try to equate it with when Jack is angry with me for making him do something he doesn't want to do, because I know that in the long run, it's in his best interest. At the time, Jack doesn't see the big picture. So, it is fine for him to feel frustrated with me. I know he still loves me, and I still love him.
These are the names of three very special people who fought cancer at the very same time I did. They had chemo, radiation, and/or treatments at the same time I did. Each one of these fighters entered the gates of Heaven through their own personal battle with cancer. They didn't fight alone, however. They each left their legacy behind in the hearts of their family, friends, and loved ones who fought right along beside them. Each one of them left behind children in school (elementary, high school, and college). Their deaths resulted in eternal life, pain-free,in heaven with our Holy Father. They also resulted in a void in the lives of all who love them. Over time the void may be masked with fond memories, but it still exists.
Lost loved ones cannot be replaced. I know this because my own husband lost his father to cancer almost 11 years ago. My son and I know him only through his legacy, the countless stories we've been told about him. We feel as though we know him and lived side by side with him, though. There often times when something happens and I tell Kevin, "You know what your Dad would say..." Over time, the Riley family has chosen to focus on the positive things about Jack Riley's life rather than his struggle with cancer, and there are many. Still, his fight was heroic.
Bennie D'Amico, Lisa Palladino, and Fran Stafford were also heroes. I don't know how anyone lands on the "cancer list." It doesn't seem fair. What seems even more unfair is how some of us survive and others do not. Those of us who have had cancer, whether we are currently in remission or not (and I could name many) know it isn't fair. It's especially difficult to explain the relief, guilt, and fear that one feels all at the same time from having "No Evidence of Disease." Relief that you and your loved ones can enjoy a normal life again, go outside, and play. Guilt that those you love and personally know, like Bennie, Lisa, and Fran, didn't survive, yet, their loved ones see you thriving. Fear that no matter how far you distance yourself from the illness of cancer, it can always return, and you might not survive next time. Kevin's dad experienced it. Bennie experienced it. Fran experienced it, and I don't want my family to experience it. I am ok with death, but I don't want Jack to grow up without me. I don't want Kevin to go to soccer games or Christmas shopping alone.
Fran's terminal illness and death yesterday has been a reminder of all these things. I realize I could die of many other things before Jack grows up, but this has been on my mind of late. I am trying to get back to my positive place. It's just been more difficult than usual lately.