I have to say that I never in a million years thought this journey would be this long. All of you who felt like I have been so brave and positive must realize that I signed up for brain surgery ONLY. That's how I was able to keep it all together and I have to say most of the time it's worked. 98% of the time I am that eternal optimist...that girl that makes lemonade from every kind of lemon I've ever been handed but (there's always a but) there are those dark moments. They creep in. They over stay their welcome and it would be a lie to deny it.
Everyone has trials in this life and I have felt very blessed with the lack of health issues in mine...that was pre-Egore. So when Egore came along, as devastated as I was, I quickly regrouped and decided there was no point in complaining...this was my lot and I would face it head on, get it over with and get on with things. I had no idea of the magnitude of what was beginning. I had no idea it was only going to get worse. That a year later I would be but a shell of who I once was. It's been a little over a year now since D-Day...several years of headaches and neck pain and I can honestly say...it's taking it's toll.
In so many ways I became numb. Numb to this world and most everything in it. There's been very few exceptions. Days went by, months, and they truly were just numbers on a calender. It has sucked. For a long time I couldn't pin point it, I just knew I felt nothing. And I do mean nothing. I guess it's been a coping mechanism, a way to survive the day to day. Except for the pain of course...that, of course, could not go numb.
It was when I went to the funeral of a family friend's dad that I realized how far I had fallen. I knew him as an acquaintance but was mostly there to support the family, not because I felt compelled to, truth is, I felt nothing, but only because I knew it was the appropriate thing to do. (I mean there are standards evidently :) A good southern girl can't lose all her cooth) During this time I've rarely cried...for anything. I wasn't worried about going to this funeral, in fact, I never gave it a second thought. It was a Catholic funeral, I had never been to one and the History/Religion fanatic in me was a little intrigued to see the various rituals. (I know I'm a dork) To top the emotionalness (I know, not a word, but work with me) of it, it was a funeral with Military Honors. Which most of you realize means you don't even need to know the person and it still equals tears. Not me though...not then. I walked past the flags in awe of the dedication (it was cold) but nothing more. I think that was one of the moments I realized...I didn't feel anything.
I sat down towards the back of the cathedral and was ready to observe. The military guard wheeled the flag covered casket in and all of the sudden my stomach flopped. It was at the moment where the priest (who happened to be the son of the man the funeral was for) met the casket, right in front of me (dear Lord why did I sit in the back) and began his blessing on his FATHER'S CASKET! It was right then that I realized I had not been to a funeral since I planned my own and I was still unaware if I would soon be needing those plans. You know, most people would have realized these things ahead of time and prepared themselves...oh no, not me. Remember, this was going to be a breeze.
Panic struck me fiercely. I was overcome with shear fear. Fear of all that I had gone through. Fear of the immense amount that was still ahead. Fear of the awful diseases the doctors were now throwing on the table. Fear of it all. All I could do was panic.
Let me give you a good mental image because this is worth one. I'm crying almost uncontrollably, which I had not done in several months so there were A LOT of tears stored up, but as silently as I could (didn't want to take away from the actual event...the FUNERAL taking place). My stomach is sick and I just know that I'm about to vomit in the church right in front of this casket. People are looking. Oh yeah, I would be too, and I do my best to reassure them I'm OK. Meanwhile, I can't go ANYWHERE! They are still right in front of me. Thank heavens it was a funeral and at least some crying is appropriate. All I can think is "I HAVE to get out of here". But I can't, I'm trapped. What in the world have I got myself into?!
What seemed like an eternity later, they continued wheeling the casket to the front of the church and it was no longer RIGHT in front of me. I initially thought, "OK, now is the time to get the heck out of dodge" but I managed to compose myself a little and thought I would have to do this eventually (funerals are unfortunately a part of life) I might as well tough this out. The service began, conducted by the gentleman's son/priest and it was heart felt and meaningful for the family I'm sure. I, personally, concentrated on observing the Catholic funeral and tried not to miss any detail. The priest began discussing the Crucifixion. It is a story I know well. He got to the part where Christ is being led through the streets carrying his own cross while being tortured by the crowd. This is where I really realized I should have perhaps used that exit strategy. I was suddenly filled with emotions...again. Along with that panic feeling in the bottom of my stomach. Emotions I had successfully been able to push to the back burner, for the most part were now coming to the surface with alarming speed!
My stomach was flopping and the tears were flowing entirely too heavy, again. The crucial point was when the priest re-counted Christ having been on the cross for some time and looked up toward the heavens and pleaded, "My God, My God why hast thou forsaken me". That was crucial. I realized at that moment, that, those words, were what I had been trying so hard to fight off. It was my words exactly. It was the questions I had tried for so long not to ask. I had pushed them so far back, buried them so deep that I wasn't even sure they would ever surface. But they did, that day and there was no tucking them back in.
Unable to obtain help (medically), this has been a journey I had to take for the most part alone. There has been no one to solve the puzzle and no one who could take the pain for me and now I was at that point that it had all gone on for entirely too long, without answers and with NO plan in sight. The pain was just too much to bear, it was all just too consuming. I was very much at what I thought was my breaking point and all I could manage to ask, through all of my tears, was "My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me?". I felt every single one of those words ten fold.
Like I said before, I thought I had done it all right. I had taken it like a champ. Never questioned why, never wondered who had done this to me. Truth be told for the most part in my life I have been that girl. The girl who unfailingly did what I felt I was suppose to do. The good girl. Almost to a fault. So finally I was asking, why? Not why me but just why. Why was this going on and for so long? What had I done? Why couldn't anyone get to the bottom of all the tumors, of all the pain? Why was I still on this journey? Why could I not get help? Why the hell couldn't we figure this damn thing out. Where did I take a wrong turn? I finally uttered the words to myself, "this is not fair". This isn't just not fair...this is crazy. What was it that was eating up my body, eating up my life? That's what was crazy. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. I became cynical, something that was foreign to me and my personality. Things that would crush others I simply responded with, "it is what it is". Not because I was that strong but because I no longer believed it mattered, I didn't care. I reserved all caring I had for my kids and those closest to me and that was it. I was sick. I was STILL sick and for the first time I was pissed about it!
Angry at whatever in the world had caused this. Not only, angry for myself but angry for anyone and EVERYONE out there who had ever gone through something this awful. Angry for my children and how this awful thing was stealing precious moments of their childhood that could not be returned. It has, for lack of a more intensely painful word, been HELL (and that seems too weak of a word) and I was finally able to say from the depths of my despair that there was NO part of this that was fair...and that only made me angrier.
I was breaking down. It was ENOUGH! I was tapping the mat as hard as I could to say "Time Out" but there was no break. I began to question things that hadn't even crossed my mind with the brain tumor. Hadn't I been through enough...hadn't enough of my life been taken away? The obvious answer was NO...with no end in sight and that little fact broke me down even farther.
I cannot describe the intense pain. I have had two babies, one I delivered naturally (not by choice, epidural didn't work) and the pain I felt during delivery was nothing compared to what was going on now. It lasted for days and days and days before any kind of relief came just in time for it to start right back up. It didn't matter how strong the medicine, it didn't touch it. It took EVERYTHING I had to keep up a front for my kids...I wasn't even strong enough to keep it up for myself anymore or other loved ones. I gave up on that...it required far more than I was able to give.
I didn't cry. I can honestly say I didn't even complain. It doesn't help, why do it?! I had become empty. I felt empty. I was no longer filled up with the things that made me who I was and I made no effort to get them back. I constantly questioned, "Is this how you wanted me? Did I not become low enough during my brain tumor? Did Egore not bring me to my knees enough? Was I too positive? Did I not learn what I was suppose to?" Who I was speaking to, I had no idea. It would be easy and probably most obvious to say that I screamed these things, these questions at God, at my Heavenly Father but it's more than that and I can honestly say it wasn't just to him. I was asking the world, I was asking fate, I was asking karma. I screamed this out loud with all hopes of getting an answer. It didn't come. Nothing did. No relief. No explanation. No words of comfort. I don't think I expected any but the questions had to be asked. After all...it is what it is.
I didn't want to hear about any of the life lessons I was learning. I didn't want to hear how I would get through this and that one day this would all be but a memory. I wanted to scream back, "Oh, you mean if I actually survive all this...right?! You mean if the diseases that were now probable didn't take my life? That was surely what you meant". I'm sure, much to every one's relief I didn't say those things, I just gritted my teeth and nodded. I wasn't sure I had much of a future to look forward to so I was only living in the present, the only thing I could do. And I presently wanted to know WHY! Why in the hell would anything like this happen to ANYONE???? These were hard questions to reconcile.
Every time I looked at my children, every time I saw the look of sadness in their eyes I only became more convinced that I had been forsaken. Forgotten. Somehow misplaced. More sure that this world was a crap shoot and I had not played well enough. I was stripped of any hope I once had and certain that this was a life sentence. This has been my hell and thus far, this has been my rock bottom.
What's that old saying...the darkest hours are just before the dawn...
(To Be Continued)