I have to admit it...as much as I've tried this week to be okay, I am not okay.
I will be. But I am not yet.
I have tried to be strong, and for the most part it has worked. And I know I will continue to be strong. But deep down inside, I am not okay.
I am not okay with the fact that my stepdad has lung cancer. That is not okay with me. That makes me angry, and hurt, and it is just so wrong. It isn't supposed to happen to him. He is too good for that. It's not okay.
It has been one week since my parents invited us over to tell us the news. I am inspired and in awe of their positive attitude. I am doing my best to emulate that positive attitude. For the most part, I am doing a good job. But I still know that deep down inside, I am not okay.
I am not okay with the fact that it is stage three...and inoperable. I am not okay with what he is going to have to go through...the chemo, the radiation...whatever course of action is decided upon by his doctors once all the test results (needle biopsy, PET scan) come in. I am not okay with the fact that I now know what a PET scan is. I am not okay with the fact that dirty, ugly, black cancerous cells are making themselves at home inside his lungs. They have no right to be there.
I know in my heart of hearts that he will fight this. That he will go into remission. That my parents will have great vacations and fun RV trips. That he will be in the waiting room when I give birth to my first child. That he will be around to see that child grow up, at least for a little while. That he will have a wonderful life, just as he has the past 66 years, until it is his time. The doctors say he has a really good chance of making it to the 5 year mark, because he's otherwise in such good health. And that's just an average...it could be much more than that.
I am definitely okay...in fact, proud...of the fact that he is in such good health. I am proud that he has lost so much weight (in a healthy way) since his triple bypass surgery three years ago. I am proud that because of those choices, his body is prepared to fight. He's always had a fighting spirit...I know that from all the stories he's told me over the years...but now he has the body to match. I am proud of him for that.
I can't decide if Branden's surgery has been a good distraction from all this...I'd like to think it has. Taking care of him post-surgery has taken up most of my physical and emotional energy since then. He's been an excellent patient, and I know he hates feeling like a burden. But he has not been a burden. I am taking care of him because I love him, because I made a vow that I would be there for him no matter what, and because I know he would do the same for me. It really isn't any trouble...it's just energy-consuming, what with fixing meals, keeping up with his Polar Care 500, taking out the dogs four times a day, keeping things picked up, making sure he's clean and well-fed and has water and medicine and entertainment...
Like I said, it's no problem. It just consumes my energy. And so I am not okay. Not yet. And perhaps I'm not supposed to be yet. Maybe that's okay. Maybe it's okay that as I sit here, listening to the hum of his cooler, watching him sleep, that tears roll down my face. Maybe it's okay that I had to leave my best friend's party because I couldn't sit there and watch people smoke. (I feel awful about that...it was her day, and I wasn't okay enough to celebrate with her).
I do know that I've never felt so old as I do now. These are adult situations that I'm dealing with, and I hope, at least outwardly, that I am dealing with them with as much grace as I can muster. This blog post...this isn't my public face. These are my private thoughts...but somehow it helps to get them out in the world.
I am not okay...but I will be. I don't need sympathy...if anyone deserves that, it's Wayne, or Branden, or my Mom, who are all doing what they have to do to move on. I am playing my part, and I will be okay. Really, I will.