Monday, February 21, 2005

The Normal Life

I am sitting in the waiting room of CARTI waiting for Charles to have his first radiation treatment with this new bout of cancers. He continues to decline and weaken. This morning he told me he didn’t know it took so long to die. I had no response for him and my mind searched frantically for something positive I could say. “Maybe you should be thinking about how long it takes to live, Charlie,” I was finally able to whisper. He looked at me and smirk spread across his partially paralyzed lips. “Yeah,” he croaked. “Yeah.”

Dr. Pena (not his real name but because his real name is so hard to pronounce he tells us all to call him that), briefed us on the results of his evaluation. There is a “slight” overlap of soft tissue that was the uppermost area of his previous treatments that will be exposed to radiation again during these treatments. He is concerned over this but feels he can reduce the impact by only giving ¾ of the dosage recommended in hopes of shrinking the tumor enough to be able to retarget the radiation cone outside of the overlapping area. He wanted us to know the risks of radiating this overlap area. It may mean anything from surgery or antibiotic treatments to correct the problems that could occur… or even possibly death caused by the very radiation that we are hoping will save (or at least, extend) his life.

I am sitting in the waiting room of CARTI waiting for Charles and praying. God, are you really listening? I am sitting here wondering what I am going to do as my time draws closer to having to leave and go back home and try to live a “normal” life. Back to my wonderful wife and 9 ½ year old son and the life of being father and husband. Back to my job that I have tried not to think about for over a week while all of my emotions and thought processes have been consumed by grief and grasping for hope in the slightest signs of improvement with Charles. Back to being out of the loop and only hearing second hand updates on Charles’ progress that never seem to contain the answers to the questions I would have asked had I been there in person. Back to waiting for that phone call that I don’t want to answer that will tell me that Charles’ suffering is finally over and he’s gone. Back to the life that I have so often taken for granted and now cannot allow myself to do so again.

Things must be different for me. I must take the soul searching lessons I have learned these last months and apply them to my own life so that when it is my time to face death I can do so knowing I have given it my best shot and will leave the world somehow better than when I was born into it. Honestly, I have not done that to this point in my life. I have half-stepped when I should have leaped. I have procrastinated when I should have been proactive. I have complained when I should have praised and counted my blessings. I have sat when I should have been running. I have dreamed when I should have been making those dreams a reality. I have been depressed when I should have been filled with joy and awe of life. I have succumbed to fear when I should have had bold courage. I have remained silent when I should have been shouting from the rooftops.

God forgive me for I have not lived or loved as I should have. God forgive me for I have sinned in what I have done but more importantly, in what I have not done.
I have a lot of internal rewiring to do…

Charles’ biggest fear is dying alone. I am powerless to promise him that that will not happen. All because I must soon return to my “normal” life and leave him to whatever his destiny is in my absence. I can never have a “normal” life again. Of that I can indeed promise him.

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