Wednesday, March 09, 2005

How Do You Say "Happy Birthday" to Someone Who's Dying?

Tomorrow is Charles' birthday. He will be "celebrating" it in between radiation therapy, stomach tube cleaning, eye bandage changes, pain medication administering, and whatnot. And that's if it is a "good" day. If it's not a good day, then he will be laying in agony and exhaustion in between bouts of vomiting and constant waves of nausea. You definitely don't want to know what it would be like if it is a worse day.

So, with all of this in mind, how do I call him tomorrow and tell him "Happy Birthday"? I have dreaded this for over a week already and am not any closer in my mind to pinning this monster fear to the mat. There has to be a way for me to convey to him that I am glad he's alive for another day of life even if he is in torment and losing the battle with cancer. How glad I am that he's still fighting. Surely I can find some way to put a spin on the whole conversation so it isn't obvious that both of us know this will be the last birthday.

No, there's no easy out for me. No softer way. No possibility of avoidance of the uncomfortable "chore" before me. I have to call him, just like I do every day, and tell him once again, "I love ya', Little Bro'." And then I need to tell him how much ... how very, very much I wish ... No, I WANT ... how very much I want him to have a Happy Birthday.

God grant me the serenity.

16 comments:

Dri Quedas said...

Well, my english isn´t very good, too, but I can read your blog and it has changed my day, maybe my life... thank you so much!!

Good luck to you and Charlie... Send him a kiss and tell him that thare are a brasilian girl that is praying for him...

And I think that God is in this small things.... You don´t speak portuguese, my english isn´t very good, but we can understand one another...

Dea said...

Oh my, I wish I could come and lift the burden from you for a while. There is no easy way of saying it. Sit with him, smile and laugh with him (bring a funny video tape and help take his mind off of it?) Challenge him to a game of war with cards, and stack his deck.

Remind him that he is important to you.

It's hard. I lost my mother-in-law to cancer a few years ago, I feel your pain.

Praying for you and for him.

~Dea

Tony said...

Yes, God is in the small things. I have to believe that there will be good come out of Charles' suffering. I have to believe that he will find peace. I never thought I would be writing my thoughts and feelings about this on the internet but it has become a comforting therapy to release my feelings this way. And there are people out there, like you, who comfort me with their words. Thank you.

I hope the change to your day was a good one through reading my blog. I only want to bring happiness and understanding to people. But I know that we all must face our fears and challenges in life. I am doing mine this way, for now. I really am not normally a depressive personality, but I cannot mislead or lie, so when I hurt I am man enough to admit it openly and humbly.

Yes, isn't it wonderful that language is not a barrier when we think with our hearts.

Peace to you,
Tony

Tony said...

Thank you, Dea. I will not be able to be with him in person as I have used most of my paid time off in previous stays to assist him. We are sending him a giant ballon bouquet and funny card. And, of course, I will make that call I was writing about.

Lx said...

Call as early as it's allowed; tell him you're blowing over a good day for him. Found you via BE. Virtual strangers are sending prayers and good thoughts. We are, after all, people--we're all the same.

So much suffering...so much...

Tony said...

I just got off the phone with Charles and made a point of telling him about the people around the world who were thinking of him and sending positive energies his way. He was amazed that "strangers" would care enough to send their well wishes and that a Brazilian girl was moved enough to pray for him thousands of miles away though she's never met him. It was a bit overwhelming for him and he told me to please thank everyone and that he appreciated the kind thoughts and words. Thank you all. Thank everyone who stopped to comment and those who didn't but read my words about Charles anyway. It is the small things in life that can make such a large impact on people without us even knowing it.

A Woman From Illinois said...

Tony,
I am sorry for your pain and Charlie's fate. All you can do is be there for him in spirit and mind if not physical. I can not say I know how you feel; everyone grieves differently and at different paces. Do not try to hurry your grief. And I think it is normal to grieve for a missed future with someone.
I will pray for both of you. I will pray that his spiritual and physical pain is softened.

Anonymous said...

Tony,
You and I must make a pact, we must bring salvation back
Where there is love, I'll be there
I'll reach out my hand to you, I'll have faith in all you do
Just call my name and I'll be there
Chorus:
And oh - I'll be there to comfort you,
Build my world of dreams around you, I'm so glad that I found you
I'll be there with a love that's strong
I'll be your strength, I'll keep holding on - yes I will, yes I will
Let me fill your heart with joy and laughter
Togetherness, well that's all I'm after
Whenever you need me, I'll be there
I'll be there to protect you, with an unselfish love I respect you
Just call my name and I'll be there
(chorus)
If you should ever find someone new, I know She'd better be good to you
'Cos if "S"he doesn't, I'll be there
Don't you know, baby, yeah yeah
I'll be there, I'll be there, just call my name, I'll be there
(Just look over your shoulders, honey - ooh)
I'll be there, I'll be there, whenever you need me, I'll be there
Don't you know, baby, yeah yeah
I'll be there, I'll be there, just call my name, I'll be there...

Your Baby Sister Teresa
You are not alone Bubby

Tony said...

Thank you, AWFI. Giving comfort to others often brings comfort to yourself. You must be willing to give in order to properly receive. Therefore, I will reciprocate those comforting thoughts and prayers to you for your life's situations, burdens and decisions.

Jeff said...

Tony, I will be sure to lift your brother in prayer. My wife battled breast cancer in 2003, and survived. But it was a very hard time, so maybe I know a little of the heartache you are feeling. I pray that the Lord Jesus Christ will wrap you all in His loving arms and give you the peace and strength to face this day by day, hour by hour. He is a God of mercy and grace and his salvation is only a prayer away. Blessings to your whole family.

Tony said...

All prayers are welcome and appreciated, Jeff. Charles was in good spirits today and our brief Happy Birthday conversation went well. Thank you and all my cyber-friends for your support through this difficult time.

birdwoman said...

I'm so sorry that your brother is going through this, and that you have to watch the boy you've protected have to go through it.

Life really sucks sometimes.

(*)>

Tony said...

Thank you so much, BirdWoman. It is very difficult to watch... and to feel guilt that it isn't me bearing the pain and the fear. Life doesn't suck as much as we sometimes think or else we wouldn't cling to it desperately in the end...

Bosco said...

I find your heart to be just absolutely amazing.

Even with the sickness and the suffering God has turned it into a blessing. I really wish that his day on his Birthday was a happy one in comparison to the many other days and also the beginning of many more happy days to come.

God bless you in all that you do and keep loving with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind.

Tony said...

Hello Bosco,

Charles still lives in my heart every day. He taught me so much in his last months in the flesh. He showed me what it means to be brave. What it means to not give up no matter what the "odds". What it means to love so much that our perspective of reality is actually altered to a more positive view. What it means to be grateful and in awe of everything around us... the sun rising or setting, the birds building a nest outside your hospital window, the wind rustling the branches and whispering God's presence. Charles changed my life in his death. There isn't a day that goes by that he does not come to my mind. There's not a week that goes by that I do not still mourn his passing over.

Thank you for stopping by and commenting, Bosco. Charles touched more lives than he ever knew possible and continues to do so.

Namaste,
Tony

Lucas TM said...

Today I feel the same. I have to say happy birthday to my father in the hospital. He's been living in the hospital for almost half my life, what did you say to your little brother may I ask? And sorry for his lost, my heart is with you. I am going through what you went through before.

Big love your friend,
Lucas

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