This is the season when everyone does the Walk for a Cure, when we hear the word “cancer” way too many times every day! I realized that it bothers me to hear the word and I do all I can to not think about it. I am still angry I guess. While wondering if it will ever get better, a strange thought crossed my mind: As a woman, is it harder to lose your father or your husband? While I realize that it is not a common thought for a young woman, it is on my mind and heart and the losses bring different feelings inside of me.
My father passed away 7 years ago on a cold January day. He was diagnosed with cancer and passed away about 3 weeks after that diagnosis. I was miles away and removed from the everyday dealings with the situation. My children were little and he did not want us to see him suffer. I did not even attend the funeral.
On the other hand, my husband passed away 2 years ago on a very cold February morning. He also died from cancer, 11 months after the first diagnosis. I was with him thorough every moment of suffering and painful emotion. Our children were older and saw him suffer every day.
While sadness filled my heart, it is a long journey onward to understanding and accepting the things that happened, the reasons why and how they affect my life every single day.
I had a great relationship with both men. I was daddy’s little girl and towards our last years together, him and my mom spend their days living with us. He was my resident gardener and my morning coffee companion. We would sit outside on the deck before anyone else was awake, drinking coffee and talking about life while nature was waking up. I think about those days so often it’s crazy! When he passed away I felt sad and had a great feeling of loss, a loss that cannot be replaced. You only have one dad in your life. I also felt really sorry for my mom for losing her husband and part of her identity. I never had to think about my mom as a person by herself; I always thought of them as my parents this or my parents that.
I was married to my husband for almost 17 years. He was a fisherman when we met and months, for many years, during our marriage he was gone at sea. It was a crazy lifestyle but worked for us. We got along great and we almost never argued. We had two kids about 5 years into our marriage and a few years before he died, he changed careers so that he could be home with us, enjoy the family life and see his children grow up. We had some adjusting to do to our marriage but life was good. When he got diagnosed with stomach cancer, my life stopped. You stop everything and try to deal with the one problem that affects everything you are, have, do. You go non-stop, you read, you learn, you cry, you think… You don’t eat, you don’t sleep and you hope. When he passed away the one feeling I remember was the empty feeling inside. I was also very sad for my children. I was angry because they were robbed of all the things I think of when I think of my father. I still am.
But life goes on, of course. Two years after becoming a widow, I think of myself as a single mom. I have a boyfriend who adores me and thought me how to love again. Life is good and I learned how to appreciate everyday to its fullest. I thank my husband for the front row seat to the life education intensive course! I know that we had it great for awhile. He’s not forgotten and the empty feeling is slowly disappearing. My children are happy kids and we get along great.
However, I still have the heavy feeling of loss of my father. I don’t think it will ever go away. Knowing that, it makes me sad to think about my children having the same heavy feeling in their hearts and that I, their mother, can do nothing to ease that. I know that no matter what, no matter the age, the feeling is the same. I can fill their life but can I fill their hearts?