those conversations….

I remember having the conversation with him (my husband at the time), after my diagnosis of breast cancer in 2008. I remember sitting on the living room floor and making arrangements and promises for my end, should it come to that. If you’ve never had the conversation it’s hard to imagine the weight you place on the promises of the living. You are relying solely on the word of another to make things okay once you are gone, and if you’re anything like me, you have learned that relying on anyone but yourself is a bit of a gamble. The odds have never been in my favor. So, I cried and I begged him to be there for my children. I asked him to remember me with a life of love and pride and to pass along good memories of my strength and courage. I asked him to pass along MY love for my children, a feat I knew he could not do, but the words, the promise, made it seem as if he would try. When you are “planning” your end, you have a temporary sense of control. As if somehow the details of how you will be celebrated/grieved/remembered will make it sting a little less. It doesn’t. I remember exactly how it felt to say those words, the “if it should come down to it”. The cruelest part of having any disease that has the capability to take your life is the overwhelming need that the one afflicted feels to make it OKAY for everyone else. The person afflicted (myself) feels a sense of responsibility to remain strong and brave for everyone else, because you feel as if YOUR illness is going to complicate the lives of others. You feel a certain level of guilt causing anyone else the inevitable pain of your loss, so the real tears come in the shower, in the car,  under the hum of loud music in the kitchen when no one is around to hear you grieve for yourself. And you do, you grieve for yourself in a way that no one else can. You grieve for yourself and the loss YOU will face, dying and leaving the world with the people in it that you cherish so much. You grieve because no matter what your faith, your belief system, you are going into the unknown…alone. And then you wipe your tears, and stifle your sobs and you have those conversations…

I’ve been fortunate so far. I have never had to call on the promises of the living, because I still walk among them.

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