The Boy texted me on Sunday night to tell me his grandfather had just died (unexpectedly).
My heart dropped.
My first thought was “Poor Boy.”
My second thought was “Poor Boy’s Mother” who I love dearly (his family is amazing).
My third thought was “I’m not sure I’m ready to enter a cemetery again.”
My fourth thought was “I am so selfish.”
I called The Boy immediately when I saw the text message (I was in a ballet class so he knew my phone would be on silent mode). He was on his way to his grandfather’s house, and I had no idea what to say. All I could think of were all of the annoying things people would say to me when my mom was dying (and after she died) that never made me feel better and would only anger me. I told him that I’d like to come if he wants me there, but if he would rather be alone, I would completely understand. That’s all I could think of that wouldn’t piss me off.
Which only pissed me off.
Why was I taking my pain and deflecting it off of him? What if he needed to hear the things that I couldn’t hear?
I wasn’t sure how I would handle seeing his family in that situation. I had already met with his parents and siblings many times, so there wasn’t any discomfort of not knowing them, just not knowing how to help.
Thankfully, my instincts to help and impart my knowledge (otherwise known as efficiency derived from personal experience) kicked in, and when I arrived, all I could think of was helping them take care of what needed to be taken care of and help them organize (and hug them, because they are such great people). I was secretly thankful for the dark humor that had already become a part of the situation, if only in that I could see that, much like my family, they use humor to deal with grief. Since I was the Queen of Dark Humor in the weeks leading up to my mother’s death, and the weeks following it, I was by no means uncomfortable (and able to add some of my own).
The funeral itself was OK. I could see a lot of what I felt at my mother’s funeral in The Boy and his mother (and siblings). There was one point, during the eulogies (which, thankfully, my dad didn’t allow at my mom’s funeral), where I began to cry, but I was standing behind The Boy and made a conscious effort not to sniffle, so I don’t think anyone noticed. That day and the next one, with the time I spent at the Shiva, went fairly well – his family, like mine, laughs a lot, so it wasn’t as bad as I had initially feared.
However, the past few days have been very difficult, first and foremost because of the profound affect they have had on The Boy. I’m not used to my mood being altered directly by someone else’s, but I’m told it’s natural. The knowledge that there is nothing I can do or say to help him feel better raised so many issues for me.
Other than a bit of regression back into my personal depression, for which I feel profoundly guilty as this was not my grief to hijack, I found myself thinking back to the months leading up to my mother’s death, as well as the the time immediately following it. I knew how helpless my friends felt at the lack of ability to help me, but, until this week, it was 100% knowledge, 0% experience. I could imagine it, but I couldn’t feel it, and now I could. And it sucks.
I keep finding myself thinking “What would I want to hear? What would I want people to do?” But I just don’t know. The Boy and I have known each other for over 3 years, but we have only been together for 2.5 months (more or less). I was alone when I went through the whole ordeal, and I am happy I was.
I don’t know how I would have been able to balance a relationship with my sadness. I don’t know if I would have been able to let someone be there for me. I don’t know if I would have pushed him away.
So now I am faced with a new challenge, and I’m frightened of not being there enough, or being there too much. I don’t want to be pushy, but I don’t want him and his family to think I don’t care. I want to be able to help them as much as they need, but I don’t want to impose on the time that they need to be together as a family, alone. I want them to understand that I know exactly what they’re going through and how they are feeling, but I don’t want to take away from their pain and make it my own.
I don’t want to be selfish.
But I am.
Because regardless of what they are feeling and going through, and the fact that it is their mourning process and not mine, I am still going through my own, and while I can usually push it aside, I can’t help but be thrown back into my own sadness as I see them in theirs.
Posted in Brain Cancer, brain tumors, death and dying, Family cancer support, Glioblastoma Tagged: Brain Cancer, death and dying, Family cancer support, Glioblastoma, grief, mourning process, terminal cancer