Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Oh, how I wish this post was about George Michael. You have no idea how much I'd love to tell you to wake me up, before you go go.

Nope. This is a crappy post. Like, maybe keep some kleenex nearby.

I went over to CN's last night to watch tv with him. He's been a little down lately, because of his dad's poor health. I wanted to see how he was doing and besides, I missed him. (Yes, I miss him after 18 hours. Shut up.)

"Hi Babe!" I said, walking in the front door.

"Hi!" he said from the couch. He was watching tv.

Then, I went over to explain to him why I was at his house, instead of making him a peach cobbler like I told him I was going to do. It's because I can't keep the fresh peaches longer than 6 hours before they rot (I have no idea what is up with that, but it's very frustrating). After three tries of using fresh, local peaches, I had given up and decided to use frozen peaches. I had originally planned on baking the cobbler on Sunday, but we had been at the hospital all day and the defrosted frozen peaches had rotted in the fridge and yadda yadda yadda...

That's when I noticed he had a Bible next to him.

Not that this is totally out of the question, because he and I have talked about God before and we both pray before we fall asleep at night, and I do want to start going to church again. But he and I don't really crack open a Bible at the end of the day, either. This was out of the ordinary.

I knew it had to do with his dad. Something was up. Which stinks, because he's the kind of guy who doesn't like to talk about crappy stuff, like sick parents. Basically, we are opposite in this way. Which leaves me not really knowing what to do. Do I ask and make him uncomfortable? Do I make him talk about it, because I know it's good to talk about this stuff, even if it isn't exactly a picnic? Or do I allow him to remain quiet and lost in his thoughts? Should I just STFU and watch tv? To be honest, I haven't exactly learned what to do when it comes to Serious Crappiness Relating to The Boyfriend. I am sort of trying to learn what to do as I go, and hoping that I don't upset him or piss him off in the process. I will be the first to admit that he and I are still learning how to communicate with each other in certain situations. [See post from earlier this week...]

I decided to just ask.

"Have you talked to your mom?" I squeaked, hesitatingly.


And that's when he told me. His dad is getting radiation all week, and going home on Friday to recuperate. If the radiation doesn't work, the doctors are giving him 6 weeks to live. If it does work, they are giving him 8 months. Eight months. Best case scenario. Fuck. Actually, you know what, "fuck" doesn't even begin to express how much this sucks. For him. For CN. For their family. Stop and imagine how it would feel if you got this news. "Hey, by the way, that person you love very much? That person you have known your whole life? Yeah, they won't be here next summer. This is a good time to take that vacation you've always talked about."

Kinda puts stuff in perspective, huh?

The doctors want his parents to sign all the end-of-life paperwork. Which is not fun to fill out, because it asks questions like, "If you are unable to breathe on your own, do you want the doctors to resuscitate you or not?" and "Would you want to be on life support? Have feeding tubes? Be in a permanent vegetative state? Or do you want us to pull the plug?"

As you can probably tell, it's not looking good. And unless you've been through this type of shit with your own loved ones, you are not fully grasping it, let me tell you. I helped my mom fill out that form when my dad was really sick. He died a month to the day after we filled out that paperwork. When the doctor told CN's mom he wanted her to fill it out, I knew what it meant (oh shit, that's not good), but I could tell that CN and his mom did not fully grasp it. The look on their faces was more along the lines of, "That's just a precaution, right? Right?"

I was filled with flashbacks. If you are in the club, too, you are probably having flashbacks of your own loved one's illness right now, as you are reading this. What club am I talking about? The Grief Club. Not exactly a club I was hoping to be a part of. Anyway, until you have lost a close relative or loved one, you cannot understand what it's like. You think you do, but you don't, trust me. When I was in your shoes, I thought I could understand what grief was like, too.

Grief is like a brick wall of sadness. And you hit it, face first, at about 95mph. Again and again and again. All day long. Every 2 minutes. Until further notice. It could be a week. Or a month. Or a few months. Or the rest of your life. It's like being trapped on a scary rollercoaster, wanting to get off, but never being allowed. You can't talk. You can't think, unless you are thinking sad things. You can't look people in the eye. You want to be alone, but at the same time, you want to be surrounded by people. It feels weird to laugh, but you want someone to tell a funny story about that person so badly, even if you cry and laugh at the same time. You definitely do not feel like yourself.

And then one day, you are ok. You start to feel non-zombie again, and you start to do normal things again. Like eating. And sleeping. And not crying every second of every day. You can go to the grocery store, and actually make it home before you burst into tears. This is good!

Every day gets a little bit easier. You are thinking, "Ok, cool. I made it. It's all going to be ok." And then WHAM it hits you again out of nowhere. Like when you see something that reminds you of that person. Or when someone's dying in a movie. Or when you pick up the phone to call them, and realize that you can't. WHAM. You're back on that rollercoaster.

Right now, I have volunteered to get back on the rollercoaster. Because I can't watch CN's family go through all of this without thinking about my dad. And I can't just opt out of being there for him during all of this. Heck, at this stage in my life, I practically have a PhD in Grief. I'm exactly the person who should be with CN right now. He needs me. And as difficult as this is going to be for me, I have to be there for him. It's part of my Official Girlfriend Duties. *salutes*

As we pulled into the hospital last Sunday, I said aloud without thinking, "This is the first time I've been in a hospital since my dad died." WHAM. CN doesn't know this, and I hate to admit it, but part of the reason I didn't go with him on Saturday was because I knew this would happen. I knew all the grief feelings would well up inside me again. And it's a sickening feeling. A helpless feeling. A sad feeling. And I know it's selfish of me, but who wants to sign up for feeling like that? I knew that if I went with him, I'd have to go there. To that painful place, full of tears and emotions and memories. I hate going there.

As we walked up to the room where CN's dad is, all I could think was, "Please don't let there be tubes coming out of his face. Please, no tubes. I can't handle tubes." Thankfully, there where no tubes. And the hospital didn't have that "hospital" smell. Which was a big relief, too. I hate that smell. It smells like sterile cotton pads, mixed with body fluids, cafeteria food and stale air. Seriously, if you work in a hospital, and you are reading this, can y'all buy some damn febreeze or something? Cuz you are just used to it, trust me. It smells like ass where you work.

I did ok during most of the visit, but it definitely had its WHAM moments. The beeping machines. The bags of fluids. It was a lot to take in, without much mental preparation. I did ok on Sunday, but ever since then, it's been a long descent. Back on the rollercoaster. I have been carefully repairing myself these last three years, putting all the grief feelings behind me. It's like I have been building a brick wall, one brick at a time, very slowly. Not that I would ever fully brick it up and close it up. That's impossible. It's with you always. But I had built a wall high enough that it didn't hurt anymore. It was starting to be ok to talk about it. Even feel happy about the time I did have with my dad. I felt ok putting it away. Way back in the long term storage area of my brain. Like a cherished toy from childhood. Not that it's not important to you anymore, but somehow, in a way, you have moved on. Enough time had passed. Life goes on. He's still there, with me, inside my heart. Death is part of life. It has taken me 3 years to get here.

And now, all the wounds are split open again. I get to experience it all, from the beginning stages to the end. Only this time, I am on the outside, mostly. It's like having an out-of-body experience. I am experiencing the same feelings, but in a different way. I know what's going to happen. I know there will be urgent phone calls and moments of hope that will be dashed to pieces. I know there will be lots of crying and exhaustion. I could probably predict every moment right now. But this time, there is a new element. I get to see someone I love very much deal with a whole lot of pain, and there's nothing I can do or say to prepare him for it. I can't stop it. I can't do a whole lot to make him feel better. This time, in addition to feeling my own grief well up inside of me, I have to watch someone I love feel grief for the first time, which is almost as painful, because I can't fully feel what he's feeling. I can only feel a ghost of my own grief. It's like sympathy pains. Kinda.

I know what is coming down the pipe for him and his family. It's like going to the doctor, knowing you are going to have to have a shot. You know it's going to suck, and there's no way out of it. Only with grief, it's like, 1,000 times worse. And I can try to describe it and warn him about it all I want, but I will never be able to. It's something he will have to experience with his family. The most I can do is be by his side. We will ride the roller coaster together.


Smug said...

It such a sweet, loving and wonderful thing that you are doing for CN - putting yourself back onto the grief club in order to be there for him. I think that this is a sign of real maturity (I don't mean to sound condescending with that) on your part!!

teahouse said...

Hey, VB - You are very brave. I have never had a close loved one die, so I guess I'm one of those people who can't fully grasp that feeling. CN is very lucky to have you in his life!

I am praying for CN and his family and you.

JP said...

What a powerful post. Big hugs to you and CN's family.

Meghan (The Declaration of MY Independence) said...

First of all...

OK, now I can start.

I am a FIRM believer that people come into your life for a reason. An VB, my dear, I think you may have been brought into CN's life for this reason. I cant even imagine how hard this will be for you, but I cant believe how brave and unselfish you are being right now. As much as he wont say it, you are going to be his strongest support right through this. And while this may not make things easier for you right now, you wait and see how much stronger your relationship is going to be.

I will be praying for all of you. Please keep me updated on this situation.

And if you need anything, I am ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS a phone call away.

luv ya!

Megan said...

CN and his family are very fortunate people to have you in their lives.

You will do more for them just by being by their sides than you probably know.

Ya'll are in my thoughts.

Virginia Belle said...

thank you, everyone, very much. it's always good to have support of any kind during times like this. :)

sassafras said...

Oh VB. Just sad, the whole thing is sad.

But, I am happy that you and CN have each other to get through this.

You are a wonderful girlfriend =)

cmk said...

At my 'advanced' age, I have been through the death-of-a-loved-one thing way too often. While I haven't lost either of my parents, my in-laws both are gone, as is my husband's twin brother. As you already know, and have said, the most you can do is be by CN's side--and he WILL need you there. Don't forget to take care of yourself at this time, also--make sure there is someone YOU can talk to to help YOURSELF through this. You will do NO ONE any good if you aren't fine and healthy. You all are in my thoughts and prayers.

Jonathan Zero said...

Fuck. Not much else I can say. I agree with the others, CN lucky to have you in his life.

(M)ary said...

wow. first of all, i am sorry this is bringing up painful memories for you. second of all, i am so so sorry for CN!!

and thirdly, being there for your BF will make it easier for him...

ps will his initials ever change from CN to CB (cute boyfriend)?

When Darkness Falls... said...

I am so sorry VB. I have been through this same scenario (see my post of Feb 2). You and CN will be in my prayers.

RWA said...

Well, like you said, the best thing you can do is be there for him. You have been through this, and you know a lot of what he's feeling.

My thoughts and prayers are with y'all.

Becky said...

"The most I can do is be by his side. We will ride the roller coaster together"

couldn't have said it better myself. ((HUGS))

Sam said...

I'm so sorry that you have to be in this place again. I went to two memorials this summer, both men and it opened a lot of wounds. Hug CN for me and stick by his side.