It’s that time again .. Time to lay to rest another good man, lost to cancer. This one was a godly man, a coach (both literally and figuratively), a loving husband, a father of three and a grandfather to five. He was my neighbor my whole life. His middle son was my brother’s best friend growing up. His wife and my mother were pregnant with myself and his youngest son at the same time. There is still a photo somewhere of their bellies together as Morgan and I “met” for the first time. Later, Morgan’s wife and I would be pregnant at the same time. We don’t have that picture, but it happened.
As I heard of the loss of Matt I could only think of his beautiful life and his brave and determined battle against this disease. I am so heartbroken for his amazing wife who stuck by him every single day. I swallow so hard and can’t help but choke back tears when I think of Ben, Jake and Morgan and the pain that is burring your father. Not only do they have their own sorrow, but they are raising little children they must explain this to and regretfully watch as they try to understand.
I am really bad with this stuff. When someone I care about has been diagnosed with cancer I don’t look the other way but I do stay more silent than I would like. I pray. I hope. I build up this super hero in my mind that will fight this and come up on top no matter what. I don’t know if it’s the right approach, but it’s all I know how to do. I am scared. I am confused. I am anxious. Most of all, I am angry. I am so angry because it just isn’t fair.
Cancer is my biggest fear. Not having any control of your body as a sickness makes you weak, unrecognizable, dependent and scared shitless is the worst thing! Now, of course, sharks really upset me too. What is worse than being eaten by a shark and drowning at the same time? No thanks. But you know what .. That’s why I stay the hell out of the ocean.
Cancer is not so easy. You can’t just stay away from the ocean and not get it. You don’t get it because you are the best person in the world, or the worst person in the world. You just get it. Sure, you shouldn’t boil water in a plastic cup and drink it, you shouldn’t eat bacon every single day, you shouldn’t smoke or lay out in the sun all day, but you could and you might be just fine. My brain has a hard time wrapping that up into a nice package.
I want to fully understand everything, understanding is powerful. I can’t understand why a mother of seven, nursing a baby under a year old would black out at a family barbecue, find a brain tumor and be dead just a few months later. I can’t understand why a 28 year old veteran who barely survived an IUD while fighting for his country would then get leukemia and die of phenomena, after a stem cell transplant. I can’t understand why a woman would go to the doctor 10 weeks pregnant and find out that she has cervical cancer and the best thing to do is abort her baby and fight it aggressively, possibly leaving her with no chance to carry another. I can’t understand a cancer battle that was seemingly going well until a platelet loss turned into a massive brain bleed. I can’t understand these stories as much as I can’t understand how a man can smoke a pack a day for his entire life and never get cancer.
I wish I could go back to when I was a very small child and all I knew about cancer was that you got sick and lost your hair. Remember that? When you thought that they lost their hair because of the sickness. As a kid you KNEW you didn’t have cancer because you had hair.
I met Corey when he was 14. He had hair. He made out with my friend Faith. He jumped on the trampoline (maybe a little less than us). He signed my tree house in black permanent marker, just like all my friends did. If possible, his clubhouse was cooler than my tree house. Him and Josh, my best friend, would steal dirty magazines from their dads and look at them in the clubhouse. I remember going through his cd collection and asking why he had Britney Spears cds and he said “I like to have all kinds of music just because everyone likes different things.” He was wonderful. That was his last summer. His dad invited Josh into his room after he passed away to see if he wanted to take anything. He had left his room untouched. Josh vividly described to me how a pair of Corey’s pants were on the floor, as if he had just taken them off, as if he was still there. We all wished that we could have grown up a little slower and learned a little later about how sad and unfair cancer really is.
With the recent passing of Matt and so many others, all I know for sure is that no matter how much we all try to feel in control and feel like we understand, we will never truly be better off than when we were young children and everything seemed so simple.
Rest Peacefully ..