There really are days when I feel like I'm just sitting around waiting to die. If I was more active - if I could be more active I should say - I might not feel this way. But my physical condition limits me so much that I do a lot of sitting around. I have to be very careful with physical activity due to the deterioration of the bones in my back and even when I do exert myself, I end up out of breath and have to hook myself up to the oxygen tank. So I do sit around and I can't help but think about the time I have left and feel somewhat morose about the fact that I can't do more.
Thankfully, I can write and, thankfully I have you dear readers who find something informative and helpful in what I write. That is truly a gift! And I thank you for your side of the bargain. So bear with me while I wander a bit today. Maybe get a little repetitive. Just to get a few things off my chest.
I really try to feel good each day, to keep a smile on my face - a stiff upper lip. It's not that I'm pretending to be well. In fact, when people tell me how good I look, I assure them that it's all on the outside. The bad stuff is what's going on inside of me. But I want to feel good and try to convince myself that I am. When I'm successful at it, I can almost feel like I'm into some kind of long-term remission, even though I know how unlikely that is with a growing, untreated cancer. But I wonder if this is some kind of denial? Wishful thinking? An attempt to put a pretty face on a not-so-pretty situation? Perhaps. Does it make me feel better? Maybe. Sometimes. But then it always comes back to something that reminds me just how sick I am and what my prognosis is. So I may feel better in the short term but, over time, it wears on me and I start to feel worse about things. It becomes harder and harder to feel good each and every day. So maybe it's just not possible. And it's ironic, but the more accepting I become of death and the fact that I am going to die, the more anxious I get about what is happening to me and perhaps it is that anxiety that gets in the way. So a good part of my life now is avoiding anxiety producing situations. The calmer I can make things, the better able I am to enjoy the day.
The other side of this coin is the guilt that I feel about not being able to be the constructive member of society (and, more importantly, my family) that I used to be. I just can't do many of the common day-to-day things that I took for granted before (like cutting the grass, taking out the garbage, etc.), that made me feel normal. I don't get up in the morning and go to work to earn a living any more. Perhaps it's more understandable to think in terms of feeling useless rather than guilty. Even though I know it's the cancer that's created this new situation and not me, I still feel a twisted sense of personal guilt that can turn a good day into a bad day.
And when I'm gone, how will I be remembered? Will I be that morose guy who dropped out of life when he took medical leave? Will I simply be Dianne's husband who passed away? Or will I be rembered as someone who made the most of his situation, maybe not every day but overall? I sure hope it's the latter, but who knows. Maybe I won't even care once I've made the transition to the other side (whatever that might be) but I think it will matter to Dianne who has loved me for all that I am and who works so hard to make sure that I can be happy every day. For ultimately, she is the one I care most about. She is the one who will keep my memory alive longer and stronger than anyone. And she is the one, today, who needs me to be happy because it impacts her own happiness as well. We are in this together, after all.