My family began battling cancer in 2003 when my mother-in-law was diagnosed with colon cancer. Five years later my wife, who was pregnant with our third child, was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. Despite a valiant fight, cancer claimed the life of mother-in-law on April 18th and of my wife on July 23rd. I am now raising three girls all under the age of ten. It’s a constant battle between my feelings of misery about the devastating losses in my life, and the gratitude I feel for the gift of three amazing daughters who need me now more than ever. This is my challenge, and these are my thoughts.
I was simply moving stuff out of the basement. It’s time to move. The house is too big for us without Lisa. It’s just me and the kids. The cost is too high, it’s too much to clean, and I don’t have that many hours left in the day to take care of everything that needs to be done here. I need a smaller, less expensive, easier to clean house.
I bring up an old air conditioner from the basement (how long has that been down there). I walk back downstairs to get more junk (is this project going to take me all day?), and grab a broken lamp to bring back up (this lamp use to be in our bedroom. Is she really gone?). Put the lamp next to the front door, pause and take a look around the house (what is going on here, why the emotion, am I really going to miss this place, there is so much sadness associated here I want to leave, don’t I?). Back downstairs again and grab the box of Holiday decorations (ah crap, this is getting difficult, I didn’t expect this. Keep moving Matt, too much work to do today). Place the box next to the lamp and now the emotion is on me like a wet blanket (It’s official. I am starting to rebuild my life. I’m scared). I sit down on the box and breakdown.
I did what I could for 2 years. I tried to keep things as routine as possible for as long as possible. I did it for the girls. I could tell that it wasn’t so much that they lost their Mother. It was “How will my life change?” “What chaos is in store for us Dad?” So for 2 years, I kept the chaos away. I kept living in a house that was too big for us; taking care of a house that is too much for me to clean; paying bills on a house that is more than a now single income family can afford. For 2 years I blocked the inevitable.
But the time has come. This is the first major step. I am starting to rebuild my life. And it’s a horrible feeling.