Terminal Illness? Live in the Present

From the beginning, Mother’s diagnosis, then Daddy’s diagnosis, we knew what the end result would be. We knew that this was the beginning of the end of our parent’s lives. We didn’t know how long or short it would be. We just knew that one day we would be burying them.

Also from the beginning, Mother’s diagnosis, then Daddy’s diagnosis, we knew that we could not allow ourselves to focus on, or dwell on their deaths. To do so would mean that we would be emotional wreaks. We would be ‘basket cases’, unable to be helpful in any way.

There was no time for self pity. No time for whining. No time for “why me?” None of these things are constructive activities anyway. They bring nothing positive to a difficult situation.

We truly only took things one day at a time. There were many days where we concentrated only on an hour at a time, sometimes one test at a time, one needle at a time. We truly learned to live in the present. We gleaned and enjoyed the good moments. We asked for God’s strength for the difficult ones.

Yes, the emotions were definately there. For the most part I was able to control my emotions so that they did not get in the way of what needed to be done. Again, I called them ‘hip pocket’ moments. This may sound odd, but I would actually schedule time to cry. Yep. You see, I needed to be able to talk to nurses, doctors, physical therapists, family members, etc., and I needed to be able to do it without having emotional ‘meltdowns’.

Many nights after Daddy went go to sleep, I would go into the bathroom in his hospital room and sit on the floor and cry. I realize that was rather risky to my health. Hospital bathroom floors are not the cleanest of places so I don’t recommend this to anyone else. At the time I just needed a place and that spot was mine. I cried until I felt like, well I can’t really describe what I felt like when I finished crying. I felt some relief. I felt like I could handle the next day. There were a couple of mornings when I got up and cried as well. I knew the day ahead was going to be difficult, no horrible, and I needed to be able to face it emotionally.

My scheduled crying moments helped. The truth is that we need to allow ourselves to have those times. We can not always be strong, but we can sometimes choose our weak moments.

Living in the present was, for us, a way of coping with the unavoidable future. We knew what was coming and we prepared for it, but we chose to focus on, dwell on and live in the present.

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