Friday, September 5, 2008

On Living

Boy, did you know how to push my buttons. Politics. Religion. Gluing the toilet paper. The "bugs" under my pillow. The jokes that made me cringe and wonder how many Hail Marys it was worth. Oh, and remember the time you so kindly helped me visualize the bloodied and broken body of my mother-in-law (whom I love dearly--she's seriously a saint) while I took the wheel on our trip to visit your son (who just so happened to propose to me the very next night) in Georgia? I don't know why you thought getting me to cry while traveling the Smokies on a foggy night was a smart idea. But, your wife telling you to "Shut it" was worth it.

You were such a pain in my arse. From telling me I could give a stick figure a run for its money (I was not skinny, I just didn't care to eat a pound of fried cheese sticks. Those, my dear father-in-law, were all yours) to believing I was the worst thing that could happen to your son because I was a bit too rebellious, you gave me hell. You tried to boss me around. I bossed you right back. You wondered why the hell I wasn't pregnant 3 minutes after I was married. I said that once you pushed a Volkswagen out of your hoo haa, then maybe. You always told me my views were always wrong, I told you your views were never right. I made your blood boil. You made me cringe.

But, you loved me.

I loved you. More than anything.

We had a unique relationship, didn't we? I loved you not only for being the father of the man I married, but I loved you for being a father to me . . .

December 11, 2006
Your hands are resting at your side. Your mouth is strained open, as if you are trying to say something. The monitor beeps. The tubes stretch across your body. I lay my hand on your's and put on a brave face.

Your son needs me to be strong. I will be.

But I can't help but to silently beg you to wake up. To yell at me. To make fun of me. To spar with me over politics. Religion. The sucky Detroit Lions.

Deep breath.

You are the patriarch of this family. You are the heart that keeps it beating . . . I stare at their faces. They are lost. Your daughter. As the oldest, she tries so hard to hold it together. Your sons. I know they are running images of you in their mind. Birthdays. Holidays. Vacations. Firsts. They are negotiating with the guilt and regret of things said, unsaid, done, not done.

Your wife. Anne, my mother-in-law with the soul of a saint. Her pain runs so deep in digs trenches into my resolve to remain strong.

And I look to your son, my husband. You and he shared something that went beyond father and son. Beyond even a simple friendship. He got you. You got him. I know that when you go you'll take a part of him with you.

Yet. You are still you. Even at the end. As your three sons, with breaking hearts and tears in their eyes lean over you, telling you they love you, you lean forward. And with a raspy voice barely above a whisper, you tell them, "Don't be a bunch of pu$ies." The bite back at their laughter. That was an "I love you" if I ever heard one.

I plead with my tears, for they are not mine to cry. But I know they'll fall . . .

December 12, 2006
Today is my husband's birthday. Today is the day you brought the love of my life into the world.

And today. You say goodbye.

The cancer that ravaged your body is gone. It claimed your lungs, your bones, your brain, and ultimately, your life.

I know I shouldn't be. But I am still so angry. How it forced itself into your life, a BIG life. How is stole your sly smile and robbed you of your laughter. You were such a force and to see you as you crumbled under the pain was something I will never be able to wipe from my memory. One moment your voice filled the room as wild energy whirled around you. The next moment you were so small. So frail. A victim, beaten and robbed.

But in the end, it didn't claim your soul. And today, your spirit is so alive. In sweet Anne's heart. In T's sense of humor. In R's stubbornness. In S's charm. In your daughter's wisdom. In my vivid memories. And now, in his sly little smile. Sweet Baby J, who entered this world only nine months after you said goodbye.

Your grandson. I now know why you wanted him for us. Why only two weeks after you left us we found out about him. He was a gift. He soothed our hearts and helped dry our tears . . .

One day, I will tell him stories that will have him filling a room with his laughter (your laughter). He will know you. He will cherish you the same way I did. I'll make sure of it.

And so you know, I'd give anything to have those moments back. The edgy banter. The lame jokes. The totally inappropriate comments. The moments when I knew I meant the world to you . . .

* * *

I know that nearly every one of you has been touched by cancer. Although is can tear lives apart, in its wake are often the most courageous of all stories. I just keep reminding myself that the body is temporary, the soul (regardless of what you believe) lives on . . .

To Faith, the most beautiful young girl I've ever seen. I miss you. 19 years old.
To Timmy. I can only imagine who you'd be today. Greatness. Undoubtedly. 14 years old.
To Maddie. I miss you, grandma. That fiery red hair. That fiery personality.
To Len. You knew how to live. And you did, up until the last breath.
To Amy. You survived. You did it! You amaze me.

To Roman. Your grandson looks just like you . . .

* * *

44 comments:

Lindsey said...

Whew. Well I just had a major cry! Hormones.

My father in law died of cancer and he was the heart of the family. I guess this is why your post hit home.

Here's a hug!

Rachel said...

I just cried and cried.
I lost my sister in law and my grandfather to cancer and my mom was born with brain cancer (she's fine now)

This was amazing. Thank you.

Kori said...

I just can't really comment on this. Becuase I am crying-and think you are SO awesome. This is-well.

Allison Says said...

I wish I had something insightful to say. But that was beautiful. You made me cry...

I'm sorry for your losses, and for all of the losses that occur because of cancer.

Mr Lady said...

Oh, dude, that is so sad and still so beautiful. Hugs.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

I will be watching. And you are amazing. Roman was right.

Lisa said...

I don't even have the words to describe how that touched me.

He is watching down on you, loving you, in his way =)

Colleen said...

that was a beautiful tribute. your father in law sounds so much like my grandpa whom I lost to cancer as well. I'm sure J will thoroughly enjoy the stories about his gruffy grandfather.

Anglophile Football Fanatic said...

Amazingly written. Everybody has been touched by it somehow.

Burgh Baby said...

I'm bawling. Laski, that was a beautiful post and a perfect tribute to someone you obviously cared about deeply.

Cancer sucks.

Kathryn said...

Wow. That was perfect. Absolutely perfect.

tommie said...

this brought so many tears.....I am not a touchy feely hugger (except for the kids) but I would totally give you a hug right now!

Colleen said...

This, too, made me cry tonight. I am touched by the story of your father in law. I need to write my own - the story of my Mom's triumph. We can only hope that something very good comes of this stand up to cancer thing.

dragynm said...

Oh, Lord!! I'm doing a lot of crying tonight!!

Thanks for sharing this, hon. It's beautiful.

Tootsie Farklepants said...

I was holding it together (barely) until I got to the part about Sweet Baby J. This is a truly beautiful post.

Tracey said...

Shit. Give us a warning, would you?

My grandma died of cancer. My father survived it. It touches all of us...

Carol said...

So beautifully written.

Cancer has touched us all and I can only imagine we all have lost someone we love to it.

Amy said...

You really have a way with words - so eloquently written.

Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

too hard for me to read it all, for obvious reasons. But, thanks for the post and the reminders that cancer affects so many, not just me. Honestly, I forget.

KEEP BELIEVING

Lori said...

Beatifully said!

MoziEsmé said...

Beautiful post that brought tears to my eyes.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

This was beautiful and your timing on posting it perfect.

I'm not going to share my mother's last words to me here (it's a post of it's own), but suffice it to say that she and Roman had a certain "saltiness" in common.

Stacie said...

thank you for sharing that with us, it is a beautiful tribute!

Eve Grey said...

Very touching, beautiful tribute.

Mamasphere said...

What a beautiful post. I'm so sorry that cancer stole that man away from you and your family.

Angela said...

Beautiful, breathtaking post...

Karen MEG said...

Laski, this had me tearing up.

My FIL also succumbed to cancer; but only when I just started dating hubs. He never saw hubs graduate from university; never knew we got married; never knew that he had another granddaughter and a grandson, the only one to carry on his name. He would have been so proud. He was a sweet, funny man, and I feel that I only touched the surface of what a wonderful person he really was.

He had just retired and died a year after being diagnosed with multiple myeloma. He was only 62.

Thanks for posting this. Your FIL sounded like a special, special man.

Pregnantly Plump said...

This is so special and beautiful. Your father in law sounds like a very great man!

painted maypole said...

beautiful post

Sandy C. said...

One of the most beautiful tributes I've ever read. I can't imagine anyone with a dry eye in the house here. Thank you for sharing this poignant post. Cancer has touched so many of us indeed.

just jamie said...

Oh Laski. So heartfelt. So sad. And so scary. Why does life have to be so cruel?

Many angels are watching you, full of pride and joy.

CC said...

beautiful. We've all be touched by this horrid disease.

Veggie Mom said...

I watched, and I stood up to Cancer. And I will continue to do so. My MIL and her 4 sisters died of the disease. The whole situation is really pretty scary. And so sad! Thanks for the strong and poignant post. We've been there. We understand.

April said...

Beautiful tribute. Love never dies.

DYSFUNCTIONAL MOM said...

What a beautiful post.

Swishy said...

Wow ... that is just beautiful.

Marmarbug said...

That post just got me. Cancer is so frightening. I pray that one day we will find a cure.
I am so sorry about your loss.

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

What a beautiful, beautiful tribute to your f-i-l, thank you for this touching post.

gina said...

My oldest two daughters have lost both of their grandfathers to cancer- they were both only in their earlt 50's. My FIL now, is a cancer survivor and only in his 50's. I lost a woman who was like a second mother to me to lung cancer- in her 40's. Sigh. Cancer has taken to much from us for us NOT to stand up to it. Thank you for sharing your story- it was a beautiful tribute. A beautiful story.

Motherhood for Dummies said...

I wish I had something comforting to say. Beautiful post. It seems like no one is NOT effected by cancer these days. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Lisa said...

Oh my. That was beautiful. I have chills all the way up and down my body. It has taken it's toll on too many people.

Beautifully written!

Kami said...

That was beautiful, I was crying.

A great tribute to your FIL.

Karen said...

That was beautiful. What an awesome legacy for J to share with you. I"m so sorry for your loss.

Kimmylyn said...

This was painfully beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

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