Friday, October 20, 2017

Honesty is the best policy.

I spent a week after his death in the house. I spent it in isolation. I spoke to a few friends never admitting my grief through text. It's hard to text about something so personal, it's even harder to blog about. I dreaded as the days got closer to me returning to school. I didn't want to be away from my mom, even if it was only an hour. I didn't even want to see my friends. I wanted to be alone. I wanted to consume myself in grief. I wanted to lock myself up in my dorm and only go to class and work.

Some of my friends reached out and some didn't. I can tell you I learned who my real friends were and weren't. I spent a lot of time avoiding my Catholic friends. I spent a lot of time in my room and I spent a lot of time in sadness.

I couldn't bring myself to pray. I wasn't angry at God. I wasn't frustrated with God. I was just sad. I was consumed in sadness. I had days where I barely woke up at a reasonable hour and I still have those days.

I spent time angry. I wasn't angry at my grandfather. I was just angry. I felt alone and unwanted and I had a support system but that support system consisted of only 3-4 people out of the many I labeled as friends. My frustration grew not only at them, but at myself. I wanted to be okay again. I knew my grandfather wanted me to carry on. His wife even told me so. He was proud of me. He wouldn't be proud if I gave up, even though I wanted to. I wanted to so badly.

I didn't want to go to school or work. I wanted to spend weeks in grief. I wanted to spend them in the solace of my blankets. I didn't want to continue on if continuing on meant not being able to call him or watch his favorite TV shows every Sunday morning and buying him his favorite baked goods or even just falling asleep on the couch knowing I would wake up from my small nap and see him again. I missed his expression when he dreaded us leaving his house; he never wanted us to leave. I miss being his support through chemo (as awful as chemo is). I just missed him. I couldn't call him after class. 

It was bothering me. The community I once built on friends who led me closer to God had vanished The floor under my feet was taken from me and everything I built myself on collapsed.

I spoke to God prior to his death. I told him, I didn't know how I would react once this happened. I only hoped that he would guide me. In many ways he did. Even if I couldn't talk; I knew he would lead me back. I wasn't going to be lost forever.

I took my anger out on family and some of friends. I was more aggressive. I was cursing a lot more. I didn't care when I was sinning. Nothing really mattered. I was lost.

Through everything though, I knew I was loved. I think I would at times forget it conveniently.  I just felt the constant burden of being reminded...........


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REWRITE:

I thought part 2 would be far easier to write as soon as I finished part 1. To be honest with you and myself... it's not. Life isn't you writing a consistent part of a story to make it mesh with another so easily. Life is picking up the scraps. Even faith is picking up the scraps to start over again. That's hard when you're overly critical of yourself. I don't allow myself to fall. I can't. I'd let down too many people.

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It's now October 19th 2017. There are several reasons why I haven't finished this blog in particular. One being, because I wanted to report significant change. I wanted to tell you that I fell off the bandwagon and got back on, but that's not true. The only way these blogs are effective is if I don't lie to you or myself (mostly myself I don't get a long of traffic on this blog). I fell spiritually. I think in a way I've been so hard on myself. Grief is not easy. There's no formula for handling death. Yes, you can confide in God (which I try to). The pain still lingers. Every Sunday, I don't go to my grandfathers house anymore nor does he tell stories about his youth. Now Sunday's are just an empty void with nothing to do but go back to college. I avoid the thought of my grandfather entirely now and not because it's painful but I just don't like being sad. Honestly, I do things now that make me happy. I know in my heart it's what he would've wanted. My grandfather was selfish in some regards but in others he wasn't. Like I said before, I learned who my friends were. As hard as it was, I learned who was there and who wasn't.

I think this blog is fueled by so many things. I love living for God. I've been blessed so much since my grandfathers passing. I have a new job and my coworkers love me. I've gotten the opportunity to do things I wouldn't normally do. I learned how to let go. I had to let go because it was no longer healthy to over extend myself for people who wouldn't do the same for me. Maybe, that sounds Un-Christian. I spent too much time revising and editing myself to please other people and maybe they didn't want me to. But I found myself dancing, laughing, and being who I was meant to be with people who didn't require me to extend myself and at least if I did, it was always reciprocated. In the four years I've been in college I dealt with both my mother and grandfather having cancer simultaneously and then having my grandfather pass away.

I've tried labeling myself as selfish, but when your community of friends fails you, are you really the selfish one? Like I said before, I'd be in bed for hours. I wasn't myself. Now through all of this, I crave nothing more than being me. I want to be unfiltered. I don't want to hold myself back anymore. It's so exhausting. I began a vicious cycle of self-blame. I knit-picked myself as to why this "community" wouldn't accept me. I've talked to several of them about this and I felt like I was crazy. The funny thing is you can't avoid people, who don't reach out to you. I'm tired of placing blame on myself. It took me leaving group chats for people to realize that I wasn't there anymore. It wasn't my personal appearance but me hitting a button on my phone for them to realize I was displeased.

BUT, re-reading my old blog posts I decided way long ago to keep everything on a positive note. I know that maybe approaching my problems by writing them in some blog is probably not the best attempt at fixing it. I just got tired of attempting to fix a problem that wasn't on my end. But, back to the positives. I'm not getting into specifics on the negatives. Here we go.. I think I found the answer to my problems in confession one night. My friend Maria and I were on this retreat all the way in TN. I finally got myself together and confessed to the priest. He told me I was being too hard on myself (which I was). Every time I wouldn't pray or I couldn't bring myself to, I'd get mad at myself. I'd get mad at myself for not being happy. Yes, I took what he said too literally and as far as spiritually I'm still displeased with myself more so because I've been sinning and I think I've created a huge drift between myself and God. Which is why for many reasons I felt unqualified for writing this blog because I wanted to share how I overcame grief. I might be blaming my grief a little bit too much, but ever since my grandfathers passing it's been a little harder on me. I also felt unqualified for being a missionary which was something I've wanted to do since Confirmation and right now I am unqualified. I have to get myself together. Again need I remind myself "He doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called."

I constantly preach to my friends that Jesus fell on his cross and we have our entire lives to continuously fall on ours. I've fallen on mine. Tremendously. However, I go onto say it's never too late to pick it back up and I promise you, reader, I will. Slowly, but surely I will. I will carry it on my back and walk for  a while until I can run. It's what I want for myself. I'll seek positive friends and force myself to attend mass on Sunday. I haven't for months. I will push myself to continue on and I encourage you to do the same. I want to feel God's love. I sometimes fail to acknowledge it. I always say the world is so loud. I need to find my quietness in prayer. I want my soul to go back to the way it was. I have an angel in heaven who needs me, and that angel is my grandfather.

My next blog will be like the last two. I love those so much.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Totally and completely loved.

2/1/17

This blog post has been one I've been porcastinating and if you're wondering why, it's because my grandfather passed away exactly a month ago after battling cancer for 5 years. You're probably also wondering why am I being public with my grief (at least if you know me). To be honest, I don't know. I've always wanted this blog to help others and reflect on my life. Sometimes I go back and reread these old blog posts and I'm just surprised by how much I've grown and sometimes I can see where I need improvement.

How has grief impacted my life? Like I said it's made my grow, but also realize areas of improvement. It's hard to recount the events without honestly tearing up. I'll try and keep it as short for both you and I (or maybe not, be warned). Not just because it's hard to recount, but also because I'm sure it's a tough read. No one wants read about someone grieving. We all want rainbows and happy endings, believe me I do too. However, I acknowledge that Jesus didn't call me for rainbows and happy endings. That is far too comfortable. I'm not saying he called me to suffer, but he called me to experience the hurricane and the rainbow at the end in his presence.

December 19, 2016 my grandfather was emitted to the hospital into the ICU. This is pretty common for the past 5 years. He was a stage IV lung cancer patient. My grandfather would always end up in the hospital around winter. Something in my gut had told me however, this time was different. I felt it. I used to have a sense of optimism (or at least as much easiness as one could have when finding their loved one in the hospital). My grandfather was always strong. I would consider him a warrior. He had a strong will to live and he always wanted to combat his cancer. Which is something that at his age is rather hard. In the months prior he stopped taking his chemo pills. It had a negative side effect on his standard of living. My  grandfather wasn't doing too much to be honest. His farthest walk was from his bed to the couch and sometimes the bathroom. Which you're talking about a man who survived a heart attack and two days later began to work again. It was hard seeing him weak. It was hard seeing him struggling to breathe. It was all too hard. At this point on December 19 I knew logically I needed to let him go. At this point wanting him to continue to live was basically out of selfishness.

Anyways, on the 19th we sat around the emergency room and looked into his tired eyes. He hadn't gotten much sleep and he was no longer on his nasal breathing mask but much rather his full on breathing mask. As usual he lied to me and told me when he was doing OK. When in reality he was far worse. He had this tendency of masking his pain and at least trying to smile or crack a joke when I was around. He had a sense of humor at times, and at times he knew his time was coming. None of us wanted to hear him talking about it. He instructed the nurse to let him go if his heart should stop. As you can imagine my mother and I were bawling our eyes out at this point. My mother needed to step out of the room. It was perhaps one of the hardest days we've experienced.

On the 20th it was my mothers birthday. I wished her a happy birthday and off to the hospital we were. I was less than complacent of staying with my grandfather. I was fearful. I didn't want to be in the room with him. I couldn't bare seeing him as he was. I eventually agreed because I knew in my heart that I needed to be by his side. It's what Jesus would have done. Jesus didn't live his life in fear. I walked in that room to find my grandfather out of consciousness. He would wake up momentarily to snag all his cables off his body. His heart was working at 20% and his heart rate was way too high. Soon it got to the point the nurses crowded around the room and told us to say goodbye. It was me and my uncle and we began to say goodbye. We told him we loved him. We were trying to let him go. I snatched the rosary over my neck and held it to his arm. I called my mother and we argued out of panic. She soon arrived on time and we all bid our goodbye's. We had the priest and chaplin come in and that was it. He had a 5% chance of making it through the night. The one thing about my grandfather is he never fails to surprise us all. We stayed there all night and the next morning I found he was alive. He was still with us. He was stable. All he wanted was to go home.

I didn't want much to do with the world. I didn't want to talk to anyone. I didn't want to listen to music . I didn't want to go on social media. I didn't want to watch TV. I was at a complete stand still. I began grieving and he was still with us. I felt like I was screaming for help in an empty pit to find that my screams weren't heard. I felt trapped in sorrow. I couldn't pray. I couldn't open a bible. I felt a wave of anxiety overcoming me.

The overwhelming truth about cancer is, you know it's going to happen and if by it you think I'm referring to death. I absolutely am. Were those words hard to type? They were. I never thought 5 years ago I would be picking up the scrapbook frame of our family at my grandfathers house that I once made when I was 15. I would never have thought I would be given the watch he always used to wear on his wrist or his lucky 2 dollar bill much less his collection of prized polaroids. Never in a million years did I ever think I would never be able to hear his voice again.  I knew it was going to happen, but as all people on earth do; I took time for granted. I only called once every 2 weeks or sometimes once every month.

I lived my life consumed by other things to not focus on his next chemo treatment or how much longer a doctor said he had to live.. and I acknowledge that it was selfish yet it felt as if it was the only thing I could do.

He spent 4 days in the hospital. Every morning we would hear from a doctor. They recommended hospice care which is something they do for terminal patients who have less than 6 months. I held onto 6 months a little too much. I wanted 6 months. In those 6 months he would've seen my cousin turn 7 and my other cousin turn 6 and he would've celebrated his birthday. In those 6 months I could've had 6 months of phone calls, even if he could hardly breathe on the phone.

I spent those 4 days caring for him, feeding him, giving him water with a jelly like substance because he couldn't swallow, and we watched TV together. In those 4 days I spent more time with my family together than I had in months. Those 4 days became everything to me. We laughed together, cried together, spoke to one another, but most of all we were together. My grandpa looked tired and this time around it wasn't just from the cancer it was from living... We all knew it. We all denied it. He couldn't push on and even he knew it.

Finally on the 24th he was released. We were relieved, but he was placed on hospice. We spent Christmas gathered around his bed and we shared a meal. He couldn't bare the thought of eating. He didn't want to eat, much less sleep. My grandfather was restless. I spent that night watching him sing tango. I spent that night cracking jokes with him. I absorbed every single moment. My uncle asked me to encourage him. My grandpa isn't the easiest person in the world to speak to. I tried to ask him to eat. I promised that even though I would be leaving the next day, I'd be his personal nurse. I'd check in and for the most part I did.

My mother and I had to go to Miami to visit some family. We went. We were physically there, but emotionally elsewhere. I had come down with a major cold from ICU. I was sick to the point of having chills and had to spend the day in bed. In those hours I pondered if I should call, if he would be breathless, and would he be even able to talk? Was he on morphine? Was in he in pain? I pondered so much. I needed my mom to call him.

The 27th was brutal. We finally got to speak to him and not his wife. He couldn't talk so she would tell us how he was doing. He spoke to me told me to enjoy my life. I spent a lot of those 5 years after his diagnosis wanting to know how I could honor him and his strength in my life. I had no idea it was that simple. He just wanted me to enjoy. He told me he loved me and that was it. I knew it. He didn't tell me to take care like he usually would (which was his own way of saying "I love you"). He said those words and that point I knew this was it. It was over. I was consumed in sadness having to cover it with a bright smile to make those around me feel comfortable. I was no longer myself.

We celebrated New Years and the next day we left Miami only to find my uncle call us and give us the bad news. He had passed away. He held his wife's hand and just like that, he let go. He spent the day prior opening his arms for his brother to take him into heaven.

I felt a sense of relief. No more chemo treatments. No more doctors appointments where they found other ways to make him live a life he didn't want to. No more oxygen tanks. No more gasping for air in the middle of the night, but most of all no more cancer.

The 12 hour car ride was beyond brutal. I cried at first, then relaxed, then I cried again. Wow. I didn't know who I was. I listened to music at a blasting volume and sought out a distraction from all the pain. Making it home was difficult. My grandmother was someone I needed to video chat with since she lives far away.

I soon chatted with her and one of the first things she said was, "He enjoyed his life." This baffled me. I was so lost. She had no idea what I spoke of with him on his final days.

You're probably wondering why this is called "Totally and completely loved," when all of this is about loss. It's because there's another part to this. I promise you. The story doesn't end here. If it did this would be an awfully sad blog.