Two months

How does that song go…

Time keeps on slipping…into the future

All things considered, I seem to be doing pretty OK.

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Canceling my dad’s cell phone

I finally pulled the plug and did it last weekend.

The Verizon customer service representative just kept giving me offers trying to get me to keep the line active, even after I’d explained that my father had passed and we simply did not need his phone line any more, for any reason. She kept telling me that she didn’t mean to be disrespectful, so it must be some tasteless, tacky company policy that the service reps just have to keep pushing.

It turned out her own stepfather had passed a few weeks ago. She seemed a lot older than me. I have a colleague in his sixties who said he had just come from visiting his parents in New York. I know I am hardly the only person in the world without a father, but sometimes I can’t help wondering why me.

And after seeing what I saw, I live with this dread that there is nothing standing between me and the same thing that befell my father. That I could get cancer tomorrow. It frightens me.

Phew

The callback mammogram was clear.

On the minus side, today we were told there was a gunman in the building at work, so I did spend an hour locked in my office wondering if I was going to see my dad again sooner than expected. It turned out that there was no gunman and we were never in danger. But we only found that out later.

Seriously, we have had enough. Stop it.

Please no.

My mom just had a mammogram callback as calcifications were visible. Based on what I read about callbacks, the chances that it is cancer are still low, but after the last two years of my life…

The mammogram was 3D (tomosynthesis). I thought these machines were supposed to reduce callbacks, which makes me somewhat more concerned.

I called my husband. I don’t know his basis for saying this, but he said it was probably DCIS. This is not consistent with what I read online, which says that most callbacks are false positives.

I miss my dad and my mom is still not out of the woods from her first cancer. Please, God (if you exist). Give us a break.

Can’t you pick on somebody else’s family for a change?

Healing (slowly)

I am not used to talking to others about my father. I am used to talking to my father about other people. It was so difficult first when people talked to me about memories of my father, etc. and talked about him as though he weren’t here–as though he were…gone. But it has been about 1.5 months since he passed, and about nine (wow, only nine?) since he fell ill and was lost to us. And I’m kind of accepting that he really is gone.

For a while I obsessively read everything I could about brain cancer. I second guessed my dad’s treatment. I wondered whether we could have done something differently. I was upset that my dad died when most people live or get good years, or even just good days. And then my mom asked me why–what the point was in ruminating on all of this obsessively, because it wouldn’t change anything. First I was shocked at that point of view–of course it made a difference whether we could have done something different–and then I realized she was right. She said in her mind his time had just come and that was all. And I think that’s a pretty good way of looking at it.

I am not really religious, but at my dad’s funeral someone else had organized a reading of Chapter 15 of the Bhagavad Gita. And I wanted to understand what was in it that was comforting. My dad always loved the Gita and I learned from my uncle that their parents had really instilled reverence for it when they were young. It all seemed, and seems so abstract to me–translation of Hindu scripture always seems to contain a lot of lofty thoughts which are all mumbo-jumbo t me. For example, this chapter of the Gita begins by stating that material existence is like a banyan tree; its roots are upwards and branches downward. I will be honest that I don’t really understand that part. But the part I did understand is that life and death come to all beings, that our existence in this world is transitory, that one should strive for a state of detachment, and that–according to the Gita–the soul is immortal.

Anyway even though I do not totally understand the contents, going on YouTube and hearing it chanted with emotion brought me incredible peace–peace beyond the meaning of Gita. It made me feel that people have been dealing with these weighty issues of illness, death, and grief for as long as the human race has existed. People have always struggled to understand.

It was so surreal to be at my father’s funeral, with the Gita being read and him at the center of all this ceremony, and even there physically, but unreachable. I am crying as I remember and write this, and the feeling of awkwardness and aloneness as one by one we all eulogized him and he was lying there but could not hear us. I wanted to wake him up and ask him about the Gita. There was this incredibly awful feeling that everyone else was there together and the person who would always have been there with me was gone even though he was next to me. It all felt like it wasn’t real. I am sobbing now. I guess I am doing it again, what everyone has told me not to do, reliving it all over and over. I think it is time to end this blog entry now.

I don’t think…

…that we will move back to India after all. During the worst of the worst times, the thought of escaping was a thought that kept me going. But I went to a Diwali party at work, and people were pushing and shoving each other and grabbing to get the last gulab jamun. I could have cared less about the gulab jamun but I just realized just how very different it all was, and how alien I felt…and that in the middle of the United States.

I think my husband is wrong that I’d never survive in India. But I think it wouldn’t solve my problems. It wouldn’t bring my father back, and I might not be able to get over the feeling of loneliness there either. My family in India were telling me last week about the oppressive (even for them) heat. Yesterday my aunt in Mumbai told me yesterday that the rains have come there and dengue etc. are rampant and everyone is on edge. I don’t think I want to deal with that. I’d rather be lonely.

About my dad, things are improving a bit. The hardest is the lack of continuity, I guess…I think back to something he used to do (like he used to vacuum whenever he came to visit) and because it was only just a few months ago, I see the vacuum and think he will do it again. Then I realize he is dead, and each time I realize that it’s like I lost him again.

I guess it gets easier because those hanging threads ultimately get cauterized. As time passes, the memories of “before” don’t include your loved one either, so you don’t notice the discontinuity as much.

Fifth day sugar-free

Physically, I do not feel any different at all. I’m surprised. I expected angels to sing or something.

That said, I’m proud of myself. I never thought I could go to the grocery store and not buy cookies, or that there could be candy bars in the house left over from Halloween and I could not eat them. But I’ve done just that. It wasn’t as hard as I thought.

So…let’s see how much longer I can keep going.