First and foremost, thank you to each and every single person who has been helping through this. It’s hard, yes, and it doesn’t ever get easy. With each and every person caring so much, it’s no wonder why AJ wanted us here, and here we’ll stay. Thank you.
*** THE FOLLOWING IS A RANT OF EPIC PROPORTIONS, IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE AND IS ESSENTIALLY A BRAIN DUMP – TODAY IS A HARD DAY AND THIS IS C.J.’s WAY TO COPE, I THINK***
Cancer is a scary monster.
This isn’t the same old ‘cancer sucks’ rant, although it does and we all know it.
Just about two and a half years ago we were gifted by the most wonderful gift again, a second amazingly gorgeous daughter. That same day we were also dealt a pain in the ass, cancer. Much like everyone else that has been dealt the same hand, we were a bit sickened by what was there, but we pressed on.
We decided to fight this, and fight we did. By we, I mean AJ did a damn fine job at being herself – the strong quiet person. Don’t get me wrong, AJ was devastated Although she put on a good front, the honest truth is she was very hurt with the surgery, and losing some of her hair – but remained positive it would grow back. After that the radiation and a ton of hair lost. We went through several weeks of missing small events due to not wanting to go out, if only to the grace of caring family members, AJ found the love of her signature headbands to cover the sparse hair she hated.
Around this same time we had a meeting with the Oncology team at Mayo and got a very detailed write-up to confirm what we had heard – one to two years at best, and in an absolute miracle world, three to four.
We knew going in to this the progression of things, and that had always been a topic of conversation between AJ and I. We spoke weekly of the upcoming with the progression and what we would be doing about what’s coming down the pipe. We have never spoken in secret about anything and as much as it took to suck back any tears, we have always been up front and honest with the girls.
AJ and I both knew that the clock was ticking, and from September on through our last meeting, our last real conversation where we could both talk to each other, we spoke about things to do, what to say to whom, how to progress after she dies.
Yes, we spoke about dying not because we had to, but I believe it helped AJ a bit, even though she was scared shitless as to the impending outcome of her ever so short gifted life with us.
We spent two years trying our damnedest to make memories, on my part I was trying to make sure that the amazing benefit everyone put so much work in to, from my little sister and estranged family I had been largely ignoring due to a previous family spat, to the whole breadth of what seemed like decades of work with the entirety of northern Minnesota coming together as one family on AJ’s side (let’s be honest, northern Minnesota is one giant family, related or not, they act in each others positive nature no matter who it is). Needless to say, we did our best.
We came close to nailing AJ’s list of zoo’s – which was five or six lists of the top 10 zoo’s concatenated (<== AJ HATES that word, sorry sweets!) and the top 10 compiled, re-ordered and listed in the order AJ wanted to get to them. We will complete this list for her, the girls and I will finish it no matter what.
Through this entire thing we’ve made light of none of our candid conversations about death, regression, stress, worry and fear to anyone. AJ may have shared with her mother, as they are extremely close, but there wasn’t a mass discussion with everyone around.
We tried not to take things too seriously, as AJ and I spoke very thoroughly about things on the first (several) drives to Mayo – 6 hours of talking is QUITE a lot. At this point two years ago, we were done and ready to keep living and not letting this shit get to us. I’ll call it like it is, this is shit, this whole stupid thing has been a pile of steaming shit nobody should ever have to be dealt.
I would be lying if I said that any of the many talks, hugs, crying, angry songs, fast drives, short talks, cuddling, running of hands though her hair or smiles have lessened this pain today. Yes, it helped quite a bit, but honestly, this sucks SO BADLY.
We’re making things through, but to be completely honest, I wondered why people keep asking ‘are you going to stay around here for at least a while’. This isn’t something I expected nor had an answer for. Why would it be an option? What did we say or do to signal possibly leaving? Nothing. But after today’s walking in to Sam’s Club with Gloria – and her looking endlessly for Mom the whole time in there, it dawned on me, that’s why people leave.
We won’t be though, just need to reiterate that for any family members still going to this site who may or not freak out when they read that.
Even though it’s hard sometime, it’s great having everyone here to help with everything. We have been dealt a few crappy cards this past week, but nothing will compare with the week before, so it will be dealt with.
This will the the last update for a few weeks as we get this new schedule of life down a bit more. I am not sure if I will be able to keep working this third shift, even though it has taken many years to get to this point in the career path, I’ll most likely have to drop to something crappy locally here and see if we can keep making it. It will suck to leave this job, as it’s really spoiled this household, but there isn’t anything like it in this town that refuses to grow with the times.
The fact that Grand Forks County won’t help this household with childcare or any assistance whatsoever adds to the pile, really. I have never been so frustrated trying to get something accomplished as to deal with a whole county that won’t help a family in need. But we’ve been through this rant before, right?! I am still genuinely curious to know how the hell people get assistance, afford childcare, sports, events, movies, trips and groceries without help of Grand Forks county – just knowing we don’t possibly qualify for any help, of any family in any situation, you would think this one could use a stupid break.
We will continue to update this site with updates on the girls, as it’ll be nice to see them grow up and live the lives AJ and I swore to each other they would.
There aren’t enough thanks to go around to each and every person who has helped, sent a card, smile or even said hi. Sometime even acknowledging a fellow parent waiting to pick up a child can keep a grieving person going.
For now, off to figure out how to keep a pair of oh-too-sassy girls busy for a few hours between meals.
Maybe today is an super cheesy egg kind of morning sweetie.