For the past three years, I have watched my dearly loved dad’s health decline as he has dealt with stage 4 colon cancer that has spread to his liver. He has undergone more than 30 sessions of chemo. His body has weakened greatly. We have watched a very strong and healthy man who was never sick be poisoned by the very drug that has extended his life. When I ask how he’s doing, his answer is almost always that he’s fine. After all, it will be what it will be. His standard response. He is trying to make this whole trial easier for all of us, including my mom.

I love him for his strength. I appreciate his nobleness. In order to be strong for all of us, though,  he holds tight to his emotions. We all know he has to be in pain. He has to be so afraid of his future. Angry. Frustrated at his own weakness when he has always been so healthy and strong. But we don’t see any of that. We see a man who has it all together. Refusing help. He will do it himself.

For me, I think that increases my sorrow. He can’t let us in. We stand outside and watch. He gives us glimpses once in a while like right now when he had to put his beloved dog to sleep because Buddy was so old and ill. We see his grief for the loss of his dog. But we still don’t see his pain at having terminal cancer. My sorrow is great because I know he’s alone in his pain. He’s an island of suffering. We do the best we can to help him. And we admire him. We love him. He is our protector. Always has been. We would like to protect him now.

If ever the day comes that I suffer from some debilitating disease like my dad, I don’t want to be a burden but I don’t want to be alone either. I want to share with my family about my fears. I want to talk out my thoughts. I think it will be a gift that I give my family. As long as I am careful to not put my burden on them and to just share from my heart, I think that is where my connection in the midst of suffering will come from. And for my family, they will be able to share their sorrow with me.

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