June 10, 2013

Tough Love for Weak Motives

Dear Mom,

I wrote the post below when I originally started my blog years ago and found it in the archives of unposted, ballsy letters. I figure, why hold back? Let's keep it real. Most likely the people it's written about have long forgotten about this by now anyway, although a piece of me hopes they have not! Everyone deserves a dose of tough love every now and then when needed. Here goes nothing...

Love you,


Dear Mom,

Since I started my blog this summer, I have been going back and forth on whether or not to put these particular feelings in writing. I keep telling myself no, that it is too risky, and yet the same thoughts cloud my mind every time I start a new post. I just need to get rid of them, for my own piece of mind, and I think this is the only way.

Sometimes the greatest blessing is the rare opportunity to see yourself through someone else's eyes. So, if anything, I hope that these people I love will realize I am doing this to show them that their actions and their words are weapons when they are used in the wrong way; that they caused pain to my family that was unnecessary and tormenting; and that I cannot move on until I explain this to them here. Even if they've forgotten about my blog and never read it... just to know that I said my piece.

For the first year without you, our little family of three was absolutely destroyed in every sense of the word. I think if it were only me that were hurting, then I could handle that, but unfortunately, that wasn't the case. Seeing Dad and Tom cry on a daily basis was one of the worst parts about losing you. It made me realize that I love them more than I love myself, and their red, swollen eyes day after day took a toll on me in ways I never thought possible. Before you died, I could hardly remember ever seeing them cry, and it was so difficult for me to accept that that will never be the case again.

I never realized it before then, but I guess a part of me was always protective and nurturing. That would explain why I started writing letters to you before your chemo appointments, and that later explained why I called Dad every single day the year you died. I think it had less to do with me needing comfort, and more to do with hoping that's what I was providing him with (which helped me heal more than I think I realize). So many nights we spent crying together on the phone, over two hours away from each other, both feeling so alone.

When Dad called me one night to tell me he had gone out to dinner with someone, I surprisingly felt relieved. She was going through a divorce, needed someone to talk to, and they became quick companions. It was never about replacing you; it's impossible. If only some other people knew that.

The things that some people said to him were inexcusable. It disgusted me. On numerous occasions I was so sick to my stomach that I contemplated calling them myself, but I didn't know how Dad would feel about that, so I didn't. They thought that they were defending you, when really they were disgracing you. I have never in my life met any adults more immature and tactless. Their words gave him more reasons to cry; and I was infuriated. It made him question everything. How long did he have to be alone to please them? Forever?

What irks me even more is that these same people, who were now judging Dad for moving forward, were the same people that moved forward while you were still in chemotherapy. Where were they when you were crying because they didn't visit you in the hospital? Or when they never called to see how your treatments were going? Of course they showed up when you called to tell them you'd be dead in a few months. Did that help them sleep better at night? Did 'defending your honor' or trying to tell me how to grieve help them justify all the times they found something better to do with their time than to spend it with you? Apparently so.

Eventually, the harassment stopped. I'm not sure if everyone came to their senses or just got bored and found someone else to torment, but it stopped. And what makes these people think they are above offering an apology for the hurt they caused, I will never understand. But we all act like this never happened; no one brings it up; no one acts like they are still hurt.

Well, I am still hurt. And before I try to put this behind me once and for all, there is one more thing left to say. My father is a great man; an incredible man. He is honest, kind, and loyal. He didn't come from the greatest place, but made sure his children did. He is strong and supportive; he stood by your side for years through the ups and downs that cancer brought into our lives. He slept beside you every night knowing that he may roll over to find you dead. Some men couldn't handle what he handled; I couldn't handle what he handled; and these people most certainly couldn't handle what he handled. And if anyone in this whole world deserves to find happiness, it is him.

No one is perfect; we have all made our share of mistakes. But the one thing I can't stand is when someone thinks they have no need to own up to them. Sticks and stones may break bones, but words break hearts. If I am able to accomplish anything from this, I hope it is that people think of the effects their words have on others, and if that's not possible... at least have the decency to help them pick up the pieces.

Miss your kind heart,

June 8, 2013

Dear Mom,

It's been just over six months since I have written. In these past months, I've been doing really, really well. I put on about 20 pounds of 'happy' weight living with my boyfriend (which I desperately needed, I was down to 114 during my grieving years), later joined an amazing fitness network and lost 8 of it already and am feeling really healthy, toned, and amazing, got two promotions at work and started a position in our marketing department after a year and half of being with the company, rescued a puppy from a high kill shelter in Alabama who makes my days so bright, and moved into a new townhome with my love where I feel safe and at home, at last.

What actually brought me to revisit my blog today is a bit less of a happy note, however. A friend I've come to know through my fitness group across the country actually lost her father to cancer just two days ago. I e-mailed her about my blog this morning, and I thought it would be a little hypocritical to tell her things get better, when the last post she'd read was about how desperately I still missed you after five years. I mean, it's true, I do miss you, but it doesn't cripple me every day and in every way like it used to. I still have my days-- everyone cries some days about something, loss or no loss-- and that won't change, but it doesn't mean things haven't gotten better. I can't even begin to explain how much better things have gotten (well, I guess I can, it's basically summed up in every entry since the beginning of my blog!). If I could just fast foward time to keep my friend from having to experience the heavy-heartedness that comes along with losing a parent who is as wonderful and loving as you, I would. But at the same time, these past five and a half years have taught me more about myself than the previous 20 did. She's going to grieve, but she's going to learn and grow and become the woman she is meant to because of it. I just hope I can lessen the pain even in the smallest of ways while she gets there. She called me her angel, Mom. Her angel. Our story is changing lives-- bettering lives-- it's meaning something even five and a half years later.

I figured that without updating my page, I'd be commentless and traffic-less when I logged in today. Obviously because I'm even mentioning it, you know that wasn't the case. I. Can't. BELIEVE. It. Even without writing another letter to you since December, I still had almost 1,500 views last month. WHAT?! I still had a ton of comments about lives I've somehow impacted and days I've substancially improved, and I just... I'm in awe. I choked back tears this morning reading the most heartfelt, elaborate, open-hearted comments from people who don't even know me. If only they knew how much they impacted me today and turned my day around. If only they knew how much they are bettering me.

Sometimes little blessings can emerge from such a tragedy... and that gives me hope.

I love you,