A parenting tactic, one I really like, is to suggest to children that the coulds, and woulds, and shoulds be removed from the conversation. This is a magnificent way of redirecting the finger often pointing any way other than inward.
I find this to be an interesting parallel now after the passing of my husband. Bruce was diagnosed with brain cancer in October of 2018 and passed in December, a mere 14 months later. Could he have lived longer had I….? He would have lived longer had the doctors done… Bruce should have lived a long and healthy life after all the treatments he endured…. Could I have…
You see what this does. With children, the parental hope is that kids will learn to see that their own behavior affects their lives and has everything to do with the outcome. Playing the victim is dangerous; learning how to understand self and interaction with others matters. This is personal responsibility and has to be learned. With cancer, this all changes, yet there are those who question self.
I won’t go so far as to blame myself for Bruce’s illness. On the contrary; our primary care doctor first thought Sleep Apnea. I refused to accept that and demanded the MRI that diagnosed the cancer. I had become his tireless champion when he could not be.
I pushed relentlessly. I bothered the doctors. I called a lot. I asked many questions. I pushed. Regardless, the nagging thought stays with me, the had I done A, B, or C thought……until I remember that this is simply impossible, that I need to let that go. I WAS responsible, I did take action, I did everything within my power to help and fight for him. I did.
Yet, after, it’s nearly impossible not to relive it all, to ask those questions, and sometimes feel that we or I did not do enough, that my behavior was somehow wrong. And there it is: The word Wrong.
Words from the wise
One evening in November I said again to Bruce how sorry I was that he was going through this. His response was always, “It just happened. It’s life.” I also know from knowing him and understanding who he was that he felt his cancer wasn’t right or wrong. It just was. Period.
Acceptance and moving forward
It has been just a few weeks since Bruce passed. I am learning to navigate my world. One thing I find most helpful is to take life at my own pace, to do nothing more or less than I feel comfortable doing in that moment. I reserve the right to cancel an event or commitment, just because. There can be no other way. Not yet. Here is what that looks like, this February.
It is also about people, and letting them in when I feel least like being social.
It is getting back to what gives me joy. My creative, inner beast is emerging. For now that will be a mention of my handmade journals; posts about those will follow. Stay tuned!
It’s about taking care of my spaces, too. When the weather permits, I’ll pick up branches and tackle the garden, but right now, I’m working on the inside:
If I could post this now I would. Maybe I should…
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”