Too Much Time To Think
I can’t escape myself when I’m driving. On the 75-mile drive to my father’s house this past Friday, I found my emotions spiraling out of control. This is what happens when you have too much time to think.
I’ve been really busy at work the past couple of months, and desperately needed a few days off. My closet was completely out of control, as I hadn’t folded laundry in months, resulting in it being an impossible feat to find a matching pair of socks or any item of clothing I really wanted to wear. My daily routine of picking out an outfit consisted of wearing whatever was the least wrinkly and at the top of the clean clothes pile. My messy environment was making me feel anxious and overwhelmed. So, I took a few days off. In this time, I cleaned my closet, my car and the rest of my house; caught up on my favorite blogs, napped and watched movies. Needless to say, I had a lot of time to think. At first this was all very productive thinking. I felt like I had some good perspective on my life. I felt very balanced. And with my surroundings clean again, I felt like I had cleared some of the clutter away from my brain as well.
And then Friday came. I was going to visit my father, spend the day with him and go with him to his radiation treatment.
I mentioned previously that my dad was recently diagnosed with cancer. Initially, he told me it was prostate cancer, but I think he was confused, because it’s actually testicular cancer. He’s had surgery, and now he has to undergo 18 sessions of radiation therapy.
This whole sickness with my father has really scared me. I understand (from what he’s telling me, anyway) that the radiation treatment is mostly preventative and that he’s going to be OK, but this episode has been a scary reminder of how fragile our lives are. It’s scary for me to think about losing my dad. I can’t imagine losing anyone in my family. I don’t know how I’d survive.
I feel somewhat guilty being so scared about my father’s sickness, especially when a very close friend of mine (and one of the strongest people I know) is dealing with a more serious illness with her father. I feel for her and pray for her father every night. And part of me doesn’t even want to mention what’s going on with my dad, because I know how hard of a time she’s having. I even considered not mentioning it on the blog for this reason.
But I’m scared. I love my dad and it is really hard to see him scared too. He’s always been such a strong and hard man, and I’m struggling with seeing him in this new light. And the only way I know to deal with this is to write about it.
On the 75-mile drive to his house on Friday, I couldn’t stop crying. Literally could not stop. I never imagined I had enough tears for an hour and a half drive. All the “mind clearing” activities of the past two days were wasted. Every song made me cry. Even songs that should make no normal person cry had me sniffling.
What in the world was I crying about? Everything, or so it felt like. My dad. My ex fiancé. My quarter-life crisis. The fact that VCU lost. (Okay, not really. But that did suck.) My car is falling apart. I accidentally bought waterproof mascara and I hate that stuff (it’s impossible to get off!). The fact that I’ve been so down lately I haven’t wanted to write. Actually, that’s not true. I want to write – but the posts that are within me lately are somewhat depressing. I’ve been too embarrassed to write that while I’m okay 95 percent of the time, 5 percent of the time you would think that my life came crashing down just yesterday. There are moments when I feel just as sad as I did last April when I canceled my wedding. It’s like a year didn’t pass by at all.
I keep thinking ridiculously morbid thoughts about how it’s possible I’ve lost my chance to have my dad walk me down the aisle. I know – dramatic much? But on the ride to his house, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Who knows when I’ll get married, and where his health will be by then. It’s only been in the past eight years that I’ve built a really good relationship with my father. I don’t want to let go of it any time soon.
And, I keep thinking that the only person in the world with whom I want to talk about my dad’s health struggles is my ex fiancé. His dad recently struggled with cancer too. I want to tell my ex all about it. I want him to hug me and tell me it’s going to be okay. I want to hear his voice. I want him to call me – for once. Last summer, I asked him to give me space and not to call me anymore, and he has definitely respected my wishes. So any time we’ve talked since then, it’s been initiated by me. It’s likely that if I don’t initiate contact, we’ll never speak to or see each other again. That’s hard to swallow.
In my spring cleaning of the past few days, little reminders of my ex snuck into my life. In an old purse I haven’t worn in forever, I found a list of things I needed to get before we went to Jamaica for our six-year anniversary. Sunblock. A new swimsuit. An anniversary present and card. Reading this list, I felt myself wanting to jump back in time and enjoy what I’d had. The good memories are the ones that haunt me now, not the bad.
In my closet, I found a button up shirt I stole from him the day I moved out of his house. It is an ugly shirt, some dowdy brown plaid that I was never a fan of, that as I walked out of his house with my final boxes, I snatched off the floor (knowing the whole time this was probably a bad idea and that I was nuts). I don’t know if he even misses it – but it’s been in my closet for a year now. And damn it, it still smells like him.
As I was cleaning and found these little trinkets of him, they made me catch my breath and I felt the old, familiar ache in my heart. But I didn’t let them stop me. I didn’t pause or allow myself to feel sad. I just went on with my cleaning. But suddenly, driving on 64 East to my dad’s house, I found myself crying for that shopping list and that shirt. When is he going to go away? How do I remove him from my thoughts? Will I ever be healed?
Suddenly, my journey was over. Time flies when you are crying inconsolably. I got off the highway at the same old exit, drove by the familiar sights and into the driveway on Summerlake Lane. I parked and the tears stopped. They were just done. All out. When I walked inside, my dad gave me a huge hug. I didn’t tell him how scared I am for him, and I certainly didn’t tell him that I’d spent the past hour and a half crying. And he didn’t notice, thanks to the waterproof mascara, which must have been a blessing in disguise.
I thanked him for taking the day off so I could spend it with him, and for allowing me to go with him to his treatment. And then I spent the day being supportive of him – which is what I came to do.
**I should note that I hesitated posting this today, because while it’s all very true, I wrote this when I was feeling particularly vulnerable and I am feeling much better now. Perhaps the emotional car ride was exactly what I needed. Going through these bouts of sadness remind me that I am still healing. But, when I am able to recover from them and find ways to feel better, I am reminded of how strong I am and of what I am capable. So maybe my moments of sadness are helping me. That’s what I’m choosing to believe. And I wanted to share this in case anyone else is going through a hard time too.**