Elden Nelson, aka Fat Cyclist in the blogosphere, has been documenting his wife’s battle with cancer for some time now. In recent weeks, with Susan under Hospice care, Elden has managed to keep it together and write blog posts regarding his wife that have some of the most inspiring words I’ve ever read.
Susan died the other night. When I read the news I found myself immediately deeply depressed and fighting off an onslaught of emotion. Had I not been at work, I would have let it flow. However, I did take an early lunch.
Isn’t it strange how much differently emotional pain affects us compared to physical pain? I’ve never met Elden or his wife and family. Yet reading his posts and hearing of Susan’s passing allows the pain of my Grandmother’s death to easily resurface. I instantly get taken back to the phone call. I don’t remember why I was answering the phone in the library of our home on Nordic Hill Circle, but that’s where I was. The room had three walls of windows and there was light all around. I picked up the phone, “Hello?”
“I, Jodi, it’s Mom.”
“She’s gone, isn’t she?”
"yes" Mom's voice was abnormally small as if the word didn't want to be spoken.
I remember exactly how I felt at that moment. I let out an uncontrollable cry. Every ounce of air left me. I was completely deflated and couldn’t seem to draw a breath. My stomach was tight with nausea and there was an undeniable crushing feeling of loss in the center of my chest. I seem to experience it all over again when I read stories like Elden's.
On the other hand, barely two weeks ago I was suffering on my bike trying to break myself on a 300 mile bike ride that was causing so much pain I could hardly stand it. I don’t remember that pain anymore. I remember thinking I was in pain and I remember saying I would never do that again. But here I am 2 weeks later, and I’m already considering having another go at it. I can’t force myself to feel that physical pain again, try as I might.
My Grandmother died 21 years ago. 21 years. So, I’ll say it again. Cancer, I fucking hate you. Time may heal all wounds, but watching a loved one suffer and die never leaves you. No amount of ice packs and Tylenol can take care of that kind of pain.