|Rob and Jack celebrating Devon's 3rd birthday.|
I'm still trying to save Rob.
I'm still trying to save his life months after he has died. I realized this as I sat in the car next to Devon as he drove to school this morning. Later today I will take my first class to learn transcendental meditation and I was thinking about this and so I said to Devon, "I wish your father had learned transcendental meditation."
Devon thinks TM is something hippies do and he's convinced his dad would have liked it. I am too. But I realize that I am wondering for reasons that far eclipse mere liking. As he drives, I wonder, Do people who practice TM die from lung cancer? There are about 160,000 deaths from lung cancer annually in the United States so what are the chances that none of the people practicing TM died from lung cancer? Would it have helped Rob to live?
|Rob and his Dad.|
What the mind knows is multilayered, complex, interconnected in ways that are often hard to represent with mere words. At the surface of my mind is rapid instant replay. Each day I replay all the ways Rob or I might have saved his life, integrating the new ways into the replay loop. And I realize as I write this that so much of what happens each day gets filtered through this replay urge. For example, I am looking at a photo of Rob taken back in 2012 and I wonder, How long was the lung tumor growing before detection? What follow up was there with that earlier lung x-ray from 2012 that I learned about after Rob's diagnosis? That x-ray indicated there was a smudge in the same place the tumor would be in 2015. Did Rob know about that? Could his cancer have been diagnosed earlier?
I read in a document about lung cancer:
"It is often hard to find lung cancer early. Most people with early lung cancer do not have any symptoms, so only a small number of lung cancers are found at an early stage. When lung cancer is found early, it is often because of tests that were being done for somethingIn searching for the why, from this site I read:
else." (from here)
"Some people have a genetic predisposition for lung cancer. People with parents, brothers, or sisters with lung cancer could have a higher risk of developing lung cancer themselves."
Rob's father died from lung cancer at 75.
My mother died from lung cancer 16 years ago next week.
|Rob with my dad and mom who is holding Devon. My mom had just been diagnosed with lung cancer.|
As the shock wanes, sorrow seems to rise up as if to take its place, to fill a void. It wraps around my heart like a constant companion I can't shake, perhaps don't want to shake. To live alongside this sorrow is in some ways to be close to Rob.
The grief counsellor I see each week says that the love Rob and I made helps me to attend to the complexity of grief and the certainty of the pain. I recognize the rightness of what she says. Having few regrets, save that I could not save him which in my rational state I recognize as being largely impossible, the love we made and shared is unfettered and even after his death this love comforts.
|Poised Between (M.A. Reilly, LBI, 2009)|
I trust that there will come a time when I will be willing to give up the grief and sadness. I have described Rob's last few weeks as ones where he had a foot in this word and one in the next. I realize now that I do too. I am poised between the life we had and the one I must now make. I was reminded of this and of Linda Pastan when I read a comment to an earlier post that Maureen Barbieri left. There she referenced the poet reminding me of the connection between love and grief that Pastan articulates. Maureen's comment left me thinking about the end of Pastan's poem, "The Five Stages of Grief." There she writes,
...Below, my whole life spreads its surf,
All the landscapes I’ve ever known
Or dreamed of. Below
A fish jumps: the pulse
In your neck.
Acceptance. I finally reach it.
But something is wrong.
Grief is a circular staircase.
I have lost you.
Grief is a circular staircase. To accept means to lose. It is the idea of losing Rob again that finds me with a foot in the past--poised between lingering in what is gone and moving on to what I yet can imagine.