I know kind of a strange title huh? Well, there is a reason, always a reason for my crazy thoughts in my head. Actually they are not crazy, they are real and I'm probably not the only one who has them. Death does some crazy things to the mind when it happens. Many of times I thought I had remembered everything, but lately I've learned I haven't remembered everything and the trauma of grief and traveling the road of cancer with a spouse who was terminal, my brain has tucked some details way back into the corners of the brain for me to not even think about. This is why we journal people and write all our thoughts down.
I've had other people tell me this same thing when I've mentioned something about their loved one during the journey, then afterwards they are like "That really happened'? Yes, yes it did.
Why am I bringing this all up you ask? Well...I have a HUGE announcement that is coming next week and it's making me go back into my memory files (aka journals and Jack's caring bridge site). But, while reading a couple entries from Jack's site, I forgot some of the things that he actually went through on his cancer journey. For example, I never remembered that he went to an ENT by the name of Dr. Thedinger (now he's MY doctor for my vertigo and inner ear migraines). I wish I would have remembered that. But, I forgot that Jack had about 68% hearing loss in his one ear; the side his ocular melanoma was in and they radiated that eye and side with intense radiation. Nope...never once remembered and after reading our post about that (I even wrote it), I still don't remember that part. So strange....
Another thing I didn't remember was in April-ish when Jack started having melanoma spots start popping up all over his body, he had a sore throat. Okay, big deal right? Well in our post we shared the news that upon looking in his throat, he had melanoma in his throat pop up. So strange...but this one I kinda remember after reading and I can almost remember seeing what it looked like. So weird to me.
One other thing that I felt like after I read Jack's site was that he was really sick A LOT. I don't remember that, but reading it, he was always having issues of some sort. From shingles to spleen issues, to vision loss and hearing loss. To fatigue and leg cramps, to just downright feeing like crap all the time.
I am thankful I don't remember all those bad times, but I also don't remember any good ones during that time. Now, I know there were good ones as well, they just weren't well documented. There was always documentation of the JOY we had for Graci no matter what day it was. That makes me so happy.
The strangest thing to me though is, I remember every single detail of the day Garret died. I can still envision clothes I was wearing, the look of peoples faces, the hospital, the words, the everything. There is nothing that day hasn't imprinted on my brain. I have written all those thoughts down, but I don't even need to go back and read them; I know exactly what they are. Thinking about it, I can see how the journey of cancer with bad news after bad news and living a life with appointments and not a lot of happy stuff going on can make your brain just want to wipe this out. Something so traumatic like a sudden death, imprints everything for a day because it all happened in a moment, but definitely lasts a lifetime.
Most of us do have a "fog" or "memory loss" surrounding a death or loss. This is really a coping mechanism our brain uses during a trauma. Even if we knew the death was coming as in Jack's case, looking back, the entire cancer journey was a little traumatic. Then the death itself and navigating becomes so very heard and foggy, So what can we do? We can journal, please for the love of everything, journal. Even if it's writing a sentence or a thought or a memory; write these down. Even if your form of writing is going to Facebook and letting the world know how you're feeling, the words are there for you to see in the future. Definitely don't rush your healing process, just let it come and let it go. Lean into family and friends when you can, they can carry the heavy while you function. Seek out help, whether that's in a group that is designated to your loss or a therapist if that's your thing. There is no right or wrong in this journey, but having support of peers that "get it" will be important. Always remember that it does just take time; now when I say "time" it could be a long time or a short time. But, you will never forget your person or people, you may forget that hard and bad like I did, but you grow with grace during time and you love deeper and kinder for the person who has died.
I'm glad grief let me forget some of those journeys we had during Jack's cancer battle because I don't want to remember all the sad and bad; I'm thankful my brain has only let me remember the good in all that we had. In my mind we had a good 16 months of cancer (lol...that sounds horrible after re-reading that), but honestly we did have good. We had 16 months of loving each other and figuring out next steps together and finding our true selves during this time. We found out how we wanted our legacies to be left and we learned how to love deeper then most can even fathom; we learned that life is a gift; and we also learned that no matter what the journey is that God truly does carry us through it all.
SO..the big and short of it all; Live your life to the fullest, write down your journey however that looks, good or bad because one day that may be all we have, leave a legacy that those left behind will be proud of and want to share with the world. Because that's why this is all coming up for me...I'm embarking on something big in my life that I always wondered if I'd do, I started it in 2019 and never finished, but found a team to help me navigate the next steps, and too many nudges or "Godwink's" are telling me it's time to share the legacy of all my people that are gone.
What's that mean for you? I need you ALL in big ways the next 8 months because TOGETHER WE ARE BETTER and this is just the beginning of a journey of reflection and love! Stay tuned on socials, emails, etc for the BIG announcement!