Gratitude for Life
I hope all of you are finally getting some rest after a very turbulent and emotional week last week. I purposely chose not to write a post because there was just way too much happening. I will not take a deep dive into politics, but I will say this- no matter which side you are on, I hope you can find it in you to start erasing the line that has been so decisively drawn. It is time and it is the only way we can all move forward- towards progress, love, and becoming a unified group of human beings again.
Today’s blog is not the easiest one for me to share, but after the loss of Alex Trebek a few days ago and my focus for the month of November, in lieu of Pancreatic Awareness Month, I had to muster up the words to do the hard thing. These entries are sometimes cathartic for me and I know that this one will be no exception.
Some of you know that I lost my father to pancreatic cancer when I was sixteen years old. He was just 48 years old which is not much older than I am right now. As the years creep closer to the age he left this earth, I am often reminded of how much he missed.
My father missed my graduation from high school and college. He wasn’t there to walk me down the aisle at my wedding or meet my daughters when they were born. He never met my husband. So many things he wasn’t able to be a part of because he was taken too early.
I will not go into detail about the months that he battled this awful disease, because frankly, my brain and heart have done an incredible job of softening that memory a bit- perhaps just to make it so that I can focus on the good memories. When he was healthy. Maybe it means I need to spend more time in therapy- who knows?! However, I do think it is important to share a few facts about this cancer.
“More than 57,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2020. That is more than 158 people diagnosed every day. Pancreatic cancer is the ninth most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and the 10th most commonly diagnosed in men in the U.S.” according the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network -the organization that I am donating a portion of all online purchases made through the month of November. The reason it is so deadly is that it can go undetected for too long and by the time it is found, surgery or treatment are often not an option. Although the life expectancy is longer now than when my father was diagnosed, it still takes the lives of people too early and way too fast.
I will share some of the happy memories that I have of my father when he was alive. He was the epitome of joy and health. He jogged multiple times a week, loved a giant bowl of salad (he loved his sweets too), he could listen to James Taylor and Harry Chapin all day long and had a way of making you feel comfortable- even after meeting him for just a few minutes. He had a smile that could light up a room- a smile that my family tell me often- that I was lucky enough to inherit from him. He loved to sing in silly voices to embarrass the daylights out of my siblings and me, he could play the piano like nobody’s business and loved the outdoors.
He ran a very successful dental practice in the small town I was raised in and after his passing, years later, I would still run into his patients that would say that no dentist could ever compare. He was pretty darn awesome.
At 43, I feel like I am just starting to get into the groove of life- truly creating a life that I love and want to be a part of for a long as humanly possible. I am in awe watching my daughters go from being babies to growing into little, young women. I cannot even fathom thinking that in five years, that could all be gone.
Why am I sharing all of this with you? Well, like I said, sometimes these entries are therapeutic for me. I also hope that my story, my father’s story, can remind you that life is precious. Life is short. Never, ever take it for granted- not even for a second. Perhaps this story will remind some of you of what truly matters.
On the headstone where my father is buried, it reads-
“The world is better because for a brief space, he lived in it”
-and it truly is. That is what we should all strive for, right? Making the world a better place. It’s what I hope I am doing daily. It’s what I hope that I am teaching my daughters to do. It’s what I hope for the people in this country- moving forward.
As always, thank you for reading.