Feeling the “Feels”

I am a mess today.

A good friend of my husband and mine passed away yesterday from a year long battle with cancer.

He was the kind of person who would walk into the room and make everyone laugh. He had this mellow accepting nature that made you feel as if you knew him for a long time, even after just meeting him. He was a dedicated father and loving husband. His eyes would sparkle whenever he talked about his two daughters and his wife. His smile was infectious and we are all a little better off as humans because we knew him and had the opportunity to spend time with him.

When I first learned that he had cancer, I was in denial. If anyone could figure out how to beat it, it was him and his family. I remember when I saw him at a Christmas party after he had been through a grueling round of chemotherapy. He had lost his hair and he looked as if all the life had been sucked out of him. He had to sit down because he was too exhausted to stand in the kitchen like we all used to do. But he smiled and made everyone laugh so we could feel better about how uncomfortable it was to see him like that. When he and his wife left the party early because he was spent, I hugged him so tight trying to send him some healing vibes.

That was the last time I saw him in person. And I was still in denial.

My husband was closer to him than I was and would give me updates on his status. His cancer didn’t respond to the treatment. A tumor had grown so much that it pressed against his stomach and made it difficult for our friend to eat. He was losing weight at an alarming rate. Another tumor grew into his spine and was causing him terrible pain so much that they had to operate to remove it. He continued to lose weight. They had to insert a feeding tube to ensure that he was getting nutrition. After 14 days in the hospital, he had been moved to hospice.

Last night, without knowing that he had passed away, a wave of grief hit me like a tsunami. I saw his smiling face. I saw his two daughters (ages 13 and 16) who would never walk down the aisle with their father on their arms. I saw his wife, who has a heart of gold and a laugh that feels like home, going through his clothes and his things…alone, grieving. These people who are so wonderful have been on the worst journey any human being can ever imagine to see the man they adored crumple under the torrent of a terrible disease.

I cannot even fathom what our dear friends have been through, and what his wife and children must do to pick up the pieces and find the will to go on.

Grief is an unwanted and severe feeling, but it is inevitable if you love anyone. We are all going to die and when someone close to us leaves, it reminds us of our own mortality. I feel guilty grappling with some of the feelings I have right now. I don’t want to die like my friend did. No one does. No one wants to suffer and put our loved one through the horrible situation of looking on, unable to do anything.

There is no easy, unmessy way to deal with these feelings. It is uncomfortable. It is horrible. I am a mess today, and everything I do will be filled with memories of our dear friend. I am blessed to be this filled with grief at his passing because it means he had an affect on me. This is what it is to be human. And my friend was the most wonderful kind of human to ever walk this earth.