It may surprise some people, but after I had time to think about and consider my cancer diagnosis, I soon realised that I am not scared of dying. Once the act of dying is done, I will be gone, none the wiser to what will transpire afterwards. What I am scared of, however, is the things that I will miss out on after I am gone.
There are so many things that I want to be able to see and experience. It’s not the big, flashy experiences that one might think would be high on the list, such as luxurious holidays or owning an expensive sports car. Rather it’s things like birthdays, Christmas’, marriages, family events and the likes. I want to be here to see my brother find the love of his life, settle down, get married and have children. To be able to watch my parents become grandparents for the first time is also something that I fear I will miss. Watching my niece and nephews grow through childhood and into adulthood and forge a life of their own. Even something as simple as watching the trees that we have planted on our property grow, is something I want to be around to watch.
There is one thing that I feel I have been completely robbed of though; retirement. If we are to be brutally honest here, the chances of me living to a retirement age are fairly slim. Even if current treatments eradicate the cancer cells in my body, the cancer is almost guaranteed to come back at some stage, in some form. I had grand plans for my retirement too. Traveling Australia was one of these plans. For as long as I can remember I have wanted to do this. The rest of the world could wait, I was just so desperate to see the entirety of my home country first. The plan, in my head, was to invest in a 4wd and caravan/camper trailer and just simply head out. No plans, no agendas, just us and the open road.
It often also feels as though the simple things have been stolen from my retirement. I have lost the privilege of pottering around on our property, tending to fruit trees and vegetable gardens. The right to sit outside for hours with a good book, to terrorise the local neighbour children over the fence and to walk to the newsagent every morning for the daily paper whilst judging the youth of the day. These are all too often taken for granted, until they are no longer a given.
Although Megan and I have travelled somewhat within Australia, we have never been overseas together. To experience different cultures and see the traditions of other countries with her is something I will be deeply saddened to miss out on. Being able to share the thrills, surprises, excitements and sometimes scary moments of International travel with your soul mate is a special experience. But hopefully there is still time for this one.
For a 35 year old to be able to say that their 8 month old dog will more than likely out live them is absurd, but in this case, entirely possible. One moment I didn’t want to miss with our puppy Grover, was him graduating to Intermediate training. Thankfully, he graduated this week and I could not be prouder. I know this seems like a ridiculously silly thing to not want to miss, but there is more to it than him simply graduating. Grover is a big puppy, and will eventually be a BIG dog. I didn’t want to leave Megan with a big dog that was untrained and uncontrollable. Him being well trained puts my mind at ease. The thought of not seeing Grover grow into adulthood and old age is saddening. I have been lucky enough to experience a dogs lifetime with my previous dog Casey. This I am extremely thankful for.
To think of the amount of birthdays, Christmas’, weddings, funerals, births and other family celebrations that I will miss is a little overwhelming. The thought of missing the big birthdays is shattering. My parents 70th, 80th and possibly 90th and 100th, my brothers 40th, 50th, 60th, etc and all the road trips that we normally take for Megan’s birthdays.
Don’t get me wrong, although this is a Debbie downer post, I am still optimistic about the future. However, I am also a realist. I hold out hope that the specialist can prolong my life until there is new treatments available that may one day cure me. Only time will tell and in the meantime I will enjoy as many of the above moments as possible.