In Like a Lion

Blogs-contributors, Dan Waeger — By on March 1, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Well, the appointed month is here… many of us have commented that it can’t possibly be a year since we lost Dan, and I am at the top of the list. I have never been one for anniversaries of bad days. Mainly because if I wake up and feel ok… then what- should I feel bad that I feel ok? But there is no denying that this month will be hard… his death falls the day before my birthday, and on the birthday of a dear family friend currently battling the disease. We were engaged March 21, and our wedding was to be March 28th. I can’t say that I am looking forward to this month AT ALL… but I also can’t hide away for the next 28 days.br /br /I know it’s a hard time for me, but it’s also a hard time for Dan’s family, friends, colleagues, my family and friends. No one really knows what to say- people say they can imagine it must be a tough time. I don’t always know how to answer that line- some days, it’s the last thing I want to hear because I don’t want to be reminded (though I am so thankful people are thinking of all of us). Other days- you might get an earful from me in response!br /br /Lately, I have been feeling very tired. I think part of it is my body physically remembering what it was like last year for me- not sleeping and a absorbing an awful lot of emotional trauma, as well as physically caring for someone by myself for the most part. I don’t sleep all that well- at first, I thought it was stress of work or something else. But duh- the body remembers. At this point last year, there were no nights of restful sleep for either of us… we were in the business of round-the-clock care.br /br /I am somewhat amazed at how much we handled ourselves. Pretty much all of of it… there were no nurses here, no doctors in amp; out… just a few hours of visits by close family and friends each day. How did we do that- so young and not knowing a thing about what was happening to Dan physically. But we managed, as we always did. Recently I had the chance to sit with my doctor for about an hour and ask her all sorts of questions about what happened those past few weeks… why certain things were going on physically with Dan. At the time, we just knew he didn’t have long to live, but I had no idea what I was watching. And understanding that now has been a relief for me… I didn’t even realize it was bothering me. As my doctor said- who else would you ever ask these questions of… you’re not a doctor or a nurse or a health professional! It was all happening so fast that it was a very reactionary time for us.br /br /Not long after Dan died someone told me that when he lost his mom, it took a full year to really start to acknowledge/understand what had happened. When I first heard that- I didn’t believe it. After a year, you’ve gone through all the major holidays. You’ve gone back to work. You’ve put a little distance in between the loss and your everyday life. Well, I get it now. I just had no idea that it would take this long to comprehend the enormity of the whole situation. Not just the personal loss, but the complete uncertainty in my life now. I’ve learned that things can always get worse, and you just have to focus on what is in front of you at the moment.br /br /After a year, people have this idea that you should be ok and that you should be moving on. No way. No way at all folks. After a year, I only look back and really how thankful I am that I just survived it. Moving forward is a whole other topic. Some days it seems like a dream. I imagine for Dan’s family and friends that didn’t see him every day, it feels like they just haven’t talked to him in awhile. I’ve thrown everything at this grief to make it go away- triathlons, work, volunteering, traveling… filling the void without stopping to really acknowledge or understand what really happened. I’ve been told I’ve handled it exceptionally well- but by what standards? That I didn’t “fall apart”… I have a little, at least in the way I normally do things. I don’t feel sorry myself, because I did have Dan in my life, and he never felt sorry for himself. But to say that this isn’t hard, that it doesn’t hurt, that it doesn’t make me question things… that doesn’t do anyone else who is grieving his loss any favors. It doesn’t say- it’s ok to be angry and emotional and sad some days. What happened to Dan was tragic. For his parents to lose a son, his siblings to lose their brother, his nieces and nephews to only know the story of who he was, his friends… it’s not right.br /br /Dan made us all feel hopeful that we could take obstacles and overcome them. And when someone so young leads by such a strong example, we can feel guilty when we don’t feel so positive. But Dan had all those emotions… our life wasn’t inspirational every day. But what we did do was not attempt to solve everything in one day- we would have drowned. I didn’t know him when he was diagnosed, but we spoke often of what it was like for him emotionally. And he had emotions- doubt, fear, loneliness. But he somehow managed not to be overwhelmed. Because he channeled them into good things- his passion for cancer advocacy, being a “normal” guy, his family and friends. He was an exceptional person- no doubt. And perhaps the greatest thing he gave me during our time together was the right to cry and be scared. He didn’t let it go on too long, but I he always let me go when I needed to, and somewhere along the way this year I forgot about that gift. So it’s ok… if you want to be angry, scared, sad, lonely… joyful, inspired, determined… it’s plain ok. Get it out… do something with it. Don’t withdraw. Do something with those emotions, even if it’s just to say you miss him. Or like me- to say WTF happened here.br /br /March is coming in like a lion folks…. it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.div class=”blogger-post-footer”img width=’1′ height=’1′ src=’https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/7650812244501770987-795481434574776603?l=waegerwillwin.blogspot.com’ alt=” //div

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