rico's take

Sometimes when I blog, I worry about what Rico does and doesn't want me to share. So the other day, I asked for his perspective - because quite frankly, right now, his is the only one that matters. He asked me to post this:
I figured it’s time that I weigh in here.  Though this is called a “Family Blog”, I do feel like me attempting to write here when you readers are used to the extraordinary writing talents of my wife, is akin to Donald Trump writing his first State of the Union address. 

Let’s start with the prevailing topic- Cancer.  When someone tells you that you have a disease that may kill you, it changes your life in profound ways.  In my case, I first went through the “are you f’ing kidding me” stage.  I had found the woman of my dreams, and we have worked so hard to create this wonderful life full of love, devotion, peace, family (both extended and friends) that just couldn’t believe that this could be how the story was going to endThat’s just not right.  

Then I went through a “why me” stage. I like to believe I have done some great things in my life, but also did some that may be construed by our creator to be not so great (if you want a more personal account, just ask). So did I get it because maybe I wasn’t a good human? I considered the one year olds born with incurable leukemia and realized that they didn’t even have time to screw up, so that can’t be the answer.   

And of course, I thought about the ramifications that would be put upon my 5 year old.  J’s mom died at almost exactly the same age from almost exactly the same disease.  Suffice it to say that it may have had some huge affects upon her entire life. Those of you who know her well know where I am coming from; those of you who don’t- just read more of the blog. When Neeks came in to this world I PROMISED that I wouldn’t do that to her.   When I met Punk and Kooka, I promised to be here for them and see them through all of the craziness of growing up. No matter what the cause is, I HAVE to survive this- I just can’t bear to leave them fatherless. 

So still having no (“why me”) answers, and being a man more based in science than faith, I went to the best source I could find - my doc with 30 years of experience treating cancer at Mayo and asked him the question –“what causes this”?  He mumbled for a while about stuff I couldn’t understand like DNA this, and chromosomal malformation that and finally he stopped. He looked me dead in the eye and said, "Mr. H., we have no idea what caused your cancer."  Wow, that was an eye-opener!  What the hell do I do with that?  Do I keep eating a full daily serving of dark berries and oatmeal and kale smoothies like I have been doing for years, or opt for the philosophy that this whole game of life, illness, and longevity is simply luck?  I’m going for the latter.  From now on, I am eating whatever the heck I feel like, taking up smoking and buying a Harley.   

Another thing about having cancer is that it automatically makes you a member of the “C “ club." I didn’t ask to join, and in fact wanted to keep this very quiet and personal.  However that is impossible.  I wear a “scarlet letter” now and though everyone’s heart is in the right place, and I totally appreciate all the hugs, tears, and warm embraces, sometimes I do just want to crawl up in a ball in a corner and wait for the inevitable outcome (whatever it may be). But I can’t do that; I joined the club. I can’t ignore the rest of the world.  And, I am pretty convinced that all of this wonderful outpouring of support, and love CAN help me fight and heal, so PLEASE- keep it coming.  
This experience has uncovered an emotional side of me that must have been buried deep inside me.  In keeping with my usual personality traits, I am more than willing to share the details of my experience with anyone who wants to know and listen- but the conversation invariably ends up with me fighting tears and sobbing.  It makes a trip to the local supermarket tough. If we run in to each other, be prepared for a tear fest.  I also find it interesting how different people handle encountering me now that my hat has that “C” on it.  It ranges from a soft touch on the arm and a statement of “hope you are feeling OK, my heart and prayers are with you”, to those that look (and walk) the other way, ignoring me and hoping I do the same.  Well, if you want a piece of advice from this member of the club, when you encounter a member, don’t ignore themthey want you, and need you to acknowledge their dilemma. Treat them gently, but try and find a sense of usualness rather than make them feel like they are now a different person- they aren’t life just may suck for them for a while.  They want to know you care. 

I started writing this little essay not because I felt that “J” had done anything less than an extraordinary job of keeping friends and family up to date. As earlier stated, no one is more capable than her- certainly not me.  In fact, as I write this, actually question if my perspective even matters. But until now, she remains the unsung hero in this adventure, and I have to set that record straight.   

We met in a most unusual way.  If you never believed that somethings were “meant to be”, read (or ask) us our story.  I never believed in miracles until it happened, but it truly was a miracle.  And it continues to be one.  When we met, I always knew that she was stuck with the short end of the stick when it came to spousal care.  After all, I am 18 years her senior, so the odds of me needing her help and care were higher than her needing mine.   But now that we are there (much earlier than anticipated), I am realizing that this has very little to do with the nursing aspect of illness. Of course she is great at that. She IS my Florence Nightingale. But she is so much more than that. The way she is mothering our children through this makes them feel safe and secure.  The way she is my confidant and takes the parts that need to be shared and translates them to friends and family.  The way she is taking on parenting tasks that I used to do that were now dumped on her is amazing.  Her gentle kisses on my forehead she convinces me that everything is going to be all right. She holds me in her arms when I need to cry, and waits endless hours at Mayo while they poke and prod her man. 

OK, so this is the part where my words fail. Just when I think I got this, I just can’t find the words in our language that support the gratitude and love I have for my wife and all that she is doing through this crappy time of our lives. For the last 8 years I have considered myself one of the luckiest men in the world. Of all the women on the planet, I was one of those guys that gets to spend the rest of my life with my best friend. I wish I were as great a writer as she so I would could express that in words, but I am not, so the best I got is “J”, you are my everything- thank you. 


j said…
Rico - thank you for your words - but being loved by you is always enough. You are the most beautiful thing in my life - always.
Treats said…
Rico, your words and insights are beautiful. I remember a friend whose brother had leukemia as a teenager - 30+ years ago. Her parents to this day don't remember WHAT people said to them, but they remember WHO DIDN'T say anything. You are surrounded with love and grace. If your support system plays into the odds - you've got this. Hang in there.