12 Oct 2012

Life and Death

Most of you probably know this already from my posts on Facebook, but on Monday 8th my Mom passed away after a short-lived battle with cancer. By the time it was caught it had already spread into her lungs and her condition deteriorated so rapidly that I think it took everyone, doctors and nurses included, by shock. By Sunday night they knew there was nothing they could do for her, so they took off the oxygen mask while she was surrounded by family, gave her some drugs to ease her pain, and let her slip away.

I'm still in shock now, four days later. It feels like it happened to another person, not me. She had only gone into hospital two weeks before, and only diagnosed with lung cancer three days before she died. How a person can go from seeming physically fine, to dead in such a short period of time is very difficult to comprehend.

Over the last few days we've been preparing for the funeral on Tuesday. Those of you who were looking forward to seeing me at GRL, there's no need to panic. I have decided I still want to go, but I will be flying out there a day later than originally anticipated, so I'll be there for Wednesday evening. The time away will be good for me I think, and I'll have plenty of friends there to support me if needed. Anyway, so there's been a lot of talk about death in the family recently, particularly from the relatives and friends that are religious, and it got me to thinking about what life and death is.

Now, I'm not a fan of religion at all. Actually, that's probably a giant understatement. Religion annoys me to no end. I have no problem with people practicing religion, just don't attempt to shove it down my throat. And this goes for trying to comfort me too... saying she's gone to a better place and all that. It is not comforting, because I don't believe in it. All it does is annoy me.

So what do I believe about death? I had a long think about this. Do people just die and that's it? I don't think they do, but I don't believe in the afterlife either. Sure a person's physical body may come, grow up, do some weird shit, and then go, but if all you define a person's life by is their physical existence, then they haven't really lived at all. While a person still physically exists in this world, they become a part of other people... create memories with them, have children, impact people in ways they don't realise. This is their life, and that doesn't go away unless you forget. So in a way, as long as we remember the deceased, they're never really gone. They'll always exist as a part of everyone they ever touched.

I can still hear her now telling me I need to tidy up. I'll do it later, Mom. Right now I need to head to the shops.

5 Oct 2012

The 'C' Word

Right now, you're probably wondering what the hell I'm on about. What words could begin with C? Lots of words, like cow and cat, and lots of other animals too. Unfortunately, this post isn't going to be as humorous as a lolcat, nor is it going to be delicious like a medium-rare cow. Today's post is actually going to be quite serious, despite the initial intro. You see, a week ago my mother was taken into hospital to have some tests done. The results came back today. It's cancer.

I guess at first I was in shock. It was always a possibility, but it wasn't something I had prepared myself for. Given that she's always been a smoker, I wasn't particularly surprised, but still I couldn't bring myself to feel anything in the moment the words reached my ears. Even now, a couple of hours later I'm still not sure how to feel. I want to stay positive, because it's been detected now. That's a good thing. Treatments have gotten better, and the survival rate is far higher than it used to be. I haven't been told the prognosis yet, so for all I know everything could be fine. It could be in the very early stages. But then again, it may not be. So much is unknown right now, that I'm kinda stuck in the middle of being hopeful and preparing for the worst.

All this because of a little white stick that people like to put into their mouths. It's quite mind boggling when you're finally confronted with the reality of it. I'm not a smoker, so I don't see the appeal. Hey, suck on this and you'll be cool and it'll help you relax... until thirty years down the line you're in a hospital bed, feeling like shit, having to deal with crap hospital food, and then have the doctor say you have cancer.

Does smoking really feel that good? So good that it's worth the risks later on in life? Is it worth having a lung removed because it became cancerous? Having your hair fall out from the chemotherapy? Coughing up blood, being out of breath constantly? How about the emotional distress it's going to cause everyone around you while they have to watch you go through the treatment and wondering if you're going to survive? And then when you do survive, what about the fear of a relapse?

Doesn't seem like it would be worth it to me. I'm not going to be the person who constantly berates smokers for their actions, but I will say this. Just think about it for a moment. Think about your friends and family. You're not just hurting yourself with every drag of that cigarette, you're setting everyone around you up for one hell of an emotional rollercoaster. You see, they don't need to breathe the smoke to be affected by it. And if you're still prepared to put them, and yourself, through all that, then go ahead and have another smoke. Just don't be that person who thinks it will never happen to you.