Saturday, April 11, 2009

I Should Have Stayed Home

I'd like to think that time has been suspended the last four weeks. It's pretty easy to do but eventually, the routine of life catches up to you. The past few days I finally decided to do my spring cleaning and other normal chores. I need to rejoin the real world. This kick in the rear was sorely needed- you do not want to know what was growing in my refrigerator.

So today I went to the grocery store. I've been putting it off because Dan & I really liked going to the store together. We're those people who have to go up and down every aisle, even though we bought the same thing every time. Anyways, as I approached the checkout, I gasped out loud and my eyes welled up with tears. There, on the cover of a tabloid, was Patrick Swayze. He looked all too familiar to me- like an end-stage cancer patient. Given the state of the world today, I shouldn't have been surprised that the media would exploit his disease to sell magazines. I like a good gossip magazine, but these pictures were downright cruel and crossed the line. But they are the face of cancer.

Although I have mixed feelings about him, I was overwhelmingly sad to see him exploited. The end of someone's life is such a private & humbling experience, and he has lost the right to choose how he shares it with people. I feel so privileged that Dan chose to spend his weeks, and ultimately, his last moments with me. He put a great deal of trust in me by allowing me see him as vulnerable as he was and as sick as he was. Seeing the pictures of Patrick Swayze just brought all of those images back. And so there I was, with tears streaming down my face, totally irritated that I can't even go to the grocery store without being smacked in the face with cancer.

As I drove home, I was reminded AGAIN how cruel cancer is. Like Dan, you can have the best attitude, the best doctors, the best support system, a healthy lifestyle... it makes no difference. Sometimes you get shafted and get cancer anyways. Those that are fortunate to survive go through hell to get there. Chemo is pumped into your body for hours on end, hopefully destroying the cancer cells but also the healthy ones. Radiation literally burns you. Surgeries leave scars. But hopefully, the cancer tornado spits you out with no evidence of disease, but the evidence remains nonetheless.

And for those who don't survive, they end up praying that the cancer takes them quickly to minimize their suffering. It's not like the movies. A video montage with some meaningful soft rock song doesn't flash before your eyes. With Dan, I was terrified that it would be the cancer in his lungs that would take him (literally hardening his lungs until he couldn't breathe) or that it would get into his bones causing relentless pain. I suppose we're "lucky" that it was the liver that failed out of all the potential outcomes. Lucky- ain't that a kick in the shins. I don't feel so lucky now. Cancer ravaged his body, as it doing to Mr. Swayze. This disease doesn't discriminate. Death is no joke.

So sorry for the doom and gloom on this post. I generally try to be positive but sometimes the truth isn't pretty. In the movies or on TV, you can spot the cancer patient as the one with the scarf on her head or the one will slightly pale skin and an IV. These depictions often downplay the reality. If you want the reality, you can now find it at your supermarket checkout. So regardless of whether Mr. Swayze's lifestyle choices contributed to his disease, I can't help but be moved by his situation. Because even though he has all the advantages of celebrity, he is going through what millions of other people do when they succumb to cancer. It's painful and heartbreaking. It's lonely and terrifying. And it should be a private matter.

I should have used Peapod and stayed home to watch the Masters.


Patrice said...

Thinking of you...I did not see it, I do grocery shop online. Hope you were able to enjoy Easter.
The Urbans

Diane said...

Hi Meg,

You are in our thoughts every day. I know what the anger is all about. It is part of grieving. We are still in the treatment mode, and every day is a new day. To be quite honest ... Pea Pod from Giant is starting to look good after what it is costing me to feed my son's friends at our house. Love to you, and I really did love your post on Patrick Swayze. It was right on the money. Thank you Meg and thank you Dan !!


hughesd2000 said...

I also saw that tabloid picture of Patrick Swayze at the checkout counter and I thought how cruel it was for them to run those photos. I hope they can offer him and his family some privacy in the time to come. Ugh. Anyway just wanted to say hi and thinking about you.


Anonymous said...

Megan. i don't know what to say, but I do think about you every day. I had a very quiet, alone Easter weekend - which is what I wanted. Well, on Good Friday, I was all dressed to go to the Y and when I looked in the mirror, my face looked like I was 106 years old, my eyes were all red (even tho I had not been crying). Well, the sight of me was so awful that I decided I could not be seen in public. So I decluttered a lot of stuff in my bedroom. To anyone else, it would not look like I made even a dent, but I know I did and I did it for Danny cause he was always telling me, "Just get rid of the stuff." There is a lot MORE to get rid of, but I did make progress. On Sunday, after church, I stopped at his gravesite and said a prayer. His dad was on his way out as I was coming in. God bless you and be with you every day. Mama Cicily

Anonymous said...

You know, Momma Cicily, reading your post, I think, you were inspired by Dan--directly inspired by Dan. I think, Dan is definitely communicating with you--and most probably with all of his beloved family and friends and, of course, his beloved Meghan. For you to be inspired to "rid your bedroom of the stuff"--well, I think, it was Dan sending you a subtle tweet that came as a gentle moment of inspiration. He is around you and loving you and probably wants to comfort you--I don't think Dan wants to see any of you in such pain. My wish for you and Meghan and the family and all of Dan's close friends is that you are able to feel Dan's loving presence to the point where you feel joy when you think of him and where you have a clarity to recognize your intuitive moments that most probably come from Dan--it just doesn't get any more special than that.
peace, cousin P

Anonymous said...


Lots of sleaze in the world, particularly from those who want to exploit pain and suffering. Hang in there. Thinking of you constantly.

Anonymous said...


I wanted to share with you a positive grocery shopping experience that I had this past Friday afternoon. I was standing in line at the deli counter at the Weis in Westminster, when all of a sudden the woman standing next to me got my attention and started talking to me. She wanted to know whether the T-Shirt I was wearing (this past year's Waeger CUP shirt) had anything to do with the young man who spoke at the Relay for Life at McDaniel College a few years ago. I immediately knew she was talking about Dan. She told me that she organizes a team each year in memory of her father who passed away from cancer and remembered Dan from his speech.

The brief conversation that we had really touched me - it made me realize firsthand that Dan's message has impacted so many and that his legacy is huge.


-Julie LaMotte