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Category Archives: Cancer

A Letter To My Big Bro, At Thanksgiving

Dear Jonathan Arthur,

Well, this year will be our first Thanksgiving since you died. And it sucks. I mean, it doesn’t suck- You know how much I love Thanksgiving because I get to hang out with my favorite family ever, AND stuff my face and drink all day long. That stuff’s all still pretty cool. It just really, really sucks that you’re not here to pile your plate with food and then clog my toilet afterwards. Sorry I just told the world about that, but you know it’s true. We all do it. It’s cool. Thanksgiving just won’t be the same without that stuff. It’ll never be the same. I’m trying to accept that- You know, that whole ‘acceptance’ stage of grief- But I’m not sure I ever will. Sometimes if I don’t think about it, I can still sort of pretend you’re still out there somewhere, looking at boobies on the computer. But then I realize you’re not. And holy shit, it’s then that I miss you so much that it hurts. I still cry every single day for you, and every night when I go to sleep, I pray that God will let you come visit me in my dreams. With little Max. And sometimes you do. I’m thankful for that. That even if I can never see you or hear your voice when I’m awake, I get to sometimes when I sleep. It’s not the same, but hey, at least it’s somethin’. I’m also thankful that you’re fully clothed in my dreams, otherwise that’d just be freakin’ weird.

So this Thanksgiving, I’m extra thankful for all of the kickass people I still have here to share food and booze with, and I’m also thankful for all the memories I have with you, and that I got to have you as my big brother. And don’t worry, I’ll still make your disgusting turkey liver crap, even though it makes me want to vomit. Do me a favor and come party with us for a while. Knock some shit off the counter or something. And bring little Max with you. I know you guys are taking care of each other up there.

Happy Thanksgiving, big brother. I’ll eat a giant turkey leg just for you. Well… Sort of for me, too. That shit’s delicious.

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Posted by on November 24, 2014 in Cancer, Life

 

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Isn’t This Crap Supposed To Get Easier?

Guys, I really need to get back on top of this blogging thing. I’ve been such a slacker over the summer. All that outdoor drinking, and frying myself like a giant slab of poolside bacon. I guess I also haven’t really had much to say lately that I feel I can express effectively. So many deep thoughts about life, and love, and waffles and stuff. My mind is all over the place lately. It’s a problem. Most of all, lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my brother. I sort of thought that after two months had passed since he died, I’d think about him a little less every day, but that’s ending up not being the case. I think about him all the time. I mean, when I’m not thinking about food, and the upcoming fabulous Autumn boot season. And puppies. I like puppies.

Anyway, you know what sucks about losing a brother? Besides pretty much everything? Before Jon died, I never burst into tears randomly in public. It’s a little inconvenient, since I don’t normally carry Kleenex, and it isn’t long sleeve season. Not even a sweater sleeve to wipe away surprise snot. Unacceptable, Sometimes, I really think I’m ok. I’m in a great mood. Life is good. Then out of nowhere- In the middle of the work day; At Spin class; Shopping for red meat-  It just hits me. I will never, ever see my brother again. Never hear his laugh again. Never hear him call me a giant pain in the ass again. I think back to the afternoon I went to see him in the hospital and we talked and walked and ate Frosties. I think back to his last few weeks here, taking him for a Taco Bell Mountain Dew slushie. (Don’t judge me. It’s what he wanted.) (Also, Mexican pizzas are delicious. Don’t pretend they aren’t.) I remember our last family barbecue, sitting next to him with my two other brothers, watching him scarf down a steak, and looking at him that night and thinking maybe there’d be a miracle. That maybe the doctors were wrong. I guess that’s just who I am. Even when all hope is lost, I still always keep just a little. I’m still trying to decide if that’s a good quality or a bad quality. And then, I remember his last days in the nursing home, sitting next to him as he stared off blankly, just being with him, with my hand on his arm. Then, finally, I think about how I’d give anything in the world to experience any of those moments just one more time. It’s sad the tiny moments with our loved ones that we take for granted. I’d give up everything just for one more day of having my brother tell me I’m a giant pain in the ass.

People always say this gets easier with time, but I don’t see it. I don’t feel it. Not yet. Not even a little bit. Fuckin’ cancer. You’re a dick.

Not you guys. You aren’t dicks. I was talking to cancer. You know what I meant.

I’ll write way less depressing blogs one of these days, I promise.

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Posted by on August 27, 2014 in Cancer, Humor, Life

 

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Mourning Max

I really feel like a major Debbie Downer blogger lately, but I figured since my memories of my big brother are permanently out here on the interwebs, I should also create a semi-permanent 1378071_10153348981200551_615562441_nmemorial to my 2nd hairiest best friend whom I also lost recently: My little pup, Max. Even typing his name here now and remembering him is causing tears to start to leak out of my face. I’m gonna need a box of Kleenex. Hang on.

…….

………..

(Insert Jeopardy! theme here)

……

Ok, I’m back. Who knew it’d be so hard to find Kleenex in this house? Apparently I’m not very snotty.

Anyway… You know, I always thought those people who took days off work to mourn the loss of a pet were insane. Until my Max. I’ve had dogs my entire life, but I don’t think I’ve ever loved any like I loved my Max. I fell in love with his little tiny furry Ewok face the first time I laid eyes on him as a pup, sitting alone in his cage, the last left of his litter. Actually, I should say WE fell in love with him, and by ‘we’, I mean, of course, my roommate, who is Max’s daddy. I suppose he loved him as much as I did. It was sorta hard not to. He was our baby. Our alarm clock. Our snuggle buddy. The dog who once tried to bite my face off. Our spoiled little lovable brat. Max could make me laugh on my worst day; The way he spun around in excited circles whenever we’d say the word ‘outside’, or ‘bone’; The way he’d wake us up by standing on top of us and staring directly into our faces; The way he growled every time we tried to kiss him, almost like he was saying “C’mon, I’m not a little kid any more!”. I loved him more than I even know how to express. So when he was diagnosed with cancer, we vowed we’d spend any amount of money and do whatever it took to keep him with us as long as possible. When he stopped eating, we syringe fed him baby food, heavy cream, Pedialite- Anything to try to bring back our healthy, energetic little pup. But as it turns out, Max was more tired than we thought. Odd timing, the fact that he started to go severely downhill the night my big brother passed, almost as if he knew that Jon needed a companion.

His last day on Earth was spent at his favorite park, and snuggling on the couch with us- His two favorite pastimes. I remember he kept looking at us with his big brown eyes, like he was trying to comfort us and tell us it was going to be ok. I think I told him I loved him approximately 8,428 times that day. I take comfort in the fact that I’m pretty sure he knew how lucky he was and how much he was loved. I mean, what other dog gets steak and eggs for breakfast while his mom eats Special K? He had a great life. A great life that was cut way too short.

So now, we grieve. Every day. I miss how happy I felt when Jon and Max were both here, even though I’m slowly but surely recovering. I cry for my brother, for my dog, and I hope and pray that they’re up there together, just waiting for me to get there. Hopefully Jon knows how to cook a steak. Because Max loves that shit.

Love you forever, little Max. Momma and Daddy miss you.

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Posted by on July 25, 2014 in Cancer, Humor, Life

 

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My Brotha From The Same Motha

Last night, the world lost an amazing human being, and I lost my older brother, Jon.

A few things have occurred to me here:

1.) I don’t think I’ve ever really felt pain before. I mean sure, I’ve lost people, I’ve been dumped, I’ve eaten the last of the microwave popcorn and forgotten to get more… But this. This is something completely different. There is an actual physical pain in my heart that I’ve never experienced before. It’s like Jon died and left behind a tiny little man kicking the shit out of my heart, Bruce Lee-style. When they coined the term ‘brokenhearted’, I guess I know now what they really meant.

2.) The mind is an amazing thing. Memories I thought had long faded are suddenly back. Listening to 8-track tapes in my parents’ room and pretending to be The Chipmunks (He was Alvin. I was Theodore. There was no third chipmunk. We were enough.); The time he slashed his leg open pretending to be Freddy Krueger. Our family road trip out west when he ordered the Short Stack of pancakes at every single restaurant we stopped at along the way. Listening to Casey Kasem’s Top 40 together, and waiting for Van Halen’s ‘Jump!’ to be number one again for the 12th week in a row. Listening to Pointer Sisters records in the basement. Jon introducing me to the scary German music that is Rammstein. Jon’s karaoke version of ‘Big Balls’, and subsequent drunken fall off the stage at my other brother’s wedding. Watching ‘The Breakfast Club’ so much we could recite every single word. It’s either a cruel joke or an incredible blessing the things you remember when someone’s gone. I haven’t yet decided which.

3.) I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to NOT have three older brothers. I don’t know how NOT to have holidays that include Jon piling enough food on his plate to feed a small country. I don’t know how NOT to call him to fix my laptop because I’m horrible with computers. I don’t know how to NOT to say “Awwwww Jon!” in unison with my two other brothers when Jon rips one at family gatherings. (We’re a gassy bunch.) Nothing will be the same. Ever. I know people say change is good, but frankly, this change, for lack of a better term, sucks.

4.) I’m pissed. Royally. Pissed that there are people who are allowed to live long, healthy, full lives, who are far less deserving than Jon. He was genuine, he had an amazing soul, and one of the greatest hearts of anyone I know. The fact that he never had the chance to fall in love, get married, have kids, and grow old just pisses me off. There’s supposed to be a reason for everything, but for the life of me, I can’t understand why my incredible, smart, and big-hearted brother was taken at just 40 years old.

But in the end, as angry, as confused, and as overwhelmed with sadness as I am, nothing will change the fact that he’s gone. I have no choice but to go on thinking the world and this life are simultaneously incredible and tragic, to be thankful for every single moment, and to pay far more attention to things I overlook most days- The greenness of the grass; The taste of Friday night margaritas; Sitting on the couch after a long day at work; Riding my bike down a deserted trail; How good it feels to drive down a country road with the window down and the music blasting. Because these are all everyday miracles. I don’t think a single day will go by for the rest of my life that I won’t think about and miss my big brother. And I hope I don’t. Because he deserves to be remembered.

Love you always, J.A.

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Posted by on July 1, 2014 in Cancer, Life

 

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Life, Love, and The Pursuit Of Happiness. Or Martinis. Same Thing.

I know there’s a few people who read this thing, and if you’re one of them, I’m warning you now, I’m feeling a tad reflective, and shit could get deep here. You should walk away if you think you can’t handle it. I’ll wait.

……….

…..

Are they gone yet?

Thank God, I thought those people would never leave.

Anyway, as I was saying… Well, brave Paula In The Country readers who are still here, the truth is… I got dumped this week. I know it’s hard to believe. I mean, I’m practically the perfect woman. I drink, I swear, I just ate a piece of popcorn off the floor… Who doesn’t want a piece of that? But it happened. Out of the blue, too. One day it was ‘I miss you.’, and the next day it was ‘You’re a great girl, but see ya.’, which, honestly, makes me feel like I have a small idea of what it’s like to get kicked hard in the nuts now.

When things like this happen, it’s very easy to feel sorry for myself. I mean, I’m 38 years old now. Never married. I’ve had very few serious relationships. That shit can start to wear on any girl’s fragile ego. I also want a family. And let me tell ya, dating at my age is not easy. Assuming I can find a man that can actually form sentences, he either, a) Is newly on the dating scene and not ready to ‘settle’ for me, b) Has kids and doesn’t want any more, or c) Lives in a different state. All of which are not ideal for poor little Paula In The Country. But, just when I think I’m about to fall into a pit of self-pity, I remember something…

My big brother has cancer.

Cancer.

And I’m worried about finding a boyfriend.

Which leads me to my point, that everything is about perspective. Does it suck I’m 38 and freshly dumped? Meh. Not really. Because I’m healthy. I have a truly amazing life. I was raised in a great home with great parents who somehow instilled morals and values and kindness towards others in me, who gave me the gift of humor, and three older brothers who taught me about slasher films, and how to drink men under the table. I’m sitting here in fluffy jammies, drinking an extra-dirty martini, with a tiny Ewok dog staring at me adoringly. I have kettle corn. All of these things make me an extremely lucky girl. And maybe, when all is said and done, my goal should not be to find a man so I can start a family and a life, but rather to enjoy the road I’m taking to get there.

The long, long, long, long, long fucking road to get there.

Cheers, everyone who read this entire thing.

*Raises glass*

*Drinks*

*Stabs self in eye with falling three olive-laden toothpick*

(Side note: Shameless plug here for my bro’s cancer fund! In case you have any spare couch change or anything. Just lick the Cheeto dust off first.)

http://www.gofundme.com/5v3eg8

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2014 in Cancer, Humor, Life

 

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Go Home, Cancer. You’re Drunk.

October 16, 2013. That’s the day my living nightmare began.

I don’t mean to be overly dramatic here, but until you experience being on the other end of the phone when your mother tells you that your brother has pancreatic cancer, well, you don’t know that that’s really the best way to describe it. A living nightmare. Things like this don’t happen to my family in real life. Things like this happen to OTHER people’s families. Not my brother. Not my 40 year old, good-hearted brother, who’s never done anyone any harm, who’s always been a little socially awkward, but one of the best people I’ve ever known, who’s smarter than he knows, and who’s never really gone out and done much living… This is not allowed to happen to him.

It’s crazy how little everything else becomes when something like this happens. The customer who calls into work complaining about a late delivery, friends complaining about their car problems and work stress… You want to shake them and scream in their face “MY BROTHER HAS CANCER, ASSHAT!!”. But that would be socially unacceptable, I suppose. It’d be cool if I could at least get away with a forehead thunk or something, though.

In the past week, I’ve cried more than I ever have, I’ve slept less than I ever have, I’ve talked to God and told him that he CANNOT, under any circumstances, take my brother yet, I’ve bargained with him and told him I will never ask for anything for myself ever again if he just makes my brother healthy, I’ve asked him to let me take my brother’s place, and I’ve also learned more about pancreatic cancer than I’ve ever cared to know. Crazy holistic remedies I would’ve laughed at 2 weeks ago suddenly become a viable option for helping to cure my brother. I’ve become a pancreatic cancer crusader, all in the hopes that I can somehow make a difference in saving my brother’s life. I’ve even made disgusting cancer-fighting soup that would probably make anyone lose their will to live. But by God, if there’s any chance that cancer can be cured with superfood soup, damn it, I’m gonna try. My brother is not allowed to go yet. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Luckily, my brother looks really, really good bald. Here’s to keeping positive, people. I have a feeling we’re going to beat this thing, because really, that’s all I can do. I know I’m a stranger, but just for a second, ask the big guy upstairs, or ask the universe, or ask whoever you believe in, to please let me keep my brother for many, many years to come. We need all the help we can get.Image

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2013 in Cancer, Humor, Life

 

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