Friday, April 6, 2012


Its been several months, three actually, since my friend Emily was diagnosed with metastasized brain cancer. She died on the 5th, at home, with her caregiver holding her hand.

Since January 5, I have been by her side, helping her navigate the radiation, the CT scans, the PET scans, the multitude of ER visits, the blood work. I became chauffeur and confidant. I sifted through volumes of papers that the hospitals needed, I still have a stack about two feet high in my office. Disability, life insurance claims, early retirement withdrawals, bills, divorce proceedings, attorneys, the bureaucracy is astounding. She couldn't do it, so I did.

Loretta called me at 2 in the morning, I ran down the hall for my cell but missed the call, then the house phone rang, and hung up, the house phone again. Loretta was crying.

It's never easy losing someone, especially a young person, she would have turned 42 next month.

Emily was very lucky to have Loretta, we were lucky we found her. Emily was in good hands with her.

We all react differently and deal with death differently, just as we deal with life. Some people get hysterical, some cry immediately, some are solemn.

I went to the gym and lifted weights.

It's a place, and an activity, that makes me feel whole, makes me feel alive. Its my "happy place". I was there for a couple hours, I didn't cry, I was still too stunned.

I feel a huge sense of relief, for Emily and for me, for Loretta, her caregiver and all of the people who loved her. Cancer is not a easy way to die.

There was a lot to do, I thought I could finally sleep, maybe take a nap, I haven't been sleeping well, I had too much on my mind, but too many people needed things, they all needed information.

Silly things like transposed social security numbers on the cremation paperwork cause the mortuary concern, they want to make sure the death certificate is for the right person. Was there a will? How do we get in the apartment? Where are all the papers? 

Where did all these people get my cell phone number?  I have all the answers and am ready to let go of it all. I exhaled a lot, like I was pushing it all out of my body.

I emailed David and told him I am sorry things have been so rough for the last three months, it has all been very stressful for me. He said:

 "I am sure you are feeling a great sense of relief and now can move forward without the weight of Emily's care on your mind and shoulders.

You can now focus on your own weight and weights and shoulders."

He knows that's what I need, and it is time for me now, time to focus on myself, 100%. I haven't been, although many wouldn't know it. I have tried, but there just wasn't enough of  me to go around.

I have about four weeks until my competition, and through all of this I have maintained my training and diet quite well, I think I look great. I appear very lean (and still some fat is left and it will go too), I cannot see that I have lost any muscle to speak of, I am still progressing in my weight training,  and getting in that darn cardio.

I have managed to do my full time job too, and the laundry and grocery shopping (David helps too of course).

Now, I can concentrate on myself, on getting to where I need to be, where I want to be.

We all have obstacles to overcome, and it's easy to roll over and hide under a rock when things get stressful, but it helps no one, especially you. When you feel overwhelmed, keep going, maybe slow down a bit, take different routes, take shortcuts, but never give up. 

Do you have an obstacle that is keeping you from your dream? From becoming what or who you want to be? How long has that obstacle been there? Have you tried to overcome it? Really tried?

“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, or a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.”

Fr. Alfred D'Souza