April and May are tough months for my family. On one hand, I’m delighted to celebrate the birthdays of my youngest, my best friend, and my sister. On the other, I tend to get a little melancholy when I think about my dad. It is the curse of losing a parent, and while I don’t dwell on it quite as much as I once did, admittedly – I still think about it. My dad would not be pleased, and I can almost hear his stern admonishment to focus on LIVING. So I try.
This year, in fact just last week, my family got some fairly devastating news. My brother-in-law has been diagnosed with Leukemia. He is 51, and we are very close. He is the big brother I never had. His wife is my husband’s sister, and our children (aside from my youngest) are very close in age. We have gone on numerous vacations and trips together, and have even talked about moving somewhere together to retire. Aside from Amanda, his wife is my closest friend, just to give you some context of what they mean to me, personally.
Many within my BIL’s family share an unfortunate genetic defect that makes them susceptible to Leukemia. His mother passed away from the disease about 8 years ago, and it would appear that it is now my BIL’s turn to fight. We all knew that it would come to this eventually, but I never thought it would happen so soon.
Why am I writing all of this? Well, we all get strength from different places, I guess…and right now, I feel pretty helpless. He’s in the hospital and will be for at least a month. Overall, the news is not great. He has some complications that make it all trickier than necessary, and there really isn’t much that can be done except to wait, think positive thoughts, and hope. I’m terrible at most of that. So, I’m writing. I need strength.
Ridiculously, I thought that after my dad passed away that I probably wouldn’t have to endure that kind of pain again for a long, long time. I don’t know what I was thinking. My mom is still alive, and she’s healthy. I figured as long as she didn’t get sick, everything would be fine. I never gave it much thought that anyone else would become ill. Ignorance and denial equal bliss, I suppose, and I was absolutely, blissfully, unaware.
When I first met my husband, it took him a long time to take me to meet his parents. Let’s just say his family is, well, tight-knit. The standard for significant others is very, very high. (No, I did not meet the standard. Surprise!) While the welcome mat wasn’t there for me at first, my brother-in-law has always been my ally. He took me under his wing, taught me the ropes, and pointed out some very hard truths to me when I needed them. Let’s just say my learning curve with the family was probably no less rocky than my learning curve with this blog and social media. <wide grin here> It’s been a wild ride, and thankfully, my BIL knew what to say, how to reach out, and how to be a big brother.
My BIL is a Duran Duran fan, although he will admit that he prefers their earlier music (although he did love the first four or five songs on Astronaut). He and I haven’t had a music chat session in a while, but he is about the only person in my family that genuinely knows the back catalog. He has versions of songs that I don’t have, and I love talking to him about music in general. He has the best vinyl collection from the 80s of anybody I know, and he has such a zest for life – it’s contagious.
A lot of people go through their pain privately. I envy those people in some ways because they tend to seem like they’ve got it together. Not me. I’m pretty much a “blurt it all out and take a deep breath afterward” type of person. My husband and his family are exactly the opposite. Stalwart, quiet, proper, and restrained. I hate it. No one talks, ever. I desperately need to talk. I wasn’t raised to be quiet. I’m Sicilian! So I come here. I blurt it out, and while it doesn’t fix the problem, it makes me feel just the tiniest bit better.
Given my choices of whom to talk to and when, I choose this blog and the people who read it. I can’t even say I know the majority of people who read each day. I don’t. I just know that when I have bad news, good news, or I need help – I come here. That says something about our community. We’re a family. A crazy, sometimes really dysfunctional and large family. I wouldn’t have it any other way.