I felt it that morning when I woke. I had slept through the night. That meant my toddlers dreamt of nice, silly things. An uninterrupted night happens rarely as a cry or two usually gets me out of bed around 5 o’clock most days just before dawn. Or at 3 o’clock. Or both. That morning when I awoke after a full night’s sleep, I ran to my kids’ room with that tugging feeling as if something was wrong. And there they were, peaceful in slumber, motionless yet full of life.
There was a certain uneasiness in my gait that morning, as the thought kept drumming in my head: “You need to work out. You need to work out. You need to work out.” I needed to work out. I had set that unmotivated goal to burn off some of those lazy calories belting the six pack I’m hiding. I decided to take it to the treadmill while the kids nap later on that afternoon. I was trying to bide my time with my coffee when that tugging feeling again started to happen.
It was just a missed phone call. I heard my phone’s vibrations amidst the noise of the kids and the fiancé and the television and the laundry. Tug tug. Two missed calls from my sister. It’s not that she doesn’t call. She does. But most of the time, her phone calls were anticipated. I almost always know when she’s going to call and for what reason. And never back to back. Never. So, an unanticipated, back-to-back phone call from my sister was definitely interesting. I automatically knew something was off. It could’ve been a few things. Help with their move via some babysitting. Another typical argument with her husband that led to a getaway drive. A quick break from the stress of her life, a venting of some sorts. It could’ve been any of those.
It just wasn’t. I called her back right away. And as she said the words, I knew it just wasn’t. “I have news.” She said calmly. I froze.
Later on that afternoon, I found myself staring at an image of a girl in the gym mirrors. I had just finished running two miles, and I just had to sit down, regroup. The run was unsuccessful in sorting out my thoughts. I sat on one of the machine benches, staring at my reflection, seeing not a grown woman with two kids but rather a girl, lost in the confusion of life and its purpose and destination. I saw a girl drowning in the same tears she cried upon hearing her sister’s voice on the phone. “I have news.” She said. She was crying. My sister was crying. She never cried. At least not in front of me. I come from a family who spared no emotions to each other. Unless…the moment was dire.
There was that tug again as I walked back home from the gym. Thoughts were still racing. Heart was still being pulled by the gravity of life and all that was beautifully tragic in it. How fleeting was that moment? How sad was our cause? How small are we really? Because at the time this was all chaotically happening before me, I felt so tiny and helpless.
Days later, I finally decided to write again. I thought of selfishly capitalizing on my newfound, grave emotions, but I had already forgotten the ramblings of my head when I first learned that a person in remission can suddenly, out of the bluest blue, be in the total opposite physical state. And that is simply NOT in remission, my friends. After being cancer-worry-free the last few years, my father’s lungs has again betrayed him just as he did them a lifetime ago.
Tug tug. The tugging baffles me as my relationship with my dad is stoic at best. Between us stands a whole lot of history and a whole lot of “no-history” at the same time, if that makes any sense. It leaves oceans of stories for another time. Maybe it’s the grandkids. Maybe I’ve just gotten older, softer. I don’t know what it is. But this second time around that cancer’s decided to come visit my father, it’s just a tad more threatening. More frightening. More sinking. More affecting. More heartbreaking.
Definitely so much more heartbreaking. “Papa’s cancer is back.” She said.
Heartbreak pang. Intermittent tugging. Silent tears.