What the Fuck Is the Reason?

I am so sick of hearing people say to me that I’m still here for “a reason” or I’ve outlived my prognosis for “a reason.” If there is in fact “a reason,” then please tell me, what the fuck it is.

This week has been especially difficult. A close friend of mine who I see on a regular basis and talk to daily, took a turn she unfortunately wouldn’t recover from. Her Mom called me this past Monday to let me know Melissa was going into hospice. I don’t care how prepared you think you are; you are never prepared to hear those words about someone you love. As I hung up the phone, it felt like someone pulled the world out from under me. I don’t remember a time when I ever sobbed like I did on Monday. I wasn’t crying for me. I was crying for Stella; Melissa’s 6 yr old pint-sized-version-of-herself, daughter. What kind of sick joke was the universe playing?

Melissa & Stella

I went to see Melissa Tuesday evening. In true Melissa fashion, her room was packed with family and friends. To know her, that was it, you had no other choice BUT to love her. Her no nonsense, tell it like it is attitude combined with a je ne sais quois and dimples gave her an unmatched power that would evoke a response of “Thank you, Hope to see you again.” after telling someone to fuck off.

My visit turned into an all nighter. I stayed with her Aunt’s Marie and Kathy. Of the three of us, Marie slept. Kathy and I talked all night and kept an eye on Melissa. Even the night nurse Vicky spent a good chunk of the night chatting with us.

Tuesday was the last time I would hear Melissa speak any words. By Wednesday night she stopped taking any liquids.

I returned to the hospital Thursday night. I was certain that the next time I walked out of the hospital to go home, Melissa would be leaving as well. Headed where she would be reunited with loved ones from her past and friends who had arrived ahead of her who were waiting patiently for her. Kathy and I again talked all night long while Maria slept on and off. By morning, the general consensus was she was waiting to see Stella one more time. No one could ever tell Melissa what to do and she wasn’t about to let anyone pull that crap now.

While all of this was going on, I was going through periods of anger rage. White hot rage. Serious question: Why Melissa? Why not me? Before anyone freaks out, I’m thinking this because I reached my “please God just let me live long enough to see..” goal. IF something were to happen to me, I know my son would be OK. Melissa, on the other hand, is 36 yrs old. She has milestones to reach with her daughter: Kindergarten graduation, first lost tooth, first sleep over, first crush, first boyfriend…Stella needs her Mom for this – all of this. There is no good damn reason to explain this unfair bullshit.

Then I encounter stupid people on social media (by proxy) and I may have had a rage tantrum. I read in a Facebook post that someone said they felt having cancer was a gift and that comment was offensive to the person who’s now talking about what she read. What-the-what? A cancer patient, who is actively living with cancer NOW feels it’s all a GIFT?? Now I have to give my two cents, which is more like a dollar fifty in pennies.

I said my last goodbye to my all-hours-of-the day-or-night-chat-buddy, my Indian food loving, CheesecakeCake binge eating, classic moving addicted, fabulous friend at 9:48am, March 1st, 2019.

Yesterday was a blur. I slept. A lot. I forget that I can’t keep up the pace that I think I can. My body gets exhausted and I shut down. Two all nighters in 3 days was cake in my 20’s but 20+ yrs and a cancer diagnosis later – forget it.

My phone rang at 10:49pm Sunday, March 3rd. It was Melissa’s mom. I knew before I answered. For a split second I wondered if I ignored the call, could I change the outcome? I answered and heard the words I didn’t want to hear: Melissa had passed.

Part of me feels very selfish being upset. My sadness is a little about me; but mostly for Stella. As sad as it is, Melissa is no longer in pain, she’s not struggling to make it through the day while being so exhausted all she wanted to do was sleep. She’ll never be nauseous or sick at the drop of a hat. Melissa will never have to endure another scan, treatment, or side effect.

I’m still pretty fucking angry. Death didn’t have to be what gave her that freedom. We should have better treatments. We should have medications that keep us going without the worry of impending death. There’s no good reason for children like Stella to be growing up without their parents.

So, I guess I’m just going to have to use whatever extra time I’m being given and take it up with those that failed Melissa and Stella.

Maybe, just maybe, I figured out what that “reason” is after all.

Melissa DePalmo ~ March 26, 1982 – March 3, 2019

20 comments

  1. Reblogged this on The Inner Circle and commented:
    Normally this is the part where I introduce the blog and offer a couple of words about what is supposed to be about. Instead,I’m just going to shut my mouth and get out of the way. I will say this….Susan is one hell of a human being and I see a LOT of Lori’s spirit in her. To those who know me and know Lori and I will realize I don’t say that lightly.

    Susan lost a very close friend this week and these are her feelings about it.

  2. First off thank you for sharing your story and your friends story. this was very moving and being that I too have stage 4 breast cancer and im a single mom to my best friend who is a15 year old amazing young lady I can relate a little. cancer isn’t a friend and its not fair that innocent people every day loose their life. I feel for your friends little girl. as a mom I can say your friend would have some peace of mind knowing that you will always look out for her daughter. im sorry for your lose and her friends and family. #fuckcancer #stage4needsmore

  3. Such a devastating loss once again . A beautiful mother taken from all those who love her way too soon.
    Thank you for letting people know what it really is to live with stage 4 breast cancer & how difficult it is to watch your friends pass away. My hearty breaks for all those who knew and loved Melissa. I understand as I’n Living everyday praying to be able to see my children grow up.

    • It’s very difficult for folks not living in our situation to understand what it’s like to push thru the grief of losing our friends while reconciling the guilt of living and praying we will live long enough to reach our “goals”. I pray you do get to see them not only grow up but that you also meet your grandchildren too. Xoxo

  4. I don’t even know her and yet I am sitting here sobbing after reading your story. The “reason” for your own survival however, is probably obvious to everyone but you. YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN SO MANY LIVES!!!! I’ll write no more now for fear of unintentionally saying something wrong, but you remain unbelievably awesome. I am sorry beyond words for your loss and suffering. Love you!
    Mom (in-law)

  5. With tears running down my face, I want to say how sorry I am for the loss of your friend. This f***ing disease has also hit out family and there are just no words……

  6. Hi Susan,
    What a devastating loss for all who knew and loved Melissa, especially for her sweet girt. I’m so sorry. And you know how I feel about that cancer is a gift notion. Sending you so much love. #wewillnotforget

    • Thank you, it really is, Nancy. My heart just hurts for Stella. I’m going to be taking note and if anyone dares to say such nonsense -I’m going to start mailing out copies of your book.

  7. Well my dear I’m sitting here weeping for your loss while wanting to say how fortunate Melissa was to have a friend like you. I really just wanted to say FUCK, FUCK, FUCK CANCER. I feel a portion of the immense pain and grief that her parents and friends must be experiencing having still vivid in my mind the battle our son has engaged in with damn cancer! All your comments are spot on and that “wish list” of necessities SHOULD be prime on the minds of all who can make a difference. Sadly it falls to activists and supporters like you and those of us adding our meager efforts. Interesting how much more important memories become with each passing day and how, again, I’m forced to face the need for gratitude!

    • Thank you for your compassion and understanding of my devastation and anger. I used to think living with cancer was hard but I’ve come to realize that it’s actually living thru the grief and with the pain of losing your friends/loved ones from cancer is what’s hard. Hoping Jason is doing well. ~Susan

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