The Day After Cancer Barged In. Decisively waking up in a world of… | by Tess Obenauf | Jan, 2024

Decisively waking up in a world of unknowns

Photo by Jo Jo on Unsplash

Critical events will always happen in our lives. As a child, we may lose a beloved pet or a favorite toy may be broken. To a child, those are the most common tragedies they will face.

But for some children too young to remember, they lose a parent.

I lost my father to a pipeline accident just months away from turning four. I have vague memories of him and the life that we lived. Whispery images linger with shadowy emotions that I can barely recall. What I do know and remember well are the years that followed.

Mental health wasn’t a ‘thing’ for my mother’s generation. When she was a teenager, family tales vaguely introduced me to a horrific crime that occurred. As a result, she was sent out of state to spend some time in a mental ward. She was also one of an entire brood of her large family. I was one of five children and her siblings were double that. My mind is already blown once I pass the thought of being a mom to four. Five kids are crazy enough.

I’m a Star Trek fan of all the greats we have been given in life, so I refer to myself as the collective two of five, since I was born second. My mom was ten of eleven (although two died in their young years). My eldest brother passed in 2017 changing my collective title to one of four.

I did not undertake my brother’s missions. He used to call me and remind me early in the morning that it was someone’s birthday. He seemed to always call me late on my birthday and wanted to know who called already before we would chat. I don’t know if that was conscious or not, it’s only noticed in his passing.

I have often thought about how my mother must have felt. My brother and I were old enough to experience and develop the rough absence of some emotions. When I reference topics in conversation with friends, such as death, human behaviors, and other logical issues, I just get weird looks from them. I came to discover that it’s among the social cues that some people miss when a psychiatrist offers a magical golden ticket in the form of a label that is supposed to help somehow.

But when it comes to the possibility of losing a child before you pass?

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