Miles To Go, Miles To Go

December 5, 2006

My heart is sore, my thoughts are tangled, my fingers are numb; I stumble toward writing but the writing, right now, does not release or calm or soothe.

December has come in fighting, raining blows upon my heart.

My step-grandmother (the only grandmother that I have had since my mother’s mother, the grandmother of my heart, passed away when I was thirteen) lies in intensive care. Dying, my grandfather says. A fall, an injury to the head. Subdural hematoma. He sighs, his voice tired, pained, over thousands of miles of telephone wire. He doesn’t know what he will do. My heart pounds and strains; I try to comfort him; we’ll come out, we’re coming, we’ll come soon, we’ll come see her, come see you. He doubts this, doubts that we will be able to see her, doubts that she will last that long. I whisper promises to call, to comfort, whatever he needs, whatever they need; we’ll be there soon, I say.

The next morning, this morning, I call my mother, who is estranged from her father, my grandfather, to urge her to call, to comfort, to set aside hurt and grievance, to be there. Of course, she says, of course, but haven’t I told you? Her own news came just yesterday. Skin cancer. Melanoma. Malignant tumour. Cut out, dug out, stitched over, but still. It lurks. I’m fine, she says. I must be vigilant, she says, on my guard, but I’m fine. I don’t believe her. Cancer is too dark a word; I can’t wrap it in light.

The distance between me and family – so many miles, so many hours, so many days – stretches, stretches. I have struggled – do struggle – with my distance from Tanner, from my sister, from that measured life, from the many joys and from the many pains (more and more he stumbles, they stumble, it is getting more difficult to veil the truth with cheer.) I have struggled – do struggle – with my distance from my father, who misses the embrace of family, who needs me, I know, even though he won’t say so. I struggle, struggle, struggle with distance. I miss them, they need me, I need them, it hurts.

Love can make any distance shrink, disappear; it draws the horizon to us, it allows us to touch the sun, feel its warmth, even when it is so far. Pain, fear – these make the smallest distance in time or space seem infinite, insurmountable. So far to go, so difficult the journey, why am I not already there?


My heart is sore, my head confused. Expect quiet from this corner for a few days.

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    { 80 comments }

    Momma Bean December 5, 2006 at 2:10 pm

    I’m just a lurker, but with my dearest sisters scattered around the nation, I just wanted to let you know that I understand. And that I hope that everything is as well as it can be during this time.

    Amy Jo December 5, 2006 at 2:38 pm

    I wish I could write words that would provide some comfort. There is understanding here, as well.

    crazymumma December 5, 2006 at 2:53 pm

    oh bad mother, I am so very sorry.

    Kate December 5, 2006 at 2:58 pm

    I almost feel like I’m intruding on your pain to comment as I am a new reader, but your words speaks volumes. So sorry to hear your news. Life is never easy.

    something blue December 5, 2006 at 3:10 pm

    I feel your pain. It can be so very hard to live far away. It feels like I am out of sorts caused by the distance between me and my family. The guilt and heartbreak are sometimes too overwhelming. I wish I could close the gap that separates my loved ones geographically and in my heart. ((big hugs))

    nomotherearth December 5, 2006 at 3:19 pm

    Our thoughts and prayers here at the Earth household are with you and yours.

    Exiled to Canada December 5, 2006 at 3:21 pm

    My grandmother lost her battle at 3:30am this morning. I am off to the States for the funeral. Everyone kept telling me not to come down and help until she was out of ICU…wish I had followed my gut and gone as soon as I felt up to it. We are several thousand miles and a border crossing away from everyone and the weight bears down on us every day as well, so I can feel your pain. It’s hell. Hang in there.

    Grim Reality Girl December 5, 2006 at 3:32 pm

    I’m so sorry — I hate how when it rains it pours… Keep writing! Venting and letting it out will help, it has gotten me through horrible times. I’m saying prayer for you and your family. May you close the distance and feel closer to those you love….

    owlhaven December 5, 2006 at 3:46 pm

    So sorry…praying now for your family….

    Mary, mom to many

    braiding mommy December 5, 2006 at 3:54 pm

    I’ll be thinking about your family while you are quiet…

    Michele December 5, 2006 at 3:57 pm

    So sorry for all of your pain HBM. Thinking of you and hoping things level out soon.

    jennster December 5, 2006 at 3:58 pm

    this post hurts me and strikes a chord. with my own father, who i adored with every breath of my being, turning into something i don’t want to believe- our relationship now strained and just a fragment of what it once was, pains me on a daily basis.
    i love you.

    Melissa December 5, 2006 at 4:02 pm

    HBM, I understand how hard this can all be. Be silent as long as you need too, but remember we are here, thinking postive things for you.

    I hope you make it to see her in time.

    mamatulip December 5, 2006 at 4:15 pm

    I’m sorry to hear of the pain, the fear, the confusion. This is a time to be good to yourself, to listen to your own heart, to do what you need to do in order to find comfort, peace. To feel whole.

    Am thinking of you and your family.

    toyfoto December 5, 2006 at 4:19 pm

    I’m so sorry for all this trouble. Thinking of you.

    Mrs. Chicken December 5, 2006 at 4:21 pm

    Yes. Distance is both a blessing and a burden. It is never more burdensome than when someone we love lies close to death. Words do not work here. So instead, I send you my prayers.

    Lisa b December 5, 2006 at 4:26 pm

    Oh Catherine I am so sorry.

    Lena December 5, 2006 at 4:36 pm

    I am so sorry Catherine. But, you are teaching a valuable lesson to those reading this entry. Those of us that are *cough* thinking of moving away from family *cough* are now thinking twice.

    (((hugs)))

    mayberry December 5, 2006 at 4:53 pm

    I’m so sorry, C. We’re also far away (in space, and sometimes in heart) from many family members, so I know how hard it is. Love to you all.

    Mel December 5, 2006 at 5:11 pm

    (((You)))
    I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts.
    So sorry all this is raining down on you.

    ewe are here December 5, 2006 at 5:32 pm

    I hope you make it to your grandfather’s side in time; the distances families live apart from one another now can make these times so incredibly hard. I learned this the hard way I’m afraid.

    My thoughts are with you.

    MotherBumper December 5, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    (((HUGS))) from Bumper and me. I understand how one aches and feels helpless when wanting to be with family. Family that is so far away. I’m thinking of you at this time and I’m sending good positive vibes your way.

    lara December 5, 2006 at 6:11 pm

    oh, C. – i am so sorry. for all that i put so much value in the power of words, i cannot think of a single one that might lend you the comfort i am wishing for you. you are a strong and wonderful woman, and while you will struggle, you will also survive. i know sometimes that’s not even what you want to hear. like i said – words seem useless here.

    i hope you find peace in the silence.

    Andrea December 5, 2006 at 6:15 pm

    I’m so very sorry. I’ll be thinking of you and your family, and praying for your safe travel. Godspeed, HBM.

    Her Bad Mother December 5, 2006 at 6:29 pm

    It’s end of term, and I can’t leave Toronto until classes end and papers are handed off to the TA, etc, etc. Plus, we have all of our travel arrangements made to be back there for the week of December 25th – it’s an issue of figuring out whether I can get out there earlier. So, things are bit stressful right now… Thanks for all of your warm thoughts.

    Susan December 5, 2006 at 6:46 pm

    I hope you can find some peace and get some rest.

    Jaelithe December 5, 2006 at 6:58 pm

    I will send you and your family good thoughts.

    scribbit December 5, 2006 at 7:30 pm

    I’m so sorry, what a difficult thing to face this time of year.

    Mrs. Chicky December 5, 2006 at 7:48 pm

    My thoughts are with you and your family in this difficult time. I know what you’re going through, be strong and remember to let yourself off the hook a little.

    Heather December 5, 2006 at 8:27 pm

    So sorry to hear of your news. I hope you can find comfort despite the miles.

    If it’s of any comfort my mother’s had melanoma, and other skin cancers and has survived every one. When they’re detected early it makes all the difference. Also? Get thee to a dermatologist when you get a chance – these things can run in the family (I know of a great one in the ‘shwa, email me if you’re interested).

    Elizabeth December 5, 2006 at 8:37 pm

    I’m so sorry for your pain, both yours and your family’s. Please know that I am thinking of you and wishing you peace.

    sunshine scribe December 5, 2006 at 8:47 pm

    Sending so much love your way my friend. I understand this all to well with my family far away and having experienced a very similar situation last year. I am thinking of you and your family and sending you a big hug of understanding and support. If you need anything … anything at all .. please do let me know.

    jen December 5, 2006 at 8:49 pm

    oh, bad.

    warmest hugs. wrapped in softest blankets.

    for you.

    Veronica Mitchell December 5, 2006 at 9:14 pm

    What a dreadful collection of events. I hope you find comfort with each other, and solace wherever it can be found.

    metro mama December 5, 2006 at 9:15 pm

    I am so sorry Catherine.

    mothergoosemouse December 5, 2006 at 9:29 pm

    Oh Catherine. I’m sorry. I live a great distance from all of my family members as well, many of whom keep quiet about illnesses and injuries, leaving me to berate myself for not being there to help comfort them.

    Your grandmother, your mother, and you and your family will be in my thoughts.

    Irreverent Antisocial Intellectual December 5, 2006 at 9:31 pm

    I’m so sorry, Catherine, for everything. Be strong but also allow yourself time to be utterly overwhelmed … sometimes it helps the confusion to just let it all out in the privacy of one’s bathtub.
    Best of luck, with everything.

    Mamalooper December 5, 2006 at 9:41 pm

    So very sorry Catherine – being away from family is difficult enough. And so much more so with a child and parents who are ill.

    Breathe sweetie.

    jo(e) December 5, 2006 at 9:45 pm

    How difficult. I’m sorry you have all this to deal with.

    Nancy December 5, 2006 at 9:54 pm

    I am so, so sorry, Catherine. Please know that I am thinking of you and your family, and here to provide any kind of support that I can.

    hugs to you.

    Rock the Cradle December 5, 2006 at 10:52 pm

    When it rains, it pours.

    Please take care of yourself. I know how difficult that distance is. Sometimes a loving voice and ear on the phone is all we can give. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

    My thoughts are with you.

    soleclaw December 5, 2006 at 11:02 pm

    My warmest thoughts are with you during your time of struggle.

    Be well, and take all the time your heart needs.

    PunditMom December 6, 2006 at 12:22 am

    My thoughts are with you. I know how important grandparents are. I still miss and think about my maternal grandfather. He didn’t let on much, but as his first grandchild (out of 30, I know he had special worries for me.

    Lady M December 6, 2006 at 4:09 am

    So much pain, all at once. I’m so sorry, Catherine. Sending your warmest wishes.

    Anonymous December 6, 2006 at 8:19 am

    Greetings!
    I was heated up by my autoinsurance company buy car insurance online PEUGEOT. Who recently insured the auto – recommend still something.

    Oh, The Joys December 6, 2006 at 9:55 am

    Thinking of you…

    Iris December 6, 2006 at 11:29 am

    My heart, prayers, positive thoughts all go to you and your family today.

    I understand this pain and longing you feel to be near the ones you love in their times of trial and need. Those are your times of trial and need too.

    Hoping you can find peace soon.

    Kelly December 6, 2006 at 11:35 am

    Wow. To say you’re dealing with a lot right now is an understatement.

    I understand the distance thing. A lot. Last Christmas, my mother was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer. I had just given birth two months earlier. My mom lives close to 5 hours away. During her chemo treatments, I wanted nothing more than to be able to go and help, but with a newborn and another small child, and with my husband unable to take off from work, it would have been too difficult.

    It’s not supposed to be like that. So I’m thinking of you, and your family. And hoping you find a little space of peace, and a little of that light you’re finding so elusive right now.

    Kate December 6, 2006 at 11:51 am

    Distance bites. Whether it’s geographical, temporal or emotional, it just makes the whole existential thing that much more painful. I know.

    No guilt. You have enough pain, don’t throw guilt in with it. Life is what it is, distance is what it is, and your only options now are what you’ll do with it. I know you’ll do the right thing.

    Karla December 6, 2006 at 12:35 pm

    I am so sorry you have to go through all of this right now. My Grandma suffered the same sadness that your Step-Grandmother is going through at the beginning of this year. My thoughts are with you.

    Your words”
    “Love can make any distance shrink, disappear; it draws the horizon to us, it allows us to touch the sun, feel its warmth, even when it is so far. Pain, fear – these make the smallest distance in time or space seem infinite, insurmountable.”

    - they are so poetic. Just beautiful.

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