The Voice in My Head


Donna-Lee Lista

Wow, it has been forever since I have been able to sit down and write this column. So much has transpired during that time; much has been good, but a lot has been sad. In one of my previous columns I mentioned cancer being part of my everyday life and gave the examples of one particular day where I was talking to a 47 year old friend of a friend and his wife about his esophageal cancer on one phone, while my mother’s nurse was asking me questions about my mom’s doctor’s visit regarding her colon cancer (in my house), and I had another phone on my shoulder with the PET/CT place confirming my own upcoming 5-year appointment to check on my lung cancer.

Well, things are very quiet now. My mom passed away on June 13th and my friends’ friend passed away a couple of weeks after that. In the silence I hear more than I did in the craziness of that morning. I hear how lucky I am, but I am not really listening to that. I am thinking about the great run my 86-year-old mother had, and maybe if we had done a few things differently, she would still have been around for a few more months and how no matter what, the void I am feeling now would still be waiting for me in a few months. So, I would have only been putting off the inevitable. I think back to the day in November when she was diagnosed, knowing in my gut, this would be her last holiday season and making sure it was the best ever. Toasting on Christmas day and holding up my glass and looking at her and thinking, I can’t believe this is it? Yet, when she voiced those very words at that moment, I lied and said, “Don’t be ridiculous.”

I think about how fleeting every second is and wonder why you have to be so much older to see, and understand, information that could have been so valuable when I was younger. I hear in my head that I could have had more patience when she would drive me crazy, and that it surprises me how much I am beginning to miss her when the “everyday” life starts back up after the chaos of the funeral and paperwork settle down.

I think about the 47-year-old who left behind a wife of only 4 years and two young children, who will probably only vaguely remember him. My friend, his best friend, who has lost a childhood friend who was like a brother to him and will have to remember, he isn’t there to call when he wants to share a story.

But I guess what I really hear is the little voice telling me, “Grieve, remember, and don’t forget that life goes on,” but the most important thing you can do going forward is to touch someone enough that you make a voice speak to them in their heads, once you are gone, so they know how much you loved them.