Planning Idaho

I’m finding that I have to prepare for my upcoming vacation a little differently than I’m used to. I’m going to Idaho to visit my grandparents, but I’m going to visit them after a catastrophic event has shaken our family – my grandfather’s cancer. This will be the first time I’ve seen both of my grandparents since I got the news that my grandfather was as weak as the rest of us – no longer superhuman but human.

I hate that I have to prepare myself for this. I hate that I feel like I need to prepare. It’s an inevitable stage of life, but I’m not ready for it. Who ever is? Who is ever ready for the day they may have to say goodbye to someone so important?

Kerrie and I are traveling to Idaho for our vacation. We had planned this long before we had sniffed any word of cancer or chemotherapy or sickness. We continue to plan to go out there because we love my grandparents, and they love us, and there’s nothing that would stop us from visiting them. I’m excited to take a vacation out to the mountains, to an area where I spent almost every summer growing up, and to see my family.

We’re also very aware of the fragility of the condition we are trouncing into. I don’t want to be entertained like a long lost guest – I just want to be welcomed. I want life to continue on – nothing should stop for Kerrie and me. I want to enjoy my time in Idaho, with or without any medical condition, and I plan on doing just that.

I don’t want this vacation to be a façade. I’m prepared for my grandparent’s attempts at pretending everything is all right. But I’m not sure that will be necessary. My grandparents care for me greatly. They’ve raised me to be a respectable young man and adult and I’m planning to show them how they’ve done. I understand it’s a natural sheltering, a protection of those who don’t need to see the ugly side of the illness.

I’m preparing myself for the worst, but I’m also preparing myself for the best.

My grandfather is very sick. He’s very weak. But he’s still in good spirits, from what I’ve heard. My grandmother is feeling the effects of the mix of stress and worry that comes with watching a loved one spending their last days on earth. Maybe I’m selfish, but I want to spend time in both worlds: the side that celebrates my grandfather’s life in the fullest, making every day meaningful and exciting and fun-filled, and the side that realizes those things might not be realistic.

I know this could be the last time I see my grandfather alive. I know that this could also be the first time of many more visits. I hate not knowing which it will be, but I fear that knowing would be even more painful.

Knowing the little I do is painful enough.

This was lovingly handwritten on July 6th, 2005