From One Family to Other Families — David


It is still dark with just a hint of light in the Eastern sky. But the full moon gives the snow cover in our back yard a silvery glow.  I have the gift of a quiet Sunday morning at home to write to you and introduce our family’s story, Home Before Dark: A Family’s Portrait of Cancer and Healing.

In writing this book and creating this site, Kate, Michael, Sam and I want to invite you into our home and our lives and show you how we as family confronted my illness and at the the time what was expected to be my likely death. We want to offer you our story about how we coped with this crisis as best we could. It’s not that we became experts on how to deal with cancer. We know there are really no easy answers or right way.

However, we all know this is true: there are only two kinds of families, those who have been through life changing crises and those that unfortunately will. Often families are shattered and split apart. Sometimes each family member feels incredibly alone as they try to bravely maintain a positive attitude while keeping their darkest fears and feelings to themselves.  Each family member copes in their own unique way which can sometimes separate family members from each other.

The four of us wanted to share our story; each of us sharing our own experience of trying to stay close and supportive while also bracing for the possibility of my death and the necessity of having to go on with their own lives.

Unlike so many families who have lost someone, we have been incredibly lucky, it’s been 4 years and a half years since I was diagnosed and I am still here. It’s actually taken a long time for all of us to truly believe in my recovery and regain our balance emotionally. I have survived but I also have changed. I feel much older, more vulnerable, less resilient. Having spent 40 years being a therapist and care taker of others, sometimes I feel more overwhelmed by the suffering of my clients, friends and family members than I used to be. I feel humbled by my brush with mortality. So I have not returned easily to the normal ups and downs of my former life. It’s different now.

As we face the predictable difficulties of everyday existence, we frequently say to ourselves and each other,  “Hey, at least it’s not cancer.” We are trying our best to live as they say in A.A. with an attitude of gratitude.       

A fairly common feeling on the part of all of us who have been lucky enough to be undeservedly spared, is the wish to pay it forward; to do something for others to express our appreciation.  Hopefully our reaching out and sharing our story will somehow be of support to you and members of your family.

The sun’s up. The paper is here. Time to bring some coffee to my dear Kate. Time to bow my head and murmur my thanks. It’s good to be here. It’s good to be writing to you.

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